What is everyday life in the modern city as we start to recover from the pandemic? Will it ever return to ‘normal’ and was normal really that great? London has experienced numerous threats in the past, such as the plague, the fire of 1666, and WWII. These sad an unfortunate tragedies did not steal London’s resolve. The city rebuilt, learning lessons from the past that allowed life to flourish beyond what may have been possible before. Things that were once taken for granted have new meaning and added value. The current pandemic has brought a new appreciation for open air, green space, and healthy living, while technology is allowing us to interact in new ways. These shifts are allowing people to live and work almost anywhere, leaving The City North’s single use buildings sitting empty. Instead of abandoning the city for places filled with nature, let’s find a way to fill the city with nature and bring life back to the city.
Nature and technology can combine to create new typologies that enliven the currently empty city. New and unique experiences can be created for workers, residents and tourists. Streets can be reconfigured to allow more tree lined paths; agriculture can cover rooftops and fill empty offices; walls can be carved away from ground level spaces to allow fresh air, daylight and gardens to take over empty office lobbies and retail; empty offices can convert to service spaces, containing things like commercial kitchens, and fresh food warehouses; gardens can become high speed technology hubs; and offices can be converted to live work housing that accommodates all types and sizes of families, at varying life stages. All of these things combine together in one area to create a potentially self-sustaining modern urban village and a model vision for a diverse and healthy city.
Community Engagement is an important part of the experience. Combining technology with new typologies will help reinvigorate the currently empty city. Smart devices and applications intertwine with gardens, agriculture, living, working, and visiting to create a community shaped through both real and virtual interactions.
New physical solutions will require new operational systems to function. The Topiary City will give its stakeholders an opportunity to participate in it’s rebuilding and continual evolution. With a new phone app that incentivize and rewards participation, community members are given votes which allow them to have a voice on key cultural, sustainable, and community initiatives and events. The more they participate, the more votes they are given. As time goes on and the city evolves , this system ensures that the Topiary City can confidently handle any surprises the future may have.