On September 20th, TEDx Vienna brought on stage the issue of the “Unfinished City”. It brought cities as verbs and processes as much as nouns and places. Throughout the evening, prominent designers, architects, educators, and change makers delivered talks on smart cities and changing paradigms of urban planning, bicycle urbanism, the hidden stories of immigration, and even street art. The important thing about the talks was that all speakers were based in Vienna, and all talks root their topics locally. Because, afterward, what are the unfinished issues of Vienna, one of the world’s most livable cities?
Making change is not all rainbows and butterflies. It’s a tough, difficult business and a whole lot of work: to be indifferent to the unspeakable violence around us and to look on, doing nothing: now, that’s easy. But taking a stand, and fighting for what you believe in, even if it means fighting alone: that takes more than guts. That’s what our first Talk, with Daniella Patti and Levent Polyak from Wonderland, was made of: humanity, exchanging experience, courage.
Our second speaker, Professor Stefan Gruber, took our thoughts from a home to a city perspective. If we stop to think about, we will realize that our home office, dining room, our apartment, parking lot… some (perhaps all) home spaces are used only part of the day. Take it to a city level! Professor Gruber reminded the crowd about the importance of ownership, meaning that instead of relying upon others and waiting for the answers to be given to you, you are actively seeking your goals. And architecture can influence our attitudes towards ownership – collectively shaping our environment, sustainably using its common-space.
As both one of the world’s most livable and most innovative cities, Vienna is rightfully proud of its quality and its accomplishments. And yet Vienna’s success also gives rise to perhaps its greatest threat: The illusion of its completion. The fact is that there is still much to do in Vienna, as in every city. Michael Badics, senior director of AE Solutions, shared on stage a prototype to support analyzing invisible physical data of maps, details that demystifies the completion of cities. You can find kindergartens, cultural spaces, newest constructions in a city, and so forth.
But, what is a city, really? Or, better, what city do you envision? The world we live in today is far from perfect. There are issues that need to be solved, conflicts that need to be settled and struggles that need to be overcome. However, should anyone ask Nathan De Groot, the forth speaker of the night, why is he looking forward to the next 5 years, or the next 10, or the 15, we guess he will say “new concepts, strategies and methods for a dynamic and flexible interpretation of contemporary urban life are out there. And they are shaping our society. Isn’t that so exciting?”
Talking about future – It is said that by 2050 the world population will be double as much as today. As cities will be crowded, it also grows the mobility of these people. From one place to another, current mobility systems will not be applicable to future generations. And our 5th speaker, Florian Lorenz, delivered a speech on the hope that bicycles will be the next dominant mobility source. We use bikes to adapt to a city, but not to create our city. And for cities that grow in such a fast pace, a bicycle urbanism is certainly possible and the best sustainable choice.
Which brings us to the next topic: the tense situation around fossil sources, such as oil, natural gas and coal. This should be an opportunity to build up challenging technological systems, innovative financial mechanisms, and, therefore, new great business opportunities. And our 6th speaker, Ulfert Höhne, shared ideas and aspirations on the road to a Smart Energy Economy Business Model, describing practical solutions to massively reduce energy consumptions and to create value for people, firms and local authorities.
Not just a business model, we want to have a framework where a city can grow. According to our following speaker, Gregor Wiltschko, we need to take urban planning from idealization to implementation. Urban is much more dynamic, and much more stable. Through strategic urban planning and a history of environmental ambition, “Smart Cities” can create swarms of cyclists, large recreational areas, pedestrian streets, clean water in the harbor and world-class integrated public transport. Planning tools, stakeholder commitment and collaboration between different sectors – Gregor brought his experience on different approaching to sustainable urban solutions and how to meet the needs of our city regarding social, environmental and economic challenges.
Finding common ground and sharing responsibility are essential in designing the “City 2.0”. And on the power of togetherness and community learning, Ilkim Erdost, our 8th speaker and the principal of a school for adult education in Vienna, shared the best ways of working together, in a city and as a city. On her words, the best way to work together starts by sharing a vision. It may take time, but long term commitment build trust in communities, and such relation connects all neighborhoods, and networks, and the whole city, finally. That’s how a City 2.0, as we call here, starts to grow up.
Our last speaker of the night, Nicholas Platzer, brought on stage his dedication in exhibiting street art, pop surrealism and lowbrow art from around the globe. A world traveler and real change maker, Nicholas has been paving the way for street art to become part of Vienna’s local psyche. Inoperable Gallery, his street art project, attempts to break through traditional ideas of ‘art’ in the Viennese community, bringing the ‘street’ into the city. Artists are connected to the public via the Inoperable Gallery, and it allows people to wander through its doors to experience a range of works from various artists amongst local and international heroes.
At the end of the day, TEDx Vienna City 2.0 experience was unparalleled. Never had anyone imagine being able to connect with so many cities in one common room. It proved once again that there is just so much evil existing in this world we call home. At the same time, world population keeps increasing in such a fast pace that it is almost impossible to foresee if cities can follow this up and provide basic sustainable living capacities to humanity. But needless to add, options, ideas and models are infinite when it comes to change communities, strength networks, and shape a new future. “Dream me. Build me. Make me real.” That’s what we envision for City 2.0.
Early bird tickets for TEDxVienna UNLIMITED
We would also be more than happy to welcome most of you on the 2nd of November at our 2013 full day conference held at the Volkstheater Vienna. You can expect a day long event with 16 international speakers, 1 live band, lots of interactive exhibitions and an afterparty in the “Rote Bar“. So hurry up, early bird tickets are available only until the very beginning of October and they are selling out fast!
Guest article by Renato Dornelas, Project Manager at Super Social. About profile.