Design everything flexibly: scale and location are constantly changing

If everything in the room is connected to the internet and we have access to all information everywhere, then we become very flexible in our behaviour. This requires an organization of space (on whatever scale) that is also very flexible. On the other hand, there is a need to continue to facilitate the city for the major challenges of our time. It requires efficient infrastructure, greenery and well-designed public spaces in the city. Flexibility therefore also raises the question of designing sustainable structures.

The big change of our increased flexibility is that having a home becomes a choice. Home use is also having a letterbox and a telephone connection, which you needed to receive important messages from the government, the bank, etc. or to receive the (paper) newspaper and watch TV. Nowadays a smartphone is sufficient. As long as you are connected to the internet, you can be found and you can purchase virtual and physical services. You no longer need an address to live in the city. This way you can be a user of multiple cities. The city where you sleep, the city where you work, the city where you go on vacation…

The internet creates an increasing mix of usage in time and place. The segregation of duties that have been implemented in all aspects of our lives over the past century and where you live at home, buy your things in stores, working at work, is increasingly disappearing. Jobs run through each other much stronger and take place next to each other and sometimes even simultaneously. With Starbucks as a work and meeting place and the office as a second home.

The fascinating thing about this is that this also questions the concept of scale. Before the internet, a parking space was a parking space and a lamp a lamp. It was the lowest level of scale and that individual lamp was hardly interesting if you went one level higher. Now there is a sensor in that lamp or parking space. Through a digital twin not only does every object become unique, but connections and relationships can also be seen. These digital twins are the first step towards a real-time environmental policy, whereby circumstances can be responded to in an instant.

Read more about digital twins in the book “A smart city, this is how you do it – Connected, flexible and meaningful: make the real future city”, from the Future City Foundation. Go to this page to order the book for free.

The original version of the book is in Dutch, click here to order the original edition. From this book is made an English summary. In the English version, we focus on trends.