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Speech delivered at the '''Rural Design Days''' 12th of March 2022 ˧

https://www.facebook.com/groups/globalvillages/posts/10158418153595785 ˧

Inhaltsverzeichnis dieser Seite
Abstract   
Introduction   
Slide_1 Mirador   
Slide_2 The Question   
Slide_3 Fourth Nature   
Slide_4 Marundes Landleben   
Slide_5 The Need to Grow   
1. Interdependence   
Slide_6 Regenerativity   
Slide_7 Termite Mound and Mothertree   
Slide_8 in Situ Urbanisation   
Slide_9 Desakota - Landstadt   
Slide_10 Pattern Language   
Slide_11 Strong Centers   
Slide_12 Ski Lift Station   
Slide_13 Rural Pattern Parade   
Slide_14 Global Villages   
Slide_15 Some more far fledged patterns   
Slide 16 Things I could not talk about   
2. Decentral Density   
3. Circularity   
4. Heritage and Culture as Beacons of Innovation   
5. The Logic of Global Co-Operation   
Slide_17 Loess Plateau   
˧

Abstract    
( /German ) ˧

  1. For many years, the author as researcher and convener of conferences was pretty much alone in his position or his demand, that an inner connection of future rural development with urban development should be addressed. In his perspective, the rapid development of telematic networks was seen as a factor to enforce the technical, administrative, social and cultural cooperation of urban "network nodes" with rural "front ends". ˧
  2. It was not until the Corona crisis that there was a broad social confrontation with these potentials, when a new pivot to rural resulted. On the one hand, home office and home learning developed rapidly, on the other hand and not surprisingly, a new awareness of the quality of living close to landscape and nature emerged. Paradoxically, however, small towns and periurban areas have so far been the winners of this development, while peripheral and village living spaces still suffer from structural deficiencies and are not perceived as fully-fledged habitat. ˧
  3. We can see this as a glass half-empty or half full. We can perceive a "territorial turn" in the focus of urbanites, the composition of space mattering more than buildings, and we can anticipate this territorial turn to leapfrog to the peripheral centers as well. The core of a new rural design paradigm may be to create strong regional and then, as second layer, village centers that foster local community and collaboration on one side and connection and exchange towards the outside on the other side. ˧
  4. It is important to point out that increasing attention to valuing and shaping of the local, our living spaces, is the only long-term prospect of peace that this world has. For when we see our neighborhood, our village, our community, and our region as representative of a cell or cellular tissue in a healthy earth, and work to set an example, we are not acting selfishly, but contributing to the emergence of models of a good life for all everywhere. Never before have we been able to work better as a global brain to solve the most diverse local problems, and never before has it been so obvious to share all knowledge, because this allows all communities and societies to develop better and more intensively inward. The age of empires must be obsolesced on all sides. ˧
  5. The grand view of our rural future reflects this. It is based on the assumption that we are able to learn collectively from the catastrophical consequences of geopolitical chess games and shift attention to the potentials of local circular economies. There are enormous undertakings on the way which might prove more efficient to achieve real peace than all possible military build-ups. We see seeds of change particularly in Europe that we just need to connect and combine. The future is in a countryside that brings these connections to fruition: ˧
    1. the connections between cities and villages ˧
    2. the connections between rural regions to each other ˧
    3. the increased connections within the regions ˧
    4. the connections between man and nature. ˧
Introduction    

Slide_1 Mirador    

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Thank you. To add to my introduction, I am sociologist and philosopher by education, a futurist and technophiliac by passion, a networker and connector by experience. Since 1992, for thirty years, I run the laboratory for Global Villages in Vienna, first as part as the Center for Social Innovation and then as an independent voluntary research group. The Global Villages Network is an informal group that has convened physically twice, but now is still a rather virtual connection idea, whose purpose should be made clear by this speech. ˧

Slide_2 The Question    

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It seems difficult to talk about the future when everything that we were certain of is shifting. Within a few days, the world seems to have derailed. We already thought the Corona crisis was rocking our value system. Now, again fundamental assumptions on which our world so far was built are shattered. War has returned to the European sphere. Our belief in a global network of material flows is confronted with a shortage in fossiles and many other essentila raw materials, our cosy trust in global markets that serve our needs is deeply compromised and we suddenly feel the urge to rethink and reconceptualize all of that. ˧

Could it be that this is simply another wake up call after Corona that we must reconsider resilience, proximity, circularity and above all, self - reliance as the basic design principles on which we must reshape or even rebuild our world? Is the fact that we are losing trust in our future as it used to be maybe the moment when we are actively forced to mold it in a more conscient manner? ˧

