“The secret, I think, of the future is not doing too much”
Around this time last year, at the family home in Brisbane, in the jetlagged early hours of what was ostensibly a holiday, I wrote a set of articles for three architecture-oriented publications—a magazine, a journal and a book—all concerning the dynamics of contemporary technologies and how they may affect architecture and urbanism, and more importantly, cities.
The book was 'SQM: The Quantified Home', Space Caviar (ed.), Lars Muller Publishers (2014) and it concerned some of our shifting understandings of domestic space, taking Airbnb as a pivot for that. The articles were for Architecture + Urbanism (aka A+U) magazine and Architectural Design (aka AD) journal, and they covered a broader urban perspective.
An off-cut of all that was the germ of a subsequent Dezeen column on transport startups, and the longer edit was eventually posted here: 'Clockwork City, Responsive City, Predictive City and Adjacent Incumbents'. That discussed the early impact of Uber in particular—though also the potential impact of autonomous vehicles and predictive analytics—and their disruptive rewiring of urban mobility without without owning any of the traditional asset classes in mobility (vehicles, roads etc.) It talked about the fact that Uber-like services could equally be set up by public transit agencies; about the perhaps more interesting Bridj, developing data-driven services in the gaps left by a hub-and-spoke transit model; and many other things including Ancient Egyptian Nileometers, Nairobi's Matutus, and California's so-called ideologies. It was also the backdrop for a few comments around 'peak car' that I made at the end of a later Guardian article around 'mobility as a service', a nice piece written by Stephen Moss.
You can find links to the essays below, but first a bit of post-hoc context.