Cultures of Congestion

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by Strelka & ArtRebels

Cultures of Congestion

by Strelka & ArtRebels

About

About

Despite recent appearances, our global society is now more than ever characterised by mobility: mobility of goods, mobility of resources, mobility of people, mobility of capital. At scale, cities are the unevenly distributed nodes where this mobility is temporarily decelerated—never fully to the point of stasis—but enough to reveal and make tangible the underlying flows that sustain and define our planetary urban settlement. As such, cities are sites where we attempt to steer and gain agency over mobility.

In the field of urban studies, congestion commonly refers to the slowing down of a very particular type of urban mobility—the movement of cars in the city—and thus implicitly tends to signal the inefficiency, underdevelopment, or lack of road infrastructure. The term has narrowly come to define only the most immediately perceptible of urban decelerations, reducing the phenomenon of urban flows to the problem of traffic management—often with more sprawling roads for more gridlocked drivers as a result… But can the concept itself be put to work on different terms? If thinking about congestion still triggers deeply-seated associations and disciplinary biases still lodged in our professional imaginary, can thinking through congestion provoke and accelerate new urban cultures? Can the phenomenon teach us something new about our cities—not only about how they’re now changing but also about what they’ve always done and meant in the first place? Simply put, what can the “problem” reveal about the “problem-space” itself?

In 1978, Rem Koolhaas’ infamous retroactive manifesto for Manhattan epitomized what he then called the “Culture of Congestion”—a new cultural paradigm at the antithesis of sprawl celebrating density, heterogeneity and the vertical dynamism associated with the modern city and its horizontal grid. Over four decades later, Cultures of Congestion re-appropirates his iconic coinage while deliberately stripping it away of its theoretical referents and taking it much more literally at face value: what new urban insights, social habits, and cultural aspirations could emerge if we critically inspect our cities anew through the lens of congestion?

The project departs from Manhattan on behalf of Mexico City, Moscow, and Melbourne: three radically different cities, revealing different stakes and opportunities. While the problem of vehicular congestion always remains a core pragmatic concern—whether in terms of air pollution, transport planning infrastructure maintenance or physiological impact—each case study provides obvious and less obvious points of departure for the revision of first principles and the discovery of new urban affordances. Informed by on-site qualitative research and first-hand expert interviews, the project recontextualizes urban congestion to reveal what cities have always been: physical sites of “inhabitable circulation,” but also virtual and cognitive modeled abstractions, dynamic institutional ecologies, and resilient ecological infrastructures—all of which requiring new social and cultural imaginaries.

About

About

The City as Insititutional Ecology

The City as Ecological Infrastructure

The City as Modeled Abstraction

The City as Insititutional Ecology

The City as Ecological Infrastructure

The City as Modeled Abstraction

Mexico City

Mexico City

Reframing density and ecology

Mexico City’s site and historical legacy portray how the negative externalities of congestion paradoxically reveal the positive impacts of urban density, and the need to plan cities as resilient ecological infrastructures.

Antonia Burchard-Levine, Urban Development Researcher, Strelka 2019 alumna

Expert input from:

Christopher Zegras, Professor of Transportation and Urban Planning at MIT

Ninotshka Matute, Architect & Executive Director of Fundación CRECER, Guatemala City

Population

9 Million

Population: 9 Million

Area

1,485 km²

Area: 1,485 km²

Population Density

6,000 people per km²

Population Density: 6,000 people per km²

Congestion Level

52% (#13)

Congestion Level: 52% (#13)

Time Lost in Rush-Hour per Year (2019)

195 hours (8 days 3 hours)

Time Lost in Rush-Hour per Year (2019): 195 hours (8 days 3 hours)

Read more

Read more

Mexico City

Mexico City

Reframing density and ecology

Mexico City’s site and historical legacy portray how the negative externalities of congestion paradoxically reveal the positive impacts of urban density, and the need to plan cities as resilient ecological infrastructures.

Antonia Burchard-Levine, Urban Development Researcher, Strelka 2019 alumna

Antonia Burchard-Levine, Urban Development Researcher, Strelka 2019 alumna

Expert input from:

Christopher Zegras, Professor of Transportation and Urban Planning at MIT

Ninotshka Matute, Architect & Executive Director of Fundación CRECER, Guatemala City

Population

9 Million

Population: 9 Million

Area

1,485 km²

Area: 1,485 km²

Population Density

6,000 people per km²

Population Density: 6,000 people per km²

Congestion Level

52% (#13)

Congestion Level: 52% (#13)

Time Lost in Rush-Hour per Year (2019)

195 hours (8 days 3 hours)

Time Lost in Rush-Hour per Year (2019): 195 hours (8 days 3 hours)

Read more

Read more

Moscow

Moscow

Clicking the traffic away

Moscow’s Traffic Control Center and the performative mythology of congestion management reveals cultural narratives of the city as a real-time digital model and calls for alternative literacies of model-making and urban simulation.

