Our cities and towns are shaped in part by their capacity for making, their capacity for some kind of “industry”–broadly understood. This has been a key theme in our project discussions on Shaping our Towns and Cities. Another key theme has been the exploration of the ways that technologies impact the ways we design our communities. One line of exploration has been to ask just what could be the new city-shaping technologies emerging that today. Just think of how the advent and proliferation of the technology of the automobile has changed the design of our communities.
These themes come together when you think about new technologies that could enable more localized small-scale manufacturing–or models of distributed manufacturing. Dave Davisson gives a nice compendium of these technologies and the proliferation of “Maker Culture” in an entry on his “Re/Creating Tampa” blog. With distributed manufacturing, people might not need to design spaces for manufacturing centers. If technologies like 3-D printing proliferate (you’ll find a longer discussion of 3-D printing at the Kojo Nnamdi show here), there could be a profound impact on the ways people relate to manufacturing and the design of our urban spaces.