The future is often imagined in terms of technological progress. A place where everything changes, except us. This is misleading. The future and the past are above all distinctive cultures, where people understand and experience their place in the universe on different terms then we do today. Culture shock is thus an inherent feature of time travel. But cultures don’t change overnight. They evolve. And by examining the stories and narratives of yesterday and today we can explore the cultural landscape of tomorrow. This is what we explore in our laboratory projects. Here are some of them.

Happening now

Amsterdam 2057

We teamed up with Amsterdam-based graphic novelist Jan Cleijne, and his publisher Scratch Books, to create a futuristic imagination of a socially inclusive and ecologically sustainable Amsterdam. The project will include an encyclopedia that details how this futuristic city actually works and looks like. What are the narratives, laws, policies and technologies that make it sustainable and inclusive and how did they come about? And it will include a graphic novel about a Amsterdam family that deals with the limitations of control and the power of unexpected tragic events.

Happening Now

Rotterdamse Academie voor Stadsastronauten

RASA (the Rotterdam Academy for Urban Astronauts) is a project in collaboration with writer and theater maker Marjolijn van Heemstra with whom we explore how to bring back the natural dark sky in our light polluted cities. We are living in an increasingly urbanized world where cities become like interior spaces. RASA strives to reintroduce the Milky Way in the city of Rotterdam in 2018. The project will bring together technology start-ups, policymakers, biologists, psychologist, safety experts and many other Rotterdammers to explore how we can create a save but dark urban night in which the manmade and the natural become realigned.

2015, Tokyo

Tokyo Totem

Cities are notoriously difficult to navigate. And we are living in an increasingly urbanized world. Tokyo Totem is a subjective guidebook that is intended to help you navigate one of the biggest metropolis in the world in a way that evokes both a sense of adventure and a feeling of belonging. It is both an investigation of how home is understood and experienced in this city and an imaginarium for personal exploration and home making. Tokyo offers a lot of spectacle and confusion. This is just a façade. Behind the neon glare lays a steady, rhythmic and miraculous everyday world that can be yours if you want it to be.

2015, Warsaw / CCA Ujazdowski Castle

The Make Yourself at home Guide to Warsaw

The Make Yourself at Home Guide to Warsaw is a guidebook we made with Rani al Raji and Anna Ptak that enables you to construct your own Warsaw. Cities are physical and social labyrinths where things are continually changing. Buildings appear or disappear, people arrive or leave, ideologies are formulated or dissolved, jobs are offered or restructured and so on and so forth. And to make matters worse: there is no underlying order you can discern, no clear roadmap you can buy, or a system you can devise to help you navigate these strange and emergent places. Cities simply defy an objective, rational position. Hence, this guidebook is designed for subjective exploration. In the perplexing circumstances that a city generates, you are offered only one recourse: to trust the subjective. A subjective compass does not necessarily make the metropolis more understandable. It does, however, make the metropolis more approachable. And, more importantly, it will make it yours.

2015, Maastricht / Bureau Europa

Workshop for
the New World

Workshop for the New World was an exhibition in Bureau Europa that explored the past, present, and future of work; how work determines our physical and social environment. By looking at work's future, we investigate possibilities for a sustainable and inclusive world. The exhibition explored how our daily actions give meaning to our lives and to our physical environment. Contemporary urban sentiment indicates a desire for a local, fairer, more sustainable, and more meaningful world: the beer-brewing hipster, the status symbol hand knitted sweater, and the hacker helping to build an open source project. But what is the relationship between the craft-brewed beer and the self-driving car? Between craft revivals and the rapid development of advanced robotics and artificial intelligence? How aligned are these two developments with each other?

2013, Utrecht / Impakt Festival

Work Songs

In Work Songs, a program we curated at the 2013 Impakt Festival in Utrecht, we investigated how we give meaning to the world through the lens of our work. It included a daily ‘Capitalist Metabolism Tour’ through Utrecht and the African Smati Turtle 1 by Melle Smets and Joost van Onna – the first African automobile built of scrap metal and with System D craftsmanship. And the lecture program ‘Fruits of our Labour’ that featured an array of responses to the imminent effects of technological unemployment, exploring a spectrum that ranges from transhumanism to a Luddite reset of society.

2012, Tokyo / Shibaura House

Still City Tokyo

Still City Tokyo was a two week international symposium we organized in Shibaura House, Tokyo, where we invited a large group of urban explorers to investigate the notion of stillness in the biggest metropolitan area in the world: Tokyo. Together we tried to figure our what it actually means to live in a manmade totality and how we can overcome our addiction to relentless economic, demographic and urban growth. How can we embrace a measure of stillness in the way we produce, consume? And, so doing, live in such a way that we can relate in a sustainable way to ourselves, our community and our natural environment.