Soft Urbanism


In architecture’s role of defining and materialising the spaces for social interaction, designing the relationship between the physical and digital public domain is becoming THE challenge: investigating the relation and interconnection of the ‘soft’ city with its finite material counterpart, the living environment, speculating about interfaces between the ‘virtual’ and the material urban world, and designing hybrid (analog-digital) communicational spaces.

under the pavement (piercing the beaches) run fiberglass cables

“The new city presupposes that the cables of the interhuman relations are switched reversibly, not in bundles as with television, but in real networks, respons(e)ibly, as in the telephone network.
These are technical questions; and they are to be solved by urbanists and architects.”
Vilèm Flusser, 1990

Soft Urbanism deals with information/communication processes in public space, the soft aspects overlying the urban sprawl and modifying it: the invisible networks acting as attractors, transforming the traditional urban structure, interweaving, ripping open and cutting through the urban tissue, demanding interfaces.

Soft Urbanism not only intervenes in the realm of infrastructures, but also adopts their concept and follows their paradigm. It brings an inherently flexible approach by expanding the field of possibilities of social interaction and opening new paths of urban development. It is therefore not about determining places, but about creating frameworks for processes of self-organisation. Not accepting powerlessness in the face of the forces of the market, Soft Urbanism rethinks the strategies of interventions to reintroduce programmatic speculations about the public domain in urbanism.

The interventions will not be about control and determination, but about expanding infrastructures, frameworks for processes of self-organisation. ‘Soft’ strategies will be ‘bottom-up’ strategies: rather than defining first the global result of the interaction and then determining the necessary relation between the elements in order to produce that interaction (which would be a ‘top-down’ approach), simple rules for a set of independent elements will be developed and what emerges from the interaction of these elements is aleatory. According to biological models, these fields of interaction of plural forces could serve as a reservoir for the selection processes needed for the urban transformations.