Imagineering Post-carbon Mobility Systems
Imagineering Post-carbon Mobility Systems
Smart Than Car
Solution proposed by:
Smarter Than Car & Vienna Design Week
In a Nutshell:
The collaborative imagineering and design process Post-carbon Vienna is looking at Vienna’s mobility system and develops urban strategies for a post-fossil organization of Vienna’s transport system in the year 2050. Imagineering of urban futures is a tool for establishing networks of urban actors to become engaged in urban change.
Where and When:
The project started in Vienna in 2015 and is now being shown in other cities. The project involved multi-disciplinary stakeholders from Austria, United States and Central Europe from the public and private sector as well as academia. Currently we work on a publication to widely disseminate the urban strategies developed.
As the world continues to urbanise and the effects of climate change and resource depletion (peak oil) intensify, the automotive age is entering its twilight. Road transport accounts for about 40% of global oil consumption and 80-90% of the energy consumed by road transport comes from oil. Electric cars do not necessarily improve the situation, as increased electricity demand is often met by burning coal. The biggest single step for post-carbon transition is moving towards post-carbon mobility systems. In response to this challenge we were joining researchers and designers to lay out a paradigm shift for fossil-fuel-free urban mobility.
Imagineering Post-carbon Mobility Systems is creative advocacy for urban change. The project was a bottom-up initiative that was set up as a new decision space for urban and brought together many relevant stakeholders in a creative and open setting. With the multi-disciplinary character of the initiative we were able to find innovative answers to urban challenges as our process involved designers, architects, spatial planners, landscape architects, sociologists, historians, geographers, transport planners and communication experts, amongst others. The urban strategies developed touched transport planning, smart street design, transport technology, digital technology, energy systems and innovative models for social organisation.
Imagineering Post-carbon Mobility Systems is the implementation of creative ideas into practical form. Urban future is not only created in policy or plans, it also arises in our imagination. We believe that imagineering of bold yet down-to earth solutions to urban challenges does provide huge potentials for creating opportunities within institutions, social networks and individuals to demand and actively build urban change that our society does require. We strongly believe that such an approach can also be adopted by other civil society organisations (as well as public and private sector) across the globe. The imagineering process within this project resulted in an exhibition and a discursive event that both brought together many stakeholders in Vienna and was raising their awareness about the necessity and potentials of a transition towards post-carbon mobility systems. The resulting exhibition Futurama Redux: Urban Mobility After Cars + Oil asks how a transition to post-carbon urban mobility might foster sustainability, resilience, and security while improving quality of life. The exhibition puts forward that a shift beyond fossil fuels is necessary and vital for maintaining resilient urban environments and presents models of living and mobility that require no fossil-fuel energy input.
Vienna is one of the most liveable cities in the world with very well established public service and amenities. With this project we aimed to use some of these (intellectual and technological) resources available in the city to develop new ideas and think ahead for developing new models for urban strategies. The resulting exhibition Futurama Redux: Urban Mobility After Cars + Oil broadly follows a best-case thought experiment that moves the present-day to 2050, when Vienna has become a leading city in post-carbon transition. But rather than providing a prescriptive vision of a simple solution to complex problems, the exhibition proposes a multifaceted loop of consideration, experimentation, participation, and adaptation. Steve Jobs famously described design as not only what something looks and feels like, but how it works. A similar point of view should be employed in designing future urban mobility, because it will not only look and feel different than our current motorised, enclosed, and segregated paradigm, it will have to work differently. We begin the exhibition with a brief overview of the age of cheap energy, relating shifts in mobility and society to the energy subsidy of fossil fuels in general and oil in particular, and presenting peak oil as an opportunity for post-carbon transition. Then, a toolbox of urban strategies and concepts employed by Vienna between 2015-2050 is then sketched out for making the transition. Next, we pull back from planning and design for a moment to consider context, theory, worldviews, value systems, personal experience, the ubiquity of oil, and the role of mobility in increasing urban resilience. Finally, we step into a different sort of vision of the future, a Futurama redux, fluid and dynamic and urbane, not predefined but depending on our own choices.
The imagineering process within this project resulted in an exhibition (see described above) and a discursive event that both brought together many stakeholders in Vienna and was raising their awareness about the necessity and potentials of a transition towards post-carbon mobility systems. The project is still ongoing and will now become part of a think-tank of the main decision makers of Vienna’s public utility company. We are now putting together a publication that will be published as a digital open-source publication. The talks held during the preparatory design process and the discursive event (Future Mobility Lab) are available online as well. We thereby created an online resource of freely available knowledge related to post-carbon transition.