Fritz Haeg (Born and works USA), Edible Estates regional prototype garden #4, London UK, 2007, Image: Heiko Prigge.

Luis Arthur Leirao Vieira, Favela Paraisopolis (swimming pools), 2005.

Andreas Gursky, Los Angeles, 1999, © Courtesy Monika Spruth Philomene Magers, Cologne Munich London.

Andreas Gursky, Los Angeles, 1999, © Courtesy Monika Spruth Philomene Magers, Cologne Munich London.

A Consideration of Cities and the Future of the World

Francesco Jodice, Tokyo, GAM - Galleria civica di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Torino, , © Francesco Jodice.

Francesco Jodice, Saõ Paulo Citytellers #4, © Francesco Jodice.

Naoya Hatakeyama (b.1958, Japan, works Japan), Tokyo / Mori Building 2003, Gelatin silver print.

Armin Linke, Mexico City, Mexico, 1999, Courtesy of Galleria Massimo de Carlo.

Nils Norman (born 1966, UK, lectures in Europe and the US), Bus Shelter 2015, Be Creative or Die; ill-Logo.

OMA*AMO/Rem Koolhas, Dilemmas in the Evolution of the City 2007.

QuickBird satellite image of Cairo, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, London, Mumbai, Mexico City, Shanghai, Sao Paulo and Tokyo © DigitalGlobe distributed with exclusive right for Europe by Telespazio.


Tate Modern
+44 20 7887 8888
Turbine Hall
Global Cities
June 20-August 27, 2007

With over half the world’s population now living in urban areas, cities increasingly lie at the centre of public debate, cultural speculation and media attention. A century ago only 10 percent of the planet lived in cities; by 2050 up to 75 percent of the world’s population of 8 billion will be living in urban areas, many of them concentrated in the developing regions of Asia and Africa. The shape, size and structure of exploding mega-cities like Mumbai, Shanghai, Mexico City, Istanbul or Cairo affects not only the lives of millions of new urban dwellers, but also the health and sustainability of the planet given that large cities contribute to over 75 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions. Cities are stronger today as centers of economic, social and cultural exchange than they ever have been, acting as crucibles of creativity, economic growth and social encounter.

Our world is changing. Globalization has shifted cultural specificities. It has transformed communication networks and has radically changed the population density, diversity and economy of our cities. At the same time, modern advances in science, technology and industry have significantly influenced the way we live, how long we live and where we live.

One hundred years ago, only 10 percent of the world’s population lived in cities. Today, this figure has risen to 50 percent and by 2050 it will rise to 75 percent. Understanding how this impending urban growth will impact upon people and the environment is critical. So too is the urgent need to understand how urban design and architecture address urban growth and influence society at large.

The exhibition Global Cities takes a critical look at ten diverse cities from across the globe: Cairo, Istanbul, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Tokyo. These cities are explored through five key themes: size, speed, density, form and diversity using geographical and socio-economic data gathered for the 10th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2006.

The exhibition addresses major issues facing some of the most influential urban centers around the world: from migration to mobility, from social integration to sustainable growth. It explores five themes: size, speed, density, form and diversity and draws upon comparative socio-economic and geographic data assembled by researchers at the London School of Economics.

Architectural projects, photographs, films and videos are displayed alongside the data, offering subjective responses to the urban conditions of the ten cities and providing opportunities to question, challenge, and imagine alternative understandings and future realities. The images propose ways of encountering our own built environment and provide us with a lens to explore private worlds and hidden stories.

Throughout the exhibition, London is used as a reference point within each of the thematic displays. Further to this, architects and artists have been commissioned to specifically engage with and respond to London’s urban environment. Nigel Coates, Zaha Hadid & Patrik Schumacher, and OMA*AMO/Rem Koolhaas propose future visions of the city through architectural projects, while the installations of Fritz Haeg, Nils Norman and Richard Wentworth explore issues of sustainability and social inclusion in relation to London.

Speed The pace of urban change has never been faster and it is having a massive impact socially, economically and environmentally across the globe. Consequently, it has become vital to manage the scale and pace of change to ensure that cities become balanced and sustainable environments with positive social impacts.

Speed As cities grow in size, their shape and character change to accommodate this. The world now consists of over 20 mega-regions containing more than ten million people and 450 city regions with more than one million residents. In some mega-cities such as Mexico City and Istanbul, the population growth has ruptured city boundaries, pushing sprawling urban growth ‘horizontally.’ In other cities such as Cairo and Mumbai, populations live in high densities in small areas of land. It is argued that more compact cities, with strong infrastructure, are the most appropriate models for sustainability and urban growth.

