Dr. Andreas Brück
Urban Tomor­rows 2030 – Visi­ons & Coun­ter-visi­ons for Future Cities

Urban Tomor­rows is a rese­arch about future cites — visi­ons and coun­ter-visi­ons, dreams, expec­ta­ti­ons, today’s fears and dis­be­liefs, and poten­ti­als for urban design and gestalt of conur­ba­tons. It is about ima­gi­na­ries, ideas and con­cepts of urba­niz­a­tion and built envi­ron­ments; about the asso­cia­ti­ons we make to and engen­der in the pla­ces we live in. The work dis­cus­ses visi­ons of future cities — past and pre­sent — and their influ­ence on dis­cour­ses, agen­das, urban design pro­po­sals; hence the urban eco­lo­gies ima­gi­ned for tomor­rows and their labo­ring over time. It reflects on chal­len­ges for cities, on methods and tools of rese­arch and design that seek to mediate urban trans­for­ma­tion, and deba­tes pos­si­ble future deve­lo­p­ments. It explo­res what today’s visi­ons could mean for cities, how some ideas could be use­ful to rese­arch and design prac­tice, and aspects that threa­ten pro­ces­ses of inno­va­tion, nego­tia­tion, imple­men­ta­tion, and evo­lu­tion through time. It cri­ti­cally reflects on con­tem­porary visi­ons, oppor­tu­nities, pro­blems, agen­das and actors pro­pa­ga­ting those. Along the pro­cess the work asserts the pos­tu­late that even with tho­rough ana­ly­sis and arti­cu­late pro­jec­tion tools the future will remain uncer­tain, and hence argues that urban tomor­rows need to embrace their plu­ra­lity and that of their makers. Mun­dane strug­gles, con­te­sta­ti­ons and the graf­ting of the urban — not only visi­ons, theo­ries, phi­lo­so­phies and agen­das — is what in the end deter­mi­nes the design and gestalt of our cities.

The the­sis com­men­ces by pro­vi­ding an over­view on issues rela­ting to future city rese­arch: cur­rent state, gaps, and metho­do­lo­gies that tar­get under­stan­ding and pro­jec­ting urban tomor­rows. It dis­cus­ses exis­ting stra­te­gies and eva­lua­tes alter­na­ti­ves that assess the future of cities using trans-disci­pli­nary approa­ches and methods inclu­ding unor­tho­dox ones such as those of futu­ro­logy. To scale and con­tex­tua­lize the work an out­line of his­to­ric city ima­gi­na­ries is pre­sen­ted, reca­pi­tu­la­ting how visi­ons in the past were labo­red and com­mu­ni­ca­ted, and from a retro­spec­tive per­spec­tive, what effects they even­tually had on cities. The­reu­pon, this work dis­cus­ses expec­ta­ti­ons for 2030 (and fur­ther) through tri­an­gu­la­ting lite­ra­ture, third-party fin­dings, and empi­ri­cal data obtai­ned from inter­views with experts, out­co­mes of a sym­po­sium with urban scho­l­ars, and a wider array of ideas collec­ted through a crowd­sour­cing plat­form. Fol­lowing a qua­li­ta­tive approach it con­cep­tua­li­zes on poten­tial urban futures through dis­cus­sing visi­ons and coun­ter-visi­ons along four lines of thought: envi­ron­men­tal, eco­no­mic, socie­tal, and tech­no­lo­gi­cal which are later incor­po­ra­ted into a com­pre­hen­sive assess­ment of today’s pro­jec­tions.

Urban Tomor­rows agrees that visi­ons are of para­mount signi­fi­cance as refe­ren­ces, goals and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tools in a rapidly chan­ging urban world; and the­r­ein, that we need a prac­tice that is less fear­ful of a pre­sup­po­sed chaos of ques­tio­ning codes, regu­la­ti­ons and hier­ar­chies, and more dar­ing in regards to socia­li­zing the joy of envi­sio­ning the future and dis­cus­sing its poten­ti­als. Reflec­ting on five years of tea­ching urban design stu­dents on bache­lors and mas­ters levels, this rese­arch also dis­cus­ses the need for a new kind of urban pro­fes­sio­nals that are able to incor­po­rate his­to­ri­cally wal­led disci­pli­nes into holistic approa­ches to tackle urban com­ple­xi­ties and ori­ent the city of the future. Advo­ca­ting for an open and demo­cra­tic pro­duc­tion (not only con­sump­tion) of future cities, it calls for a new urban sci­ence that incor­po­ra­tes both rese­arch and design, that is anti­ci­pa­tory rather than reac­tive, and one that employs ima­gi­na­tion as tool in maneu­vering through forth­co­m­ing local and glo­bal needs and cri­ses of cities and life wit­hin them.