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Imagining possible futures and our hunger for realising them are as old as human civilization. In the twenty-first century our collective futures in cities are a vital consideration for humanity and the planet. When is the future for our cities made? Is our fate as urban dwellers fixed in position by decisions and actions already taken? Or predetermined by irreversible global environmental collapse? How many urban futures are there for Christchurch? Can the future be altered and who can shape it? How can today’s presence in the city transition into a ‘permanent’ future?
The Transitional movement in Christchurch is built on the premise that alternative futures for this city and all cities can be explored in three-dimensional space by those who choose to implement their ideas in the present. FESTA 2014 proclaims that we don’t need to wait for the future, futures can be present now and will be live.
We’ve invited urban practitioners, theorists, artists, performers, designers, citizens, students and grandmothers to make proposals for their diverse and possibly contradictory futures to be presented live in Christchurch, New Zealand from 24-27 October 2014 as part of the city’s annual Festival of Transitional Architecture.
Projects and events from experienced practitioners and those fresh to transitional city-making will be presented at FESTA 2014. They are hugely diverse – they divert from, anticipate or ignore the future outlined by the official government-led Blueprint for Christchurch. These present urban futures are utopian and dystopic, nostalgic and calculated, naive and hard-bitten. Projects address urban concerns at the scale of the city, the block, the street, the lot, the human figure, the finer grain of a masonry wall and the size of a pixel. Inspiration has been drawn from a number of sources: the cyperpunk techno-wizardry of William Gibson’s feral street-rats in Virtual Light; Russell Hoban’s post-apocalyptic, prehistoric-future, reuse world of Riddley Walker; or the now three-year-old desires of the citizens of Christchurch expressed in ‘Share an Idea’. Individuals, partnerships, community organisations, art collectives and practices address looming problems, challenges and opportunities now or simply remind us what will continue to be important now and in the future.
*With acknowledgement and apologies to Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011), poet