MoMa Exhibit: Uneven Growth

MoMa Exhibit: Uneven Growth

This week I visited the MoMa, after a year of accumulated guilt over not taking advantage of my free membership status through NYU. On the second floor of the fanciful museum is an exhibit that depicts a not-so-fanciful reality. Uneven Growth shows the current state of Megacities around the globe, many of which are or will be metacities as their populations grow rapidly. The exhibit shows ways that the future of these places can be much brighter than their current states, especially in regards to quality of life among the lower middle class and poor.

One proposal, regarding urban development in Istanbul, shows a possible futuristic sustainable community where services are shared among citizens and cohabitation is maximized for human benefit and environmental benefit. Apartment buildings are shown to have green spaces for growing food, water recycling centers to reduce fresh water consumption, and upcycling and repair areas to curb overall consumption of materials.

Childcare would be a shared responsibility, allowing for families to babysit their neighbors’ children in return for the same service when needed. It seemed both Utopian but also primal, and looking at the proposed future made me realize how unnatural the current state of urban living seems. Privacy and ownership are taken to an excess at the expense of resources and the wellbeing of others; this imbalance will continue to plague us if unchecked, just as it has plagued most societies before us.

What is so hopeful about this exhibit though is the idea that after we are left without the power of oil, the collapse of our current consumerist society could forcibly bring about a much more collaborative, compassionate, and environmentally-conscious world. We will be forced to share and reduce waste, and all of these new adaptations will be best served by planning and innovation now, while there is still time to begin a (semi) smooth transition. With a large majority of people on this planet expecting to live in cities in the next decade, it is crucial to maximize this type of cohabitation so that we reduce resources and preserve natural space. This exhibit definitely feeds my interest in minimalistic living (the “sexy” new term for downsizing and living reasonably) and tiny-home communities. I believe these innovations to be one of the most hopeful routes for the world that will change drastically in our lifetime.