Arredamento Mimarlık, 2018
Alper Derinboğaz, Msc. Architect; Salon
The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed 1 .
According to Gibson, thinking and producing for the future has been associated with sci-fi literature, yet, it is a matter of looking more closely to present. Maybe it is even more related to the past.
However, knowing the past and following the latest innovations does not mean that we can make precise predictions about the future. People and products reach anywhere in the world faster than ever. To reach an information is in most cases only limited within the speed of connecting to the internet. We replaced single-layered information flow with multi-layered experience flow. Our voice and our sound can travel wherever we want or whatever we like. In other words, the notion of space and time sense is shifting or maybe also bending. According to a survey, only in 2017, we produced more data than throughout all of human history. The amount of technical knowledge that has been developed doubles every nine years. The only thing we are certain about this increasingly accelerated period – sometimes referred to as ‘exponential’- is that change is constant and will be increasing as well as knowledge generation, inventions, travels and – of course – inequality.
Digital currencies have completely changed the meaning of the nations as we know. The national currencies, roughly speaking, are almost the abstraction of the legal and economic values which societies believe and trust. But for the first time in history, digital currencies are more credible than other currencies which are the physical assets of any nation. In other words, we trust the digital communities in the virtual world more than state structure. Although we can not imagine what it will evolve exactly, this is the beginning of a new era. Considering the urban fabric, the historical and cultural heritage we are trying to protect, it is almost impossible to maintain as a majority but digital images remain forever in the ‘cloud’.
Relatively, the notion of ‘flâneur’ as poetic explorers of cities, is changing radically. The concept which defined modern urbanism and shaped the urban experience, replaced by ‘digital flâneurs’. The line between work and home which came into our lives as a consequence of the industrial revolution has increasingly blurred. Digital flâneur prefers to immerse into ‘flux’ experience with a hope of liberating itself from all these, including home, work, and the city. Perhaps it is tempting to let ourselves go with the flow due to the speed of change and our critical thoughts on the environment and the stereotypes. We see it as a way of being different, fictionalise our ‘personas’ which we can not have in our “real” life. By doing this, we all become labourer of digital platforms. The time we spare for exploration and novelty turned into a kind of media labour. Now, there is no separation between home and work. Today whenever our smartphone – even our bedroom – could be an office. The time which we collectively spend on any popular internet platform is a much longer period than entire history. Prior to the beginning of ‘information age’ we witnessed these experimental cities within dystopian projects of Superstudio, the most expressive of them was ‘Infinite Monument’ (Monumento Continuo) where we are all connected to a neutral wire of immensely repetitive grating systems as in this world.
This monotonous repetition is not just about the digital world, it must be about something beyond technological developments. Considering the current cities, the ‘megalopolis’ such as Shanghai, Istanbul, Mumbai are reflections of this endless expansion and monotony. We are witnessing the exchange of the numerical and virtual values of the economy into the real estates with various packages. Each area corresponds to a certain amount, and according to the circumstances, the multiplier of this value changes yet, unfortunately, the spatial quality is not affected by this value at all. Because it remains unimportant to respond to the needs or to enrich our lives but how easily it can be monetised. These properties are then transformed into mortgages and loans, new constructions, evolving into a never-ending consumption of space.
Perhaps architectural studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro wanted to speculate this reality with their building “Blur”. They wanted to prepare us for an extremely blurred and gray world within the cities are black and white, all the borders are divided, continuous and standardised.
But it can be misleading to see this movement as just increasing the number of homes or offices. At the same time, we live in a world where the ‘house’ is getting smaller and scattered in the city ². We live in cities where the restaurants replaced kitchens or the living rooms replaced by coffee shops, the bedroom is compensated by “love hotels”, therefore everything is intertwined. However, there are also unique opportunities for individuals to come together and even closer. Intermediate forms such as coworking and co-living create opportunities for collective goodness by crossing the borders between institutions or even families in terms of inhabitation.
However, collectively, we could undoubtedly dominate all these hazardous methods that consume the cities. This also means that nowadays systematically accelerated ideas and evolving systems are more appreciated than absolute monopoly.
We live in an era that the small can rapidly grow, and learning is more important than education. Therefore, it is also possible to create ‘asymmetric goodness’ in spite of the asymmetric inequality. Since the inhabitants of the city can easily gather around mutual causes, intentions, and purposes easier than ever before. If your network equals your net worth, you may use your network to fundraise for good. Communities gathered around common goals can actively take part in institutionalisation and fundraising, collaborating on critical issues such as the development of cultural infrastructure or the conservation of nature. Using digital platforms, similar needs and requests can be identified in cities and then resources can be used to benefit the community. As an example, the Luchtsingel pedestrian bridge is one of the earliest examples of the crowdfunding projects. The 400-meter-long pedestrian bridge which connects three different areas of the city since they lost the connection due to a couple of interventions such as the highway, was built with the help of the donations of locals through a virtual platform. The foundation established afterward which continues to provide services to develop the urban environment.
Likewise, the people who do not want to live through the stereotypical approach to housing or working can collectively create new formats together ³. Maybe then, we can talk about innovation.
Innovation – at least the one as we know- was not always in favor of humanity. The reason for the increasing welfare levels is not the implementation of the mass- production band or developments of moving machines. Because technological developments alone are insignificant. What translates them into the future is the intention of their use and their adaptation in our lives. In this context, I think that our future predictions are implicit in designing these innovations for our purposes. As technology develops so rapidly yet humanitarian goals are still immature, I sincerely hope that the real innovation will follow the compromise of equal spaces where everyone can benefit from innovations in cities.
1 “The Future Is Already Here – It’s Just Not Very Evenly Distributed.”: interview with William Gibson , Fresh Air, NPR, 31 August 1993.
2 Luca Molinari: The Homes That We Are, Nottetempo, 2017. Translation: Jennifer Knaeble
3 Joi Ito, Jeff Howe, Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future, Grand Central Publishing, New York, 2016, p. 26.