Worldwide, there can be no doubt that 2020 is a year of upheaval and a new normality affecting all areas of life. With regard to virology and sociology, questions relating to the coronavirus pandemic often focus on space – whether they concern drive-in concerts, home quarantine, home schooling, the protection of risk groups in nursing homes for the elderly, or the unintentional staging of infections at hardware stores, slaughterhouses or après-ski bars. This was and is about distances and isolation – and thus about everything spatial communication tries to avoid.
Therefore, it is almost inevitable that much, but not all of Raumwelten 2020 is about the question of how scenography and architecture can function during and after a (coronavirus) pandemic. Which changes result from the pandemic in the context of scenography and architecture? Which new spatial programmes develop from the pandemic, and how much does it intensify the digitalisation of space? Which sociological implications will the pandemic have on the use of spaces at the age of social distancing? And can we perhaps learn from the virus, as Paul B. Preciado writes in his Artforum article “Learning from the Virus”?
Will we experience the restart of social life and a renaissance of public space in autumn, or the second wave? Onsite and online, scenographers, architects, philosophers, media professionals, digital artists, business representatives and politicians discuss the question of how scenography, architecture, urban planning and digital media deal with the dystopic year of 2020 creatively, whether the proposition “that nothing will ever be the same again“ will really come true, and how creative people handle the new spatial limitations in witty and original ways.
Another content-related aspect to be dealt with at Raumwelten in the coronavirus context, but also in in relation to the ecological crisis, is the question of whether the future will bring a shift from the urban towards the rural. Is there a renaissance of rural spaces, as outlined by Rem Koolhaas in his exhibition project “Countryside, The Future” at the Guggenheim, or as discussed in the “Stadt.Land.Schluss” series of conferences taking place in the Allgäu region (www.stadt-land-schluss.eu)? And will the coronavirus pandemic, which exposes the shortcomings of our economic system, bring the end of globalisation as we know it? Does it, along with further global threats (climate change, terrorist attacks, pandemics), result in a new form of more resilient, robust, and flexible architecture? Will there be new forms of architecture, staged production, and spaces, created on the basis of new materials, concepts, regulations, and media?
At the same time, purely pragmatic and existential questions arise relating to spatial communication in the age of the coronavirus:
When, if ever, will we see trade fairs and exhibitions, staged productions, and concerts again as we know them? And what will trade fairs, exhibitions, and staged productions look like? What is going to happen with the countless scenographers, exhibition designers, and trade fair constructors who stage and realise physical, onsite encounters? Which new business models can there be for scenographers and their contractors, and how can digital media such as Multi-User Virtual Reality, conferencing and meeting software, and procedural and interactive games be used to generate social proximity and spaces for experiences? Or do we already see a great tiredness of digitality that vehemently drives people back to real spaces?

Ever since Raumwelten was first launched in 2012, its coming edition is certainly the one raising the most and biggest question marks in advance, requiring a joyfully creative management of uncertainties. Thus, format and topic of Raumwelten 20 2 0 2.0 as a hybrid edition coincide and are inextricably linked…

Prof. Ulrich Wegenast, September 14, 2020