New York, New York, USA
“What if the next revolution were happening in the countryside? Amid a global pandemic that propelled the world to rethink the way it functions, can Countryside’s questions prompt reflection and action inside one of the world’s most important international organizations?” asks Rem Koolhaas and Samir Bantal.
Curated by AMO, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) think tank, the exhibition “Countryside at the United Nations” opened in New York featuring a series of panels featuring questions and images illustrating rural transformations of different kinds, from Siberian permafrost to high-tech Dutch greenhouses.
The Countryside exhibition was installed in anticipation of the Food Systems Summit to be held at the United Nations this September, focusing panels on topics such as agricultural innovation, ecological change, food production, and security.
“Countryside at the United Nations” is a condensed version of the research presented at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, reinterpreting the research results and the purpose of the exhibition,” said both Koolhaus and Banal.
The United Nations’ World Urbanization Prospects estimated that by the end of that year, over half of the global population would live in cities.
In 2018, the Prospects confirmed 55.3% of humankind was living in urban settlements – a convincing argument for the investigation to be directed to urbanized areas, to achieve intelligent and sustainable cities.
What about the other half of the population? As the “smart city” dominated the discourse on urbanization, the countryside was left out.
AMO was brought in an attempt to reimagine this discourse.
The exhibition presented research directed by AMO over five years, which brought together discussions in the scientific, sociological, artistic and political realms.
The show aspired to position the broadly defined “countryside” – or 98% of the Earth’s surface not occupied by cities – as a vital subject for global discussion.
For the exhibition, AMO took over the fences of the UN Headquarters in New York as a site for a renewed discourse on the countryside.
A series of panels present questions and images to illustrate rural transformations of different kinds – from the Siberian Permafrost to futuristic Dutch greenhouses that unsettle every existing concept in agriculture.
Each panel focuses on an aspect of agricultural innovation, ecological change, and food production and security.
At the intersection of culture and policymaking.
Countryside at the United Nations invites reflection, response, and action, opening public discussion.
“I admire the creative and investigative way in which the AMO team triggers a public discussion about issues that are important to all of us such as ecological change, food security, and agricultural innovation, said Yoka Brandt, the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations.
“In this way, it makes sure the conversation on the future of food continues, also outside the gates of the United Nations. ”
Project: Countryside at the United Nations
Architects: AMO/OMA Office for Metropolitan Architecture
Design Team: Samir Bantal. Nathalie Agostini, Marina Fernández Maestre, Claire Jansen, Adam Kouki, Nuria, Ribas Costa, Isabella Rossen.
Client: Permanent Representation of the Kingdom of The Netherlands to the United Nations
Photographers: Noam Ekhaus