Why design for serendipity?
In the modern city, chunks of space are meticulously allocated to individual functions: retail
parks, office districts, residential suburbs. This reinforces
the habit of allocating our time strictly between these
activities, jetting between them in our cars. The lifestyle this propagates can
be isolating and alienating, with little opportunity
for participating in public life.
The principle of homophily means we are
more likely to form social bonds with those who are similar
to ourselves, not only that, we are
also more likely to be surrounded by these people physically
in our neighbourhoods. Similarly to our online
existence, this can form political and ideological echo chambers, leading to ignorance, bigotry and political polarization. It also feels
like a missed opportunity, given the “melting pot” analogy of
the city, and the density and diversity it provides.