Local and international researchers (architects, designers, philosophers and biologists) will meet in Rijeka to open up a discussion on the prospective environmental future of the planet.

An abandoned 50-year-old study on the vision of the planet’s future will be re-examined in Rijeka as part of the European Capital of Culture project. A three-day seminar will be held in the grand hall of Filodrammatica from 19 to 21 November 2019 during the Terra Effluviens project run by the curator Nikola Bojić. The project is included in the Dopolavoro flagship of the Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture programme.

By applying contemporary theoretical, art and design methods to the research of a study that was abandoned in 1971, the seminar aims to provide new insight into the human footprint on the Earth’s environment, which is so overwhelming that a new era, dubbed the Anthropocene, has been suggested.

The Terra Effluviens project will bring together 16 local and international researchers (architects, designers, philosophers and biologists), who will be staying in Rijeka next week, for a seminar and an exhibition that will open in March of 2020 as part of the European Capital of Culture programme. The researchers will participate in a three-day programme consisting of field research, designer predictions and theoretical discussions. Rare archive material in the form of an unearthed study conducted by the architect Branko Petrović and named The Systemisation of the Phenomenon of the Human Environment from 1971is the cornerstone of the Terra Effluviens project. The study was published in Yugoslavia amid Cold War tensions, the numerous techno-futuristic visions of the time and burgeoning environmental issues.

It was abandoned in these tumultuous times, with only a few copies remaining in the archives. Nikola Bojić, the curator and initiator of the Terra Effluviens project, came across the study while doing research for his doctoral thesis.

This unique study, which was discovered after 50 years, provides an intricate vision of the planet’s future imagined by Petrović in a textual and visual manner via graphs and sketches. The study provides insight into the enmeshed human, technological and natural systems, while addressing topics that are still considered science fiction, such as time linearity, the flexibility of spatial criteria and the role of humans, whose bodies have been deformed to adapt to the new living conditions, in an era of a dramatic environmental crisis.

Branko Petrović, an accomplished Croatian urban planner and designer, had quite a fascinating career. He was Director of the Urban Planning Institute in Zagreb until 1958, Head Architect of the Ethiopian Ministry of Public Works from 1962 to 1969, professor at the College of Architecture in Addis Ababa and a member of the Ministry’s urban planning team. He was involved in 15 regional urban planning projects in Croatia. In 1971, Petrović envisioned a human of the future malformed by new lifestyles and environmental pollution with a deformed nose for inhaling the unhealthy air, buttocks enlarged from sitting, a long flat finger, which can be viewed today as an index finger, used for scrolling on screens and atrophied arm and leg muscles. Such a human of tomorrow is just one of the many peculiarities found in Petrović’s study, which has, alas, fallen into obscurity unlike similar ground-breaking studies of the time, such as the book The Limits to Growth (1972) or the Gaia Hypothesis (1972).

Almost fifty years after the original study was conducted, the Terra Effluviens project will bring back to life the original graphs from the study in a very specific location – Rijeka. The location wasn’t selected at random, since Rijeka was analysed in the study as an example of a complex territory where potential environmental futures can be imagined.

The following experts and researchers included in the Terra Effluviens project will spend three days in Rijeka: Gediminas Urbonas (MIT, Cambridge), Armina Pilav (University of Sheffield), Martin Guinard (ZKM, Karlsruhe), Miro Roman (ETH, Zurich), Merve Bedir (Hong Kong University), Ivica Mitrović (University of Split), Donato Ricci (SciencesPo, Paris), Louise Carver (Lancaster University), Gary Zhexi Zhang, Jamie Allen (FHNW, Basel), Idis Turato (University of Zagreb), Ida Križaj Leko (Delta Lab, Rijeka), Damir Prizmić (Radiona Makerspace, Zagreb), Damir Gamulin (000, Zagreb), Željka Modrić Surina and Boštjan Surina (Rijeka Natural History Museum).

The seminar centres on three interconnected thematic segments – Systems, Flows and Forms, which focus on cybernetics, natural rivers and rivers as social and industrial flows, as well as new forms of environmental sustainability. The lectures and discussions, which will be held in English, are open to the public, with no prior registration required.

The full lecture schedule and biographies of the speakers are available on the link.