Future Cities, Ljubljana 2014

This intensive research investigates possibilities for a disused building pit in the heart of Ljubljana. By rethinking the connection between urban life, urban production and research by design, we investigate how to foster and support flexibility and assure sustainable urban development. In this context flexibility means to create a setting and conditions which act as catalysts for added value production and where research and innovation efforts address disempowerment of the city due to unused industrial estates and weak economic conditions. By doing so, we will investigate the impact and influence that architecture as a physical artefact has on the urban structure and how it can envision viable urban futures. Using the “research by design” method, we will develop and test possible architectural instruments in varying scales. More pertinently, we will investigate and give a suggestion how architecture can help to alleviate current deadlocked economic condition and contribute to society’s demand for a sustainable urban transformation and change.

Perhaps one of the main lessons coming out of this deadlock condition is that classical neo-liberal investment strategies that are based solely on land capitalisation are limited in the flexibility of their programmes, user schemes and most importantly stakeholders, resulting in unsustainable developments in terms of long-term strategic planning. They are mainly based on the mechanism of perpetual growth of economy based on consumer culture (services, culture, tourism or innovation). Believing that unprecedented growth will continue indefinitely is illusionary; the Schumpeterian “creative destruction” is an unsustainable approach for the city development in the long run. Whenever economy starts to dwindle, the cities themselves are its most severe hostages as so much of its operability is directly dependent upon perpetual growth. This is our starting point and the core problem to be addressed.