Our near urban future and the predicament of the irrelevant city

Samantha Suppiah
8 min readMay 17, 2020
Land-use classification of Leipzig, Germany (Haase and Nuissl, 2007)

It’s clear by now: our urban future isn’t about flying cars, smart cities, or innovative architecture.

COVID-19 is rapidly changing the fundamentals of urban structure: the reasons why cities are the way they are. Do we still need the commute? Do we need all these roads, all these cars? What are the new design scenarios for public transport systems?

The goal of transit, right now, is not competing for riders nor providing a social service. It is helping prevent the collapse of civilization.
- In a Pandemic, We’re All Transit-Dependent, Citylab

Will we need more parks closer to where people live? What is the potential for refurbishing unused road space into parklets and mini-High-Lines? Can we look at structural integrity of our buildings to consider rolling out rooftop gardens in the inner city? How do we activate empty carparks in city centres for outdoor community activities like sport, festivals, markets and urban farming?

How do we even start to understand all these changing needs? What new infrastructure needs should we consider?

How will municipalities keep up with the scale of change? How will governance be able to respond to rapidly changing expectations? How does the city stay relevant?

Where are the opportunities for greater inclusion in urban planning? Will this represent a new demand for widespread urban co-creation? How do socio-economically disadvantaged groups now gain their right to the city?

What is the role of short-term experimentation through placemaking and entrepreneurial innovation in urban development?

How do we retain urban culture and heritage, while incorporating climate resiliency in the face of accelerated deurbanisation?

Catalogue living room (IKEA, 2018)

Future: Living

Suddenly, the quality, energy efficiency and affordability of our homes have become supremely important. Our homes have turned into luxury confinements and extreme places for safety, comfort, leisure and cost-effectiveness. That is, for those of us…

Samantha Suppiah

Southeast Asian trickster. Design strategist for decolonial sustainability & regeneration. www.possiblefutures.earth/samantha

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