I would like very much to have us all perceive this. And also understand that what we are facing is much more than a glitch of a Kremlin madmans horrible decision. It is the obvious breaking down of the systems and spider webs of command and control spanning around the globe, of power competition and projection, of spheres of influence and domination and extraction - that used to create global cities, trade routes and the most unbalanced distribution of wealth in all the worlds history. The small high tech weaponry that annihilates conventional tanks and airplanes is like a symbol of this shift. The war on terror was never won. The empires are weaker than ever. Let us for one moment imagine that we would draw the conclusions from all this and created a truly peaceful and equitable world, applying the power of all the technology and knowledge that we have in the 21st century to strengthen nonviolent resistance and resilience everywhere. ˧

Slide_3 Fourth Nature    

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My goal is to show that a redefinition of countryside, of the rural and natural is at the core of such a transformation. Without the web of life maintaining their existence, humans are nothing. But without humans investing their energy in cultivating and supporting this web of life, nature can be much more that it is without them. "It is humans who overwhelmingly jeopardize the future of species and ecosystems, but it is also humans who are engaged in trying to secure this future." [1] ˧

We need to basically accept that our relation to nature has to shift. We need to go beyond the concepts of exploitation on one side and conservation on the other side. Researchers are calling for a fourth nature concept, returning to the original embeddedness of humans within nature - but not as an opposition to civilisation, rather as its highest flourishment . Fourth Nature means the acceptance that we are essentially part of nature, that not only human health and well-being, but also our social existence, identity and recognition are intertwined with the biosphere. ˧

Slide_4 Marundes Landleben    

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Wolf Rüdiger Marunde is a cartoonist and I would like to put a piece his perception of countryside here. (Couple in Rural Garden Home surrounded by agricultural fields:) ˧

She "Oh Darling, how beautiful. May has come" He "Yed Dear. Lets make a spring trip to the city, darling. Everything is blossoming there, in the parcs there are trees and a lot of birds .... imagine their twittering" ˧

Slide_5 The Need to Grow    

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The failure of industrial agriculture has fundamental consequences for our concept of economy and culture. A recent documentation named "the need to grow" has shown not only or primatrily the destruction, but the crucial potential of human ingenuity in soil restauration, the dramatic improvement and support that the biosphere can obtain from certain human activities. As much as rewilding and renaturing can be part of this improvement and support, it can never become an overarching concept of our relation to nature - which needs more human entanglement than retreat from nature. But on the other side we also need to do away with the abstract concept of growth measured in money and numbers. Human wellbeing is increasingly decoupled from GDP and economic growth. So what is the third concept beyond self-imposed frugality and hyperconsumption? I think we are increasingly discovering that this very concept is regenerativity or symbiosis. ˧

1. Interdependence    

The late founder of the New Work movement, Frithjof Bergmann, has tried to formulate catchphrases for this insight. Although he was dealing with urban circumstances in his long life as a practical philosopher, he coined the phrase "we must all become farmers again". I think this catchphrase is a good motto for our future of interdependence. It does not only mean that the connection to nature and to the soil underneath our feet is important for our identity. It also means that we have to sow before we can reap. We need to invest ourselves as a species in the foundational energies that, once set into motion, bring forth abundant fruit. ˧

Slide_6 Regenerativity    

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We have to master the sustainability funell, where ever growing demands are meeting ever shrinking resources, ˧

It is almost self-evident that this call is the opposite of the call for a continuation of our current industial agriculture system which is notorious for its contribution to soil depletion and erosion, contamination and intoxication, reduction of biodiversity and waste of water and other natural resources especially by the soy - livestock cycle. Vertical farming and lab meat postagriculture might be part of the picture, but they themselves might be built on exhaustive schemes of nutrient extraction and waste dissipation. There are many people that still deny that we will have a rural future at all, but their voices are increasingly drowned out by the mass exoduses we have already seen during the pandemic, as was rightfully demonstrated by Helmut Klüter yesterday in his speech about the Garden of Metropolises. Urban density stress seems to have reached a tipping point and is producing a rebound effect. And most likely the vulnerability of urban systems through the breakdown of global supply chains to be expected in our immediate future will increase this rebound effect dramatically. ˧

Slide_7 Termite Mound and Mothertree    

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The termite mound is no longer a viable model for our lives. But could it be the Mothertree? ˧

The Mothertree is a fictional habitat from the Film Avatar, and I think this image is a perfect meme for the regenerative alternative that we are looking for. The alternative is not to disband everything into farms and ecovillages, the alternative is to combine the best features of rural and urban. The leaves of the mothertree turn the sunlight into biomass, the roots of the mothertree connect to the metabolism of the soil. Yet they are structurally connected. If we take this metaphor literally, it teaches us about the potential of our postindustrial habitat. We do not just plant trees, our settlements should be be built according to the plant paradigm. ˧

