The Art of City Making

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The Art of City Making

The Art of City-Making The Art of City-Making Charles Landry London • Sterling, VA First published by Earthscan in

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The Art of City-Making

The Art of City-Making

Charles Landry

London • Sterling, VA

First published by Earthscan in the UK and USA in 2006 Copyright © Charles Landry, 2006 All rights reserved ISBN-10: ISBN-13:

1-84407-245-2 paperback 1-84407-246-0 hardback 978-1-84407-245-3 paperback 978-1-84407-246-0 hardback

Typeset by MapSet Ltd, Gateshead, UK Printed and bound in the UK by Cromwell Press, Trowbridge, UK Cover design by Susanne Harris For a full list of publications please contact: Earthscan 8–12 Camden High Street London, NW1 0JH, UK Tel: +44 (0)20 7387 8558 Fax: +44 (0)20 7387 8998 Email: [email protected] Web: 22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012, USA Earthscan is an imprint of James and James (Science Publishers) Ltd and publishes in association with the International Institute for Environment and Development A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Landry, Charles. The art of city-making / Charles Landry. p. cm. ISBN-13: 978-1-84407-245-3 (pbk.) ISBN-10: 1-84407-245-2 (pbk.) ISBN-13: 978-1-84407-246-0 (hardback) ISBN-10: 1-84407-246-0 (hardback) 1. City planning. 2. City and town life. I. Title. HT166.L329 2006 307.1’216—dc22 2006021878 The paper used for this book is FSC-certified and totally chlorine-free. FSC (the Forest Stewardship Council) is an international network to promote responsible management of the world’s forests.


List of Boxes List of Photographs Acronyms and Abbreviations Acknowledgements

xi xiii xv xvii

Chapter One: Overture City-making and responsibility Art and science Push and pull Unresolved and unclear Secular humanism Shifting the Zeitgeist Cityness is Everywhere A view from above An imaginary journey Sameness and difference

1 6 7 9 11 12 14 19 26 27 29

Chapter Two: The Sensory Landscape of Cities Sensescapes The car and the senses Transporting into a past sensescape Linguistic shortcomings Soundscape Smellscape The look of the city

39 45 46 48 50 51 61 68

Chapter Three: Unhinged and Unbalanced The City as a Guzzling Beast The logistics of a cup of tea Washing and toilet flushing

77 77 78 79

vi The Art of City-Making Food and eating Rubbish Transport Materials: Cement, asphalt and steel The ecological footprint Urban Logistics Has decivilization started? The Geography of Misery Organized crime and the rule of fear People-trafficking and the sex trade The human cost of change Grinding poverty and stolen childhood Filth Prisons and borders Tourism and its discontents Cultural prosperity among poverty Learning from Katha The Geography of Desire Ordinary desire Pumping up desire Mentally moving on before arriving Speed and slowness Trendspotting or trainspotting? The shopping repertoire Making more of the night The Geography of Blandness The march of the mall The death of diversity and ordinary distinctiveness The curse of convenience Shedland

80 81 83 86 88 88 91 93 95 98 99 101 102 103 104 105 107 109 111 113 115 116 118 119 124 125 127 131 135 140

Chapter Four: Repertoires and Resistance Urban Repertoires From Prado to Prada Urban iconics The crisis of meaning and experience Capturing the final frontier: Ad-creep and beyond Gratification over fulfilment Urban Resonance The city as a fashion item

143 143 143 146 151 153 154 155 155

Contents vii Drawing power and the resonance of cities Forms of drawing power Cities on the radar screen Borrowing the Landscape Selling places The limits to tourism Urban Rituals Making the most of resources Meaningful experiences A Coda: Urban Resistances Chapter Five: The Complicated and the Complex The Forces of Change: Unscrambling Complexity A conceptual framework Faultlines Battlegrounds Paradoxes Risk and creativity Drivers of change Aligning Professional Mindsets Escaping the silo Whole connections and specialist parts Stereotypes and the professions Balancing skills Opening Mindsets and the Professions The professional gestalt Mindflow and mindset The blight of reductionism Professions and identity Performance culture Stretching boundaries Insights and crossovers Blindspots in City-Making The emotions Environmental psychology Cultural literacy Artistic thinking Diversity Towards a common agenda The new generalist

