21. Urban futures: challenges and vision

"I've seen things ... you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion; I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate ... All those moments will be lost, in time, like tears in rain. Time to die."

In Bladerunner (Scott, 1982) replicant Roy paints in his soliloquy horizons no human has seen. LA 2019 is the setting for the cyber-punk movie, posing questions regarding citizenship, environment, technology, power, and democracy. The city is a gigantic dystopian machine.

2019 is close, just two years from the AESOP 2017 conference: where are the urban beams glittering in the future?

We invite papers to a track, which as a 'laboratory' tries to present experiments, either intellectual or practical, sketching out broad utopian views or developing concrete utopias (Bloch, 1986). Spatial horizons are not specified. Time horizons should reach far, helping us to escape the boxes of actual debate.

The track aims at fostering new ideas and ways of understanding urban futures. We encourage considering the possible evolutions of environmental, technological, political, social variables or conditions in the very long term. Scenarios can include, but are not limited to:

Papers should be submitted to the track, approaching perspectives on above outlined themes or other relevant ones. We would like to hear from you, what the important relations and conditions that affect people and places in the future are and how we could react to this, counteracting problematic or enhancing positive developments, but in all cases dealing with “unknowable novelty”.

The format of the track will be different, too. Together we will work during the track sessions on new horizons, which shall also be sketched out in experimental forms of interaction. Inspired by Harvey (2012, X) and Lefevbre, the track invites you to envision “an alternative urban life that is less alienated, more meaningful and playful but … conflictual and dialectical, open to becoming, to encounters (both fearful and pleasurable), and to the perpetual pursuit of the unknowable novelty”.

Bloch, E. (1986) The Priciple of Hope, Cambridge Ma.: MIT Press [original Das Prinzip Hoffnung, Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1959].

Harvey, D. (2012). Rebel cities: from the right to the city to the urban revolution, London: Verso.

Scott, R. (1982), Blade Runner, USA: Warner Bros (film, 117 min).