Why do we exclusively associate urbanity with progress? A new initiative, spearheaded by architect Rem Koolhaas in partnership with the Guggenheim Museum, will explore the social, political, and economic potential of Earth’s rural areas for a forthcoming exhibition (tentatively) titled Countryside: Future of the World.
Together with the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Rem Koolhaas is delving into the innumerable prospects of non-urban regions. His research will build upon a pre-existing study by AMO (“the think tank of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA),” according to the press release), culminating in a 2019 exhibition of their collective findings at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
Considering the concentration of technologies and myriad opportunities in urban areas, Koolhaas will analyze the rural frontier from his architectural perspective in an effort to shift the ways in which we define—and therefore move towards—“progress.”
“The fact that more than 50 percent of the world’s population now lives in cities has become an excuse to ignore the countryside,” Koolhaas said. “I have long been fascinated by the transformation of the city, but since looking at the countryside more closely in recent years, I have been surprised by the intensity of change taking place there. The story of this transformation is largely untold, and it is particularly meaningful to present it in one of the world’s great museums in one of the world’s densest cities.”
Countryside: Future of the World will posit informed speculations about how best to utilize non-urban space, considering a breadth of supremely complex topics from artificial intelligence to human migration, the current and projected relationships between human and animal ecosystems and tax incentives to relocate outside of the urban space, among other developments and technologies that have the capacity to transform a physical landscape.
“The Guggenheim has an appetite for experimentation and a founding belief in the transformative potential of art and architecture,” added the Guggenheim Museum and Foundation’s director, Richard Armstrong. “We are excited to reengage with Rem Koolhaas, one of today’s foremost thinkers and architectural forecasters, and to embark together with a global team of researchers on an intellectual journey that will return the countryside to the cultural radar and yield urgent insights into the ways humans continue to shape and be shaped by the world around us.”