Iñaki Echeverria, “Unplugged City: The obsolescence of the physical grid and imaging the future of the urban”

By the year 2050, about 30 cities worldwide will grow beyond 20 million inhabitants and only three will be located in the so-called developed world.

Already in China, a 120,000,000 inhabitants metropolitan area is growing in the Pearl River Delta. This conglomerate incorporates three cities with separate legislations (Guangzhou, Foshan, & Zhaoqing). Known as Guangfo Metropolis, it challenges every notion of the original meaning of “city.”

Whether these new conglomerates should still be called “cities”, or a more appropriate term is needed to name and understand these constructed landscapes, is yet to be determined. Yet, one could argue that the viability of the megacity becomes the viability of the idea of the city, and that the future of the city is intrinsically linked to the future of mankind. Already more than 50% of humans inhabit some sort of urbanized reality. Visions that may redefine today´s city relation – to the environment at large, to water, and to the mutually exclusive categories of urban vs. landscape or production vs. consumption – become urgent.

The projects and methodology presented in this lecture aim to approach design that challenges these conventional definitions, both as a practice and in the methodology of the process.

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