In the next few decades, cities are going to become more expensive, complex places and many will shrink.
Money will become a scarcer commodity and as sustainable development and the internet advance, we will need to create and capture assets of urban life other than land, such as energy, food, communications and social relationships.
In this world, collaboration between people and organizations to create new kinds of urban experiences and economies will be valuable: and co-working crucial.
Co-working is already taking place in many different ways in Russia and around the world. People are creating new ideas online. People are working with professionals and the authorities to design new public spaces and services. And people are working together to create new social enterprises that make a social, not just a financial profit.
There are few barriers to entering in to this social economy. All people need to be able to do is see value in working together and recognize that the design and delivery of small, highly local things can make a big difference.
In my experience, the key feature to a successful, socially entrepreneurial community is one that has a strong sense of identity, purpose, is prepared to experiment and, in the end, not stand in isolated opposition from other communities or the authorities.
But the challenge is to create an architecture within which divergent people, projects and organizations can flourish. Co-working needs to have a larger narrative so that it happens at a scale that is economic and outgoing. Sometimes this can be achieved by designing and establishing loosely-linked networks of initiative. In the future, the internet will unlock many of the challenges.
The outcomes of these efforts need not be aesthetically beautiful. Beauty may dignify but aesthetics is not all. Lots of drum and bass music is “ugly” – but it doesn’t stop you dancing. Lots of alcohol is bitter – but still delicious. Lots of places are ugly – but they can be overwhelming exciting. Beauty matters. But experience is all.