Outlines of a Post-Growth City
Various thinkers and theorists have developed concepts that question growth thinking to a greater or lesser extent, such as the Donut economy (Kate Raworth), Economy for the Common Goods (Jean Tirole), Welfare economy (Nikki Pauw) and Degrowth. The term Degrowth (in Dutch degrowth) offers us a basis to think differently about growth. In this study, however, we explicitly opt for the use of the term “Post-Growth” in order to assume a more positive and open approach, which invokes the possibility of an alternative, which comes after the current (economic) growth paradigm. Jason Hickel, in his book More is Less, How Degrowth Will Save the World, says this about “outgrowth”:
Outgrowing: “the planned reduction of excessive use of energy and raw materials to bring the economy back into balance with the living world, thereby distributing income and resources more fairly, freeing people from meaningless work, and investing in public goods, which need to live well. "
According to Jason Hickel, it is especially important to specify growth: who is it for, and for what purpose? Where does the money go? And who benefits from it? Characteristics of a Degrowth economy are therefore: reducing superfluous production and consumption (use value instead of exchange value), removing public goods from the market and expanding the commons from possession to use, stimulating innovations to reduce the impact on the earth and to improve human and environmental well-being, striving for a more symbiotic relationship with nature and new forms of democracy. Other theorists add other elements to this (eg Kallis). This conceptual framework and our findings from the preliminary study (see letter of offer) provide a good basis for depicting the contours of a Post-Growth City, which we believe could be described as follows:
“A city or region where (economic) growth is not the driver of urban development, but where growth is used to improve the ecological and social well-being of all residents of its city."
"A city that facilitates the quality of life for a diversity of people, and that takes into account available resources (including space), planetary boundaries and future generations."
"A city that is in balance with the (surrounding) living world, and where ecological and social values are just as important as financial values."
"A city that stimulates the production and consumption of low-impact goods and services. A city where value development belongs to the city itself and its people, and where public goods are common goods and improve the quality of life."
"A city where people, companies and organizations have control over their environment, and where welfare growth and the growth of social value are unlimited.”
Many people think that with a Post-Growth society we end up in the Stone Age or in a communist state, and that it means we shouldn’t facilitate population growth and our cities as planners. However, we want to look for an alternative and especially investigate the role of the city in this. It is a big topic that you can get bogged down in.
We realize that as designers we don’t have the ability to redesign the whole society and that we are just a cog in the big system. But as designers, we can use our imagination to outline alternatives and also show how a transition to these alternative forms and practices could be possible. We want to focus mainly on the spatial side, but we do not shy away from looking at the systemic side of, among other things, land politics, financial instruments, taxes, forms of cooperation, etc.