The museum is collaborating with the famed architect on “Nonurban Area” initiatives
50 percent of the world’s population now lives in cities — a number larger than ever before. As more people relocate to urban areas, the world’s countrysides and rural populations become forgotten about; their problems and everyday life become an intangible, abstracted thing for urban residents who may not “get it”. Now, Rem Koolhaas along with the Guggenheim Museum wants to explore the future of the countryside.
The initiative will delve into the effects of digital technology on nonurban spaces, migration, ecological shifts, and the changing relationships between humans and the environment we live in.
Work on the project already begun under a collaboration between Koolhaas’s Office of Metropolitan Architecture’s think-tank division and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The findings from the project will be part of an exhibition in the Guggenheim’s rotunda currently titled: “Countryside: Future of the World.”
Koolhaas said in a statement, “The fact that more than 50 percent of the world’s population now lives in cities has become an excuse to ignore the countryside. I have long been fascinated by the transformation of the city, but since looking at the countryside more closely in recent years, I have been surprised by the intensity of change taking place there.”
Rural areas around the world will be studied in-depth, including a strip of land along Route 281, the longest continuous highway running north-south in the United States. It essentially bisects the country. Part of the project will be looking at the area and finding ways to increase the presence of farming by computerized and robotic means. Political and social forces come into play, as well — much of the land along this highway contains areas that voted for Donald Trump.
“The countryside is the most radical place of change at the moment,” Koolhaas said.