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Urbanism is the study of how inhabitants of urban areas, such as towns and cities, interact with the built environment.
Deconstruction means the critical analysis of philosophical and literary language which emphasizes the internal workings of language and conceptual systems, the relational quality of meaning, and the assumptions implicit in forms of expression.
Therefore when we talk about deconstructing urbanism and moving towards a future field of post-urbanism, we mean that our understanding of the world is changing, and we are questioning many of the assumptions that have been made about how we relate to urban spaces. This is a very interesting time for urbanism because it seems like there are so many new ideas about what cities are, and how they should be designed. I think that the idea of a city is changing, and I think that it has been changing for a while now. Cities are not just physical places anymore; they are also conceptual spaces that we can access through our mobile devices, and through the Internet.
We are living in a time when the city is being reinvented, and I think that this is because of the Internet. The Internet has changed the way we relate to each other, and it has changed the way we relate to information. The Internet has created a new kind of city, which I call the networked city.
The networked city is a city that is imagined as a space of flows and connections. It is a space that we can access through our mobile devices, and through the Internet. It is a city that has been transformed by the technologies of the network. The networked city is a virtual city. It is a city that exists in the digital realm, and it is a city that we can access through our mobile devices.
The networked city is not just about information, though. It is also about the way in which we relate to each other. The networked city is a space of flows and connections, but it is also a space of relationships. It is a space in which the relationships between people are being redefined by the technologies that we use. The networked city is a virtual city, but it is also a city that is being built around us. It is a city that is being built by the technologies of the network, and it is a city that we are building ourselves. The networked city is not just a virtual city; it is also a real city.
Interstitial spaces are where the most interesting things are happening. Interstitial spaces are not ‘in between’ but rather they are ‘between and beyond’. Interstitial spaces can be found in the cracks of the official order, but they can also be found in the cracks of the unofficial order. Interstitial spaces are where we find the most interesting people. Interstitial sociology is not just about ‘the margins’ but also about ‘the mavericks’, ‘the rule breakers’, ‘the innovators’, ‘the rebels’ and ‘the outsiders’. Interstitial spaces are not just about the people who are in them. Interstitial spaces are also about the people who are not in them. They are about the people who are not there and the people who are not allowed to be there. Interstitial spaces are about the people who are excluded and the people who are invisible. Interstitial sociology is not just about the present but also about the past. Interstitial spaces have a history and this history has been forgotten or erased from official memory.
Therefore, the interstitial sociological approach to post-urbanism urges us to think about the city as a series of interstitial spaces. The city is not just a collection of buildings or a collection of networks. The city is also a collection of interstitial spaces that are found in the cracks and the gaps between the official and unofficial orders.
Like the idea of the city, the idea of society has also been changing. Society is no longer seen as a solid structure. Instead, it is now seen as a series of networks. No longer is society based around towns and cities, because the city is now a conceptual space. No longer is society based around a nation because the nation has now been transformed into an idea. Society used to be about people coming together in one place. Society used to be about people sharing the same physical space in the same city, but this is not what we mean when we talk about society anymore. Society is no longer about physical proximity. It is no longer about space and place, but it is now more about social proximity. It is now more about our relationships with people, rather than space and place.
Therefore, as our understanding of the city changes, and as our understanding of society changes, we are also changing how we think about the role of architecture. Today it isn’t so much about form and design as it is about deployment and experience. Architecture is no longer just concerned with the physical environment. It is not just concerned with buildings, spaces, materials and objects. In the age of the networked city architecture is increasingly concerned with the dynamic identity of a place. It is concerned that buildings and spaces contribute to our sense of belonging in a particular place. Architecture should no longer just be seen as an object, but rather it should be seen as an experience.
Therefore, in the post-urban age we don’t need to be designing urban spaces anymore. We don’t need to be designing cities, suburbs, skyscrapers or shops. They are already being designed for us. We don’t even need to be designing buildings anymore, because buildings can now be designed for us. The experience of architecture is being designed for us. Urban space is being designed for us by the technologies that we use, and the experiences are being designed for us by the computers that we own.
In this way I think that future urban planners should not be designing urban spaces, because architecture is no longer about form only. Instead, the architect should be in charge of the deployment and experience of architecture. I think that original design thinking should be replaced by anticipatory design thinking and proactive design thinking, for this will allow us to plan for cities that we have yet to build. It will allow us to plan for urban environments that we have yet to experience, and it will allow us to plan for new forms of experience. As individuals we are no longer programmed. The future is not pre-planned or pre-scripted, and therefore the future is one big hypothetical space of possibilities. This means that we are not actually living in a post-urban world because we don’t know what a post-urban world is yet. We don’t know what a post-urban city is, and we don’t know what a post-urban society looks like.
Instead, we are still living in an age of pre-urbanism, because the stories of the future are not yet being written. The cities of the future are not yet being designed, and the new societies of the future are not yet being designed. The identity of the future is not yet being designed – it is up for grabs. It is for us to collectively design the identity of our future cities, societies, buildings and spaces. It is for us to collectively design the identity of tomorrow’s digital metropolises. The question is: can we be more visionary now? Can we be more imaginative now? I don’t mean individual or innovative visionaries or innovators, but rather can we as communities and humanity be more visionary and imaginative? I believe that the future depends on our ability to collectively imagine it, and our ability to collectively design it.
I see the urban and the post-urban as two interconnected notions, but the idea of post-urbanism has been criticized for being too dominant and too overbearing. I think that people don’t want to hear about post-anything anymore. They think this represents an end, but this isn’t what post-anything is about.
Post- means after, not an end. It does not mean that everything has ended; it just means that we are in the middle of something different, and the end point is unknown. There are several ways we can talk about this. We can talk about this in terms of the technological singularity. The technological singularity is the idea that we don’t know what lies beyond the radical new technologies of today. Forward-thinking people argue that we don’t know what lies beyond those technologies, and therefore we don’t know what the future holds. The technological singularity is generally placed in a dystopian social context, such as the Culture novels by Iain M. Banks, and in ‘Terminator’ movie franchise by James Cameron, but it doesn’t have to be seen this way.
I also see the origins of the post-urban in something else that could be seen in a utopian social context. I see it in the work of architect Archigram, and particularly their famous exhibit at the 1967 Paris Biennale. It is well known that Archigram are said to be the progenitors of contemporary speculative design, such as Disneyland Dreamers and their Beach Chalet project. However, I also see them as the most ambitious project planners and anticipation sociologists of contemporary culture. They consistently proposed ideas that wanted future architectural spaces to do a great deal more than simply provide functionality and shelter. They were keen to describe how design and constructions could engage with cultural, scientific and commercial ideas, for all of which helps mediate social relationships in public spaces, which ultimately set fresh design parameters from first principles. The artificial worlds that Archigram conjured up were both visionary and uncomfortable. They presented an architecture which was conceptual, allusive and odd. They were, in many ways, a far better reflection of the future than some timidly liberal stylised buildings could ever be.