The fluidity, mobility and dynamism of 21st century network society is transforming the way we design cities. The paradigm shift in architecture and urban design is marked by an intense focus on systems of communication, complexity, adaptation, correlation, intensification, co-evolution, legibility, responsiveness, order, and freedom. This shift towards evolutionary systems thinking takes into account the role of agents in social change, insofar as innovation is driven by individual choices. Urban design innovation is accelerated by the convergence of natural and artificial life and intelligence (Ai, AR, VR, IoT, robotics), the advancements in telecommunications and mass media, the explosion of real-time decision systems via big data and artificial intelligence, the emergence of distributed computational intelligences such as blockchain, and the movement towards knowledge economies anchored in research and development. In this context, the world is a laboratory, and entrepreneurship in an open market is the best avenue for creating wealth and improving quality of life for the greatest number of people.
As Patrik Schumacher remarked in his speech at UFM, “one way to think about societal progress [is] becoming more free and empowered in the world. We are in this period where I believe that a massive expansion of individual liberties could actually deliver an enormous expansion of material freedoms. But this depends on new technological conditions which make possible the shift from Fordism to PostFordism, which is the microelectronic revolution: the computational empowerment and telecommunication empowerment that allow for totally new degrees of creativity, and an enormous capacity for absorbing innovation.”