by Luca Martinazzoli
Let’s talk about low-cost flights. And not just about tourism or that more people are going to airports. The possibility of taking a plane on the cheap has revolutionized the cultural geography of Europe. And it has changed those of us who happen to take the flights. Check-in
Architecture pauses to reflect on the fact that in ten years we have become faced with a new hierarchy of places. Places where, at a cost of a few cents, airplanes land and take off, jetting you to cities both large and small, and sometimes on the edge. They are nodes that draw a completely different map of areas, institutions, people and businesses.
Of course, today we’ve had the Internet and web 2.0. Pervasive networks keep us glued to devices of various types. But this is not enough. It is not enough because at bottom, places are still the nodes of the system. The debate is dated, but it is worth commenting that the net is not eroding the importance of urban spaces. Just skimming a few boring statistics reveals that cities today are more at the heart of economic production than ever before and that an urban renaissance is underway, to the extent that over 50% of the world population lives in one.
There are various reasons for this, differing across macro-regions of the world. But if we focus on Europe, we are probably unable to ignore the increasingly prominent role of cognitive-cultural industries. They are based on the ability to produce symbolic innovation, the ability to turn symbolic capital into products that accumulate in cities. In this way, cities are changing more or less rapidly, renewing through these industries the central role it seemed to have lost just a few years ago.
In this context, if we look at the division of labor in the field of cultural production, we notice that these professions are clustering around low-cost airline hubs that are able to function as magnets. But today, more than ever, we perceive the reverberation of places that are unable
to sustain a consistent job market. They do, however, produce, incubate, and export images. They are bases for professionals and students that commute around Europe. They are the nodes of a dense network of new exchanges and new visions.
You can find architects working for partnerships in Rotterdam living in Milan. Lecturers at universities in London who spend their days off between Barcelona and Berlin. Music producers that split their time between southern Italy and London. These people imply a new generational attitude, that of the low-cost lifestyle. It is not only the possibility and the necessity of moving frequently that marks them out, but also their ability to adapt to new living circumstances and a flexible, international job market.
They find images, chew them up and produce them. Characters that can afford the luxury of low-cost. Understanding how these people inhabit the city, how they see it and what spaces they create, is one of Check-in Architecture’s objectives.
If low-cost geographies are radically remaking and redefining the nodes of cultural production in Europe, then we desire to identify its hierarchies and relationships. We desire to understand its rhythm.
by Luca Martinazzoli