Design disciplines are challenged by the condition of the zero point. “Zero-context,” “cities from scratch,” and “zero-carbon” developments all force designers to tackle fundamental questions regarding the strategic relevance and impact of a design intervention. As much as the zero point presents na´ve innocence and embodies contradictory notions, it also creates a ground for doubt, self-critique, and rejuvenation for architecture and urbanism. As cities are built before they can even be imagined, what do these projects suggest for the design disciplines? Rather than reductive aestheticization or total rejection, what are possible critical ways to reflect on this condition? Beyond a possible focus on the ambitions of these projects, it is important to see them as symptomatic of a much broader condition within contemporary architecture and urbanism. Along with the challenges inherent in the zero point, perhaps more meaningful are the provocations of the “after the zero” condition, which clearly marks the need to seriously explore fundamental inquiries regarding form and context (physical, social, political). After Zero is an opportunity to imagine alternative futures and a revitalized project for the city.
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