The property crisis in Spain, linked to an unprecedented digital revolution, has radically transformed the construction sector, in turn influencing the way cities are traditionally developed. The burst housing bubble, coupled with the tech and data revolution, has changed the way we live, giving us the potential to correct shortcomings and build a stronger, more people-oriented urban economy. Because knowledge holds the solution to this crisis and there are no longer problems that can’t be solved, there is a conviction that the housing crisis can open up positive paths for Spanish cities.
In Spain, the middle class has seen its purchasing power slip away as the disparity in the income earned from work grows. That said, I will argue here that the ‘city’, if it takes into account the mistakes of the past, can mitigate the impact of this new phenomenon and even generate fairer redistributive policies and opportunities that make climbing the social ladder easier.
Cities too slow with legislation in a tech disrupting age
On the one hand, carrying a window to the world in our pockets in the form of a smartphone or tablet has changed our lives: we share flats, buy and sell second-hand items and video conference at the click of a finger without knowing the first thing about programming. What began by revolutionising the business world is already beginning to have an impact on the city. Millennials no longer buy CDs, for example, because the money spent on the average cost of a CD can go towards a monthly subscription that provides access to a whole digital library that grows daily and makes it faster and easier to search for any song, by any artist, anywhere in the world. That is: access to services is quickly gaining ground on ownership. This paradigm shift can also be seen in shared-economy platforms like Uber and Airbnb, which gain millions of new users weekly, and cities have not been quick enough to adapt their legislation accordingly.