Dataspheres of Planetary Urbanization at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021

Nikos Katsikis in collaboration with Urban Theory Lab contributed to the 17th International Venice Architecture Biennale with the project Data-spheres of Planetary Urbanization.

How can we map the urbanization of the planet?  This exhibition explored this question through a series of experimental visualizations of the worldwide urban fabric. 12 globes serve as “data-spheres” that depict the urban world on the basis of important indicators related to the spatial imprint of cities, the geographies of their supply zones and the logistics networks that connect cities to one another and to diverse regional hinterlands. Reversing the mainstream, city-centric metageography of urbanization, the data-spheres reveal the importance of operational landscapes beyond the city (zones of agriculture, extraction, forestry and fishing), as well as planetary logistical infrastructures, that directly support urban life. These visual speculations are offered as an exploration of the analytical and imaginative work that can be done with geospatial data.  By illustrating how radically divergent cartographies of an urbanized planet can be constructed on the basis of different indicators, the data-spheres interrupt the authoritative, scientific “aura” that often pervades geospatial information.  Rather than offering a photographic, objective “capture” of ground-conditions, the data-spheres invite viewers to question their own cognitive maps of contemporary urbanization, and to imagine new urban worlds that might more fully embody our collective aspirations.