Diversity When we speak about diversity within a city, we are speaking about the degree of variety. Variations may exist in ethnicity, place of birth, spread of ages, income, education levels and employment sectors. Each city deals with these variations in different ways. Some cities actively seek to integrate different
ethnic and socio-economic groups, others seek to segregate or define spaces catering for the specific needs of a particular group.

Density Population density is the number of people living within a given area. This is given as a value per square kilometre (eg. 8, 254/km2). Some cities like Cairo have an incredibly dense inner city with a contained urban boundary, while cities like Mexico City have a greater urban sprawl’– that is, people are dispersed over a greater area.

The density of a city has a massive impact on the economy and environment. Consequently, planners and politicians make important decisions about the extent of urban boundaries and development. Dense and compact development allows for greater investment in centralised infrastructure, limits the amount of energy and materials used in the construction process and is more sustainable in the long
term. More dispersed development requires additional infrastructure to support transport, and utility supplies such as water and electricity.

Historically, high-density housing has been associated with poverty, however good design can produce sustainable and socially democratic urban living and can balance dense development with access to open space and good transportation.

Form The urban form of a city is shaped by geographical, historical, cultural, social and economic factors. Urban form is like the DNA of a city — a footprint of human impact on the land.

Cities — or parts of cities — may be conceived or formed as part of a masterplan. However, they may also contain areas that have grown informally and organically over time. Architects and planners try to improve cities by working with existing forms and making positive interventions that enhance the city’s development.

Zaha Hadid claims she doesn’t "do nice!" As an architect, she is constantly challenging, stretching and extending the boundaries of architecture and urban design. She is continually engaged with the potential of spatial experimentation to create visionary urban landscapes.

Zaha Hadid was born in Iraq and studied mathematics in Beirut before moving to England to pursue architectural studies at the Architectural Association (AA) in London. Following this, she joined the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) with her AA professors Rem Koolhaas and Ella Zenghilis, and left to establish her own practice in 1980. In 2004, Zaha Hadid became the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate — the greatest honor to be paid to
an architect.

Her most influential and important works include the Vitra Fire Station in Wolfsburg, Germany (1993), the Rosenthal Centre for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati (2003), the Phaeno Science Center in Weil am Rhein, Germany (2005) and The Peak project in Hong Kong (1983), which was unbuilt.

Hadid’s work has never been conventional. She has a fierce and somewhat uncompromising determination to realise her architectural vision. Consequently, many of her early works have never been built. Her first building was realised in 1993 after spending many years experimenting, imagining and testing ideas. This type of practice is called paper architecture.

Hadid draws on diverse media to explore her ideas about architectural space. She uses painting, drawing, modelling and animation. Her paintings in particular are a key medium for investigating and expanding understandings of space – that she feels have been limited through the discipline of architecture. Through painting she is able to experiment with movement and transformation in architecture.

In the work produced for Global Cities, Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher have defined London’s Thames Gateway as an urban laboratory. As Europe’s largest urban regeneration projects, Hadid and Schumacher believe that Thames Gateway provides one of the most powerful opportunities to experiment with different forms of urbanism. Rather than applying standard planning tools, they assert that the design of such a mega-development should be approached with an architectural sensibility. Consequently form and space-making are of prime concern and the architectural elements of point, line, plane and volume are employed as types of urban fields. For example, point is represented as fields of villas, line — as fields of towers, plane — as fields of slabs and volume – as fields of urban blocks.

Rem Koolhaas is a pioneering figure in the world of architecture. He is an architect, urbanist, and theorist. His ideas about architecture and cities are as influential as his buildings. In fact his writings bought him fame before a single building was even completed.

Born in the Netherlands, Koolhaas first studied script-writing before embarking on a career in journalism. Following this, he studied at the Architectural Association (AA) in London between 1968 and 1972. In 1975, he set up the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in London with Ella and Zoe Zenghelis and Madelon Vriesendorp. Koolhaas has been the recipient of many architectural prizes including the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2000.

