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We-Everything: Co-living and the desire for instant connectivity

Authors: Peter Moertenboeck*, Goldsmiths, University of London, Helge Mooshammer*, TU Wien
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: digital platforms, co-living, city-making
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Since the beginning of industrial production, the utilization of technological innovation has been a major factor propelling economic growth. New forms of land use, housing provision and transport patterns have reflected these changes in multiple ways. But what we are seeing now, in our age of digital platforms, is less an integration of urban development into technological changes than the transformation of city-making itself into a vehicle for steering technological advancements.

In this paper we will reflect on these changes by looking at the rise of packaged co-living experiences offered by platforms that operate as convergence points between real estate and technology industries. We will focus on the case of WeWork, a real estate company valued like a tech company, which has become the world’s single largest operator of temporary workspaces and taken the global venture-capital market by a storm. Like competing platforms, WeWork (recently re-branded as The We Company) endeavors to use its spatial-optimization know-how to cater to people’s desires for communality, generating new forms of communal living that are reminders of the virtues and imperatives of early industrialization, when experiments with grouping members of society began to play an immensely important role in governing populations. We will be discussing the ways in which this allows co-living providers to experiment in real space with new forms of social organization and is making them the leading force in challenging conventional paradigms of how we live together in cities and are looked after by our elected governments.

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