The cities of today and the cities of tomorrow are being built all over the world. Some completely without afterthought and some go all in with tech, ecological sustainability and future foresight. Still almost every one of them lacks both design thinking in Beauty and Social Collision Density. What can we do about that?
What We Create – Create Us Back
With so many people living and moving into cities now and in the future, it’s a shame that so many cities are downright ugly.
Yes! Beauty of cities are not luck, nor in the eye of the beholder. Alain de Botton and the School of Life has put together an excellent guide to how we build beautiful cities. Many of our most beautiful cities were built during the renaissance. And it didn’t happen by accident. For them it was a philosophical mission. They knew that everything around us affect us and to get better citizens we have to put them in a better environment.
It is called Ontological Design – Everything we design, build and create -In turn design us back 🙂
So yes, we know how to do it, and yes, we can do it in modern times as well.
The challenge is 2 things:
- The intellectual confusion around beauty
- Lack of political will
And The Intellectual Confusion Around It
We all now an ugly cities when we see it. And we all know a beautiful and attractive city when we see it as well. We even have scientific tourist data to support this claim.
Successful urbanism is never an accident
For the Renaissance it was a philosophical mission – Alain De Botton
The School of Life as put forth 6 things that we know makes a city attractive :
- Order and Variety
- Life on the streets
- Orientation and Mystery
- The right scale
- Make it local
I highly recommend watching the entire clip and listen to Alain explain all of the 6 factors.
The second obstacle is the political will to set at rules and regulations to stop disastrous commercial developers, to get free hands on how to do things without too much afterthought at all. They all need a strong firm guidance in how they build properties that will make a city beautiful.
Our Cities has always been about glorifying the center of power. From the Temples and Castles of the olden world to today’s modern religious temples, our Towers of Capitalism, that in most cases are both alienating and ugly.
What will our temples of tomorrow look like and can we make them beautiful and inviting for all citizens?
We can make this happen. It is our cities. We all benefit from having beautiful cities from personal wellbeing to a flourishing tourist economy and a booming creative connection economy.
Mega Cities and The Connection Economy
And as we head into the future it becomes ever more apparent, that the emerging connected Mega Cites is the way many of us will live in. And then it also becomes ever more important who can build the coolest and most beautiful Mega Cities to live in. Both making the many smaller cities, that makes up one Mega City, more beautiful and making all the infrastructure, that connects them and resides in them, more beautiful as well.
The one who speaks best for that is Parag Khanna in the excellent talk at The RSA: Connectivity Is Destiny. We need to build more infrastructure and connections in and in-between our cities. Nations and borders won’t define our future. Connections and Mega-Cities will.
And let’s not forget to make all the infrastructure Beautiful as well!
Then we should really take on the responsibility to make it A New Renaissance in creating and build our future homes here on Spaceship Earth.
Thanks to Science Fiction and things like the Venus Project, we have been promised the cities in the future will look really cool indeed. Still I see new building being built all over Sweden looking really ugly or boring. Something must be done. And it is not just that. We have to design our cities to live in them for a creative future as well. One thing to take in mind is a thing called Collision Density.
To make our Cities and Mega Cities thriving in the future we have to take into account something called Collision Density. Something that several European Cities has going for the already like London, Barcelona and Berlin. It’s where there are dense creative city centers with lots of walkable areas and natural meeting points. Where creative people of the future like Artists, Thinkers, Entrepreneurs, Freelancers, Makers, Dreamers and World Changers can bump into each others both serendipitously and at lots of creative events.
This is easily done with lots of co-working places and enabling lots of cool meetups and events.
Bubbles and Cross-Fertilisation
It’s important that people can meet and get together both inside their own sphere of interest and outside it. It can be their profession or the hobbies or common interest in some form of Art, Culture, Game or Fitness that unites them. So it is possible to get this going even in smaller cities if there are strong communal breeding ground for some niches.
But at the same time is also important that the city design enables intertwingle between several bubbles to enable Cross-Fertilization and avoid group-think and stagnation. And that infrastructure enable fast, cheap and easy access between the cities that makes up a Mega City, so that people easily can visit other spheres of interest that aren’t local.
I would go as far as to say that make traveling between cities free or almost free using sustainable infrastructure.
So design Cities and Mega Cities that enable Collision Density, Easy Travel and Cross-Fertilisation.
Tomorrowland And The Renaissance
Do we want to live in cities that looks like the one in my favorit movie Tomorrowland or do we want some modern version of the beautiful stone Renaissance cities? Or some form of unholy mix?
It is clear that we are lagging behind in making beautiful and sustainable cities of both today and tomorrow.
Let us change that!
I’m Your Future Captain