Megacities in Art and Climate Science
7 May – 26 July 2014

Georg Aerni - 1802-2 - Shek Kip Mei

Georg Aerni, 1802-2, Shek Kip Mei, 2000, © Georg Aerni

Iwan Baan - Torre de David

Iwan Baan, Torre de David, © Iwan Baan in collaboration with U-TT/ETH


More and more people are moving to cities. Over 50% of the world’s population are city dwellers, with a continuing upward trend. Many cities reach such a gigantic scale through non-stop influx as well as high birth rates. Tokyo, for years, ranks as No. 1, followed by Delhi, Mexico City, New York and Shanghai. These and other megacities, per definition with more than 5 or 10 million residents are the result of the enormous dynamic of our era. The most diverse perspectives and lifestyles converge in these metropolises. As important political, economic and cultural centers, they play a crucial role in the process of globalization.

We have only recently become more aware of their massive influence on climate change. The results of scientific studies are alarming: although they only make up 2% of the world’s surface, urban regions and megacities use roughly 80% of the world’s energy resources and produce approximately 85% of global greenhouse gas emissions! These cities, however, are not just contributors tot he problem, they are also the victims of global warming. Many of them are situated on coastlines and will have to struggle especially hard with future consequences. The increasingly frequent heat waves are also becoming more drastic. Urban areas are slow to cool down and form islands of heat whose temperature can be, as in the case of Tokyo, up to 13°C higher than the surrounding countryside.

Beginning on May 7, 2014, the ERES Foundation will be the host of an exhibition on this subject and will be holding related events that delve into the phenomenon of megacities as significant forces in global climate change. Megapolis will show how these forces come into being and develop and why these regions have such a high proportion of worldwide CO2 emissions.

Scientists pose pressing questions: Can metropolises like Lima or Santiago de Chile survive in light of the fact that their water and electric power demands are being encroached upon by glaciers melting in the Andes? How can constantly rising demands for energy, water and food be met? What possibilities do megacities have in reducing CO2 emissions resulting from food wastage?

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, aside from the worlwide tragedy of over 850 million people going hungry every day, if this wastage were integrated into a ranking of top emitters, it would appear third, after the USA and China. How does Singapore, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, prevent the usual chaos of traffic congestion, noise, exhaust fumes and smog? What are the consequences of covering large areas of the ground with asphalt and concrete? How do we envision intelligent waste and sewage disposal systems? How much does the enormous waste of electric light in neon advertising signs as well as street, building and industrial lighting affect their CO2 output and what are the economic and health consequences involved?

Artists: Georg Aerni, Peter Bialobrzeski, Adam Magyar, Ton Matton, Marjetica Potrč, Reynold Reynolds, Urban-Think Tank, Mark Wallinger, as well as architectural concepts and designs from MVRDV, Rotterdam/Shanghai, WOHA Architects, Singapur and Vincent Callebaut Architectures, Paris, among others

Scientists: Gerhard Berz, Wilfried Endlicher, Franz Hölker, Frauke  Kraas, Kerstin Krellenberg, Gerhard Schmitt

Collaboration: Generalkonsulat der Niederlande, München


Megapolis - Katalog

Accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue, EUR 5,00
Order via Catalogues


Wednesday, 07 May 2014, 7 pm

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Berz, LMU Munich, formerly with Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research
Megacities: Chances and Risks - Natural Disasters, Climate Change and the Costs

Ton Matton, artist, will talk about his project Plants Liberation Forest

Thursday, 22 May 2014, 7 pm

Dr. Franz Hölker, Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Berlin
The Impact of Light Pollution – Megacities Never Sleep

Tuesday, 27 May 2014, 7 pm

Dr. Kerstin Krellenberg, Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig
Facing Climate Change in Megacities: The Case of Santiago de Chile

Friday, 30 May 2014, 7 pm

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Schmitt, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH), Director of the Singapore-ETH Centre and Senior-Vice President of ETH Global
Singapore’s Urban Metabolism – How More Effective Cycles Can Improve the Global Climate

Prof. Alfredo Brillembourg, Urban-Think Tank, ETH Zurich, Department of Architecture
Radical Cities: The Case of Caracas/Torre David (in English)

Wednesday, 9 July 2014, 7 pm

Prof. Dr. Frauke Kraas, Institute of Geography, University of Cologne
Prof. Dr. Wilfried Endlicher, Geography Department, Humboldt University of Berlin
Megacities in Asia – Driving Forces Behind Global Change

Georg Aerni, artist, will talk about his series of photographs Promising Bay (Mumbai) and Slopes & Houses (Hong Kong)