Thursday, April 15, 2010

Impurity of Purpose

I've spent the last week working out at the Technopark, which is basically an IT oriented industrial park out in Goodwood. It has, when you walk around between the buildings, the same feel as airports, the deep suburbs and holiday resorts. It might seem like a strange group to bring together but they all share one common theme: they exist to cater to a single aspect of life, contrary to the massively parallel way most people actually live.

While an office building in the city exists for a single purpose, on the same block are cafes, camera shops and boutiques, so when you step out of the office building you are surrounded by people who are doing a thousand different things. I find it comforting to be able to see people doing different things, especially when I need a break. I spent a week in a holiday resort when I was in Singapore and by the end of the week I spent half an hour wandering around the business district in Singapore just to be around people who weren't trying desperately to have fun on the beach. The monoculture of leisure was as draining as the perpetual atmosphere of nervous impatience that permeates the world's airports.

There is something about creating an isolated environment focused on a single facet of daily life that seems to rob it of it reality. Everything that acts otherwise to that purpose, such as a cafe in an industrial part or the book shop at an airport, is bled of the genuine atmosphere that normally makes such places pleasant to visit (Filling airport bookshops with Dan Brown books probably doesn't help either). Whenever you do something contrary to the reason the place was built it feels like some sort of damp rebellion, a feeling that should never be encountered while eating a ham sandwich.

Maybe I just don't have enough focus, but I'd much rather have my places of work, sleep and fun all jumbled up with each other so I can do things without planning ahead and have a break when I need one.

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