Design Prose

Work and the City by Frank Duffy

Posted in Architecture, Built Environment, Research and Analysis, Uncategorized, Urbanism by designprose on March 13, 2011

“Nevertheless the physical fabric of our buildings and cities, not least workplaces, will change: to paraphrase a famous remark on Architecture by Winston Churchill, we use technology and then technology uses us.[…]

The ways in which the physical fabric of buildings and cities are being changed by information technology. However, equally important, if not more so, are the ways in which information technology is making it possible for us to reinvent the dimension of time by dissolving temporal conventions that have been taken for granted for centuries.”

Above words are quoted from Duffy’s introductory passages in Work and the City where he takes a contemplative look at future of workspace, nature of work itself and how it impacts the office development and eventually affects the fabric of life and cities, both culturally and ecologically. Technological connectivity has  enabled us with an alternate model of work and advancement is here to modulate our workspace such that we maximize its offerings. In reality, how are we responding to these changes and how much cultural shift will be viable and sustainable is yet to be seen. Although brief in his writings, Duffy touches the surface of the issues that will be forthcoming as the city turn more urban and technologically advanced. He says,

Even more imagination will be required to envision what the new world of universal connectivity will be like. However, one thing is certain: new temporal and social conventions must be invented that will be strong enough to take advantage of the enormous potential freedoms offered by the new technology as well as equally capable to avoiding the destructive effects of the hugely invasive power of information technology.

This will make study of human ecology even more critical with respect to culture, local or global and it manifests itself in the fabric of city striving towards modernity yet remaining sustainable to environment and societies. Such that hidden costs are incorporated in the business solutions. This will impact the way the construction industries campaign their development model which is rarely inclusive and present only an artificial side of demands to real estate and hence the supply side is highly lop-sided while maximizing their benefits.

That said, forms for the buildings and cities of the future will demand more secured environments which will have to be fluid as well as organic while responding to interactive knowledge economy where buildings are not merely in response to symptoms of industrial model of working. There is a need to figure out how efficiently cities can be designed keeping in mind adjacencies, scales of spaces and their complimentary functions. Such a model is planned but it also allows adaptability to the forces of organic human behaviors and their individual needs to adjust perform and leverage potential.

In Duffy’s words,

My vision of the future city is almost exactly opposite. It is essentially urban. The vision depends upon social logic of the knowledge economy which will thrive on open ended discourse much of which will be aided by technology but that will also continue to be social, plural and face to face.

In essence, we will modify our mode of working from time to time and may call it advancement but it will not essentially eradicate human interaction and proximity of face to face meeting value. It will continue to be highly social and technology will be its background only and not the foreground.