158 161 163 166 172 174 176 176 180 186 189 189 192 193 197 199 201 208 211 212 214 217 226 227 227 228 231 232 233 234 238 240 240 243 245 249 253 263 264

viii The Art of City-Making Chapter Six: The City as a Living Work of Art Re-enchanting the city Re-establishing your playing field Reassessing creativity Revaluing hidden assets: A creativity and obstacle audit Reassigning the value of unconnected resources Recycling and greening Recapturing centrality Revisualizing soft and hard infrastructures Redefining competitiveness Rethinking calculations of worth: The asphalt currency Rebalancing the scorecard: The complexities of capital Regaining confidence and a sense of self Renewing leadership capacity Realigning rules to work for vision Renaming risk management policy Reconceiving the city Reimagining planning Remapping the city Redelineating urban roles Reasserting principles of development Reconnecting difficult partners: New Urbanism and Le Corbusier Reshaping behaviour Reconsidering the learning city Reigniting the passion for learning Revaluing and reinvesting in people and home-grown talent Repairing health through the built environment Reversing decline Remeasuring assets Re-presenting and repositioning Retelling the story Knitting the threads together What is a creative idea? A final coda: Reconsidering jargon

267 268 268 270 272 275 277 278 281 285 287 287 290 291 292 295 295 298 300 301 304 305 308 310 313 315 318 319 321 323 326 329 331 332

Contents ix Chapter Seven: Creative Cities for the World Ethics and creativity Civic creativity Is Dubai creative? Is Singapore creative? Are Barcelona and Bilbao creative? Urban acupuncture and Curitiba’s creativity … and there are many more The Management of Fragility: Creativity and the City Creative ecology The creative rash An idea or a movement Creativity: Components Where are the creative places? Where next? Fine judgement and the formula Urgency and creativity Ten ideas to start the creative city process

335 335 338 341 350 361 376 381 385 385 386 387 390 407 415 420 420 422

Endpiece ‘Why I Think What I Think’

425 426

Notes Bibliography Index

429 443 451

List of Boxes

The long-distance lunch Trendspotting Weird = ‘of strange or extraordinary character’ Recreating the past for the future Blandness and city identity Urban acupuncture and social capital Synchronicity and origins

81 120 127 130 134 379 389

List of Photographs

Sources are credited beside each photograph for those in the list below. All photographs in the two colour sections are by Charles Landry. Creative city-making is a fragile affair The city is more than ‘roads, rates and rubbish’ Cityness sprawls into every crevice of what was once nature How many old industrial buildings are left to be regenerated? Cars being the priority, pedestrians have to adapt The basic infrastructures of life simply do not exist in many places across the world One of nearly 600,000 bunkers in Albania Libraries are among the most inclusive cultural institutions Speeding up the world allows no space for reflection Corporate blandness, anywhereville A good secondary shopping street in Cork, Ireland The urban regenerators repertoire The Guggenheim in Bilbao Canberra’s National Museum Anish Kapoor’s beautiful and popular sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park All professions have a shape, a form, a mindset, a gestalt Too many people think of the city as simply bricks and mortar

4 20 25 47 84 92 103 112 117 126 129 144 146 150 190 229 264

Acronyms and Abbreviations


third party logistics business improvement district black and minority ethnic Commission on Architecture and the Built Environment Construction, Design and Management Congres Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne Centre for Local Economic Strategy Congress of New Urbanism Global and World Cities International Bauaustellung International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives Institute of Urban Planning and Research of Curitiba integrated resort known value item Museum of Modern Art of Barcelona Multifunction Polis National Planning Forum Planning Policy Statement radio frequency identification twenty foot equivalent unit Urban Design Alliance United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization


