Many people are moving to the cities and they all want their space. This includes bankers who want to be close to work, migrants who have not yet lived in a city, and people coming from rural places because they can’t find work. Citizenship means being part of the community: you don’t only look out for yourself but for everybody who’s living with you there. But there’s quite a different feeling of citizenship at the moment, because everybody’s thinking a bit more about their individual needs regarding living in the city. They want a job, they want their apartment, they want their supermarket next to work, but many don’t really have a communal sense of living.
We must figure out how the city can be a city for everybody, not only for the people who have a lot of money and own an apartment
You can feel like a citizen of different cities at the same time. You can have two or three places you call home. You can become a citizen of a new place and still keep your native citizenship. This makes it more interesting to meet people, because everybody has different parts of themselves. I think we should keep these parts intact like a kind of multi-citizenship.
In the future, work is going to change our cities. The city will not be used by the same people the whole time. There is a global trend by which people leave and then come back. Co-working happens not just within an office building, but within the whole world. The same is true for the idea of citizenship. We must figure out how the city can be a city for everybody, not only for the people who have a lot of money and own an apartment. The city is also for families and newcomers, migrants, refugees and young people in search of a different perspective or new job.
We need affordable housing for everybody. If there are free spaces in the city, construction must be not only for investors, but also for local companies to build there. We need very good schools in the city. In Europe, it is important to keep the cultural level high, to have museums that allow all ages to receive stimulus and new input.
We have to think about new ways of travelling without using individual cars. The city cannot work on its own, but needs people coming in from the outer region. The local trend is how to make it possible for people to take a bike to work from outside the city.
Having free space is important. It doesn’t have to be green, it doesn’t have to be a really nice communal square. It could also be an abandoned building
In the future, people might move back to the country. People might get fed up with all the activity around them. Health might play a role, if people get sick from living in the city and want to live a longer life.
We will probably have very dense centres connected with one another. There will be free space around the cities. The large cities will be connected to one another, but we will lose all the small cities surrounding them. Small towns will either be abandoned because nobody wants to live there anymore, or they’ll become a specialty hub for education or maybe culture. Becoming a cultural tourist attraction could keep a small town alive and connected to history.
People want to give their children a better chance, and that it is something that connects all of us
The abandoned ones will become free spaces reclaimed by nature. We'll have very dense city centres and large cities, and around them we’ll have free spaces where nature can come back. We need to have some free space within the city and not only surrounding it. Having free space is important. It doesn’t have to be green, it doesn’t have to be a really nice communal square. It could also be an abandoned building. In order to really become part of a new place, people coming in want to change something, build something, a place where they can have a local market, a small theatre, or a classroom.
Continuity will always be assured by the family. People want to give their children a better chance, and that it is something that connects all of us. I think this will always be in the cities because the city is so close and connected to work. In the context of capitalism, you need to work in order to have money, in order to earn a living.
I’m pretty sure that we will go back to our roots at some point. We will have the feeling that something is not going right, that we’re not living life anymore but life is living us, because we don’t really have control.
Cover image: Reportage. Photo-reporting of Dahiye, sneak-pics of a Beirut's suburb, photo Armando Perna