ALPHABET FOR THE FUTURE
A new curatorial initiative conceived and created by Matteo Cainer.
The project aims to bring together international architects, urbanists, designers and the creative industries in a carefully crafted symphony of sketches and concepts capable of transforming the pandemic crisis into an opportunity to foster new lines of thinking, innovation and research. Envisioning radical strategies and alternative behavioural models for the future of our cities will provide an opportunity to question our current mode of living and create a new resilient global narrative.
Pandemics have always been a catalyst for change in our societies and cities, from developments of water and sewage systems during the outbreaks of diseases like typhoid and cholera, to the planning of green areas like Central Park in New York, the Thames embankment in London and the Haussmann plan that transformed Paris into the modern-day ‘City of Light’. Today with Covid-19, issues of density, living, working, migration, climate change and collective interaction are at the core of our discussions, from Hashim Sarkis demanding ‘new spatial contracts’ at the Venice Biennale, to Rem Koolhaas addressing urgent environmental, political and socioeconomic issues of rural areas with Countryside, The Future at the Guggenheim in New York. Should we start by looking back to the Garden Cities of Ebenezer Howard, the ‘greenbelt towns’ or Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic architecture and the industrialized austerity and cleanness of the Bauhaus or are the seventies Viennese utopian explorations of ‘pneumatic air-structures,’ by Haus-Rucker-Co and Coop Himmelb(l)au our new normal?
Separation or connection? Individual or collective? Private or public? Natural or artificial? Sophisticated or minimal? These and many more questions are constantly challenging both physically and psychologically, architects and designers worldwide.
One thing is clear: in these times of uncertainty, we need to anticipate, evolve and transform our urban and collective spaces, internal environments and objects of use, by not only decorticating old models and welcoming hybrid negotiations with new realities, but generating new paradigms of living that integrate nature and social thinking into our designs. Our society is grappling with a global epidemic, disastrous economic downturns, yet we need to be forward-thinking and ready to design with a new awareness, one that is not nostalgic of old models but energized and dynamic, able to address latency and time, with projects that are more egalitarian, holistic with a reduced environmental impact and in tune with nature and the elements. Enhancing the humanity of projects and fostering a comprehensive sensibility and active social empathy will help us create the necessary foundations to build alternative and more generous human-centric solutions.
The curatorial aspiration is to make a difference by promoting cultural value, by moving beyond the current scene often dominated by cyberspace, video simulation and where aesthetics has become the legitimate response and the new ethics! Instead, we wish to promote the 'sketch' and its power to clearly convey innovative ideas and revolutionary concepts. In this pause of accelerated online immersive environments and the institutionalization of the fake and legitimacy of lies, we want to go back to the essence and illustrate how the power of a simple idea can be a catalyst for future change.
Each of the invited participants has been given free rein to choose their focus of interest in how the pandemic will inform and influence our imminent way of living. The idea is to embrace multiple universes, creating a theatre of imagination where architecture, design and the creative industries will collaborate, revealing resonances, synergies, objectives and negotiations for our transforming cities.
The object is to arrive at a collection of fresh ideas that will become a new ‘Alphabet for the Future’. A new vocabulary of projects and desires that will give us agency and help us create the foundation and framework for understanding a new architectural and design language, one capable of addressing global issues while negotiating with our past realities.
I believe there has been a positive shift in our cultural values; therefore it is important to capitalize on them by informing and creating a radical platform so as to begin discussing a critical way of infiltrating the future of our cities post Covid-19. Our future is at stake, we need to look at the bigger picture, at the context, so as to emerge, evolve and consciously influence our cities with projects that have the depth and capacity to reverberate and echo a new social awareness.
Optimistic and fearless of what is to come, we launch this challenge to engage creatives to reshape the status quo and sketch a new extraordinary world, one that is ready to disrupt and hack the system so as to inspire and prepare us to actively participate in the post-pandemic coexistence with amazing resilience and a new narrative for a more sustainable social, political and infrastructural urban future.