Writing a book is never a lone endeavour. You learn from others, you pick up ideas, someone gives you a crisp turn of phrase that encapsulates a point well. Someone encourages you and gives you confidence. I have many people to thank: Ed Beerbohm, who helped craft the text into a sharper form and did the research for the section ‘The City as a Guzzling Beast’; Gabrielle Boyle, for the conversations; Jim Bage; and then the many people I have worked with, especially Margie Caust and Richard Brecknock, who put my Adelaide Thinkers in Residence programme together; and Mike Rann, the Premier of South Australia who appointed me as ‘thinker’. The Adelaide period in 2003 gave me a real chance to think some things through and the chapter ‘The City as a Living Work of Art’ comes from that period. John Worthington of DEGW and chair of Building Futures gave me the opportunity to write Riding the Rapids: Urban Life in an Age of Complexity, and the ‘Unscrambling Complexity’ sections benefited from that collaboration. Honor Chapman (formerly of Future London) and Greg Clark provided the chance to research the background to the sections on ‘Aligning Professional Mindsets’ and ‘Blindspots in City-Making’. Chris Murray commissioned work on creativity and risk, which is a theme throughout the book. My Swiss friends Toni Linder, Petra Bischoff and Elisa Fuchs gave me the chance to try out ideas in the book in Albania and the opportunity to survey projects throughout southeastern Europe, from Ukraine to Bosnia. This has appeared as Culture at the Heart of Transformation. Besim Petrela managed many trips throughout Albania and his surgeon brother operated on my septic arm in the middle of the night in Tirana. Carol Coletta from Smart Cities is a friend but also asked me write a series of letters called ‘Letters to Urban Leaders’ to the CEOs for Cities network in the States, of which she is director. Key ideas from those

xviii The Art of City-Making appear throughout the text. Others who need thanking include: Phil Wood and Jude Bloomfield, especially in relation to the Intercultural City project; Marc Pachter; Meg van Rosendaal; Simon Brault; Jonathan Hyams; Nick Falk; Dickon Robinson; Peter Kageyama; Andy Howell; Masayuki Sasaki; my friends from Metaa in Korea; Paul Brown; Thierry Baert; Christine Sullivan; Patricia Zaido; Erin Williams; Evert Verhagen; Susan Serran; Tim Jones; Doug Pigg; Theresa McDonagh; Richard Best; Richard Jackson; Martin Evans; Andrew Kelly; Hamish Ironside from Earthscan; Robert Palmer; Leonie Sandercock … and of course the growing family of wild ducks outside my window, which are a good source of distraction.



City-making is a complex art; it is not a formula. There is no simplistic, ten-point plan that can be mechanically applied to guarantee success in any eventuality. But there are some strong principles that can help send good city-making on its way: •

• •

The most significant argument of The Art of City-Making is that a city should not seek to be the most creative city in the world (or region or state) – it should strive to be the best and most imaginative city for the world.1 This one change of word – from ‘in’ to ‘for’ – has dramatic implications for a city’s operating dynamics. It gives city-making an ethical foundation. It helps the aim of cities becoming places of solidarity, where the relations of the individual, the group and the outsider to the city and the planet are in better alignment. These can be cities of passion and compassion. Go with the grain of local cultures and their distinctiveness, yet be open to outside influences. Balance local and global. Involve those affected by what you do in decision-making. It is astonishing how ordinary people can make the extraordinary happen, given the chance. Learn from what others have done well, but don’t copy them thoughtlessly. Cities focused mainly on best practices are followers not leaders and do not take the required risks to move themselves forward. Encourage projects that add value economically while simultaneously reinforcing ethical values. This means revisiting the

2 The Art of City-Making

balance between individual wants and collective and planetary needs relevant to the 21st century. Too often value is defined narrowly in terms of financial calculus. This is naïve. The new economy requires an ethical value base to guide action. It will imply behaviour change to meet value-based goals such as putting a halt to the exploitation of the environment. Combining social and environmental with economic accounting helps identify projects that pass this test. The ‘fair trade’ movement is an example. Every place can make more out of its potential if the preconditions to think, plan and act with imagination are present. The imagination of people, combined with other qualities such as tenacity and courage, is our greatest resource. Foster civic creativity as the ethos of your city. Civic creativity is imaginative problem-solving applied to public good objectives. It involves the public sector being more entrepreneurial, though within the bounds of accountability, and the private sector being more aware of its responsibilities to the collective whole.

