As our planet moves ever more turbulently towards more than two degrees of warming, DOWN TO EARTH: Designing for the End Game is a call to designers: Time has run out, we have to take action now!
Compiled and largely written by head curator George Brugmans, this visually rich book on designing in times of climate crisis is the final project of DOWN TO EARTH, the antitypical 9th edition of the Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (2020 and 2021).
In part one, ‘How Can We Land?’, Brugmans reports on the research by design conducted in the IABR–Ateliers. He anchors it in the history of the IABR as a cultural research institution focused on real change and describes the exhibited results in a ‘retrospective catalog’. This part contains the research results of IABR–Atelier Rotterdam III (OOZE architects & urbanists led by Eva Pfannes); IABR–Atelier East Flemish Core Area (PLUSOFFICE architects and Architecture Workroom Brussels led by Joachim Declerck); IABR–Atelier Draught in the Delta (Studio Marco Vermeulen); Waterschool M4H+ (Studio Makkink & Bey), and IABR–Atelier Dordrecht (West 8, VenhoevenCS architecture+urbanism, PosadMaxwan, EGM architects and Studio Donna van Milligen Bielke led by Adriaan Geuze).
In part two, ‘Where Can We Land?’, which also includes an essay by Dirk Sijmons and an account of a conversation between lecturers and students at the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture, Brugmans reflects extensively on our awkward presence in the Anthropocene. He argues for the (re)introduction of art policy as a condition for a truly free space for design and offers suggestions to designers and imagineers on how to position themselves now that the endgame is part of the human condition.
Because everything must change if the endgame is a given – and we know it is, we are in the middle of it.
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