Dare to size the future – A plea for bold visions
The 100 year anniversary of Bauhaus comes at exactly the right time. Under the motto “Thinking the World Anew”, it offers an ideal opportunity to build on the pioneering spirit and eagerness to experiment of the Bauhäusler and breathe new life into the current discourse on the city of the future. For the design school, as a laboratory for visionary ideas and a melting pot for utopians of every description, was constantly striving to explore new ways of thinking – both methodically and conceptually.
From visionary baubles to the “post-utopian” era?
There’s not much left today of the visionary energy of the years from the 1920s to the 1960s. Rather than experimenting with radical city utopias and visions of the future, we are experiencing a certain pragmatism and pessimism when it comes to the future. Again and again we hear that the 21st century is a “post-utopian” era. (Pinder 2002).
Admittedly, most of the ideas and utopias developed at that time, like Archigram’s Walking City or the futuristic imagery of Klaus Kürgle, were never realized. Yet they did create new perspectives and tap into new possibilities, new spaces for thinking. People were thinking big, far removed from the prevailing conventions. But above all, they thought positively and awakened a desire for the future. This optimistic way of looking forward and openness to alternative futures is absent today. Instead of visions full of fantasy that give impetus to society, the focus in many places is on addressing current problem areas. We hardly ask ourselves what we want for the future and how we want to live then.
What are the reasons for this disenchantment with the future? In his book “Utopias for Realists” (2017), Rutger Bregman argues that we are simply doing so well that we can’t imagine a better future. But it’s not just that. The growing complexity of global challenges also increasingly triggers a feeling that there is a lack of prospects, a hopelessness that is possible to counter with positivity only with great effort (see Beck 2016; Bude 2016). Now, in the face of these overwhelming demands, one can of course completely come undone—but that doesn’t help.