Theme /// Whether in the USA, Britain, or Belgium, Finland, Italy, Russia, Kazakhstan, or China: everywhere, cities are shrinking. The dramatic development in eastern Germany since 1989, which has led to more than a million empty apartments and to the abandoning of countless industrial parks and social and cultural facilities, has proven to be no exception, but a general pattern of our civilization.
Shrunken cities contradict the image, familiar since the Industrial Revolution, of the "boomtown", a big city characterized by constant economic and demographic growth. Shrunken cities spur a reconsideration not only of traditional ideas of the European city, but also of the future development of urban worlds.
The drastic changes in cities caused by shrinking thus present not only an economic and social, but also a cultural challenge. Urban shrinking can hardly be affected by city planning, and it brings numerous problems. New types of cities arise; we do not yet have ways of thinking or of using their specific character.
The Project /// Shrinking Cities, a three-year initiative project of Germany's Federal Cultural Foundation, seeks to expand Germany's city-planning debate - until now concentrated on questions of demolishing surplus apartments and improving residential quarters - to address new questions and perspectives.
The project also places developments in eastern Germany in an international context, involving various artistic, design, and research disciplines in the search for strategies for action.
The emphases of the research and exhibition project, Shrinking Cities, are, first, an international study of processes of shrinking (first project phase) and, second, the development of strategies for action for eastern Germany (second project phase).
Team of Curators (2002-2006)
Advisory Committee (2002-2006)
International Study /// Since 2002, four local interdisciplinary teams have been commissioned to study and document urban shrinking processes in the urban regions of Detroit (USA), Manchester/Liverpool (Britain), Ivanovo (Russia), and Halle/Leipzig (Germany). Each site stands as an example of a specific form of shrinking: In Detroit, the issue is the consequences of suburbanization; in Manchester/Liverpool, of deindustralization; in Ivanavo, of postsocialism; and in the greater Halle/Leipzig region, several of these factors are compounded. People from various disciplines, including urban geographers, cultural experts, architects, journalists, and artists, take part in the work.
Interventions for Eastern Germany /// The Shrinking Cities project initiates innovative approached to solutions in two ways. First, together with the architecture magazine archplus, the project announced in January 2004 an international, open idea competition. Second, the two other project partners - the Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau and the Galerie für zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig - gave direct commissions and work stipends related to the theme.
In this way, a selection of potential interventions were emerged that offers exemplary perspectives for culturally dealing with shrinking cities. This will give the respective sites ideas for discussing their new situation and local actors new possibilities of action.
Publicity /// Communicating the work and the results of the project Shrinking Cities is an essential part of the project itself. The project's results were presented in numerous public presentations, three exhibitions, the website, and diverse publications.
The results of the first project phase (the international study) are documented in a catalogue and an exhibition, which was shown in September 2004 at the KW - Institute For Contemporary Art (formerly: Kunst-Werke) in Berlin and in 2005 in Halle (Saale). The results of the second phase of work were presented in an exhibition in Winter 2005 in Leipzig. In Autumn 2006 the project will be presented in the framework of the 10th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice. It is intended to then show the exhibition in additional international sites.
Project History /// 2002 /// September kick-off project / form local teams at the four locations to be investigated / begin analysis
2003 /// Develop project concept further - carry out comparative international analysis together with architects, artists, urban geographers, ethnologists, journalists, graphic designers etc.
February initial event for the press / 1st International Workshop in Berlin July 2nd International Workshop in Ivanovo November 3rd International Workshop in Liverpool December conclude analysis
2004 /// Award commissions and stipends / the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and the Leipzig Gallery of Contemporary Art, as project partners, hold workshops to develop interventions for eastern Germany.
January ARCH+ magazine holds the international open competition / September exhibit the results of the international analysis in Berlin / publish book / judge the second phase of the competition
2005 /// Fall present results of the second phase of the project, with exhibition and interventions in public space in Halle and Leipzig / publish second book /
2006 /// The project is presented in the framework of the 10th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice/ publish second book / publish Atlas of shrinking cities / Exhibitions in New York
2007 - 2008 /// Shrinking Cities Exhibition on world tour