You will come across recurring themes in The Art of City-Making. These include the following: •

Our sensory landscape is shrinking precisely at the moment when it should be broadening. Sensory manipulation is distancing us from our cities and we are losing our visceral knowledge of them. We have forgotten how to understand the smells of the city, to listen to its noises, to grasp the messages its look sends out and to be aware of its materials. Instead there is information and sensory overload in the name of making the city a spectacular experience. The city is discussed in barren, eviscerated terms and in technical jargon by urban professionals as it if were a lifeless, detached being. In fact, it is a sensory, emotional, lived experience. Cities are like relatives: you never really escape. The city is more than hardware. How often do strategic urban plans start with the words ‘beauty’, ‘love’, ‘happiness’ or ‘excitement’, as opposed to ‘bypass’, ‘spatial outcome’ or ‘planning framework’? To understand the city and to capture its potential requires us to deal with five major blindspots: we need to think differently

Overture 3

– in a more rounded way – in order to see the connections between things; we need to perceive the city as a more comprehensively sensory experience, so understanding its effect on individuals; we need to feel the city as an emotional experience; we need to understand cities culturally – cultural literacy is the skill that will help us better understand the dynamics of cities; and we need to recognize the artistic in all of us, which can lead us to a different level of experience. An understanding of culture, in contrast to economics or sociology, is a superior way of describing the world because it can explain change and its causes and effects and does not take any ideology, institution or practice for granted or treat them as immutable. Culture is concerned with human behaviours and so cultural analysis can be expressed in human terms we find familiar and engaging. It is thus a good medium through which to provide stories about the world. Cities need stories or cultural narratives about themselves to both anchor and drive identity as well as to galvanize citizens. These stories allow individuals to submerge themselves into bigger, more lofty endeavours. A city which describes itself as the ‘city of churches’ fosters different behavioural patterns in citizens than a city that projects itself as a ‘city of second chances’. (Critics complain, however, that such cultural narratives are difficult to measure. We shall return to this contention later.) The internal logic of the unfettered market reveals a limited story of ambition and no ethics or morality. It has no view of the ‘good life’, of social mixing, of mutual caring or nurturing the environment. There is an imperative to make the market system serve the bigger picture – through incentives, regulations … or whatever. This places responsibility on us. Like a veil, the market system shrouds our consciousness while plumping up desire and consumption. The market logic has a tendency to fragment groups into units of consumption and enclaves and, in so doing, to break up social solidarities. But the latter are needed if intractable urban problems such as meeting responsibility for the public realm or natural surveillance are to be achieved.

A conceptual framework is offered to help us unscramble complexity. It focuses on assessing deeper faultlines and problems that will

4 The Art of City-Making Creative city-making is a fragile affair, requiring constant alertness within an ethical framework of values

Source: Collin Bogaars

take generations to solve: traditional drivers such as IT and the ageing population; battlegrounds and the day-to-day contests over priorities; and paradoxes such as the simultaneous rise of a riskaverse culture with a pressure to be creative and to break the rules. Some of the main points made in The Art of City-Making are that the overall dynamic of the system that governs city-making is far less rational than it makes itself appear – it does not look at comprehensive flows, connections or inter-relationships, and downstream impacts are not seen or costed; that city-making is no one’s job – the urban professions and politicians may believe it is theirs, but they are only responsible for a part; that because of this fragmentation and the competing rules of different professions and interests we cannot build the cities we love anymore – the current rules, especially concerning traffic engineering, forbid it. And, not least, that 6 billion people on the planet is too many unless lifestyles change dramatically. The Art of City-Making proposes that we: •

