Today more than half of the world’s population lives in cities. Facing climate change and finite supplies of fossil fuels, therefore, also means facing urban challenges. The exhibition “Post-Oil City: The History of the City’s Future” presents a host of innovative city planning projects in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The exhibition has been produced by the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations, or ifa) and curated by the architecture journal ARCH+. The English-language version of the exhibition will open in Yokohama on September 27 and run through October 8. It will be part of the collateral events of the 24th World Congress of Architecture of the International Union of Architects in Tokyo.
The exhibition will be held at the Minatomirai subway station in Yokohama. Itself part of an urban development project, the busy station is a perfect embodiment of the exhibition’s subject matter. The exhibition is organized jointly with the Federal Chamber of German Architects and the Goethe Institute in Tokyo.
How does a city change when transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energies? What effects do renewable energies have on urban systems, sustainability, and mobility? These are some of the central questions addressed by “Post-Oil City.” Looking both to the past and to the future, the exhibition assembles eleven contemporary projects and nine historical references in the fields of sustainability, urban transit, and urban systems. One insight from “Post-Oil City” is that today’s ideas and achievements are built on modernism’s urban utopias. Increasingly, planners are rediscovering solutions to urban problems – public transportation, waste management, etc. – developed during the 20th century and adapting them as answers to climate change, limited fossil fuel supplies, economic recession, and global systemic crisis. Urban planning has now become a laboratory for social as well as ecological change.
Along with large-scale new construction such as Masdar (Abu Dhabi), Xeritown (Dubai), and Ethiopia’s self-sufficient settlement N.E.S.T., “Post-Oil City” presents projects that seek to change existing structures, including Curitiba’s public transit system, New York’s High Line, and the electric vehicle network Better Place. Another case is the Taiwan Straight Climate Change Incubator developed by Raoul Bunschoten and the architecture office CHORA. This cross-border project – serving both the Chinese and the Taiwanese sides of the straight – aims to introduce new impulses in city planning and energy supply. A final example is the work of Studio Mumbai, whose architects translate India’s craftsman traditions into contemporary architectural language in an attempt both to utilize and preserve them.
Animations and films delve into specific topics, while the models of Masdar and Xeritown make city planning a 3-D experience. Although the projects vary in method and scope, they share a decisive element: the combination of imagination, innovation and intellectual flexibility we urgently need to make our cities and planet sustainable.
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Post-Oil City: The History of the City’s Future, ed. by Elke aus dem Moore, Iris Lenz, Nikolaus Kuhnert, Anh-Linh Ngo, ARCH+ Verlag GmbH, Stuttgart / Berlin 2011.
For more exhibition information and press images, see
The exhibition is a collaboration between the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations and the architecture journal ARCH+. It was curated by Nikolaus Kuhnert und Anh-Linh Ngo. The German-language version of the exhibition opened in January 2010 and has been shown in Stuttgart, Berlin, Vienna, Alsdorf and Zurich.
The Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations, ifa) is an organization operating worldwide to promote artistic exchange and dialogue between civil societies and to provide information about foreign cultural policy. Ifa is Germany’s oldest and leading institution for international cultural exchange. Ifa funds two galleries in Stuttgart and Berlin, artists' exhibition projects, awards scholarships, and has some fifty exhibitions travelling the globe on its exhibition program. Ifa is funded by the German Foreign Office, the State of Baden-Württemberg and the City of Stuttgart.
ARCH+ is Germany’s leading periodical for discourses in architecture, urbanism and related fields. Founded in 1968 in the wake of the students movement, ARCH+ has kept at its core the understanding of the production of space as a societal issue. ARCH+ examines quarterly the cultural and political setting of architecture and urbanism with an indepth, mono-thematic issue. ARCH+ is edited by Sabine Kraft, Nikolaus Kuhnert, Anh-Linh Ngo, Nicole Opel, and art directed by Mike Meiré.
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