—Welcome, to the world of tomorrow—
“The Medium is the Message”
-Marshall McLuhan, 1964
This project is about the future, and is meant to get people excited about the future. In the past two years, or even the last decade, we have lived in a world that has viewed even the current hour pessimistically, while the view of the future treatment is even bleaker. Calgary 2164 is a response to that. My theory is that if we can see an optimistic vision of the future, a composite vision of a positive “end point” or goal (something which leadership, generally, will rarely provide) then we will be inspired to act accordingly. Nonetheless, we have to acknowledge the difficulties and challenges awaiting us in the coming century or else that which is created is mortally irresponsible. Therefore, I have created something which allows us to see positive outcomes of our current trajectory if we prepare for- in our mentality and in our actions- a brighter future.
Expo Calgary 2164 is designed with two main structural components which decided the form of the whole project. The first is the “16 Trends”, interdisciplinary ideas based on logical speculation of the future based on the prevailing ideas of great contemporary thinkers and their extrapolation of current events; the second is the scale topographical map of central Calgary, an urban model of a city redesigned with a fusion of urbanism and environmentalism in mind. These aspects must be appreciated in combination for the work to be truly understood.
Though I consider this to be a composite future vision, it is different from traditional vision in the following ways. This model does not intend to build an exact picture of Calgary in one hundred fifty years. It is a reaction to this way of thinking that has dominated futurism and urban planning in the past. Instead of providing the viewers a visual to simply “consume”, they are given a canvas upon which they can instil their own dreams and imaginings upon. The 16 Trends simply provide the framework and impetus for the viewer, they guide the viewer’s thoughts with an accurate map and trends that are based more on pragmatic speculation. A viewer is an active participant in, and a requisite component of, the work. In this way, as indicated by many of the internal themes of the project as well as the theory of how it should be viewed, one could argue that it is essentially about decentralization.
Nonetheless, this work does inherently come with its own opinions, perspectives and omittances that the viewer will inevitably absorb, as with any piece of media. The elements presented may be considered radical, or “incompatible” with the Calgarian way of life. I argue that these are ideas and trends that every citizen of the twenty-first century must reconcile if we are to progress, or perhaps even survive, as a civilization. It may fundamentally be idealistic, but what else is worth working for than an ideal future?
The visual intends to reflect a “democratization of speculation and planning”. It is not a clinical, white architectural model; it uses simple elements like yarn, and is characterful, leaving much to the imagination. Expo Calgary 2164 takes the form of a museum or exposition exhibit, an ironic throwback to two influences: “Futurama” at the 1939 World’s Fair and Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Living City”. Influenced sincerely by FLW’s “Living City”, huge scale is used to inspire its viewers and to symbolize a transition towards big picture, selfless thinking paired with a long view of history and the future.
Filled with content, the project can be experienced in many different ways. One can simply search for one’s home (watch out: following the ideas of New Urbanism, Calgary has a much different road map), or deeply consider every one of the “16 Trends “.There is a lot to discover; the project will reward viewers as much as they’re willing to experience it. It is also very subtle, things can easily be overlooked.
The project was designed as, what I call, an “organic utopia” this explains the process by which it was created and the way it should be viewed and interpreted. That is to say, it is not about the “ends”, it is about the “means”- and should be considered holistically. McLuhan’s quote, I feel, sums it up perfectly. Think BIG, think DEEP: take what you may.