Redefine the scope of creativity, focusing much more on unleashing the mass of ordinary, day-to-day, dormant creativity that lies within most of us. The focus should fall equally on social and other forms of creativity. This would represent a shift in attention from assuming creativity only comprises the creative industries and media. Creativity is in danger of being swallowed up by fashion. Recognize artistic thinking as helpful in finding imaginative solutions and engaging and moving people. All urban professions should consider thinking like artists, planning like generals and acting like impresarios. Rethink who our celebrities are and what an urban heroine or hero should be. This could be an invisible planner, a business person, a social worker or an artist.

Overture 5 •

See that there is a major opportunity for the return of the city state and for cities to become value-driven to a much greater extent than nation states can ever be. This entails renegotiating power relations with national governments.

At its best, good city-making leads to the highest achievement of human culture. A cursory look at the globe reveals the names of cities old and new. Their names resonate as we think simultaneously about their physical presence, their activities, their cultures, and their people and ideas: Cairo, Isfahan, Delhi, Rome, Constantinople, Canton/Gúangzhõu, Kyoto, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, Vancouver, or, on a smaller scale, Berne, Florence, Varanasi, Shibam. Our best cities are the most elaborate and sophisticated artefacts humans have conceived, shaped and made. The worst are forgettable, damaging, destructive, even hellish. For too long we believed that city-making involved only the art of architecture and land-use planning. Over time, the arts of engineering, surveying, valuing, property development and project management began to form part of the pantheon. We now know that the art of city-making involves all the arts; the physical alone do not make a city or a place. For that to happen, the art of understanding human needs, wants and desires; the art of generating wealth and bending the dynamics of the market and economics to the city’s needs; the art of circulation and city movement; the art of urban design; and the art of trading power for creative influence so the power of people is unleashed must all be deployed. We could go on. And let’s not forget community endorsement, health, inspiration and celebration. Most importantly, good city-making requires the art of adding value and values simultaneously in everything undertaken. Together, the mindsets, skills and values embodied in these arts help make places out of simple spaces. The city is an interconnected whole. It cannot be viewed as merely a series of elements, although each element is important in its own right. When we consider a constituent part we cannot ignore its relation to the rest. The building speaks to its neighbouring building and to the street, and the street in turn helps fashion its neighbourhood. Infused throughout are the people who populate the city. They mould the physical into shape and frame its use and how it feels. The city comprises both hard and soft infrastructure. The hard is like the bone structure, the skeleton, while the soft is akin to the

6 The Art of City-Making nervous system and its synapses. One cannot exist without the other. The city is a multifaceted entity. It is an economic structure – an economy; it is a community of people – a society; it is a designed environment – an artefact; and it is a natural environment – an ecosystem. And it is all four of these – economy, society, artefact and ecosystem – governed by an agreed set of rules – a polity. Its inner engine or animating force, however, is its culture. Culture – the things we find important, beliefs and habits – gives the city its distinctiveness – its flavour, tone and patina. The art of city-making touches all these dimensions. City-making is about choices, and therefore about politics, and therefore about the play of power. And our cities reflect the forces of power that have shaped them. The Art of City-Making is quite a long book, but there are different rhythms beating in its pages and I hope it is easy to read in bite-sized, self-contained chunks. For instance, Chapter 2 (‘The Sensory Landscape of Cities’) has one mood and attempts to be lyrical in parts, while the section on ‘The City as a Guzzling Beast’ (Chapter 3) is fact-driven, and the sections on the geography of misery and desire have a more exasperated tone. The second half of the book seeks to bring all these things together, to clarify and simplify, and to help the reader throw light on complex, bigger issues affecting cities. Thus, as we draw towards the end, Chapter 6 (‘The City as a Living Work of Art’) is like a toolbox of ideas with which to move forward. And ‘Creative Cities for the World’ and ‘Creativity and the City: Thinking Through the Steps’ invite the reader to make their own judgements about what places are really inventive and why.

