festCITY consists of a radical, situated approach to embed festival and cultural events into the city.
It entails a process-oriented think-tank to sustainably integrate festivals and festival designing and making into the environment, with a crossover, hybrid approach that combines Berlin’s (bio)diversity leveraging unexpected encounters and combinations from the cultural and tech fields.
festCITY consists of a radical, situated approach to embed festival and cultural events into the city. It entails a process-oriented think-tank to sustainably integrate festivals and festival designing and making into the environment, with a crossover, hybrid approach that combines Berlin’s (bio)diversity leveraging unexpected encounters and combinations from the cultural and tech fields.
You’ve heard it before. Everyone says it. Berlin is sexy because of the diversity of offerings, ranging from an innovative art, music, film, gaming and XR scene, to serendipitous, happy encounters from the tech scene to world-class scientific institutions exchanging with society and countless other initiatives – you name it. Add the countless established cultural venues and a great potential of untapped urban spaces, Berlin has safely secured international appeal.
This also means that any event that cultivates the ambition to reflect Berlin must reckon with the sheer variety of actors, audiences, events, ideas, backgrounds, and visions that have always been crossing it and shaping it.
Furthermore, events need to be designed and delivered – and experienced – in a way that seamlessly mirrors – and is embedded in – the city’s atmosphere and innermost urban character.
What has been missing so far is a format that can bridge between the various creative industries to leverage this potential, which is unique worldwide – a cross-disciplinary, co-creative and cross-location collaboration between the players. A format that offers an international audience a curated overview of the multitude of Berlin’s creative industries and their products and services.
Large-scale events, such as festivals, aiming at meaningfully bringing together Berlin’s multifarious cultural landscape, must rise to this challenge. At the same time, diversity and variety need to be represented in a way that reflects core values of economic, social, and ecological responsibility, to design a cultural event that can respond to contemporary needs.
Concepts such as cross-over and hybridity can underpin such a holistic approach, grounded in the recognition that combining previously separate elements, experiences and approaches can generate unexpected richness, previously unthought of perspective, and innovation.
To foster and catalyze the effects of such crossover, hybrid encounters, Hybrid Space Labs plans to organize and curate innovation workshops that address the most urgent and emergent questions affecting culture, and its future, and how we may future culture in sustainable ways.
More specifically, such ideation workshops can help defining the very different needs, wishes, and requirements for the future structure of the festival by relying on a format that is grounded in radical imagining and speculation, to unlock the potential of what is yet unthought-of for the future of culture.
On a more general level, hosting such a festival requires designing an urban temporary structure that can accommodates such variety and flexibility, without losing its clear orientation towards ecology, inclusion, affordability, and openness. A hybrid space where artists and professionals from a variety of creative backgrounds can interact and actively involve their online and on-site audiences.
Such an infrastructure should provide a new hybrid urban landscape that fuses the creative spaces of the artists/cultural professionals with the public spaces of the audience, creating platforms for co-creation.
Therefore, designing a temporary urban festival landscape that revolves around the notion of water-based slow mobility, ensures that culture can happen and unfold all along the waterways, whilst drawing attention to the role played by water within urban ecosystem.
Through hybrid formats and the facilitation of a mobile, modular media infrastructure, the program encourages and enables practices that can make culture ’round’ in its hybridity and embed cultural co-creation into the fabric of the city – seeping through, rippling, trickling down, like water. The aim is to provide the needed technical infrastructure and expertise to enable new forms of hybrid public events also for smaller cultural institutions.
The temporary, non-invasive, modular, and easy-to-disassemble infrastructure for the festival would also act as a breathing, permeable membrane protecting urban biodiversity, laying the groundwork for the long-term creation and maintenance of bio-diverse corridors across the city – the festival’s sustainable inheritance.
Following the short temporary use by the festival events, the same spaces can be transformed into green nature reserve where endangered species of flora and fauna can continue thriving, and to reclaim a long-term dwelling space in the urban environment, restoring ecosystems – as a wall to ward humans off, instead of animals, and that humans are only allowed to witness from afar – an Animal Wall. This entails planning radically sustainable festival infrastructure based on temporary, ephemeral corridors, soon to be grown over by nature once again.
Carving new space for nature back into the city and allowing for difference forms of natural dwelling and co-habitation, implies foregoing the human perspective (and human scale) on what it means to inhabit urban spaces and taking care of urban landscapes.
The idea behind this proposal draws on Hybrid Space Lab’s broader commitment to embedding culture in the environment with an explicit orientation towards ecological, economic, and social sustainability by favoring unthought-of, crossover encounters and mutually enriching contamination.
In a similar vein, Hybrid Space Lab is designing an analogous media structure for festivals’ territorial embedment along and around the Hudson River, combining urban landscape in NY County, Indigenous People cultures, nature, urban, industrial and post-industrial environment.