This follows the earlier post on this set of essays, which also features 'The Commodification of Everything' for 'SQM' and 'A sketchbook for the city to come: the popup as R&D', for AD. This one first published as:
- Essay: Urban Parasites, Data-Driven Urbanism, and the Case for Architecture', in Architecture + Urbanism (A+U), 2014:11
This piece expands upon a pithier version of that earlier thought—we've built a lot of our cities, and value has increasingly shifted from traditional assets to services and experiences, so where is architecture? But it goes on to outline the case that we desperately need architecture (or some future iteration of it) due to the 'civic failure' implied by those shifts; that we need architecture, with its notions of being responsible for for the city (rightly or wrongly, in practice), to step up and engage with how are cities are now being transformed.
The tools, as well as a huge chunk of the value, may be shifting from buildings and hard infrastructure to services and experiences—like Uber, Lyft, Bridj noted here, and this essay focuses more on transport, compared to SQM's focus on Airbnb—hence at least some part of architectural practice needs to move on from having buildings as the only output. The answer to every urban question cannot always be a building, clearly. Whilst buildings may be part of some solutions, there are broader, deeper questions in play—good architects see this, but the practice (from education up) is still not exploring this implied question broadly enough. That's what this piece is probing away at, using technology as one way of opening that up.
I should also point out this is a cracking issue of A+U on 'Data Driven Cities'. A+U is one of the best journals out there; this edition no exception. It contains pieces by Eric Rodenbeck, Léan Doody, John Frazer, Timo Arnall/Jørn Knutsen/Einar Sneve, Usman Haque, Alistair Parvin, Geeta Mehta and several others.
OK, read on for the essay.