Garden city

Narratives for New Normal Place Making

There is a long tradition for creating narratives for ideal place making starting from the Garden city in the 1890s. How are these stories evolving for New Normal place making?

Below is an example of how the story is evolving for ideal place making from Safe & Smart, 15 min city, Village Revival and Adapted:

New Normal PLACE_MTakala

  1. SMART & SAFE – Remaining story
    – Mainstream audience. Interest is dimishing but slowly.
    -> Increasing need for investment in new regulations and public policy (long term)
  2. 15 MIN CITY – Dominant story
    – Popular with increasing awareness
    -> Becomes social currency and evolves public interest
  3. VILLAGE REVIVAL – Emerging story
    – Initially less known. New rituals & experiences are changing behaviour
    -> Need for investment in new technology and knowledge
  4. ADAPTABLE – Disruptive story
    – Creates new meanings. Often rebelling against mainstream
    -> Has constraints, increases learning, requires investment in systems

SMART & SAFE – Remaining story is about density living in city centres

Does anyone actually enjoy density living? Cost efficiency to maximise profits for developers is driving the push to continue city centre density building despite health warnings. Convenience is the key argument being used to sell the idea to mainstream. Since you live in the middle of the city, everything is close by. The streets and the cityscape become your living room (and you only go home to sleep).

However, pandemic has changed it all, so this scenario is no longer attractive. If density living survives, people need to feel safe inside small flats. Smart technology can be a way out. The idea of smart neighbourhoods is still relevant and could revive after 5G implementation.

What if the smart building could offer a safety bubble providing clean air, deliveries on door step. managing people and traffic flows and real time local info updates about outside world? Transparent data and privacy protocols are needed to gain trust in order it could work.

15 MIN CITY – Dominant story is about walkability, giving the streets back to people

Reducing car traffic in the centre has been a long term direction in many big cities. It is a far greater challenge in mega cities which were originally planned around driving to centre for work, shopping and entertainment. 15 min city relies instead more on public transportation, walking and micro mobility.

The idea of everything being in 15 min walking distance is idealistic, yet more realistic to achive in new neighbourhoods and smaller cities. Health and wellbeing are main drivers.

What if cities were designed to be more decentraliced with several independent local centres with mixed spaces and nature coexisting?

VILLAGE REVIVAL – Emerging story is about revival of idealistic village life in smaller cities and towns

Pandemic has caused relocation from big cities to countryside. The main driver is new appreciation for belonging to a community and changes in lifestyle preferences due to pandemic. If you can work from home then why live in a big and expensive city?

Many want ‘a fresh start’ by moving from a city apartment to a house in the countryside for more active and self-sufficient symbiotic living with nature. People are willing to invest more in their local neighbourhood and community sharing responsibilities. Nostalgic Cottagecore trend is about DIY skills and love for craft of the Maker mindset.

What if  the village lifestyle can also be recreated into smaller cities by redesigning the high street, town square and other iconic representation of the village life?

ADAPTED – Disruptive story is about the idea that feeling is more important than the actual place

The main driver is freedom of choice to live anywhere. Technology can be a key to design new global systems that allow easy and more flexible movement between countries to work and live. In addition, more flexibility is needed for semi permanent occupancy. For example more choice, variety and adaptability for rental agreements for both home and work spaces. Also increasing need for joint property ownership and sharing require system changes in the future.

What if the place was evolving and adapting to the needs of people and not the other way around? Place would be adjusted to fit certain needs and when occupants move out, it could be changed again. Digital contracts could be easily changed to allow different needs of life situations.


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