The world faces some significant challenges. The UN climate change report released last month, which explained that we may have just 12 years and need “unprecedented changes” to avoid devastating effects from climate change, was released into a world that seemed to be plenty busy processing other things, such as rising economic inequality, increasingly partisan politics, escalating conflicts, and refugee crises, to name a few.
According to the curators of the 2019 Oslo Architecture Triennale, our economic and climate-related challenges (and perhaps more challenges besides) are underpinned by a single unifying cause: the expectation for continuous economic growth. With their theme for next year’s Triennale, they highlight the concept of “degrowth,” a growing movement to overturn our economic assumptions and establish a managed contraction of our economies and resource consumption, with the eventual goal that society will become calmer, less focused on productivity, and more focused on quality of life. And, as they see it, the architects of this retooled society could be—well, architects.