VALENCIA.- The urban physiognomy and social structure of cities has changed considerably since the beginning of the century. In the last twenty-five years there has been a worldwide acceleration in the process of the concentration of populations in large metropolises that cannot be considered as mere cities in the conventional sense of the term. The latest United Nations "State of World Population" report foresees that less than ten years from now over fifty per cent of the world's population will be living in cities, many of them with several tens of millions of inhabitants, especially in the so-called "Third World".
As a result, we are going to find that instead of an order based on nation states there is an archipelago of city regions with a high technological capacity and an absolutely decisive influence on the world scene. We are speaking of enormous agglomerations of people in physical spaces called cities which no longer have any centralised or concentrated structure and instead are intensely interconnected in a complex polyhedron that constitutes metropolitan life at the beginning of this millennium. These new "cities" ("megalopolises") are becoming uncentred jungles (meaning that they have no single historical central focus of power), where buildings are often a mere juxtaposition of services accommodated in constructions piled on top of one another without any order apart from what is dictated by the succession of demands. As a result, human settlements will be arranged as nuclei scattered along transport routes and services (such as airports, shopping centres, sports facilities, theme parks, areas of financial activity, business centres, etc.), large agglomerations unevenly distributed and diffusely organised around a discontinuous infrastructure, much more easily shaped and lacking the prefixed structures to which we are accustomed.
It is easy to see that cities are altering their status; they are ceasing to be a static arrangement of buildings and instead are becoming an experience of transience in which the citizen becomes someone who passes through complex hybrid spaces. There is a spread of communication infrastructure networks, connected with the increase in the circulation of people, vehicles and information, and this is generating an increasingly intense pace that will produce considerable changes in the nature and function of space over time. Constant mobility creates the possibility of many places of transit (foyers, waiting rooms, stations, etc.) in cities that do not manage to achieve full control of the multiplicity and overlapping of channels of distribution and fluctuation. As a result, the public area has ceased to be a meeting place, the heart of social life, and become a strictly regulated environment where everything is controlled and the individual feels safe and takes that security for granted. These "non-places", as Marc Augé calls them, seem to be utterly identical wherever they emerge: we can see that different parts of the world have adapted the same recognisable form, which gives them an element of familiarity and makes them a clear symptom of the accentuated homogenisation towards which the organisation of the new cities is directed.
A process of economic globalisation and permanent information revolution is under way, in which the planet is tending towards a generalised urbanisation (territorially articulated around city networks) that is going to make radical alterations in the structure of physical space and society. In this regard we can say that cities have ceased to be stable places or clearly defined forms or coherent movements and become regions of complex structures where mobility and mutation (subject to constant collisions) are some of the most significant features. Cities have become enormous urban concentrations, metropolises that correspond not just to specific territories (there are also virtual cities in Internet) but to an intricate set of economic and social relationships that have to be approached in new ways.
This project aims to stimulate reflection on these transcendent changes, focusing on four closely connected central aspects that fundamentally alter the way in which we understand and live in cities. The project's four basic focuses are:
a) Dense Topologies (Concentration and Dispersion).
b) Fluid Places (Mobility and Nomadism).
c) Cybercities (Virtuality and Interconnection).
d) Alienated Spaces (Globalisation and Consumerism).