INTERVIEW: ''Planning the Unknown''

Born 1973; Doctorate in geography; from 1997 to 2013 Member of the Daimler Society and Technology Research Group in Berlin; since 2010 Member of raumtaktik - office from a better future.; key activities in the fields of social science research, urban and mobility research, and social transformation research

- Can you give a short discription of your practice “raumtaktik” and the content of recent research projects mainly “The Baukulturatlas Germany 2030/2050”?

 “raumtaktik” is currently dealing with a project on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). It is called “Baukulturatlas 2030/2050 in Germany”. It dealt with current and future challenges in terms of new energy structures, the re-thinking social and physical infrastructures and the socio-economic agenda for the coming years. These transition effects will affect land use and will derogate landscape to a high degree. The face of Germany will change significantly in coming decades. One interesting finding was, that we shouldn’t focus on “Baukultur” as a built environment. The “Baukulturatlas Deutschland 2030/2050” attempts to extend this definition of “Baukultur” to be understood not only as built, but as “lived-in environment”. This broader understanding of Baukultur as the lived-in environment refers to processes of appreciation that will be changed through usage, creation and perception. This not only changed the view of the stakeholder that are involved in architectural processes, rather Baukultur is embedded in a holistic, processoriented context.

In terms of findings we had three major topics that we call paradigms. The first paradigm could be adressed as a new agenda for decentralized production regimes.. We think that large industrial clusters and large industrial agglomerations might look completely different or no longer exist in future. Much more decentralized production schemes will come up – a maker economy - and will completely reorganize the way of how we produce and how we consume goods.

The second paradigm is a new understanding of how we create wealth in the future. The current paradigm is more or less framed by the mere focus on economic growth. We understand that there are alternative modes of “wealth-creation-models” to consider. We need to have a closer look at them and ask ourself “How do we perceive wealth? What is quality of life beyond these models? And how do we organize a transformation from one mode to the other?” All of theses questions will gain much more focus in the future. We are not sure whether they will succeed, but they will gain more relevance in the public discourse and their impact on how we organize cities, urban life and economics.

The third paradigm is “What kind of energy infrastructure are we facing?”,  basically, how will new energy landscapes look like. It is dealing with the discussion that we are facing since three or four years. “How will energy be produced? Where will it be produced? How will it come from the source to the consumer?”, and what does it mean for urban and rural spaces: Is there a new agenda of spatial inclusion?

- So, what are the scenarios for this development? Is it obvious what will happen?

We based our findings on three scenarios, which are completely different from each other. These scenarios act as our future reference system that enables to draw consequences for the present. When we deal with the year 2050, there is obviously no idea of how future will look like. It is not possible to have a clear understanding how the year 2050 in Germany, Europe or in the US will look like. We have to gain an entirely different methodological understanding of how we deal with futures. We no longer take trends or prognosis from historical data and transfer or expand them into the future. We have to incorporate speculations. All of them can occur to the same likelihood. And we have to ask ourselves “While we have these alternative futures, what does it mean for the present? How can we deal with all three scenarios and what are robust paths and successful paths for all three scenarios to overcome todays obstacles?” It is interesting to observe that even for very diverse and very speculative scenarios, there are always robust requirements, paths and projects on how to continue. Moreover, we have to implement a very systemic understanding of what the future might be. Only then we are able to de-write our consequences in the present. Future speculations are a great way to learn a lot about the present. 




Conducted by Martin Sobota

Rotterdam & Berlin

11. June 2014


Full version of the interview you can download below (PDF)


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