Abstract. Humanity is urbanized. As of the year 2008 the majority of its population lives in towns and cities and here approximately 80% of the worlds economic production takes place. The level of urbanization is expected to rise to about 70% by 2030, amounting to a total of more than 5 billion people. In addition to this immense demographic challenge, humanity is faced with other equally profound and daunting concerns such as a changing climate, growing pollution, sociopolitical problems and economic crisis. To face these challenges the worlds urban centers need to become much more resilient to the impending radical changes and so urban design must redefine itself into an agent of transformation, guided by standards to develop efficient, cohesive, innovative and sustainable cities.
Precondition to perceiving and conceptualizing new ideas and design solutions addressing these issues is a thorough understanding of the city and it’s dynamics, namely the economic, ecologic, demographic, political, and sociological forces which are at play. How they interrelate. Where they stem from. How they are developing. Due to its diversity the city has since its origin been a cradle for innovation and a vital driving force to society. A function it cannot fulfill without a thriving public sphere where people of different backgrounds can meet and exchange ideas. Particularly in times of crisis, developing new solutions are crucial, consequently the focal point of this paper is on public and shared space.
Throughout history the emergence of new technologies have changed the space we live in, and how we live in it. A space which over the course of time has become increasingly denser populated and simultaneously also increasingly individualized and private. Currently, digital and mobile technologies in many ways collapse the existing boundaries between what is considered public and what is private. As these technologies become more and more ubiquitous and progressively embedded, smart objects, buildings and spaces autonomously act on and interact with their surroundings, consequently altering our understanding of the spaces we inhabit and of ourselves. The information gathered may not necessarily be used for the common good, however it does carry the potential of reconnecting people and, unprecedented in history, to the surrounding environment, evoking a drastically new kind of shared space that could prove essential to developing and maintaining a healthy and involved society capable of withstanding the manifold challenges of the near future. This paper will look at the evolvement from the first human settlements to the cities we know today, as driven by technological advances and the consequences on interpersonal and communal relations and examine current development towards a hybrid reality and the possible outcome of a digitally connected humanity with its main habitat, the city.