Cities of the Digital Reign


Museum of London

Image by Jennifer Abessira

The reality and theory of urban planning are amidst a giant split. At universities, professors and academics discuss what the ‘city of the future’ should look like – what ethical, environmental, social steps should next be taken; while in reality, these cities are already well under way. After dictating what virtual living should look like, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, among other multinationals are wasting no time in building the future a la IRL.

With the help ­(and multi billion contracts) of starchitects per excellence, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos & co are discarding the obsolete concept of the university campus (initially so crucial to their success), to rethink not only the structure of their headquarters, but the working and living spaces of their talent.

Imagined by Steve Jobs and designed by Sir Norman Foster, the Apple Park – also known as the Spaceship because of its circular design – is the visionary architecture that is being built to house over 12,000 Apple employees, some of which are already moving in.

Facebook is making sure it doesn’t stray far behind the tech-utopian movement; it is currently in the process of building an entire village, the Willow Campus in Silicon Valley designed by Rem Koolhas. In addition to the houses on campus there will be shops, bars, restaurants, and most importantly, thousands of offices for its workers.

Like snow globes that protect their miniature cities from the adversity of the outside world, the palaces of the tech giants are a futuristic and privileged version of the working-class community built by Adriano Olivetti for the workers of his computer factory in the 1950s. Built with the intent to create an architectural environment where ideas, business, and the tech-community could coexist while being surrounded by benefits of luxury, these palaces are the ultimate digital-era secret dreamland: a place where the future isn’t only built, but lived in.