What if
cities are about access not ownership?

The Temporal City.

Cities are in a constant state of flux. These anomalous characteristics and behaviours are a product of its interaction with a matrix of legal and spatial codes and relationships, market forces, as well as fluctuations on the global dais. These uncertainties make any attempt to intervene within their complex organisation, rather precarious.

Cities are large and complex organisms, impossible to decode. Obstinate and unyielding. They are not risk averse. They are resource and capital-intensive exploits. Their robustness paradoxically deems them passive and resistant to change. Cities are dogmatic, their reinforce and intensify inequalities, uncritically perpetuate cultural habits… The city is now, neither symbolic nor historical. The city has no reference point. Its polyvalency is self-perpetuating. Is the city too big to fail?

At a time where conventional urbanism is slow and static, often based on top-down visions and incapable of responding to rapidly changing conditions, decentralised system, an internet-of-things and platform technologies have inadvertently stumbled on a smart city, one not created by governments or political interests, but by users, subscribers and citizens. This together with new models based on generative computational algorithms and the increasing accessibility of real time city data allows for a better engagement with the complexity and temporality that urbanism embodies.

The Temporal City is a kinetic organism that is simultaneously and synchronously enabled by the flow of data, people and logistics. It proposes a spatial operating system, a stream of inputs and outputs – I/O. Its intensity and form unravel and wane as an organic mechanism that underpins a chronologically-based urbanism. Traditional principles of the city are upturned.

The Temporal City is not about absolutes or repeatable spatial products - but a framework that embraces and amplifies the indeterminate, messy, contradictory, combinatory, uncertain and improbable conditions.

It is opportunistic. Agility instead of stability, multipliers rather than repetition. Change, difference and time are accelerated. The complexity of its systems benefits from variability, unpredictability, imbalance and volatility.

How can we move beyond a conceptual framework of spatial programming and outlines, binaries and modernist scripts to embrace and engage our formal habits with the virtual and behavioral logics of the post-urban, post-rational megacity?
Ian Nazareth and David Schwarzman