Civium Project

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= see also the article on Civium, interpreted as the next phase of a non-territorial civilization

Contextual Quote

"Civium is a way of looking at cities, and specifically what a post-city world might look like. It imagines an alliance between technology and the countryside replacing the city as the focus of creativity and wealth-creation. It is the idea that there is no longer much point living in the middle of a large conurbation when you can now move out, look at fields through your window, breathe clean air, and do all your meetings with video conferencing. "

- Giles Fraser [1]


The Imaginary of the Civium Project

Giles Fraser:

"“Cities are to people like stars are to atoms,” explains Hall. Like stars, cities have this inward gravitational pull. The more people that pack into an area, the more ideas it buzzes with and the greater its capacity to make money. The bigger the city, the more money (on average) that one can make there — so he argues. It’s all about the economies of scale. But just as there is a centripetal force that sucks in people, so too there is a centrifugal force that pushes them out. Because people have bodies, they take up physical space, and have physical needs like food. Thus the dynamic of the city is created by the intense inward pressure of the economic pull to the centre, and the resistance to this constant pull that our physicality engenders. People can only be packed in a small space so much before they want to break out of it.

But can technology — always the futurists’ deus ex machina — really square this circle? The Civium project imagines that the density of people that has made the city so much of a money spinner can now be recreated online. Indeed, when people can be translated into digital images, they can be packed together even more tightly, with even greater creativity and prosperity being created. The “gallery view” of Zoom, for example, allows many people to cram into the tiniest of spaces. And if density of people = creativity = prosperity, then the city as we have known it is doomed — because in the digital realm, the thing that attracted people together, what Hall calls “minds in relationship” can be de-coupled from the negative consequences of being physically piled up on top of each other.

The Civium imagines that we can have it both ways. We can live by the River Tamar, soothed by gentle music, without a neighbour for miles — yet we can also, and without commuting, instantly become a member of the sort of community that has made cities the economic hubs of civilisation for centuries. Yes, online conferencing has its own unique ennui to contend with. But that’s why we are moving to the Tamar. With all that time saved not commuting, there will be ample opportunity to chill out in your hammock and work off that disturbing feeling of existential dislocation with some good, old fashioned, country walks."