A new MoMA exhibit proposes informal solutions for large cities coping with rapid population growth. Shown, a proposal for consumer products meant to enhance the quality of life for Rio de Janeiro's growing middle class.
RUA Arquitetos and MAS Urban Design, ETH Zurich A new MoMA exhibit proposes informal solutions for large cities coping with rapid population growth. Shown, a proposal for consumer products meant to enhance the quality of life for Rio de Janeiro's growing middle class.

Rapid urbanization is stratifying the world’s largest metropolises spatially and socioeconomically, creating segregated clusters of wealth and poverty. An exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York that opens on Nov. 22 addresses the impact of that expansion in a selection of megacities—Hong Kong, Istanbul, Lagos, in Nigeria, Mumbai, in India, New York, and Rio de Janeiro—with the goal of better understanding architects' roles there.

Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities” runs through May 10, 2015, and is the third in a series of MoMA exhibitions highlighting issues in contemporary architecture. Previous exhibitions in 2009 and 2011 addressed the need for resilient infrastructure and the fallout of the mortgage-financing crisis, respectively. For this exhibition, six teams of interdisciplinary architecture and urbanism professionals spent 14 months each evaluating urbanization’s impact in a specific city.

The design teams involved include: MAP Office, Hong Kong; Network Architecture Lab at Columbia University, New York; Superpool, Istanbul; Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée, Paris; Nlé, Lagos, Nigeria, and Amsterdam; Zoohaus/Inteligencia Colectiva, Madrid; URBZ, Mumbai; Ensamble Studio, Brookline, Mass.; MIT-POPlab, Madrid and Cambridge, Mass.; Situ Studio, New York; Cohabitation Strategies, Rotterdam, Netherlands; RUA Arquitetos, Rio de Janeiro; ETH Zurich MAS Urban Design program, Zurich.

Through their study, the teams examined how the use of fragmented, grassroots urban interventions—known as tactical urbanism—could impact the nature of public spaces, housing, transportation, spatial justice, and more. “The exhibition features design scenarios for future developments that simultaneously raise awareness of the prevailing inequalities in specific urban areas and confront the changing role of architects vis-à-vis increasing urbanization,” said Pedro Gadanho, curator of MoMA’s department of architecture and design.

The exhibit includes photos, interviews with the project team members, essays, and a book, as well as a user-generated Tumblr page to allow real-time public submissions. “Uneven Growth” was designed in collaboration with the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna. It runs from Nov. 22 to May 10, 2015.

The exhibit proposes the creation of eight artificial islands around Hong Kong to address needs that the small region may soon not be able to meet—among them, storing and processing excess products and waste.
MAP Office The exhibit proposes the creation of eight artificial islands around Hong Kong to address needs that the small region may soon not be able to meet—among them, storing and processing excess products and waste.

Neighborhood-based cooperatives use undeveloped air rights to create new usable spaces that connect resident rooftops and backyards.
Situ Studio Neighborhood-based cooperatives use undeveloped air rights to create new usable spaces that connect resident rooftops and backyards.

The infrastructure of the city of Lagos, in Nigeria, is constantly in flux. The exhibition discusses the creation of spaces and other interventions that bolster the city's current plan.
Nlé and Zoohaus/Inteligencias Colectivas The infrastructure of the city of Lagos, in Nigeria, is constantly in flux. The exhibition discusses the creation of spaces and other interventions that bolster the city's current plan.

Clusters of public housing (shown) on the outskirts of Istanbul breed social isolation despite their desirability to the city's middle-class residents. The exhibition calls for rethinking these complexes through the development of an online network that serves as an alternative, hyper-local economy.
Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée Clusters of public housing (shown) on the outskirts of Istanbul breed social isolation despite their desirability to the city's middle-class residents. The exhibition calls for rethinking these complexes through the development of an online network that serves as an alternative, hyper-local economy.

Unplanned settlements have spread throughout Mumbai, India, as a prominent neighborhood typology, though they are increasingly being redeveloped into high-rises. The exhibition proposes using air rights to build public spaces above the settlements.
Ensamble Studio/MIT-POPlab Unplanned settlements have spread throughout Mumbai, India, as a prominent neighborhood typology, though they are increasingly being redeveloped into high-rises. The exhibition proposes using air rights to build public spaces above the settlements.