The new everyday places

Following my last chronicle on the cities of the future and the perspective of networks, I now travel to […]

Credits: Depositphotos

Following my last chronicle on the cities of the future and the perspective of networks, I now travel to the new places of our daily lives. In the time we live in, in the middle of the digital age, places and places are diversifying and multiplying.

They are the places of residence (2nd and 3rd residences), the work places (face-to-face, telecommuting, coworking, tiers lieux), places for recreation, leisure and visitation, places for shopping and consumption, places for public space, places for physical and sporting practices, places of worship and pilgrimage, places of artistic and cultural expression, augmented, virtual and immersive reality places, teaching and training places and platforms, etc.

As is evident, some of these places and places are part of our daily routines; they are not a revelation of the spirit and genius of the place, although many of them are part of the micro freedoms of everyday life and the small gratifying nothings that life still has in store for us.

It is true: modernity and globalization have dissipated the spirit of places, in some cases their uniqueness has disappeared and many places have lost their enchantment. However, we do not want the smart and creative city to be a non-place and the citizen a simple digitized individual. The reinvention of everyday places is, for our mental health, a true categorical imperative.

Let us make a very brief incursion into the new places and their references in the literature.

– Non-places (Augé, 1992) are spaces for many people and nobody, spaces with a lot of circulation and also a lot of anonymity; we are talking about airports, stations, large avenues, public squares, shopping centres, car parks, but also large hotel chains or even, as is visible today, large refugee camps; basically, we are talking about circulation and transit spaces where the plane, car, train, ship or bus dominates. Marc Augé tells us about an anthropology of supermodernity on the way to an anthropology of solitude, where we are all the same, copies of each other, solitary individuals.

– The hyper-places (Lussault, 2017), where Augé saw a non-place of solitude, Lussault now sees an intense, hyper-connected, multiscalar and emotionally very rich place; moreover, hyper-places can also be other-places and alternative places, that is, places of manifestation and protest, random places like squares, parks and public roads; In this immense plurality of places, movements such as the slow food and economic degrowth; finally, Lussault highlights the importance of online communities to start and root new offline movements and communities.

– The Third Places (Oldenburg, 1989), the book by Ray Oldenburg – “The great good places” – is about an urban sociology of everyday life, a chemistry proper to the places of our daily routine, from the barber to the bookstore, from the cafe to the neighborhood store, from the bar to the neighborhood restaurant; between the places of work and residence, the third-places are the places of relaxation, hospitality and the culture of a healthy sociability, the perfect places to exercise the micro freedoms of our daily lives.

– Coworking spaces (De Koven, 1999), with spaces for coworking, the city transports us from familiar places to the collaborative spaces of the technological and digital society of the XNUMXst century; we talk about studios, ateliers, hubs, factories, parks, gyms, shared offices, used by micro-enterprises, individual entrepreneurs, self-employed professionals and digital nomads; the use of common spaces lowers fixed real estate costs, increases the connection between everyone and encourages a creative spirit and entrepreneurial opportunities.

– The art of the place (Schultz, 1997), in the words of Christian Schultz, the spirit of the place will become the art of the place, an art that cultural and tourist marketing will take advantage of to segment, differentiate and commercially exploit; in fact, metropolises and large cities eagerly seek in architecture, in great works of art and in urban ecology a source for the mystery and spirit of places, against the boredom and melancholy of large vertical cities.

In this very brief incursion, the spirit of the place took shape and matter and came to designate the identity, character and atmosphere of a place where architecture, monumentality and landscape came to have the main role. And it is here that a certain conception of the smart city, understood as an absorbing digital machine, an essentially codified city, can collide with the freedom, irreverence and creativity of the human community that inhabits it.

It is time, therefore, to continue our journey towards the creative city and to seek, once again, in the work of these authors the inspiration for freedom and reinvention of everyday life.

In this context, simultaneously material and immaterial, which we could designate here as a double movement, the spirit of places is no longer obtained from their substance, but from their itinerancy, that is, the individual is constantly summoned to participate in a series of events held in non-places, in third places and in hyper-places, which are produced rather than received.

Thus, in this double movement, we move towards a kind of paradox or hybridity of everyday life, somewhere between the routine and melancholy of everyday life and the freedom and reinvention of everyday life through its micro freedoms and the precious little nothings that life has, transposed, many of them, to the field of arts, culture and entertainment.

A factor of hope that stands out is that, in this framework of double movement, in search of our personal balance and our best sentimental geography, we will discover the strength of weak ties through our experiences and relationships in virtual communities and this discovery it will sometimes be a true and rewarding revelation.


Final Notes:

In this everyday hybridity, accelerated mobility, digital nomadism, augmented virtuality and growing topoligamy are the dominant characteristics of our time and online communities and their platforms are the new central places of the digital age.

We are going to witness, from now on, an intense dialectic between spaces of flows and spaces of places and in this intense dialectic emerge the great vertical cities that mix speed and vertigo with prolonged moments of boredom, melancholy and depression, a kind of liquid city where everything it is transitory, fleeting and ephemeral, that is, liquefied.

In summary, this paradox or hybridity of everyday life, which we designate here as a double movement, is indeed the most striking and impressive feature of our time. But there is no doubt, we will quickly discover the strength of weak ties (Granovetter, 1973) in online communities and from them, with the help of technology, art and culture, reinvent old places and new experiences of everyday life.