Civic Mutations

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Future of the City

Since its first issue came out, Monocle has tackled some interesting issues on urban life and ways to improve it. Most recently in its July/August 2008 issue, Copenhagen was rated as the number one most liveable city in the world in an annual poll organized by Monocle magazine. Continuing in its tradition to discuss issues in the development of urban planning, a debate was held in London two months ago entitled “Future of the City”. On the panel of the discussion were Alain de Botton (philosopher), Enrique Peñalosa (former mayor of the city of Bogota), Alejandro Gutierrez (associate director at Arup) and Tyler Brûlé (monocle magazine editor-in-chief). The video link to the debate is available at Monocle – Future of the City and/or Monocle + Killik Debates.

Future of the City Debate

Future of the City Debate. From left to right: Tyler Brûlé, Alejandro Gutierrez, Alain de Botton and Enrique Peñalosa.

The debate tackled some interesting issues on our social lifestyle and issues on architecture itself such as the example given by Peñalosa that the idea of having a mall in the city will suck out the life is has as well as the status of museums. I thought Alain de Botton was pretty spot on about museum being the most unimaginative public space for a city. (Discussion on this matter begins around 10.00) de Botton further elaborate and gave an example that the Tate Modern is not just a art museum but a meeting place, a modern agora so to speak.

On that note, I question the idea on civic spaces and challenge the thought on modern civic spaces. Do we have a space where citizens of a city are free to express themselves, to exchange thoughts and culture? What is the role of civic spaces in the digital era? The technological advancement of Web 2.0 has created sites such as Facebook and Twitter etc. that can be considered as the agora in the modern world, but can we translate that into the physical built environment? What can we learn from sites such as Facebook or MySpace that has been so successful in connecting the younger generation to take part in social activities outside the virtual environment, and a good example is the outcome of the US election for the next president. The whole situation is quite interesting and I’m really keen on pursuing a new typology on a civic space that utilizes elements from Web 2.0.

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Filed under: Random Thoughts

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