Urban Nomadism Calls for Multifunctional Buildings | Blog Action Day 2009

urban digital nomadism :: climate change for blog action day 2009

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.

I encourage you to read the last three sections of my post about Imprinting a new North American lifestyle and to check City Guides and European City Life post.

+ photos: Station C, Kim Vallee (with my iphone), Bixi

  • David "CrazyKinux" Perry
    October 15, 2009 at 14:41

    I couldn’t agree more when you mention that “the main appeal of the European cities is that […] they were built with human scale in mind.” I’ve repeated this to anyone who will listen!

    I actually regularly look at NA cities or even the countryside and try to imagine what they would look like had they been built during the Middle Ages.

  • Cynthia
    October 15, 2009 at 14:55

    I work from home so I totally dig this!

  • At Home with Kim Vallee
    October 15, 2009 at 15:33

    David and Cynthia: I am glad to see people who can relate to this concept.

  • PhoneJunction
    October 15, 2009 at 16:46

    Urban Nomadism Calls for Multifunctional Buildings | Blog Action …

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • Jerome Paradis
    October 15, 2009 at 23:00

    The funny thing about the picture in the bottom left (which is a picture of me) is that I was in the hotel in San Francisco talking through my software phone to a client in Montreal. Actually, the software phone is the same thing than my office phone, but on my computer. At the same time, I was remotely looking at some stuff with the client. The client knew I was away, but for anyone else, it could have seemed I was in Montreal.

    So, it’s a great example of digital nomadism that show I could very well work from any place in the world.

  • Sabina
    October 15, 2009 at 23:18

    For some reason I could not log onto your site all day but I thought I’d give it one last try and here I am. I love this Kim and love the idea of double duty spaces and new innovative ideas in architecture!! I passed your site along to a few friends I thought would love this as well.

    Happy Blog Action Day!!

  • At Home with Kim Vallee
    October 16, 2009 at 00:35

    Sabina: Thank you for your patience. I am glad that you did. The problem may be a glitch somewhere on the Net but it can also be that my site randomly becomes very slow by moment. It is why we decided to move everything to new servers but it will take a few days to set up our complex environment. I cannot wait. If that happens again, I ask that you bear with me.