Sense the City – Exploring the Future with all your Senses

Coverbild: Sense the City. Zukunft mit allen Sinnen entdecken.
Schreiber, Franziska; Alexander Carius 2020: Sense the City. Exploring the Future with all your Senses. Berlin: adelphi.

When humanity has finished migrating to the cities, it is expected that three quarters of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Today, cities are already responsible for 80 percent of economic output and three-quarters of all CO2 emissions; they are home to people who are becoming increasingly segregated and have little to do with each other. If we want to make cities clean, healthy, just and humane — in short, sustainable — we have to think of cities in a completely new way. We need to think of them in bold urban visions, experimental images of the future, and as ongoing experimental spaces.

In our project “Sense the City”, we asked this question and went in search of people’s ideas about the future — and we did so on the level of the senses. We wanted to know how the city of the future should sound, smell, taste, look and feel. We not only wanted to create new spaces for thinking, but also new spaces for feeling.

We spoke with people from different backgrounds and experts from various disciplines in a series of visioning workshops. We looked at their ideas and visions, evaluated them, put them together, developed them further and illustrated them with project examples. As a follow-up, we did research into existing and imagined utopias, which take up the prototypical ideas from the workshops and break new ground.

The project shows how much creativity, optimism, farsightedness and sensuality is in all of us, if we allow it to be. The methodology developed here has released visionary energies whose existence we barely suspected, and it has given the senses a right of co-determination in the discourse on the future. The wishes and dreams for the city of tomorrow call for imitation, further development, and scaling. You can find out how to do this in this publication and on the folding poster.