Coworking and the future of cities

The second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st have seen the most important technological revolution of all time. The Internet exploded and has helped make society more connected, has made large amounts of information available in real time and the cloud a work tool or for developing services and products. The coming decades show promise to be exciting when it comes to technological advances: self-driving cars, drones, machine learning, big data, etc. Nowadays, it's not easy to filter tonnes of technological data that we're subject to every day. In an interview with the BBC, Nicholas Carr, offers an interesting reflection on the role that technology will have in the society's future. 

Remote working is one of the areas that has grown thanks to the Internet revolution. Coworking has turned out to be a fortunate structure for professionals, who, in addition to seeking a work environment, wish to establish links with the community that is found in this type of space.

All these changes will have an impact on current city models. It is predicted that 66% of the global population will be living in cities by 2060. Calculations suggest that there will be more than 40 cities with more than 10 million inhabitants in 2030 (Source: un.org). This scenario means that one of the main objectives for the 21st century is making this growth sustainable. What role will technology and new work models play in the city of the future? Making predictions is not easy, as the rhythm of technology, science and cities is very different. A new iPhone on the market can replace previous models in very little time, whereas in cities there are numerous layers left over the centuries.

The cities' future lies in making decisions about existing models and making new proposals, about:

 

  • Urban/rural: There was recently news about an “ecocapsule”, which can be installed anywhere. But, is it really "eco" scattering people across the land? We could get some clues from just walking through a rural barbecue area. On the other hand, there are increasingly more initiatives that aim to recover rural towns sustainably. Coworking also has its place in this type of project, such as Le Mutinere Village (Paris, France) or Crearium in (Monzón, Spain).
 
Image source: www.ecocapsule.sk
 
  • Commuting: Many large cities currently still have a central model, which forces their inhabitants to travel to the centre every day to work. In London, the "average" commute time is "74.2 minutes". London city's population multiplies by 56 during a normal work day. Work delocalisation, changes to transport methods and business structures influence in decentralizing and generating diversified multi-centres, in which coworking spaces are neighbourhood services, thus reducing commute times and car usage.
 
Image source: Wikipedia
 
  • Vertical vs Horizontal: In my opinion, future cities will be more compact and vertical. Growing upwards means that less ground is eaten up, and energy use and commute times reduce, which are produced in "oil stain" models. Developing new growth models must have a multi-disciplinary vision that generates integral solutions that are open to complex problems. 
 
Image source: Basta, Mark Strozier (left)  - Woha, Vertical cities Asia (right) 
 
  • Zonification vs use inclusion: Separating uses in cities hinders interaction between citizens and therefore the appearance and consolidation of communities with a feeling of identity. In coworking spaces, the space's physical layout with common areas that promote "collisions", open work areas or event areas where the community can meet are positive in promoting communication. In this sense, it is the same with regard to uses in cities, where the mixture of uses from the scale of the building, block and neighbourhood is favourable to creating relationships between its inhabitants. Coliving models are starting to appear on different parts of the planet, often reminiscent of the modern movement approach. 
 
Image Source: Unité d’Habitation(Le Corbusier), photographed by Neil Dusheiko 
 
The future of cities depends on the new models that are proposed at present and are implemented in the coming decades. Coworking is changing the way that people work and relate with one another professionally, and little by little it is influencing the city's morphology. The role that it will play in the future will depend on the decisions and models that are adopted today.
 

How do you think coworking will change your city?

Front Page image source: Elizabeth Lies