Rather than isolating ourself in a chimney tube, we might see increased proximity of human and natural habitat as the design imperative of the future. Gene Zelmer has designed the 500 years city as a rhizoma of urban fingers that maximise the green surface for every single inhabitant. ˧

(Lets keep this in mind, we might return to the question of density later.) ˧

Slide_8 in Situ Urbanisation    

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The United Nations Social Report on reconsidering the countryside [2] has called for a concept called "In Situ Urbanisation", which calls for entirely new patterns of human settlement. Urban and rural shall not be separated by enormous distances, but urban functions need to be decentralized and feed into a new and diverse rurality. So the design of rural areas is one of proximity, where small urban nodes and pockets are embedded in cultured landscapes. ˧

Slide_9 Desakota - Landstadt    

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As the UN explains, in situ urbanisation is neither “classical”, which means the expansion and densification of populationin pre-existing cities, nor is it “greenfield”, where previously rural areas are converted into urban areas through a sharp increase in their population size. By contrast, in situ urbanization is actually a model of rural development in which the essential rural characteristic persists while the standard of living rises to that of the urban level. ˧

How can we imagine that? There are examples worldwide that such a development is possible, and they often bear similar names. In Indonesia the term is desakota, coming from Indonesian desa (village) and kota (city), a rural area with pockets of non-farm activities. Last year Betram Meusburger from Austria presented the "Landstadt" model in Austrias most western province, Vorarlberg. He showed that a living space that is characterized by an interplay of small towns and vital rural regions can dramatically mitigate the trend of urbanization and migration away from rural regions. ˧

Slide_10 Pattern Language    

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A good approach to understand the complexity of this development is to conceptualize a pattern language and identify the interacting elements that create positive, vitalizing feedback loops as laid out in the theory of Christopher Alexander. ˧

Alexander already hat groundbreaking assumptions about the importance of the equal distribution of cities and villages [3] and countryside as a multi - use and multipurpose space, with free public access guided by certain rules that allow for different groups and purposes to enjoy the land.[4]. ˧

Unfortunately, besides his general remarks about rural areas in the pattern shown on this slide - which are still a gold mine from which generations of designers might draw design wisdom - Alexander then shifted his attention more to cities, maybe unaware of the enormous destruction rural settlement would face by industrial agriculture. So a pattern language of the 21st century rurality still has to be written. ˧

Slide_11 Strong Centers    

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What we nevertheless can draw from Alexanders almost ontological principles of aliveness and vitality that he laid out in the Nature Of Order, is that strong centers will be mandatory, which means places that foster encounter and exchange between people. The enigma of In Situ Urbanisation, which might be the holy grail for rural design in the 21st century, might be easily solved if we consider Urbanity as Interaction, vibrant and full of surprises, not necessarily a sea of buildings. Then we need to put our attention on already existing opportunities like railway stations, market halls, village centers to turn them into pockets of urbanity. ˧

Slide_12 Ski Lift Station    

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Recently a group from Salzburg institute of spatial planning (SIR) undertook the first steps into developing a pattern language for rural areas by pointing at new emergings centers of activity symbolized by an Alpine ski lift station [5] This is a strong image because it shows the destructive side of tourism as well as its potential contributions. ˧

Slide_13 Rural Pattern Parade    

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The assumption here is that we will find hundreds of valid patterns and I would like to shortly show you just a handful of them. ˧

