Essay series:

Overgrowth

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26. September – 24. November

Organizers: e-flux Architecture and Oslo Architecture Triennale

Illustration: The Great Acceleration, 1750–2000.  Adapted from the Smithsonian.

Illustration: The Great Acceleration, 1750–2000. Adapted from the Smithsonian.

From birth to puberty, hamsters double in size each week. If this rate of growth continued, by its first birthday, a hamster would weigh nine billion tons, capable of consuming the entire global corn crop within less than a day. Even before humankind first saw a photograph of the whole Earth and the Club of Rome met to write about its limits, we have long known that infinite growth is impossible. Yet the critique of growth has fueled powerful reactions that have taken place both in and to our built environments, from deregulation and degradation to speculation, derivation, and exclusion. Architects and urban practitioners, toiling daily at the coalface of economic expansion, are complicit in the perpetuation of growth. They are also in a unique position to contribute towards a move away from it.

OAT and the online arts journal ​e-flux Architecture is presenting a series of essays within the context of the OAT 2019 theme, the architecture of degrowth. The series is titled “Overgrowth”, and will explore the challenge of growth-based cities and test bold alternatives for the architecture of a new cultural economy. What can architecture be when buildings are no longer instruments of financial accumulation? What kinds of spaces are built for cultivation, rather than extraction? What materials and technologies will be used when we can no longer afford value engineering? How will the architect of tomorrow will play a meaningful civic role in the creation of new building types, urban morphologies, social habits, and cultural practices? How will cities be formed when it is human and ecological flourishing that matter most? Read more.