November 6, 2013  |  Collection & Exhibitions
Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities
Rio de Janeiro, 2013. Photograph by Pedro Gadanho

Rio de Janeiro, 2013. Photograph by Pedro Gadanho

Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities, the third iteration in MoMA’s Issues in Contemporary Architecture series, has just launched with a lively public conversation in MoMA PS1’s VW Dome. Like Rising Currents and Foreclosed before it, Uneven Growth is organized around a series of workshops, followed by an exhibition at MoMA (opening in November 2014), with six interdisciplinary teams each working on an urban case study. The project’s theme is the complex issue of the megacity, and the fast-growing urban environments that juxtapose disparate economic and social realities. By 2030 the world’s population will be a staggering eight billion people. Of these, two-thirds will live in cities. Most will be poor. With limited resources, this uneven growth will be one of the greatest challenges faced by societies across the globe. As the world shifts toward a large majority of urban population, and as recent global economic crises call into question traditional modes of planning cities, different narratives and design tactics are urgently needed to address new urban conditions.

Mumbai, 2013. Photograph by Pedro Gadanho

Mumbai, 2013. Photograph by Pedro Gadanho

The design proposals coming out of Uneven Growth will seek to address this unequal urban development. Twelve teams around the world have been asked to collaborate, so as to challenge current assumptions about the relationships between formal and informal, bottom-up and top-down urban intervention. The six resulting collaboratives will also address potential changes in the roles architects and urban designers might assume vis-à-vis the increasing inequality of current urban contexts. The workshop and exhibition will consider how emergent forms of tactical urbanism can respond to alterations in the nature of public space, housing, mobility, spatial justice, environmental conditions, and other major issues in near-future urban contexts.

The six Uneven Growth collaboratives bring wide-ranging perspectives and fresh insight to the question of re-envisioning the megacity in different world regions. Cohabitation Strategies, of Rotterdam and New York, is teaming up with local practice Situ Studio to look at the future of New York; MAS Urban Design at the ETH in Zurich is joining local practice RUA Arquitetos to take a stance vis-à-vis Rio de Janeiro; The MIT-based POP Lab is partnering with local practice URBZ to address urban change in Mumbai; Inteligencias Colectivas of Madrid is collaborating with local practice NLÉ Architects to propose ideas for Lagos; Network Architecture Lab of Columbia University in New York joins local practice MAP Office to deal with Hong Kong; and the Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée (AAA) of Paris, with local practice Superpool, will come up with proposals for Istanbul.

MAP Office. PRD Leaning Planning, Thin Pattern. 2003. Multimedia installation

MAP Office. PRD: Leaning Planning, Thin Pattern. 2003. Multimedia installation

On October 26, the first workshop in which the teams came together signaled the public launch of this curatorial endeavor. Teams gave brief overviews of their practices and presented initial responses to the project brief. Discussion followed, with responses by landscape and urban designer Diane Balmori, NYU professor of sociology and metropolitan studies Harvey Molotch, Harvard professor of urban theory Neil Brenner, editor and architecture critic Cathy Lang Ho, designer and writer Quilian Riano, Loud Paper’s Mimi Zeiger, AUM Studio’s Carla Leitão and Ed Keller, Project for Public Spaces’ Ken Farmer, and Damon Rich, chief architect of Newark and founder of Center for Urban Pedagogy. They posed a series of questions on which to bear down on as the projects progress, from the question of spatial politics inspired by Henri Lefebvre’s right to the city, to the rise of the power of mayors, and from the question of how to democratize access to produce the urban environment, to temporal issues and the question of how to integrate an aspiration to learn from informal tactics with the design of city protocols and, even, of economic models.

You will be able to follow the progress of this 14-month initiative right here. The workshops at the Shenzhen and Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale (December 2013) and MAK Vienna (June 2014) will be live-streamed and documented in this blog. And along the way, insights from guest critics and urban reflections by the participants—such as Superpool’s survey on recent urban developments in Istanbul—will also be published at post, the website of MoMA’s research initiative Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives in a Global Age (C-MAP).