urbanNext | expanding architecture to rethink cities
For more than 4,000 years, human beings have been organizing collectively in different urban conditions. Information technologies, advances in engineering, social participation, ecological challenges, and new cultural references all add dimensions to this urban framework, making its discussion and conceptualization a much more complex task. Expanding on traditional categories like the megalopolis or the rural village, the small town or the city, we believe it is more relevant to talk about urbanization processes and how density and complexity are forces for differentiation. This expanded urban condition plays an active role in shaping and rethinking architecture and design practices as a whole: that is the focus of urbanNext.
urbanNext is promoted by Actar Publishers, a publishing house based in New York and Barcelona, with more than 20 years of experience publishing books on architecture, photography and design. This project emerged as the logical next step for a group of editors engaged in redefining the task of disseminating, and generating content, by harnessing the capacities of the digital medium: its multiple formats, and the interaction with readers.
urbanNext’s main goal is to generate a global network to produce content focused on rethinking architecture through the contemporary urban milieu —urbanity that is conditioned by the specificities of the information society, sustainable awareness, globalized knowledge and leisure.
urbanNext is designed to establish a working structure and a multidisciplinary authorial platform for collaborations between people who have an interest in working, thinking and reflecting on design practices and their future.
Finally, urbanNext is dedicated to distributing content through multiple channels, formats and media (print, digital, audiovisual, and even exhibitions or events). This convergence of resources, teams and media allows for a new collective narrative, which we call transmedia.
associates | a network for mapping the urbanNext
urbanNext offers you the opportunity to be part of its extensive and active community by becoming an associate. As an associate, you will be part of the creation and dissemination of content, focused on the new challenges facing cities and the possible solutions offered by architecture and other design disciplines.
As an associate member of urbanNext, either in the organization category or on an individual level, you will have a space on the website to host your professional profile, in addition to membership in a community with the potential to restructure the sector, and a voice in the creation and consolidation of our cross-disciplinary platform.
urbanNext associates will benefit from a direct connection with a quality audience focused on the debate centered on city making. Our readers, followers and collaborators are influential professionals, opinion leaders and qualified specialists in the different areas that serve to structure our content.
As an associate member of urbanNext, you will enjoy preferential treatment and a prominent position within the platform’s community: your profile, brand, projects, products, knowledge and networks will be displayed for the platform’s extensive and selective audience.
The African continent is going through a process of urbanisation hitherto unseen in any other continent. Demographic explosion has not yet been matched by economic growth, and cities increase in size without industrialisation taking place. Across the whole continent, 70% of new jobs created since 2000 are in the informal sector; and more than 70% of its urban population lives in slums. Hence, the most important urban challenges in the near future are expected in Africa, but they are unlikely to be either understood or resolved using Western architectural discourses and urban planning concepts.
Despite the overwhelming conditions of scarcity in the continent and a near-complete absence of infrastructures and working government systems, Africans have demonstrated to be rich in survival intelligence. New technologies and access to telecoms can rapidly accelerate development by empowering these imaginative modes of survival enhancing trade, encouraging entrepreneurship and knowledge exchange. Africa is already a working laboratory for the future of cities; In which ways does the technological leapfrog influence spatial practices? How can informality be designed and improved? How can we avoid employing existing urban forms and create vocabularies to imagine new ones? How can the African urban agglomerations help expanding our knowledge about cities on a global scale?
As part of the urbanNext platform, the Institute for African Cities looks to provide an interdisciplinary platform for cutting edge research on the possibilities that new technologies can offer to the African city yet to come, in terms of socio-economical betterment and the built environment. Engaging critically and practically across disciplines, it seeks to expand the current research agenda and make sense of changes in cities around the world from an African perspective.
Institute for African Cities also engages with the creation of future imaginaries that will nurture the ambitions of African society today. A vision on how the future African city will be, how will it look like and how will it operate has to be thought with ambition but also as an alternative to the cities of the past.