World Building meets Art for Futures Lab

The Art for Futures Lab meets Alex McDowell’s “Planet Junk”: Positive visions for a sustainable future emerge from a dystopian scenario by means of the world building method.

Project start:

In the interdisciplinary one-week workshop, the methods of Planet Junk and the Art for Futures Lab were combined in order to turn a dystopian base scenario of an isolated island devastated by a volcano eruption into utopian positive future scenarios. New ways and methodologies for interdisciplinary story development were tested and implemented.

The two creators of the world building method, Prof. Alex McDowell and Juan Diaz Bohorquez, shared their knowledge openly in keynotes and intensive feedback sessions with the 20 participating students. After an initial day full of presentations and novel impulses, the teams started into researching and creating their island scenarios. Under supervision on site and by world building experts online, they designed and reflected new forms of society systems, economies and resource recycling. The so-called “Mandala”, showing the most vital building blocks needed to define a society, was the guiding principle in this phase of the workshop. An expert on climate change and the Art for Futures database helped the students to validate their ideas against scientific knowledge.

The following day, the students carried on with the Street Corner exercise, which describes and visualizes in detail how the rules of the particular society work in practice and detail. The close interrelation between visual and verbal creation and storytelling is a key element in this phase of the process. On the final day of the workshop, all groups presented their results to the international lecturers and further guests, followed by a deep and insightful discussion on how the results could have an impact towards a more sustainable future.

Production Designer Alex McDowell from the World Building Institute of the USC launched the project Planet Junk. The project invites university students to imagine a future world that is built on the detritus (junk) of our current world. At present, 15 universities are part of the Junk Consortium, reflecting on what our world will look like in 300 years' time. The Art For Futures Lab (AFFL) is an archive of existing ecological innovations. By means of a scenographically designed online space, co-creative international work is carried out. Methods such as worldbuilding, future prototyping and design thinking were adapted.

[Translate to englisch:]

Project Lead: Prof. Angelica Böhm and Prof. Dr. Björn Stockleben

Duration: 28.11.-1.12.23

Project participants:



  • MA Szenographie
  • MA Drehbuch/Dramaturgie
  • MA Film- und Fernsehproduktion

Cooperation partners

  • World Building Institute @ University of Southern California
  • Universidad Austral, Buenos Aires

Contact: Sophie Tummescheit, Coordination CX Studio, cx-studio(at)