The city of the future. The car of the future. The future of … There is certainly no shortage of visions – and not just from Hollywood or Silicon Valley. What does this really mean? For everyone? For example, in Stuttgart (Germany)…?
Wish for something
We all want to be happy. And, of course, healthy. Family and friends should be nearby. And it should, naturally, be possible to get everywhere quickly.
We would like to have lots of restaurants and shops close to us – as well as unspoiled nature. To live together peacefully in prosperity? Yes, certainly, that would also be important.
The majority of people describe their wishes for life in the future more or less in the same way.
If one delves a little deeper, however, people have very different ideas about how exactly life in the future should be: from a house in the countryside to life in a futuristic skyscraper, from the dream of a city without cars to daytrips into space.
But how can all these wishes be harmonized? Especially when the fulfillment of some of the wishes mutually excludes others?
New life for the Eiermann Campus
There is no better place to discuss the question “how do we want to live in the future?” than in a location which was once a place of the future: at the Eiermann Campus in Stuttgart.
The campus was previously the headquarters of IBM, and was considered to be one of the most modern office buildings of its time.
Now, this icon of modern architecture seems rather more to be a relic of bygone times: deserted office buildings in the shade of the motorway.
But the campus wants to be part of the future – with new concepts of life and work.
This was explained by the Munich architect Johann Spengler at the Conmedia, an event for which students of the Stuttgart Media University have created their visions for urban Stuttgart in the year 2050.
What makes a city livable?
On the campus, a new district should be created – designed in accordance with the key findings for a livable, sustainable city.
Important factors – and there the experts from all over the world agree – are, for example, the population density or a close intertwining of different usages such as work, living and shopping.
Through this, a lively city can develop, in which people like to live and work.
The concept is not really new: cities such as Paris or Vienna, but also districts, including Munich-Haidhausen or Stuttgart-West in Germany, have already been built based on these principles.
Solutions for more expensive and scarcer living space
For many people, such city districts are the epitome of modern living – which is why such areas attract an ever-increasing number of people.
This, however, has led to the property prices increasing drastically, thus making life there for many unaffordable.
For this reason, solutions have long been sought as to how space in such areas can be used more efficiently so that similar comforts as in a larger apartment can be obtained for an affordable rent.
Robotics as a living space wonder
The use of robotics adds a new dimension to this discussion. With their help, rooms in apartments can be automatically transformed from living space to somewhere to sleep.
The limited space offered by these micro-apartments was illustrated at the Conmedia. But although some visitors felt cramped by this type of housing, many others were impressed by the flexibility of the living space and could easily imagine living this way themselves.
Temporary “at home” feeling for anyone, anywhere
When combined with ideas from the sharing economy, a whole range of further, interesting perspectives open up: the participants greatly appreciate being able to have a temporary home in many places in the world.
Thanks to robot technology, the homes can even be adapted to the requirements of its current resident.
This could, however, lead to more people taking on a new lifestyle and only living temporarily at a location.
This may possibly serve intercultural understanding and the exchange of knowledge, and may even reduce the level of daily traffic in the city.
But what happens to the social fabric of the city? How do traffic flows develop outside the city? What effects does this have on quality of life?
Long-term effects are difficulty to foresee
The development of the city of the future is apparently extremely complex as good ideas such as more dense cities or autonomous cars often have long-term effects which one would prefer to avoid.
Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to understand these effects and to image how new ideas and technologies will influence life – and whether one considers it desirable.
But there are still relatively few tools which make these issues easily understandable and to discuss future scenarios. However, it is only this way that conflicts of interest can be recognized early, discussed broadly and solutions found.
Conmedia as a discussion platform
At Conmedia, several scenarios were visualized using films, interviews and reports and the visitors discussed for a long time in the end about life in the city of the future.
How do you imagine life in the city of the future to be? And what would happen if everyone else wanted to live that way too?