14th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia
07 Jun - 23 Nov 2014
04 Sep 2014 until 06 Sep 2014
«Salon Suisse» 1: Design—The Nature of Cities
Salon 1: Design—The Nature of Cities

While the planning disciplines have a lot of professional expertise in working on cities, there is surprisingly little scientific insight into what actually makes cities work. We still go about urban design and planning very much like alchemists, with many preconceived notions, some dogmata, the occasional brilliant insight, but few hard facts.
Cities are agglomerations of people. They are a product of social interactions and shape us while we shape them. They are as complex as society itself. As such, cities elude complete control. Urbanism oscillates between top-down planning decrees and bottomup organic growth, the result being an uneasy mix – often charming, sometimes toxic – of the planned and the accidental.

Night One: Space, Time and Infrastructure:
Kim Stanley Robinson, David Gugerli, Stephen Graham 
Moderation: Markus Schaefer

There is a contemporary obsession with systemic thinking. It surfaces in science fiction, inspires game design, affects disciplines as diverse as urban geography, anthropology or ecology and is formalized in complexity research by physicists or mathematicians. In the process, the supposedly distinct academic arenas of society, economy and politics are merging with those of the biophysical world into what Wallerstein called a World-System theory. History is not its central frame of reference, but rather the relationships inside such a system and how they unfold in and are determined by the specifics of space. The topography of Mars in Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Mars Trilogy” then starts to resonate with Edward Soja’s theories of space or David Gugerli’s description of infrastructure as the foundation of Swiss nation-building.

Night Two: Systems, People and Power:
Didier Sornette, Denise Pumain, Stephen Graham
Moderation: Markus Schaefer

Cities are complex systems. This complexity is based on a variety of cultural techniques that stabilize relationships between people (from institutions to symbols), that ensure communication (from writing on clay tablets to the internet), and that control resource flows (from infrastructure and industry to military and money). Urban space is based on the sum of such techniques. With their increasing sophistication they allow for a growing abstraction from material reality. Today we control resource flows that span the entire globe and are financed by an integrated financial system. However, with integration comes interdependence and with abstraction volatility. While Didier Sornette studies such interdependence and its dynamics, David Graeber works towards a vision of a more egalitarian and stable society.

Night Three: Scale, Progress and Durability:
Hidetoshi Ohno, Angelus Eisinger, Denise Pumain
Moderation: Markus Schaefer

Cities are catalysts for interactions. Research done at the Santa Fe Institute shows that cities exhibit scale effects: larger cities generate more opportunity with less infrastructure per inhabitant. This effect explains the transformative power of urbanity despite the often negative consequences of scale. As portals to the global economy and culture, cities are attractive; and in an urban age, cities compete and cooperate with other cities. They tend to grow and link up as Denise Pumain demonstrates in her research. But what happens when growth stops? After the boom in the 1980s, Japan experienced almost two decades of deflation and is now facing a shrinking and aging demography. With his concept “Fibercity” Hidetoshi Ohno proposes a comprehensive plan for a shrinking metropolis.

Partner: Laufen Bathrooms AG

Sponsor: technologycluster-zug; V-ZUG Immobilien AG

Furniture sponsors: USM U. Schärer Söhne AG; Cassina

Media partners: Das MagazinSpecialist journals TEC21, Tracés, archi / www.espazium.chOpendata.chwerk, bauen + wohnen