Assuming a clear-cut definition about the contemporary Metropolitan requires the recognition of urban life without adherence to any presupposition, diagnosis, and without any one-sided point of view. Proposed definitions of urban spaces examine and assess present Identity that is followed based on historical characteristics that are affected by worldwide systems such as the economic systems that even change the form and function of the spaces while giving rise to some kind of metamorphosis and alternations. In other words, identity and indigenous features of the contemporary cities, which are subject to global trends and movements, need to be assessed more phonologically and fundamentally rather than pathologically. On the other hand, the Identity of the contemporary Urban spaces seems too complicated to be comprehended by using traditional and outdated methods. Therefore, cities are the outcome of multiple layers of information networks and different historical, cultural, ecological, economic levels, each with its specific form of social approaches and spatial mesh of urban spaces in an extensive functional structure; the structures which comprise all of the globalized features like capitalism, economic aspects as repetitive patterns of production and consumption. In the globalized economy that has been evolving for the past 40 years, the world as a totality has become an arena of exchange and cooperation with an interconnected flow of ideas, values, images, and lifestyles. This approach leads the urban forms and function to a homogeneity and Identity crisis. So, architecture, urban design, and all intangible values of space have an increasing role in facilitating the circulation and accumulation of capital.
The first and most evident equation of a modern city is the functional structure for producing/re-producing goods and culture and consuming them. Therefore, a modern city organizes itself in two spatial and sociological aspects to achieves the sustainability aspects; but, it should provide two types of opportunities for all tangible and intangible values in urban spaces:
– Possibility to form the events associated with social interactions.- Possibility to represent the identity and to transfer the story and narration of the city and its history.
In comparison between the two social and spatial aspects or layers, the form usually is less unpredictable; when we talk about social layers or people in the contemporary cities, we deal with cultural, political, and racial borders of the society that varies at local, urban, national, regional, and global levels. The spatial layer of the contemporary city has a more direct and predictable relationship with urban economy policies. But, urban spatial transferring changes the context of the same unpredictable social layers; it discolors the texture in which memories are formed and affected by the architectural style, name of places. Through the process of change, old references are replaced by new ones. In this regard, collective memories are the permanent challenges of the contemporary city. The collective memories are sort of shared heritages which belong to all generations living in a city and characterized with tangible and intangible values that connect different generations. The term of “Collective Memory” contains a very similar concept to the term “Urban Space Identity”; that is a simple and easy to understand the term, as we may confirm that a city without memory is a city without identity. This is considered as the main crisis ahead of modern cities.
Urban developers, architects, and experts have brought different definitions up following the urban identity. They have tried to develop the identity and instances of the concept and then have searched for identity in the city based on their definitions. Another possible approach is to search for the identity first and then develop feasible definitions based on the facts; this entails focusing on the modern aspect of “Urban Identity”. For instance, the mainstream explanation of identity states that urban identity is buried under the fast and unplanned development and to uncover identity, we need to revive the old spaces by uncovering them. This impression represents the idea that identity is a nostalgic phenomenon that belongs to the past. The process of creating memory and its dynamism is not merely about historical events that are inherited as tangible/intangible non-renewable values from the past. Considering the cities’ role as a mutative context for innovative economic growth, the contemporary city leads the modern life flow based on historical structures of the past and is increasingly influenced by globalization effects. Therefore the possibility of the formation of social events and interactions, transferring Collective Memory, and representing the story of the city will occur simultaneously within the current functional structures; the structures that introduce a modern phenomenon in the age of capitalism and differentiation and economic cities.
The economic dimension of globalization inevitably has some effects on all historical and cultural landscapes; and “urban landscape” represents the most powerful economic engines. Following the meaning of the contemporary urban spaces, we may also figure out the power of the globalized economy and consumption patterns which would lead to the emergence of the new social and cultural spaces such as coffee shops, bookstores, cultural products developed based on multimedia facilities, boutiques, and large shopping centers. The concept of neighborhood and its central role in traditional urban texture is replaced by new spaces that, according to Rem Koolhaas, represent a new generation of urban architecture. As a novel experience of modern urbanism, these new spaces are not limited to urban environments and extend their influence on other applications such as museums, public service stations, educational centers, and even airports. Large shopping centers are much more than mere commercial spaces and a general process of mallification is in progress and creates small city models featuring all micro spaces such as square, restaurant, coffee shop, and so on.
Today, we witness the emergence of public places in the business-oriented spaces that are created or controlled by the state or urban managers; and the concepts of urban economy and economy of place have been developed with a new approach toward intervention in the structure of the city. These approach contains a coincidental aspect with the spirit of the time including the individuals’ identity evaluation not necessarily based on the heritage values and traditionalism but rather based on an ever-increasing individualism (along with the expansion of virtual networks) and the position of consumption in a global level (not at national or local levels). Throughout such immense changes in one’s perception of public spaces and social life, “Collective Memories” are formed within the texture of the interactions of the society and eventually serve functional structure. Whether this structure is considered as the new generation of urban architecture or the historical structure it possesses the capacity to create new memories along with narrating the history of the cities beside the dynamic flow of contemporary life; so the exclusive and individual Components of identity as integrity can be considered as a comparative capability of city branding. Based on what has been mentioned earlier, as novel and phenomenological attitudes toward space and events in the city, it is valuable to observe and discover the rule of the new lifestyle, which seems inevitable in the globalization process of modern cities. Thereby, the reasonable prescription for urban planners, programmers and managers are to focus on the current impression of the “identity” and to search for opportunities of creating the current and future collective memories based on the structure of the past in a sense that the city still is capable to represent and narrate. An undeniable fact associated with the dynamism of the “memory” in the process of urban programming and designing is that the past is the infrastructure of social identity and has been formed concerning the necessities of modern life.
Memory is rooted in related history and goes along with time and spatial frameworks. memory is the base of the life experienced by consecutive generations. However, preserving it contains an approach which must be based on modern spaces and their functions in a way that would achieve compatibility of durability and the current modern requirements.