I read on the book Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel how new technology will shape the way we think about building in the 21st century. It is not Mitch who made that prediction. It is an affirmation made by William Mitchell, a professor of architecture and computer science at MIT. This is how my topic for my post on Climate Change for Blog Action Day 2009 was born.
I wrote several posts over the years about the need for walking city planning. I think it is the best way to live is to not have to use the car every day. I see a glimpse of hope due to the Web and smart phones. Digital technology means that many people can work from everywhere as long as they can be connected to the Web. As we get more and more access to wireless connections, Voice Over IP and other means to be connected, we are not restricted to our desk anymore.
Inspired by the Village
The main appeal of the European cities is that they were constructed before the industrial revolution. This means that they were built with human scale in mind. Having shops, restaurants and residences nicely integrated in a neighborhood builds a sense of community. We already seen the revival of abandoned neighborhoods built around multi-functional buildings.
Coworking spaces, which are offices to go to for consultants, developers and telecommuters that come complete with printers, high-speed internet access, conference rooms and community, flourish across North America. We have Station C in Montreal and Office Nomads in Seattle. They are hiccups like the closure of Workspace in Vancouver. This is normal since it involves a different way to do business. Still, the concept behind the community office makes a lot of sense for many people.
Looking at the Future
What do it has to do with taking about Climate Change. Everything! Sharing spaces or using them for double duty reduces our footprint in so many ways.
We have to reexamine how buildings are built in light of what the future will bring. They might not need to serve only one function: housing, work, entertaining. If we can work from everywhere, it changes our commute habits. If we share offices, it reduces the number of office buildings we need to serve everyone. I do not have the solution, but we must envision our actions with how we will live in the future instead of only considering how we live now.