His seminal books include Delirious New York (1978) and S, M, L, XL with Bruce Mau and Hans Werlemann (1995). While working at the Harvard Project on the City, he also published Mutations, The Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping and The Great Leap Forward. In these publications, Koolhaas observes, records and proposes new ways of thinking about cities and explores a type of architecture
that is humanist. He believes that writing helps expand architectural thinking and the possibilities of architecture and urbanism.

In order to establish a balance between the practice of architectural making and architectural thinking, OMA founded a research arm called AMO. AMO is like the Siamese twin of OMA. It allows the intellectual exploration of architecture to run in parallel with the actual building of it.

Some of the most important buildings to be designed by Koolhaas include Casa de Musica in Porto, Portugal (2005), Seattle Central Library, USA (2004), the Netherlands Embassy in Berlin (2005) and the Euralille masterplan in France (1994).

Among other projects, OMA are currently designing the masterplan for White City in west inner London. The 43-acre site borders some of the wealthiest areas and most deprived estates in the city. The regeneration of this area includes a major shopping centre, housing and social facilities. The new design offers the possibility to stimulate interactions across the divide, to create a new employment hub, and a chance to re-animate a neglected site.

The OMA*AMO contribution to Global Cities, explores the evolution of cities and the dilemmas they present. The project investigates the idea of the city as a resort, issues surrounding supervision in the public realm and ideas about how memories and histories are woven within new urban fabrics.

Nils Norman is an artist who combines wit and humour with urban politics, economic and ecological issues. He believes that art plays an important role in urban regeneration and uses it as a powerful tool for imagining how cities could be used. His quirky creations offer alternative visions for urban living and often call
for direct participation and public engagement.

One of Norman’s most important works is The Geocruiser, a type of eco-bus and mobile public sculpture. The vehicle itself contains a greenhouse, a library, a reading room and information centre for visitors to explore topics such as sustainable design, city gentrification and urbanism. It also contains its own solar-powered photocopier and laptop as well as a wormery — which is used to recycle organic waste and create compost for the greenhouse plants. Norman toured The Geocruiser through Europe and the UK using it as a mobile propaganda machine. The tour included a stop at Peckham Library for the South London Gallery as part of Open House London annual event in 2001.

For Global Cities, Norman has borrowed three pieces of street furniture; a amppost, a street sign and a bus shelter, and attached them with signage. The signage appears like customised advertising, but acts as commentary and critique on ecological issues, urban planning and architecture. In addition to the commentary is a proposal for a future garden made entirely of cacti and arid plants as a response to global-warming.

Norman currently lives and works in London. He has exhibited internationally and writes, teaches and collaborates with other artists, architects and designers. Norman is currently working with Nicholas Hare Architects on a school playground project for the new Golden Lane Campus in East London.

Fritz Haeg is an American-based architect, artist and educator whose practice is concerned with unifying qualities of particular places with human needs and desires. He founded the Fritz Haeg Studio in 1995, followed later by Gardenlab and the Sundown Schoolhouse — an alternative educational environment.

For Global Cities, Haeg has created an Edible Estate on a triangular lawn close to Tate Modern. Edible Estates is a Gardenlab project that challenges ideas about the use of front lawns, and explores the possibilities of private spaces and relationships between communities and their environments. The project began in 2005 as a scheme to replace American front lawns with edible landscapes, using the garden as a metaphor and a laboratory.

For the Tate project, Haeg investigates how the lawn in England has changed over time and how lawns in inner London differ from those in Los Angeles. The site is located at the junction of Lancaster and Webber Streets, in one of London’s least green areas. Haeg worked in collaboration with Bankside Open Spaces Trust and the community of Brookwood House to plant a garden composed entirely of edible plants.

Haeg is interested in the impact of small-scale gestures. He maintains that architects do not have to create monuments to advance change in the world. Rather, a simple act such as planting your own food can create a powerful way to engage people with the by-products of their daily life and promote a greater understanding of the connectedness between gardens and the planet.

Garry Otte, Al Azhar Park, Cairo, © Courtesy Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

Laurence Bonvin, born 1967, Born Switzerland, works Switzerland , COMMUNITY 2005-6, On the Edges of Paradisel, © Laurence Bonvin.

Laurence Bonvin, born 1967, Born Switzerland, works Switzerland , COMMUNITY 2005-6, On the Edges of Paradise, © Laurence Bonvin.

Guy Tillim (born 1962, Born South Africa, works South Africa), Jo’burg, 2004.

Paromita Vohra (born 1969, India, works India), Film still from Q2P 2006.