Image 1: Street map of Graz, Austria mapping people by cellphone usage. Image 2: Real time talk Singapore mapped in attempt to understand patterns of use of public space (both images courtesy: Sensible City Lab MIT)

Image 1: Street map of Graz, Austria mapping people by cellphone usage. Image 2: Real time talk Singapore mapped in attempt to understand patterns of use of public space (both images courtesy: Sensible City Lab MIT)

Re-imaging recreation in the future is the question that haunts my mind at the moment.

As a landscape urbanist interested in the design and transformation of urban space at the intersection of technology and smart infrastructure, designing the next recreation space is not an easy task. As technology invades the lives of individuals, not only does it impact their daily lifestyles, but also shapes their behavior, personality, and expectations of an urban life.

As designers, we are trained to look into and project onto the socio-political demographic dynamics of a specific context driven by the principle that landscape as a medium is an expression of a community. Well, for a generation that is growing around perfectly personalized spectrum of recreational opportunities easily accessible at the tip of their fingers, what significance would physical space continue to bring into this equation? Recreational trends in their nature and quality have shifted over human history, and will continue to evolve along with the tools that drive them. This time though these tools are transforming at an unpredictable rate.

Using technology to map real-time data of urban lifestyles shapes and informs the design processes (image courtesy: Sensible City Lab MIT)

Using technology to map real-time data of urban lifestyles shapes and informs the design processes (image courtesy: Sensible City Lab MIT)

Addressing recreation calls onto addressing the overall projected lifestyle of individuals and groups alike. While architects and designers cannot really predict the upcoming trend, we hold the power to design and shape spaces and mediums in ways and processes that are flexible, adaptive, and responsive. What this calls for is rethinking the way we approach sites and systems, and the way we frame time and temporality. Designing for novel behaviors necessitates novel approaches, mind sets, but also technologies.

The ways and methods in which landscapes have been represented, perceived, expressed, and manifested have very much evolved driven by nothing but the technological tools it was offered. Landscape architecture as a field and a practice is now completely associated with technology, as a tool, and a means, but also as a driving power to better address the future of the urban life. New projections and new approaches also means new materials, alongside new qualities of spatial experience. It means, just like smart technology itself, more individual-focused design. Interactive, responsive, real-time are a few key terms to keep in mind.

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