Natalia Shavkunova, Spatial Research Consultant, Strelka 2015 alumna

Expert input from:

Michael Batty, Bartlett Professor of Planning at University College London

Population

12 Million

Population: 12 Million

Area

2,511 km²

Area: 2,511 km²

Population Density

8,500 people per km²

Population Density: 8,500 people per km²

Congestion Level

59% (#6)

Congestion Level: 59% (#6)

Time Lost in Rush-Hour per Year (2019)

225 hours (9 days 9 hours)

Time Lost in Rush-Hour per Year (2019): 225 hours (9 days 9 hours)

Read more

Read more

Moscow

Moscow

Clicking the traffic away

Moscow’s Traffic Control Center and the performative mythology of congestion management reveals cultural narratives of the city as a real-time digital model and calls for alternative literacies of model-making and urban simulation.

Natalia Shavkunova, Spatial Research Consultant, Strelka 2015 alumna

Natalia Shavkunova, Spatial Research Consultant, Strelka 2015 alumna

Expert input from:

Michael Batty, Bartlett Professor of Planning at University College London

Population

12 Million

Population: 12 Million

Area

2,511 km²

Area: 2,511 km²

Population Density

8,500 people per km²

Population Density: 8,500 people per km²

Congestion Level

59% (#6)

Congestion Level: 59% (#6)

Time Lost in Rush-Hour per Year (2019)

225 hours (9 days 9 hours)

Time Lost in Rush-Hour per Year (2019): 225 hours (9 days 9 hours)

Read more

Read more

Melbourne

Melbourne

Investing in lost time

Melbourne has no choice but to approach congestion as a multiple bottom-line investment, actually representing the best tool for an ecology of institutions to foster new cultures of density, mobility, and responsible land use in the city.

Paul van Herk, Architect, Strelka 2018 alumnus

Expert input from:

Rob Adams, Director of City Design at City of Melbourne

Christian Griffith, Strategic Transport Planner & Director at GTA consultants

Population

5 Million

Population: 5 Million

Area

9,992 km²

Area: 9,992 km²

Population Density

450 people per km²

Population Density: 450 people per km²

Congestion Level

30% (#123)

Congestion Level: 30% (#123)

Time Lost in Rush-Hour per Year (2019)

128 hours (5 days 8 hours)

Time Lost in Rush-Hour per Year (2019): 128 hours (5 days 8 hours)

Read more

Read more

Melbourne

Melbourne

Investing in lost time

Melbourne has no choice but to approach congestion as a multiple bottom-line investment, actually representing the best tool for an ecology of institutions to foster new cultures of density, mobility, and responsible land use in the city.

Paul van Herk, Architect, Strelka 2018 alumnus

Paul van Herk, Architect, Strelka 2018 alumnus

Expert input from:

Rob Adams, Director of City Design at City of Melbourne

Christian Griffith, Strategic Transport Planner & Director at GTA consultants

Population

5 Million

Population: 5 Million

Area

9,992 km²

Area: 9,992 km²

Population Density

450 people per km²

Population Density: 450 people per km²

Congestion Level

30% (#123)

Congestion Level: 30% (#123)

Time Lost in Rush-Hour per Year (2019)

128 hours (5 days 8 hours)

Time Lost in Rush-Hour per Year (2019): 128 hours (5 days 8 hours)

Read more

Read more

The City as Insititutional Ecology

The City as Ecological Infrastructure

The City as Modeled Abstraction

The City as Insititutional Ecology

The City as Ecological Infrastructure

The City as Modeled Abstraction

The City as Insititutional Ecology

The City as Ecological Infrastructure

The City as Modeled Abstraction

The City as Insititutional Ecology

The City as Ecological Infrastructure

The City as Modeled Abstraction

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Authors

Nicolay Boyadjiev (2016’ alum)

Antonia Burchard-Levine (2019’ alum)

Natalia Shavkunova (2015’ alum)

Paul van Herk (2018’ alum)