City-making and responsibility Whose responsibility is it to make our cities? While the forms they take are usually unintentional, cities are not mere accidents. They are the product of decisions made for individual, separate, even disparate purposes, whose inter-relationships and side-effects have not been fully considered. City-making is in fact no one person’s job. Politicians say it is theirs, but they can get too concerned with managing a party rather than a city. Elected officials can get addicted to shorter-term thinking. The imperative to get re-elected can stifle leadership, risks are not taken, and easy wins or instantly visible results – the building

Overture 7 of a bypass, say, or putting up as many housing units as possible – are thrust to the fore. Perhaps a local partnership or a chief executive officer is responsible? No – probably not. The urban professions would claim they are in charge, even though they are responsible only for aspects of the physical parts. Yet if there is no conscious overarching sense of city- or placemaking, we go by default patterns and the core assumptions of each profession – their technical codes, standards and guidelines, such as those that set patterns for a turning circle or the width of pavements. But such codes, standards and guidelines do not, on their own, provide a cohesive template for city-making. The technical knowledge of highway engineers, surveyors, planners or architects, viewed in isolation, is probably fine, albeit requiring rethinking on occasion, but a technical manual does not create a bigger picture of what a city is, where it could be going and how it fits into a global pattern. It is no one person’s job at present to connect the agendas, ways of thinking, knowledge and skill bases. But if, at present, no one is responsible, then everyone is to blame for our many ugly, soulless, unworkable cities and our occasional places of delight. And there is a pass-the-parcel attitude to responsibility. One moment the highway engineers are the scapegoats, the next it’s the planner or the developer. What is needed is more than being a mere networker or broker of professions and requires a deeply etched understanding of what essence each professional grouping brings or could bring to the art of city-making. The spirit of city-making, with its necessary creativity and imagination, is more like improvised jazz than chamber music. There is experimentation, trial and error, and everyone can be a leader, given a particular area of expertise. As if by some mysterious process, orchestration occurs through seemingly unwritten rules. Good city-making requires myriad acts of persistence and courage that need to be aligned like a good piece of music. There is not just one conductor, which is why leadership in its fullest sense is so important – seemingly disparate parts have to be melded into a whole.

Art and science The Art of City-Making privileges the word ‘art’ over ‘science’. It acknowledges, though, that we can still be scientific in the proce-

8 The Art of City-Making dures of how we approach city issues. As in the natural sciences, we can define questions, gather information and resources, form hypotheses, analyse facts and data and on occasion perform experiments, and certainly interpret things and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypotheses. But given the array of things in a city to consider, different forms of insight are needed, and these change all the time, for example from the hard science of engineering to the soft science of environmental psychology. Adhering to methodologies is inappropriate. Science assumes a predictability that the human ecologies that are cities cannot provide. The phrase ‘the art of’ in itself implies judgements of value. We are in the realm of the subjective. It implies there is a profound understanding of each city-making area, but also, in addition, the ability to grasp the essence of other subjects, to be interdisciplinary. The methods used to gain insight and knowledge are broadranging, from simple listening to more formalized comparative methods and understanding how intangible issues like image can help urban competitiveness. These arts are in fact skills acquired by experience and acute observation, requiring deep knowledge, the use of imagination and discipline. Fine judgement is key to city-making. What works in one situation, even when the factors seem the same, may not work in another. For example, to launch the long-term image and selfperception campaign in Leicester, posters declaring ‘Leicester is boring’ worked positively because there was enough resilience in the city to both understand the nuggets of truth embodied in the campaign and to respond actively to the criticism and to appreciate irony. The steering groups involved decided prior to the campaign that this was an appropriate approach for Leicester. However, a similar, ‘negative’ approach in neighbouring Derby, for example, may have been deemed culturally insensitive, ineffectual or just plain unsuitable. Knowledge of local cultural particularities and context is therefore always paramount. But while specialized judgement in particular cases is key, there are also principles that tend to work across particularities, such as going with, rather than against, the grain of peoples’ cultural backgrounds in implementing projects. The compound city-making is preferred to city-building, since the latter implies that the city is only that which the built environment professions have physically constructed. Yet what gives

