The Austere City of the Future

Research project, design studio, workshops, PHD

In Austeria, resources are used only based on necessity. The way of living excessively is history. Welcome to the new standards of living where people live without excessive consumption, yet sufficient and even healthy! In times of scarcity, cities have to rely in the intelligence of resource managements. The crisis is a moment of opportunity to revise our common practice in designing cities. Economic periods of shortage do not ask for city extensions. Instead, it urges contraction in order to survive.

‘Is the quality of life to be determined by luxury, richness and excess, or instead, by simplicity, self-restraint and moderation?
– Marius de Geus 2009

Austerity – as an economic term – is a massive cutting back on spending until the fiscal balance is achieved. Past austerity plans have been received in recent history with protest and unrest. But must austerity be perceived as a negative way of living? The Amish, Calvinists, Zen Buddhists, Spartans are known to have practiced austerity on a daily basis. Is there a more positive approach towards an austere lifestyle, thus making it bearable as a permanent state of living?

Austeria would like to answer the following questions:
1. What are the minimum ingredients of a city of the future in order to survive, or more precisely what is it that we are so accustomed to live with that could actually be spared out?
2. What programs can be crossed out of the city planner’s agenda?
3. Is there such a thing as ‘Aldi urbanism’ in which only few type of facilities of decent quality are offered in order to save money for the city?
4. If modern architecture meant the end of ornaments in the architectural scale, what is the urban implication of such postulate in the city scale?
5. In order to balance the asceticism of austerity, what will be the spaces of luxury to be invented or preserved?

Create a manual for Austeria: minimum consumption, but exciting urban living!

Austeria is a research project that was initiated by Felix Madrazo and Daliana Suryawinata in the design studio, Austerity, which was run in Fall 2009. It is also related to a PhD-by-design project Prosper©ity of Daliana Suryawinata.