Currently, the world is experiencing a 'perfect storm' of social, political, economic and ecological proportions. The full extent and severity of present conditions are yet to be determined. One thing, however, is certain: the foreseeable future will not be like the recent past. Leading analysts of all the major resource domains – water, food, material, energy and finance – are all telling us that our global industrial growth models, driven by speculation on unstable financial markets, are taking the planet to the brink of chronic scarcity. Some of these shortages are determined by natural limits of mineral resources, such as petroleum and coal, and others by the mismanagement of natural resources, such as water, timber and food; a situation that is often characterised by uneven social and geographic distribution of supplies. In architecture, concerns about depleting material and energy sources have largely been centered on the more emollient category of 'sustainability'. In the next decade, however, as the situation becomes more pressing, architects and designers will need to confront the reality of scarcity. There are many ways that architecture, urban planning and design research can tackle such issues: from developing new forms of analysis of global flows and scarcities, to specific local and global design-based solutions. A full engagement with these issues has the potential to completely reconfigure design practice in radically new, post-sustainable directions.•Brings together leading thinkers for the first time in a single volume: Ezio Manzini, Erik Swyngedouw, John Thackara and Jeremy Till.
•Featured architects and designers include: Jody Boehnert, Katrin Bohn and André Viljoen, and muf.