Overture 9 a city life, meaning and purpose are the acts people perform on the physical stage. The stage set is not the play. The physical things are only the accoutrements, helpful instruments and devices. But the aim here is to shift the balance, to increase the credibility and status of the scriptwriters, the directors and performers. Countless skills come to mind. The core professions, beyond the built environment people, include environmental and social occupations such as conservation advisers or care professionals, economic development specialists, the IT community, community professions and volunteers, and ‘cross-cutting’ people such as urban regeneration experts. There are also historians, anthropologists, people who understand popular culture, geographers, psychologists and many other specialists. And there is a still wider group – including educators, the police, health workers, local businesses and the media – that makes a city tick. Then there is the wider public itself, the glue that ties things together. Within all these groups, there is a need for visionaries who can pinpoint what each city’s prospects are and where it might be going. Unless all these people are part of the urban story, the physical remains an empty shell. Yet too often we rely on the priesthood of those concerned with the physical, and it is they, perhaps more than others, who are responsible for the cities we have. Acerbically we might ask: Do they understand people and their emotions? Do some of them even like people?

Push and pull Transitional periods of history, like the Industrial Revolution or the technological revolution of the past 50 years, can produce confusion – a sense of liberation combined with a feeling of being swept along by events. It thus takes a while for new ethical stances to take root or to establish new and coherent worldviews. For example, the link between the individual and the group is gradually being reconfigured, as bonds to traditional place-based communities have fractured and been weakened by increasing mobility and decreasing provision by public authorities. Creating stable, local identities or senses of belonging in this context is difficult. The temper of the age is one of uncertainty, foreboding, vulnerability and lack of control over overweening global forces. It is hard to see a way to a Golden Age. Among the present-day young, the

10 The Art of City-Making Zeitgeist of the 1960s generation, with its sense of ‘we can change the world’, is absent. A significant proportion of the young today feel change is potentially threatening rather than liberating. But what is different about the spirit of the age is the recognition that the long-term effects of industrialism have hidden real costs. City mayors or key officials know about the contradictory demands of successful city-making in this context. They experience and navigate the push and pull of clearing rubbish, reducing noise, curtailing crime, making movement and transport easy, ensuring urban services, housing and health facilities are up to speed, while leaving something in the kitty for culture. Day-to-day life needs to work. But mayors and their cities have to paint on a much larger canvas if they are to generate the wealth and prosperity to fund the necessary investments in infrastructures and facilities that generate the quality of life of their cities. Cities must speak to a world well beyond national government. They need to attract investment bankers, inward-investing companies, property developers, the talented the world over. They need to court the media through which the city’s resonance is either confirmed or generated. To survive well, bigger cities must play on varied stages – from the immediately local, through the regional and national, to the widest global platform. These mixed targets, goals and audiences each demand something different. Often they pull and stretch in diverging directions. How do you create coherence out of wants and needs that do not align? One demands a local bus stop shelter, another airport connectivity across the world; one audience wants just a few tourists to ensure the city remains more distinctly itself, another as many as possible to generate money; one wants to encourage local business incubators, another a global brand; for some, an instantly recognizable city brand to disseminate is the way forward, for others it is merely copying the crowd. The list is endless. Working on different scales and complexity is hard: the challenge is to coalesce, align and unify this diversity so the resulting city feels coherent and can operate consistently. But lurking in the background are bigger issues that play on the mind of the more visionary urban leader, issues that the world cannot avoid and that cities have to respond to. Global sustainability is one. And this is a consideration that should shape what cities

