We are at the end of an era that has lasted over seventy years, the 'Great Acceleration', during which human impact on the environment accelerated at an unprecedented speed, driven by technical developments, economic interests, and related ideologies. The warning light for this era is flashing, as predicted over forty years ago by the Club of Rome: we are experiencing a global crisis of ecosystems and, as a result, the gradual loss of our basic living resources.
Global warming is just one of many consequences of a lifestyle that displaces its negative impacts to other regions and countries. This lifestyle cannot be maintained, even with a technological transition or ‘green growth’, and its consequences are already beginning to catch up with the main polluters — ourselves. Hence, our way of life must and will change radically — for ecological, moral and, ultimately, economic reasons. A radical move away from further acceleration is not an ideological demand but a highly rational one. Thus, road and air traffic will have to be strongly reduced, our diets will have to follow other imperatives, and the growth of GDP or the DAX can no longer be equated with progress. Our societies need to reinvent themselves.
At the heart of this process stands the egalitarian city project, whose further development is the core task of our Chair of Urban Design at the Technical University of Munich. Indeed, our cities draw their vitality from openness, equal opportunity, and the appreciation of the public good and public space — and the creative expression of these values. In order to preserve these qualities during the impending crisis, it must be anticipated, including in aesthetic terms but, at the same time, strategies aiming to maintain this openness need to be developed.
It is the government's responsibility to usher in the imminent transition by courageously changing framework conditions and conveying to the population the vital significance of the current situation. Our contribution entails identifying the situation from an urban perspective, developing knowledge, and pointing out the new ways in which European cities can be further developed. Post-Acceleration Urban Development is being invented and discovered right now.
To this end, we are building a network of like-minded individuals and organisations, with whom we will work together as partners on projects and alliances. In addition, we are preparing the next generation of architects and urban planners for the impending changes. To accomplish this, we will also have to become pioneers of a new way of life and changing world of work.
On the occasion of the appointment of the new Chair of Urban Design at the Technical University of Munich, we are launching the ‘Laboratory for the Everyday City’. For we are at the beginning of a new era and, thus, of a new mode of organisation of our everyday life. This may, despite the circumstances, still lead to improvement in more people's lives. The laboratory is the experimental space for this new everyday. It is open as a partner organisation to all those who wish to positively shape the new era together with us. Thereby, the way the lab will work will itself constitute an experiment, that we will document.
The following principles will be followed in the laboratory:
We will work in a transparent way and publish our results according to the ‘open source’ principle
We will report annually on the impact of our activity on the planet and build partnerships with compensation projects
As the Chair, we will fly as little as possible, and not at all if we can reach a destination in less than ten hours by train
We will teach and promote cooperative ideas and shared-use principles as a form of knowledge that is important for the future
We will work in public space and involve the public
We are committed to the city of Munich as a community and will work towards concrete changes on the ground
We will also constantly connect the search for the new everyday life with issues related to design and urban space.
We will scrutinise, expand and modify these principles. For we may well write manifestos, but are far from being dogmatic!
Laboratory for the Everyday City