13 January 2017

Post Fossil City

International Design Competition Calls for Ideas for the Post-Fossil City

The Urban Futures Studio proudly presents the Post-Fossil City Contest. This competition invites the global creative community to submit innovative and inspiring design proposals to imagine a city that is no longer reliant on fossil fuels. The Post-Fossil City Contest is an initiative of Utrecht University’s Urban Futures Studio in collaboration with the City of Utrecht and the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment.

With the Paris Agreement of December 2015, 195 countries committed to fighting climate change by reducing worldwide CO2 emissions by 95%. This treaty will drastically change our daily lives. What can we expect from this future? How does the post-carbon era affect our living environment? How will we move around? And what challenges will we find along the way? The Urban Futures Studio calls on artists, architects, photographers, filmmakers and other creatives worldwide to bring the post-fossil city to life, in a way that appeals to our imagination and enables us to hear, smell, taste and visualise the post-fossil world.

The Post-Fossil City Contest has been officially launched on Wednesday, January 11. The deadline for submissions is February 24. The jury, including architect Winy Maas, City of Utrecht alderwoman Lot van Hooijdonk, and scientist Maarten Hajer, among others, will select the ten best proposals. The makers of these proposals will receive €1,000 to further develop their ideas. The finalised works will be included in the Post-Fossil City Exhibition in Utrecht, which opens on June 15. From these ten, the jury will select a winner, who will be awarded €10,000.


  • Launch Post-Fossil City Contest: January 11, 2017
  • Deadline for submissions: February 24, 2017
  • Presentation of selected projects: March 16, 2017
  • Opening Post-Fossil City Exhibition and announcement of the winner: June 15, 2017

What Are We Looking for?

Submissions in any shape or form are welcome. This includes illustrations and drawings, maps, 3D models, dioramas, scenarios, essays, stories and poems, video, audio, soundscapes, music, installations, interventions, prototypes, games, and so on. The proposal may describe either the city as a whole, or a particular aspect thereof.

Background Information

Fossil fuels have shaped the world as we know it. They have defined how we move around in our cars, how we produce and consume food, run our economies, generate electricity, and design our cities. But whether we want it or not, our addiction to coal, gas and oil is coming to an end. We are heading for a post-fossil future. This era will reshape our cities and everyday lives so radically that it is hard to imagine what it might feel, taste, smell, and look like.

Innovation is the result of responding to problems. Both the car and the bicycle were developed in response to dissatisfaction with transport by horses, and this new means of transport has shaped our environment. Planners and architects like Cornelis van Eesteren, Robert Moses and Le Corbusier designed cities for car traffic — machines for living, focused entirely on efficiency. Today, their ideas are seen as a failed utopia, but they have strongly influenced the urban landscape. How would we design — aspects of — a new, post-fossil city, adapted to the challenges of our time? Would this city be a utopia or a dystopia, and what problems may arise in the process of getting there?

In order to make the post-fossil future, we first have to imagine it.

The Urban Futures Studio asks creative thinkers and makers to take the problems of our current cities as a starting point, in order to imagine the everyday texture of the post-fossil city.


  • Winy Maas (MVRDV)
  • Anita van den Ende (Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment)
  • Willem Schinkel (Erasmus University, Center for Public Imagination)
  • Lot van Hooijdonk (City of Utrecht)
  • Michiel van Iersel (Non-fiction)
  • Maarten Hajer (Urban Futures Studio, Utrecht University)

About the Urban Futures Studio

The Urban Futures Studio is a newly formed cross-disciplinary institute led by Prof. Maarten Hajer. It aims to improve the interaction between academic insights and the challenges we face in coping with the future, particularly at the urban level. The Urban Futures Studio is embedded within the Faculty of Geosciences and collaborates closely with the research groups within this faculty. It wants to take the lead in in the study and development of new practices that relate to environmental, social, economic and political challenges within the urban field.