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Taming the Urban

09/12/14

We tend to idealize New York City as this ultimate urban landscape of opportunity and convenience—where we are able to score anything we want at any hour of the day at one of hundreds of 24-hour bodegas, meet people from all over the world by simply walking down the street, get a dose of culture just steps away from wherever we live. We work hard, play hard, and feel justly rewarded. With all the perceived benefits of living here, it’s easy to forget the pitfalls about urbanization, and the realities that a lot of the world faces with growing populations, especially in areas without the monetary support of more developed nations.

In just 16 years, the world’s population is projected to reach eight billion people, two thirds of which will live in cities. That’s a lot of people crammed into small spaces. And we’re not talking luxury condos in SoHo with 100-hundred units per floor (oh, the horror). We’re talking underfunded megacities that, if not planned for appropriately, run the risk of major social and economical catastrophes.

This November, the Museum of Modern Art presents Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities, in which six interdisciplinary teams of researchers and practitioners are brought together to, as the MoMA states, “examine new architectural possibilities for six global metropolises: Hong Kong, Istanbul, Lagos, Mumbai, New York, and Rio de Janeiro.” Over the course of 14 months, the teams developed proposals intended to, in essence, save these places from their own possible destruction—or at least stave off some major complications.

It took a lot of work to get New York to the place that it is now. Cities coming into their own over the next few decades will face their own sets of challenges. Uneven Growth aspires to respond to the problems while they are still on the horizon, learning from the past to create a more stable future.

Because living in cities isn’t just about complaining about the 20% increase on your unlimited MetroCard.