  • The first pattern that comes to my mind is the multifunctional village center, a place where different activities of the local community are permanently entangled. As in the example before, a combination with mobility fosters interaction, so good places for such "vitality centers" are either placed in the center of villages or at the nodes of transport, be it a bus station or a train station. We have a very valid example of this pattern even as it is still largely conceptual in the "Neue Dorfmitte" project of Silicon Vilstal, our host. A very interesting point is that "mobilíty" might also mean virtual moblity, and that mobility also works the other way round: the urban institutions can literally move to the village, a university lecture or opera viewing can be enacted in a local multipurpose hall, as we experiment with our DorfUni (Villageversity) and DorfKino (Villagecinema) projects. ˧
  • This ties into the next pattern, not an architectural one, but a rather sociological one. We need to connect learning with regional developments and do it in all ages. Several communities in Austria have created School Campuses, that start to connect people with regional agenda from their early age. In the Vorchdorf case, it was the coming together of a visionary regional developer wo promoted common activity spaces guided entirely by the users all around upper Austria with the strategic vision of a municipality that thrives on a regional cluster of metal and electronic based firms. So this was a natural match and OTELO was installed in a former school building. Here we can see the great power of self organized upskilling in a dialogue of the generations. ˧
  • The next pattern that I think hold valid - although already on a larger scale - is the theme village. Turning the circumstance that many villages are relatively small and remote into the quest of a point of attraction, identity and pride started in tourism. So from a need to generate an alternative source of income and foster a feeling of community and pride in declining rural areas resulted the idea to bevome a special place with special features and competences. Allthough the idea was develkoped in Auistria, probably Poland is the country that has developed this to the largest extent - maybe also out of the need to balance lack of traditions in the war-torn areas of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship. [6] We witnessed the infancy of this movement in 2003 - but today the whole country boasts an amazing number of theme villages. ˧
  • In Austria, the idea was further developed locally in the region of Lainsitztal by an agreement of three municipalities to complement each other with their themes, and make this useful not primarily for tourists, but also for the local population. This division of labor comes with plans for a stronger integration of the municipalities to a small region, fostered by fiberoptic connections and a local transport system that intensifies visits and commutes. ˧
  • A well thought out cluster of cluster theme villages can lead to the emergence of a rural urbanity like indicated above - and drastically increase the problem solving capacities of the microregion even without a central location or small town nearby. This "Landstadt" therefore is the third pattern I want to highlight here - with all its mobility subpatterns like small distance flexible call taxis, ride - along benches with electronic displays and so on. We see these patterns work very well in some pilot communities already and the expectation is that they will quickly spread accross the countryside. ˧
  • There is a huge potential for other spatial patterns that correspond with the already mentioned ones. But not only spatial ones. ˧
Slide_14 Global Villages    

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Time may have run out, so I would like to conclude with a comment on Helmut Klüters "Garden of Metropolises" speech yesterday ˧

I agree with all your propositions. But there is one incredibly important thing to add: ˧

The more we shift to the local and discover the immense potential of circular economies, the more we discover the potential of global intellectual cooperation and inspiration. ˧

This is the reason why I think our future villages will be aptly called Global Villages. ˧

Slide_15 Some more far fledged patterns    

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  • The concentric settlementis a scheme for a hypothetical pattern that was introduced by Richard Rogers Parnerhsip as the original solution at the ParcBit? challenge in Mallorca 1994 for the way global connectedness shapes space. Although it had to give way to a conventional industrial parc, we realize today that it was far ahead of its time and will prove as a valid solution, especially when combined with the idea of linear cities that Gleb Tyurin showed us last year in his magnificat speech on suppress Soviet architectural concepts. (closer explanation to follow NER) ˧
  • One more concept that I want to mention is the idea of surrounding larger cities with a ring of gardening communities gradually replacing suburban structures romoted by a group from hamburg around Ralf Otterpohl. These Garden Ring Villages would intentionally bring back regenerative agriculture including edible forests - restoring green cover and soil health as a base of water purification, CO² absorption, biodiversity, healthy climate and ofg course food security [7] This resonates with David Holmgrens Vision of Retrosuburbia [8] All these ideas would put a natural limit to further city growth. ˧
  • Finally, especially facing the current global situation, we must even go one level higher. In seeking new ways to organise societies that respect humans and nature, we must even question the system of territorial nation states. [9]. ˧
Slide 16 Things I could not talk about    

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2. Decentral Density    

I want to focus on the fact that reconsidering the countryside as a fully operational equivalent to cities does not by any means mean that we export urban sprawl into a larger area. We also must find attractive alternatives to the single family home, which brings us to the point of Decentral Densification. ˧

Arcology
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Megaburbs > mistaken for Metroburb ˧

Bridge Cities ˧
3. Circularity    

Green Chemistry ˧

Organic Integration of Building in Metabolic cycles. Living machines. ˧

4. Heritage and Culture as Beacons of Innovation    

5. The Logic of Global Co-Operation    

Slide_17 Loess Plateau    

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˧





[1] https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1525003113

[2] https://www.un.org/development/desa/dpad/publication/un-desa-policy-brief-104-in-situ-urbanization-key-to-leaving-no-one-behind/

[3] https://einemustersprache.de/2-die-verteilung-der-staedte

[4] https://einemustersprache.de/7-das-land

[5] https://pattern-language.wiki/.../Kategorie:Muster_in_Dörfern

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thematic_village

[7] https://www.gardenringcities.com/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTv5qkKWAIs

[8] https://retrosuburbia.com/

[9] https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/nation-states-are-destroying-the-world-could-bioregions-be-the-answer/