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?

Collaboration: Generalkonsulat der Niederlande, München


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


  • 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)


Accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue, EUR 5,00
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