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 know enough about how to achieve our ambitions. This is why IABR will launch the Workshop BoTu in the Bospolder-Tussendijken neighborhood in Rotterdam, headed by curators Thijs van Spaandonk and Robbert de Vrieze. In the run-up to the biennale, and as of September 2020, the Workshop will be making small but concrete steps towards a 'manual', a how to. In short, we are going to build, learn from each other, and practice and experiment together, using an integrated approach. We are going to get to work in order to make practical connections between the generation, storage and distribution of new forms of sustainable energy; the need to develop local energy-ownership and the building of a new commons; and the urgency to contribute, on the level of the neighborhood, to the achievement of all the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
From Local Energy Action Plan to Workshop BoTu
The Workshop BoTu takes over, as it were, from the IABR–Atelier Rotterdam. Since 2018, and together with residents, entrepreneurs, social organizations, housing associations, and the City of Rotterdam, the Atelier 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 the fall of 2020 the results of the Atelier’s research will be presented in the form of a concrete Local Energy Action Plan that is now being developed by Eva Pfannes and OOZE Architects and Urbanists.
In the run-up to DOWN TO EARTH, BoTu will turn into a Workshop that, during the biennale, will bring together local knowledge and relevant lessons learned in BoTu and in other neighborhoods and communities, in the Netherlands and abroad, to devise and propose next steps, again, for BoTu and elsewhere.