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New things cannot emerge without the ability to imagine what they could be. Let’s reimagine the future – not just as something sustainable but as regenerative. Restorative, innovative, opening up opportunities.

The theme of the 2022 Habitare is Reimagine.

Our long journey on a straight road is over. The tracks that took us towards the future at an accelerating pace came to an abrupt end. It’s a good thing they did. Surprisingly many of us were dissatisfied with our direction and found it unsustainable, for both people and our living environment.

In order for us to get moving again together, we should not be sighing for a return to the beaten paths of yesterday. Instead, we could wake up our imagination. What if, instead of a return to normal, we could reimagine the map, looking for new routes on it, and trying to navigate them? Instead of being afraid of the absence of normality, we should honour and celebrate this historical turning point, by using our innate ability to reimagine our everyday lives and by engaging our inherent curiosity.

What are the new ways of living and working?

The past year has thrown open the window of opportunity. What was supposed to be impossible happened in an instant. This proves that, in cooperation, we can quickly create a new way of living and working together. The relationship between the home, family, nature, the workplace, and public spaces has changed and is still changing. Health has become a priority, and in addition to this, the economy is undergoing a tremendous change. Tackling the climate catastrophe is shaping our homes, cities, jobs and leisure time.

This decade is not like the previous ones. This decade lays the foundation for a new era – the 2030s.

Soon, there will be completely new things under way that we can only begin to imagine. Things of the past will seem distant – we will soon be wondering about today in the same way that we are now wondering about smoking, marriage as a financial transaction, and dumping waste into water systems. Instead of the pain of giving things up, we have before us the appeal of imagination and the curiosity to try something new. The best thing about this is that this is the first time in a long while that we have all been in the same boat. We are now.

At a time when old answers have become useless and new questions are emerging, we have the opportunity to enjoy the liberty of thought that this moment brings. The long era of orthodoxy is over, and it will be replaced by an era of imagination.

We have long thought that new means more of the same: a slightly bigger, cheaper, faster, or more durable version of the old. Now we are entering a time in which new things must first be imagined. This is an empowering time. Experts no longer have a better solution for everything. There is no longer just one option, one right way to live and to work. A huge spectrum of new opportunities and an unlimited number of possible futures are opening up before us.

Everything new must first be imagined together. Then we must try what it feels like and learn from this experience.

There is, however, an obstacle to a better world. At the moment, the obstacle is not insufficient resources, the capacity of our technologies, a lack of creativity in problem-solving, or the lack of a common will to strive for a better way of living together. Our biggest obstacle is a lack of imagination. Having been caught in the rat race for a long time and having run faster and faster, we have forgotten how easy it is to imagine a different kind of life, and how interesting it is to try it out in the here and now. We have learned to appreciate cold facts and trying harder. The use of the imagination is not about these.

The use of the imagination is based on broadening our thinking by consciously putting aside our preconceptions.

The use of the imagination is about play, exaggeration, connecting unconnected things, turning things upside down, and mixing things up. It is about transplanting things from one sphere of life to another and translating them into a foreign language. It is the opposite and counterpart of analytical thinking. The imagination does not start with problems but creates new opportunities, so that the future does not take us back onto the same unsustainable track, to which most of us do not want to return.


Bring on the era of imagination. Reimagine.