Google’s Urbanism

Digital Cities


The huge technological multinationals wield power of the soft kind, not with violence but through a silent, albeit extremely profitable wheeling and dealing with our digital footprints. This power for the time being meets with little resistance, protected as it is by the prestigious halo of technology, which has become one of the goddesses of contemporary civilization. So it is that the empire of technologies keeps growing, and has even started to find its way into the domain of urban governance, encouraged by the interest that the so-called crop of ‘smart cities’ has been arousing.

This is perfectly demonstrated by the project for Sidewalk Toronto, a mixed-use community in the Ontarian capital which is being developed by Sidewalk Labs – the city-building subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company – in partnership with Waterfront Toronto, a government-appointed non-profit organization that administers revitalization projects. In designing the neighborhood of approximately 2,500 living units – as much as 40% of which will be affordable apartments – the Norwegian office Snøhetta in collaboration with the British firm Heatherwick Studio drew inspiration, as they say, from the most politically correct principles, combining all the spaces and gadgets in vogue: from domotics and urban intelligence to innovative community spaces to sustainable construction with wood.

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