More trees, less cars. What else?
November 6, 2023 – Article by: Martina Kuehne, Senem Wicki and Priscille Jotzu (Kuehne Wicki / Future Stuff, kuehnewicki.com)
What should Swiss cities look like in the future? A majority of people would like the urban space to be greener and less car-oriented, according to a recent study. But how do we get there? To answer this question, it is worth taking a look back.
Back to the 1970s, when concern with rising pollution and runaway resource use spurred widespread activism on behalf of the natural world. It was a time of innovative and daring ideas by some environmental activists. Let’s take the architect Glen Small, who proposed covering Los Angeles with a «Biomorphic Biosphere». Intended to provide people with a safe home and finally give the earth a breather. Or Ant Farm, a group of architects and artists from San Francisco, who designed a «Dolphin Embassy», a kind of underwater space station with wings. Thanks to new electro-hydraulics, its navigation system could be operated by both, marine animals and humans. It should guide us towards a future, in which all living creatures communicate and live happily with each other.
What does it take for our cities to remain livable places? Places to get in touch and connect? This question has become more relevant ever since. However, the era of wild utopias seems gone. Current crises (like climate change or growing inequality) make the future seem pretty dark. It’s about time to change that and address urban challenges with new ideas. Because, as Lesley Lokko, architect and director of of the African Futures Institute emphasizes on this year’s Biennale in Venice: «It’s impossible to create a better world if you can’t imagine it first.»
With «Stick to your City» we provide a space and tool to imagine better worlds. Or more precisely: better cities and neighborhoods. How do we want to engage with our neighbors in the future? Within the last two weeks we’ve been busy going local and building concrete ideas for Basel, Lausanne and Zurich. With architects and urban planners, scientists and students, futurists and entrepreneurs, and the team from Swissnex in San Francisco.
What came out of it? For example, the «Airena», a kind of playground for people and machines, where (in a post-work society) we mainly play, learn, and develop together. Or: «Lofone», a blockchain-enabled food system that decentralizes our food and supply chain in the city. And brings people together at the same time. Also: the «Animal Farm 2040», a powerful new edition of the «Dolphins Embassy». A concept that finally ensures inter-species communication thanks to AI.
Which idea was the most inspiring? There was certainly more than one! And: there were some patterns we’ve observed in all workshops:
- The desire to get in touch and connect with other living creatures is stronger than ever before.
- We want to be smarter, in order to make our cities softer (not just more efficient).
- To get there, we rely on architects and engineers, but also (surprise!) policymakers.
With the «Bepp Law», the «New Energy Deal» and the «Happy Project by Law», a surprising number of new laws were developed in our workshops.
Now, to the why. Why should we speculate on the future again? Because speculative design enables us to stretch our imagination. It encourages us to redefine what we previously believed to be unalterable. And it helps us to prepare for surprising futures. For better or worse. Here’s the constantly expanding collection of our urban ideas – let yourself be inspired!
From the Workshops
About Kühne Wicki
Kühne Wicki is an interdisciplinary office with strong expertise in futures research, futures development and futures implementation – dedicated to stuff that makes the future more accessible and tangible.