Making The World A Better Place – Interview with Daan Roosegaarde during Moscow Urban Forum 2016

At the Moscow Urban Forum 2016, Archello attended great lectures and panels. We met many professionals from Asia, North America and Europe. One of them was Daan Roosegaarde, designer, artist and innovator. We spoke with him about smart solutions for polluted cities, the role of design in the city and creative ideas for improving city life. You can find the interview with Daan Roosegaarde in our blog.

KK: You just came back from Beijing, one of the world’s megacities, where you agreed with the government on launching the Smog Free Project. Can you tell us more about it?

DR: Smog Free Tower is a smog vacuum cleaner, which uses patented ion technology to produce smog-free bubbles of public space – for example in parks – that allow people to breathe and experience clean air for free. From collected smog we produce Smog Free Rings, Smog Free Cubes and Smog Free Cufflinks. By buying Smog Free Jewellery, you donate 1000m3 of clean air to the city. In Beijing, together with the government, we will create several parks where kids can play again.

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Source: Studio Roosegaarde

 

Source: Studio Roosegaarde

Source: Studio Roosegaarde

 

KK: That sounds like an idea of making the world a better place, would you agree?

DR: That sounds naive but that’s my goal. That’s also part of being a Dutch – you always have a practical, but also poetic agenda.

KK: Can design make the world a better place?

DR: Absolutely. For me design is not about making another chair or lamp, it is about improving people’s life, so I think it is possible. The essence of design is not only about aesthetics or functionality, but there is always that idea behind the project.

KK: Your projects are always very complex. How do you manage to lead them?

DR: In a way, the process of design became much more complex and almost as important as project itself. That’s why you always need to work with the best. Ideas come from me but I have a studio of more than 60 people in Rotterdam working with me. It’s always fun to challenge those people with new ideas. Big projects are also about cooperation.

KK: What do you think about the role of technology in the city and smart cities?

DR: The whole discussion about smart cities is fascinating, although really dominated by corporations. But what about people? It really lacks human beings in this discussion. I like technology only when it is one layer of our life but doesn’t dominate it.

KK: Does technology have to be invisible?

DR: Exactly. The future city will look like this city, but it will have a sort of layer which is interactive and almost invisible. The thing is that the world is not saved by technology, but by imagination. Studies shows that the only thing that robots cannot learn is intelligence. We still don’t have artifical intelligence, so we should use technology as a tool to make people’s life easier.

KK: Do you have a lot new projects coming?

DR: You will defenietly see more projects around the cities. We get hundreds of calls from many cities around the world, so we hope to place our Smog Free Towers and doses of free air outside China. I also have many other ideas in my mind now. We are working a lot on biomimicry and studying animals.

Source: Studio Roosegaarde

Source: Studio Roosegaarde

Daan Roosegaarde is a renowned Dutch artist, designer and innovator. He is the founder of Studio Roosegaarde, best known for creating landscapes of the future and exploring relations between people, technology and space.

Megaprojects in Megacities during Moscow Urban Forum 2016

77af1aca_600Moscow Urban Forum 2016 lasted four days, over June and July. Archello took part for the second time in the Forum, participating in seminars, panels, master classes and plenar sessions about this year’s main topic – Fast Growing Megacities. Technologies of Dynamic Development.

The main topic of this year – problems of megacities and the newest technologies used in cities development – brought a lot of international attention to the Forum. This year’s sixth edition of the Moscow Urban Forum was the biggest in the history: it attracted more than 6000 participants from 43 countries around the world, including prime ministers and mayors from European and Asian countries. From June 30th to July 3rd, the Forum’s main venue – Manezh, located in the historical heart of Moscow – was the centre of Russian economical and urbanistic development.

In 2007, Moscow officially became one of 28 world megacities, defined as cities with more than ten million inhabitants. With its territorial expansion in 2012 and incorporating a southwestern region into the Moscow area, the Russian capital increased its area by two and half times: from about 1,000 square kilometers up to 2,500 square kilometers, and gained additional population of 230,000 people. Nowadays, with almost 17 million inhabitants, Moscow is the second (after Istanbul) most populous city in Europe, and the 6th largest city in the world. Like other megacities, Moscow has its own problems with air pollution, housing stadard, slums and traffic, crime and gentrification.

As the Moscow Urban Forum serves as a platform for exchange of experience and as a space to find new ideas for cities, the main goal is to find working solution for the pressing problems faced by megacities. To achieve this ambitious goal, the program was divided into two parts: theoretical and practical. The first day was dedicated to mayors, who during the panel discussed the main issues of implementing technology into developing cities. During the opening speech, mayor Sergey Sobyanin addressed problems of Moscow as megacity and discussed the biggest governmental project being carried out now in Moscow to increase standard of life in the city: ‘I will start with the main project – the development of city transportation – which is the biggest pain of the city and mega project itself. Over the last couple of years, we bulit more than 400 kilometers of roads in Moscow. We are also finishing “Moscow’s ring” – fast train inside the city with connections to the metro and easy transfer to other means of transport, such as trams, electric buses and buses,’ said S. Sobyanin.

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The second day of Moscow Urban Forum looked at the practical side of city development – members of panels and master classes presented examples of projects realized in megacities. Projects presented during the Forum showed the big picture of city life and addressed its different angles – from the freshest infrastructural solutions (such as a renaissance of buses in Istanbul), through local environmental projects (like pollution free parks), to animating tourism and cultural activities (i. e. by renovation of old Soviet cinemas located in historical parts of Moscow). The Moscow goverment is currently running a couple of megaprojects, to give just a few examples there is Zaryadye Park, located 10 minutes from the Kremlin and designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, will be the centre of relaxation for Muscovites. There is also the re-construction of historical Luzhniki Stadium for incoming FIFA’s World Cup 2018, which is almost ready,  and a huge empty space at riverside Krymskaya Embankment was recently transformed into a landscape park that connects Gorky Park with Krymsky bridge. Finally, in frames of My Street Project pavements, parking areas and streets will be reconstructed, mainly streets on a large scale around the entire city.

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We hope to visit the next edition of the Moscow Urban Forum!