We were lead to the subject of megastructure during research for the exhibition Ideal City – Invisible Cities. As part of this project we showed Plug-in City and New Babylon as descendents in a long line of ideal urban designs. Within the exhibition the subject could only be touched on briefly however, as it would have exploded the entire concept of the ideal city.

The megastructuralists’ close connection to the Sixties’ art scene and emancipatory movements has been described and analysed in various publications. Now, as interest in modernist ideas and forms of expression appears to be re-awakening, seems a particularly appropriate time to make these designs accessible to a wider public in a large exhibition offering an overview.

Added to this, the megastructuralists’ ideas are now highly relevant in the light of the problematic facing mega-cities in the ‘newly industrializing countries’ in Asia, Africa and South America. In the forty years since the ‘discovery’ of Plug-in City and New Babylon, ‘megastructures’ have developed in the form of free growing suburbs, independent of any urban design vision. While a quarter of all cities in the industrial countries shrank during the 1990s, cities worldwide continue to grow. In 1950 there were 86 cities with over a million inhabitants; today there are 400. In 2015 the figure will be 550. Already 50% of the world’s population live in cities (3.2 billion). The Indian city Mumbai will have an estimated 33 million inhabitants by 2025. In thirty years three-quarters of the world’s population will live in such overflowing urban agglomerations.

Given these figures, the question is whether the problems of mega-cities can be overcome with the conventional city-planning tools. MEGASTRUCTURE RELOADED therefore aims to put the visionary planning of the 1960s back up for debate and to place it within the context of contemporary artistic perspectives.