City is an interconnected system of economic and political interactions and socio-spatial developments. Yet, conventionally, it has been characterized by a linear growth model – referred to as ‘take-make-waste’. Through thousand years in the making, we maintained it. Resource depletion has gone hand-in-hand with economic growth and, consequently, the generation of incomprehensible quantities of waste became a normality and an inescapable part of our daily life. The resulting cities of the linear system principally contradict any notions of environmental sustainability and social inclusion and are the representation of what the CITIES Foundation defines as ‘The Wasted City’.
As a direct response to the primitive linear model, innovative projects the world over are embracing notions of the circular economy to pursue the realization of the future sustainable and inclusive cities – circular cities. Placing citizens at the heart of the discussion, the CITIES Foundation’s latest publication ‘The Wasted City’ explores the growing worldwide movement towards circularity.
Fundamentally, a circular system is grounded in the realization of two persistent ironies of our current world; we have a diminishing supply of primary resources and, we have a surplus of waste. Circularity within the urban environment merges both of these truths by looking how to reintegrate resources into the urban loop; basing itself on the familiar notion of the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Structurally re-imagining waste as a resource, curricular cities aim to be restorative and regenerative by design, encompassing the social, built and natural environments. Ultimately, circularity strives to disrupt the smothering grip of the linear Wasted City.
Over the past decades, the urgency for a systemic transition to a more sustainable urban environment has become ever more pronounced. Encouragingly, innovation emanates from the urban fabric itself. Projects designed following notions of circularity are growing in number, characterized by an ever increasing ambition to usher in our new sustainable future. The movement is alive. However, circularity still alludes mainstream recognition, and cities are still primarily ruled by linear principles.
‘The Wasted City’ aims to channel the energy and knowledge of local projects and social enterprises that are paving the path to a more circular future. Taking a wide-ranging approach to various scales, scopes, and styles, this publication cuts a clear narrative of circularity through the jungle of sustainable urban transition pathways. The CITIES Foundation recognizes that we are merely at the beginning of our collective journey towards ushering circular cities into the realm of reality. Through this publication, the CITIES wants to facilitate a dynamic and active dialogue between the most important pieces in this pursuit for systemic change – the people.
Two central lines of discussion are followed within the dialogue of ‘The Wasted City’. Firstly, a case-based approach is pursued by various specialized individuals working directly with CITIES’ international team, casting light on inspiring initiatives that are breaking the linear mold. In total, 16 cases are explored; spanning scales, from the hyper-local to the regional, sectors including food, energy and material waste, and locations such as Rotterdam, Seoul, Barcelona, and Detroit. As there is no ‘one-size’ solution to make a city circular, the presented cases demonstrate the heterogeneity of approaches, all of which are critical to further the development of circular cities.
The second central direction in the book presents compelling insights on circularity by external professionals, experts, and thinkers that are actively engaged in the field. Analytical pieces by J. Beunderman, M. Hajer, M. Schwarz, F. Savini and K. Kourkoutas among other leading minds discuss how concepts such as urban metabolism, cultural change, and socio-spatial relationships are all instrumental in inciting systemic change. Embracing the founding principles of the CITIES Foundation, this publication adopts a people-centric approach, first and foremost recognizing that true systemic change must come from, and be for, citizens. Ultimately, the goal of ‘The Wasted City’ is to serve as a tool to ignite and fuel discussions around urban circularity, eventually facilitating the departure away from our current linear system.
by Max Russell and Ieva Punyte
Let’s start talking about the circular city on the 22nd of May 20.00 at Pakhuis de Zwijger where the launch the Wasted City book will take place. The evening event will include series of talks and presentations by the local protagonists of the circular city making as well as a Joost Beunderman’s keynote on systemic change. This will be followed by an interactive discussion among scholars and practitioners on WASTED City statements:
Keep in mind, there is a limited number of seats available. Don’t wait too long – book your seat now and see you at the launch.