Experts

Rob Adams

Michael Batty

Christian Griffith

Ninotshka Matute

Alan Penn

Christopher Zegras

Experts

Authors

Nicolay Boyadjiev (2016’ alum)

Antonia Burchard-Levine (2019’ alum)

Natalia Shavkunova (2015’ alum)

Paul van Herk (2018’ alum)

Authors

Experts

Rob Adams

Michael Batty

Christian Griffith

Ninotshka Matute

Alan Penn

Christopher Zegras

Architect, Faculty and Program Design Tutor of The Terraforming at Strelka Institute

Architect, Faculty

and Program Design Tutor

of The Terraforming

at Strelka Institute

Nicolay Boyadjiev (2016’ alum)

Urban Development Researcher

Urban Development Researcher

Antonia Burchard-Levine (2019’ alum)

Strelka KB Spatial Research Consultant

Spatial Research Consultant

at Strelka KB

Natalia Shavkunova (2015’ alum)

Architect & Researcher

Architect & Researcher

Paul van Herk (2018’ alum)

Director of City Design and Projects at the City of Melbourne

Director of City Design and Projects

at the City of Melbourne

Rob Adams

Bartlett Professor of Planning at University College London, Chair of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA)

Bartlett Professor of Planning at

University College London,

Chair of the Centre for

Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA)

Michael Batty

Strategic Transport Planner & Director at GTA consultants

Strategic Transport Planner,

Director at GTA consultants

Christian Griffith

Executive Director of Fundación Crecer

Executive Director

of Fundación Crecer

Ninotshka Matute

Professor of Architectural and Urban Computing at The Bartlett School of Architecture, Founding Director of Space Syntax Ltd

Professor of Architectural

and Urban Computing at

The Bartlett School of Architecture,

Founding Director of

Space Syntax Ltd

Alan Penn

Professor of Transportation and Urban Planning at MIT

Professor of Transportation

and Urban Planning at MIT

Christopher Zegras

The project is proudly co-organised by Strelka & ArtRebels as part of a global initiative exploring a better future for mobility.

Experts

Authors

Nicolay Boyadjiev (2016’ alum)

Antonia Burchard-Levine (2019’ alum)

Natalia Shavkunova (2015’ alum)

Paul van Herk (2018’ alum)

Experts

Rob Adams

Michael Batty

Christian Griffith

Ninotshka Matute

Alan Penn

Christopher Zegras

Experts

Authors

Nicolay Boyadjiev (2016’ alum)

Antonia Burchard-Levine (2019’ alum)

Natalia Shavkunova (2015’ alum)

Paul van Herk (2018’ alum)

Authors

Experts

Rob Adams

Michael Batty

Christian Griffith

Ninotshka Matute

Alan Penn

Christopher Zegras

Architect, Faculty and Program Design Tutor of The Terraforming at Strelka Institute

Architect, Faculty

and Program Design Tutor

of The Terraforming

at Strelka Institute

Nicolay Boyadjiev (2016’ alum)

Urban Development Researcher

Urban Development Researcher

Antonia Burchard-Levine (2019’ alum)

Strelka KB Spatial Research Consultant

Spatial Research Consultant

at Strelka KB

Natalia Shavkunova (2015’ alum)

Architect & Researcher

Architect & Researcher

Paul van Herk (2018’ alum)

Director of City Design and Projects at the City of Melbourne

Director of City Design and Projects

at the City of Melbourne

Rob Adams

Bartlett Professor of Planning at University College London, Chair of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA)

Bartlett Professor of Planning at

University College London,

Chair of the Centre for

Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA)

Michael Batty

Strategic Transport Planner & Director at GTA consultants

Strategic Transport Planner,

Director at GTA consultants

Christian Griffith

Executive Director of Fundación Crecer

Executive Director

of Fundación Crecer

Ninotshka Matute

Professor of Architectural and Urban Computing at The Bartlett School of Architecture, Founding Director of Space Syntax Ltd

Professor of Architectural

and Urban Computing at

The Bartlett School of Architecture,

Founding Director of

Space Syntax Ltd

Alan Penn

Professor of Transportation and Urban Planning at MIT

Professor of Transportation

and Urban Planning at MIT

Christopher Zegras

The project is proudly co-organised by Strelka & ArtRebels as part of a global initiative exploring a better future for mobility.

Authors

Experts

Cultures of Congestion

Cultures of Congestion

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Cultures of Congestion

Cultures of Congestion