Alizé Carrère: Climatopia — Evaluating Radical Designs for the Climate Crisis

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cityscape with modern buildings, pink clouds and water

Cityscape of Shanghai. photo / Zhang Kaiyv via Unsplash


Sleek renderings of neighborhoods built on water, skyscrapers adorned with lush vegetation, car-free carbon-negative cities of the future — as the world grapples with the effects of climate change, architects, urban planners, engineers, real estate developers, and even high-net-worth individuals are radically reimagining the future of our built environment. Even if never implemented, these climate utopias, or "climatopias," represent a new form of aspirational city-making and future-building that seeks to integrate climate mitigation and adaptation goals. But for whom are these so-called utopian futures, and by whom are they created? How will they be designed, built, and monitored over time? What can be done to ensure they do not repeat the mistakes of past utopian design experiments that began with similar excitement and intrigue? In this talk based on the research of Ph.D. candidate (University of Miami), filmmaker, and National Geographic Explorer Alizé Carrère, learn about the fraught legacy of utopian experimentation in the built environment, the power of narrative and aesthetics in visualizing new futures, and the promises and perils of climatopias in their diverse forms.


Alizé Carrère is a Ph.D. candidate at University of Miami's Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. Her research examines the rise of utopic plans for climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, particularly proposals by architects and urban planners. Drawing linkages between historical notions of utopia and current transformational adaptation goals, Carrère is working on defining "climatopias" — architectural works that meet social, political, and spatial criteria for just, inclusive, and resilient urban futures.

Prior to joining UM, Carrère earned both her B.A. and M.Sc. from McGill University in Environmental Science and Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). For her master's she spent time in Israel and Palestine, conducting research on the sociopolitical impacts of an emerging black market electronic waste industry. Carrère is a three-time National Geographic grantee and filmmaker and spent the last six years working on a film series about local adaptations to environmental change that recently premiered on PBS. She brings her social science background and extensive field experience to her filmmaking, with the goal of documenting and elevating the human dimensions of climate change.

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