' Pay-as-you-go City ': New Forms of Domesticity in a Technological Society
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Ongoing urbanization, combined with market fundamentalism as the prevailing mode of political management, is leading to the spatial and social segregation of economic classes in cities. The housing market, being driven by economic interests rather than public policy, favors inflexible forms of ownership or tenancy that are increasingly incompatible with the more diverse forms of live-work patterns and family structures occurring in the society. This paper presents a research-by-design project that explores a speculative future scenario of housing, based on current developments in digital technologies and their impact on the mobility and accessibility to services enjoyed by urban residents. It references technology platforms that underpin the 'sharing economy' or 'gig economy', such as 'pay-as-you-go' car and bike sharing programs or internet and smartphone-based services for taxis or temporary accommodation. The study explores how new forms of participation in the housing market could circumvent the current segregation of different communities across the city. It describes a speculative system of distributed residential spaces, accessible to all on a 'pay-for-time-used' basis. By offering freedom of choice across domestic functions of greater range and accessibility than found within existing housing or hotel accommodation, the system would enable opportunistic or nomadic forms of living linked to the dynamic spatio-temporal occurrences of social, cultural or economic opportunities. The research references how new forms of social networking create new challenges and opportunities to participate in communities and explores how new technologies, applied to housing, can help to find a 'sense of belonging' within the technological society.
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