Adaptation: Designing the Future City

A month of Dutch media in Shanghai

In August 2010 the Dutch Culture Centre will be dedicated to digital art and new media. Innovative Dutch and Chinese artists, architects and digital media makers demonstrate how media, art and technology can contribute to the design of a future city. Adaptation: Designing The Future City consists of an exhibition by V2_ and the Dynamic City Foundation, a forum with Neville Mars, and a conference arranged by Virtueel Platform and The Mobile City.

Adaptation: Designing the Future City explores a new agenda for urban design.


How can we design sustainable and ever evolving cities? What role do media, art and technology play in urban design? Are cities really getting better, or just brighter?


Can the modern city embrace new media technologies, and indeed nature itself, in order to adapt and become a future-proof environment?


The opening events take place from August 14 - 17 in the Dutch Culture Centre in Shanghai in the context of the World Expo 2010. The Exhibition will be on display until September 5 2010.


Background information about Adaptation

Adaptation: Designing the Future City is a cluster of events that explore a new agenda for urban design. Sustainability of urban living and the increasing role of new media technologies in urban culture pose major challenges to 21st century cities worldwide. Rapid urbanization, spatial expansion, and population increase have a huge impact on the livability of cities, particularly in developing nations. Digital technologies shape almost every aspect of urban life: how people interact with each other, how they experience spaces and places, mobility and travel, surveillance and safety, leisure, and so on. They turn the city into a hybrid city. This impels architects and urban planners to adapt their idea(l)s about the city, as well as their professional practice to these changing circumstances.

The design practice of today’s cities is confronted with the challenge how to adapt to the inherent slowness of bricks and mortar and regulations. Whereas cities are build to last if not for eternity then at least for decades. Societal conditions, adoption of new media technologies, and the increasing pressures for sustainable development operate at a different speed. How do we design cities that both evolve and adapt to these ever-changing demands and conditions in the present, yet incorporate the idea of sustainability as enabling future generations to meet their own needs? And how can we design the city to be adaptable by users themselves?

Moreover, the design of the city is no longer the sole concern of architects, urbanists and planners but increasingly involves other parties. Increasingly software companies, artists and developers of mobile apps play a role in the shaping of our cities. How should the design of the city itself adapt to such changes in ownership?

Can we design a vibrant and sustainable urban culture that can evolve and adapt to changing social configurations, ever new technologies, and environmental demands? How do we design for Hybrid Cities and Sustainable Living?













August 14 (opening)
- September 5 2010

Open daily except Mondays









Genetic City (DCF / Neville Mars)

This exhibit introduces a radical response to the breakneck urbanization in China. The organic growth of a new and sustainable city (Caofeidian) from 2010 to 2040 is simulated in an ongoing and shared design process: evolutionary planning as a means to combat extremely rigid and short-lived urban development.


For this, the Dynamic City Foundation asked ten progressive Dutch and Chinese architecture firms to conceive a sustainable development plan, which they designed in relay, successively modifying previous efforts. Genetic City is an impressive panoramic video installation with contributions by Urbanus, MAD, Rocksteady Design, Powerhouse Company, MVRDV, BAU, Tsinghua School of Architecture, Urban China, ZUS en MARS-1.

Genetic City >>










3rd I (V2_Institute for the Unstable Media, Graham and Christina Smith from Cybercity Ruhr and Shanghai eARTS)

The 3rd I project presents in an interactive media art exhibit, future visions for subjectively selected buildings, spaces and places in the sister cities Rotterdam and Shanghai. Students and professionals in two national teams researched and debated their urban environments, and visualized the results in maquettes. Primary research topics were the influence and implementation of modern technology in urban planning and architecture, and future challenges like climate and population change, the issue of identity and the process of integration. The researches will be additionally presented at the conference Designing the Hybrid City. The scaled maquettes of both teams are being exhibited in Shanghai where remote controlled video robots explore the landscape and can be steered by visitors. The exhibit is connected via the internet with the project website for global online visitors to steer the robots and with a virtual exhibition site in Rotterdam at MK Gallery that offers the Rotterdam audience to control the video robots in Shanghai as well. Both exhibitions sites also facilitate communication between the visitors using especially developed 'telepresence furniture' to meet, talk, debate and share.


3rd I >>




GREEN FROM SCRATCH - A Forum in Relay DCF / Neville Mars, Adrian Hornsby


Sunday August 15
Theater of the Dutch Culture Centre,
admission free 

Why don’t new sustainable cities look any different from twentieth-century ‘car cities’? How can a sustainable city be conceived in the largest industrial region in the world? Is New City planning a hazardous model for the green cities of tomorrow?  

The day after the exhibition opening Neville Mars / Dynamic City Foundation will host an eight hour 'organic debate':  GREEN FROM SCRATCH. A wide-ranging panel of thirty internationally recognized specialists together with the designers of Caofeidian Genetic City (Urbanus, Ma Yansong, Rocksteady Design, Powerhouse Company, MVRDV, BAU, Tsinghua School of Architecture, Urban China, ZUS en MARS-1) will discuss how to address the challenges realizing a green city within the constraints of China's pressured growth.  


program details >>


The Mobile City













Designing The Hybrid City

Monday August
16 2010 - Tuesday August 17

Theater of the Dutch Culture Centre,
admission free 


[The public conference of this event has been canceled]



Today’s cities are no longer limited to the experience of physical spaces. Media technologies influence the way city dwellers organise their everyday life as well as their social relations. Consequently, cities are now understood as ‘Cybercities’, ‘Sentient Cities’, or ‘Hybrid Cities’.


The design of cities thus is no longer (if ever it was) the concern of only architects and planners, or policy makers. Other professional parties (telecommunication companies, software developers, consulting firms, artists, ICT companies, construction companies, etc.) are bringing in their own views and expertise, and are increasingly involved in shaping the city. But how do we design for Hybrid Cities and lifestyles?


In the Designing the Hybrid City conference artists, media and interface designers, mobile application makers, urban developers, architects and researchers from the Netherlands and China are asked to give shape to the 21st century in fresh and unexpected ways. 


With Aaron Tan (Rad), Carlo Ratti (MIT Senseable City Lab), Jack Qiu, Isaac Mao, Caroline Bos (UNStudio), Anne Nigten (The Patching Zone), Christian van 't Hof (Rathenau Instituut), Li Zhenhua (Laboratory Art Beijing, Shanghai eArts), XML Architecture with TwitterHouse and Space&Matter Architects.



full program >>





Practical information


All events take place in the Dutch Culture Centre located in the 800 Show building on 800 Changde lu (near Changping lu) in Jing’An District in down town Shanghai. View location on the map. Here is a Taxi-printout.




ADAPTATION: DESIGNING THE FUTURE CITY is a combination of independent events that are organized by V2_, Dynamic City Foundation, Virtueel Platform, Cybercity Ruhr, Shanghai eARTS and The Mobile City.




See the separate events for details about the organizing parties.



The exhibition, the forum and the conference are partly funded by Acer, TNT, the Mondriaan Foundation, Rotterdam City, the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW), BKVB Fund, The Netherlands Architecture Fund, Dutch DFA, and the Netherlands China Arts Foundation.

Thanks to Who cares? for logo/web design.