Energy transition is both a goal and a means to an end. The goal is to realize a CO2-free living environment, but it can also be used as a lever to achieve a way of living together, a community, that is sustainable in every respect: economically, ecologically and socially.
IABR–Atelier Rotterdam © Ooze
From petroculture to postfossil culture
The energy transition affects every aspect of our lives: housing, working, mobility, nutrition, comfort, and culture. We are moving from a petroculture to a postfossil culture and this requires a new paradigm, new philosophies, and new ways of doing things. It’s clear that the transition cannot be made on the basis of the thinking and the doing that got us into trouble in the first place. It requires a new narrative of who we are and what we want, what we can want. More and more writers, thinkers, designers, and scientists are working on that new narrative. They are outlining a new paradigm, a different relationship with nature and the world, an economy based on other, more sustainable values that takes nature and society into account and an energy system that exists for the benefit ofthe community, that belongs to the community rather than prevails at its expense. In short, a paradigm that enables us to re-establish ourselves in the territory, and in good balance with nature: Down to Earth.
How then can we use the energy transition as a lever to work on this alternative future? Can we make such a paradigm change conceivable at the level of the neighborhood, for example, where the community can play a key role?
We think we can and we know why we ought to: rising temperatures and sea levels, loss of biodiversity and the depletion of resources, food shortages, floods and droughts, surging migrant flows, increasingly extreme weather conditions – and the list gets longer.
And we also know what to do: switch to the sustainable energy generated by the sun, the wind and the earth as quickly as possible, to circular material flows, to smarter mobility, and to more plant-based food, to equal sharing and to more inclusivity.
But as yet, we don’t have enough knowhow.
This is why curator Thijs van Spaandonk and co-curator Robbert de Vrieze will use IABR–2020–DOWN TO EARTH to launch a Workshop for Energy Transition as a Lever for Socially Inclusive City Making.
We are going to build, learn from each other, and practice and experiment together. We are going to get to work, using the power of imagination and research by design to make connections between the generation, storage and distribution of new forms of sustainable energy; the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, on the basis of an integrated approach; and the development of local energy-ownership and the building of a new commons.
From Local Energy Action Plan to Workshop BoTu
Since 2018 the IABR–Atelier Rotterdam, together with residents, entrepreneurs, social organizations, housing associations, and the City of Rotterdam, has been exploring how implementing the energy transition in the Rotterdam district Bospolder Tussendijken (BoTu) can also be used here as a lever for achieving an inclusive social agenda. In 2020 the results of the Atelier’s research will be presented in the form of a concrete Local Energy Action Plan. Subsequently, during the Biennale, BoTu will turn into a Workshop in both the metaphorical and the physical sense. Local knowledge and relevant lessons learned in other neighborhoods and communities in the Netherlands and abroad conjoin as instruments for the work on the next steps, in BoTu and elsewhere.
IABR–2020–DOWN TO EARTH will land at various locations in Bospolder Tussendijken, both as Workshop pop-ups and as interventions in public space, leaving as much added value as possible once the IABR’s public program has been completed. This way, the postfossil district becomes more imaginable and tangible to not only its 14,000 inhabitants, but also to designers, architects, urban designers, policymakers, politicians, developers, and the general public – everyone who wants to know how the energy transition can be used as a lever for a future that we can want.