The Augmented City: Urban Transformations in the Digital Era

Flavio Martella | Marco Enia

The digital revolution (Castells, 1999) enables new ways of living and understanding the city, that should fuel a radical change in how architecture conceives the urban and domestic environment. Furthermore, the rise of social networks has been joined by apps that generate temporary micro-domesticities. Social networks and virtual communities, such as Facebook, Instagram and Reddit, provide virtual groups where familiar emotional ties are created (Boltery Gruisin, 2000), founded on shared interests and ways of life. Homes are also being potentially deterritorialized since they are losing the main meaning around which their entire structure revolved: the family. The main balance on which cities were based, the centrality of the dwelling, is changing as a result. The digital revolution, and more generally the possibility of a continuous connection between people and with the surroundings, is engendering lifestyles that involve a constant contact with the community that transcends specific physical limits. That community is continually present, constituting a new social layer, an absolute novelty of the digital era that must be taken into consideration when designing and thinking about the contemporary city.

The augmented city. Keiichi Matsuda, “Hyper-reality”, 2016.

The new technological omnipresence leads to a mixture between the public and private spheres, creating a hybrid, augmented, environment that does not rely on traditional concepts, but allows for experiencing and looking at the city with different eyes. The interaction with all the components of an urban environment is based on the new contemporary ways of living following the digital revolution, which increases and expands its possibilities. A symbiosis like never before is created between the inhabitant and the place, and this leads to a continuous re-modelling of the architectural space according to the needs of its users. A space that is not singular but plural, and that is conscious that it relies on many more factors than just itself; it is a part of a hyperconnected whole.

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