Overture 11 do, how we build, how we move about, how we behave and how we avert pollution. Taken seriously, it requires dramatic behavioural change, since technological solutions can only take us so far. There is already an air of resignation, tinged with guilt, in individuals and decision-makers alike; we cannot face the implications of getting out of the car or refitting the economy for the period beyond the oil age. But that time is coming at us fast. It is too easy to respond only when the horse has already bolted. It is too difficult, too many feel, to argue for the switch to public transport, to generate the taxes to create a transport system that feels great to use as much for the well-off as for those at the other end of the scale. This means rethinking density and sprawl. But everyone knows the economic equations and urban formations that make this work as well as the tricks that seduce the user: city regions with hubs and nodes, incentives like park and ride, and disincentives to travel by car. The issue has been solved in many parts of the world – think of Hong Kong or Curitiba – but it requires a different view of public investment and investment in the public good and, essentially, depends on how much the individual is prepared to give up for wider public purposes. As already mentioned, there is a tendency to pass the parcel on responsibility. Some say it should be government taking the lead, but at the same time these people do not want government to be so powerful. Yet many US cities have taken the lead over national government and signed the Kyoto agreement, for example, reminding us of the power of cities to drive national agendas. But sustainability addresses more than environmental concerns. It has at least four pillars: the economic, social, cultural and ecological. And there is more to add. Cities need to be emotionally and psychologically sustaining, and issues like the quality and design of the built environment, the quality of connections between people and the organizational capacity of urban stakeholders become crucial, as do issues of spatial segregation in cities and poverty. Sustainable places need to be sustaining across the range.

Unresolved and unclear There are many opinions in the text that follows and various conclusions are reached about how cities should move forward. Where do these judgements come from, what is their basis and what

12 The Art of City-Making is the evidence?2 What I have laid out comes from my experience of observing cities; from participating in projects in cities from the small to the large; from talking to city leaders and the more powerful about how they want to make their cities better; and from talking to activists and the less powerful about what they want to change and how they are going to do it. This has made me even more curious about cities – I want to know how they work and how and why they succeed or fail. I have reflected on these encounters and am left with many unanswered questions. As an example, I keep on thinking of the balances that need to be achieved and then worry that this leads to compromise and blandness: creating urban delights or curtailing urban misery; focusing on density or being lax with sprawl; worrying about what the world thinks of your city or just getting on with it regardless. Alternatively I have been thinking of questions like: Is it possible to create places where people from different backgrounds intermingle and where segregation is reduced? How can you tap the dormant energy of people that coexists side by side with pervasive passivity? What skills, talents, insight and knowledge are needed to make cities work? What qualities are needed to be a good city-maker? Imagination, for sure, but what about courage, commitment and cleverness? Is it worth having lofty aims about cities and does this provide the motivation, energy and will to change things? My intention is to start a conversation with whoever is reading this as if we were mutually critical friends. Because of that I have tried to write in a conversational style. I know many academics will find this irritating. Yet I have a reader in mind who is probably responsible for some field of city-making, someone who is somewhat ground down by the difficulties of getting things done, who has high-flown ideals, who wants to be active yet feels they should stand back and contemplate, but who does not want to engage with a weighty tome. I have tried to switch between the evocative, the conceptual, the anecdotal and the exemplary and I hope this rhythm works. This is not a step-by-step guide. It is an exploration that proposes we think of cities in enriched ways and in which I try to highlight things I think are important yet hidden.

Secular humanism A final point: The Art of City-Making is laden with assumptions that shape what I say, the suggestions I make and the preferences I

Overture 13 have. These will probably become clear to you as the text unfolds. Nevertheless, since cities are such contested fields, both in terms of their actual functioning and what is said about them, I feel it is right to make my ideological position explicit from the outset. I subscribe to a secular humanist position that privileges civic values, which in essence seek to foster competent, confident and engaged citizenship. Mine is an attitude or philosophy concerned with the capabilities, interests and achievements of human beings rather than the concepts and problems of science or theology. It does not decry the virtues of science or the sustenance religion or other belief systems give. It is simply that its focus is on how people live together. The world is best understood, I posit, by reasoning and conversation without reference to higher authorities. It claims life can be best lived by applying ethics; which are an attempt to arrive at practical standards that provide principles to guide our common views and behaviour and to help resolve conflicts. It provides a frame within which difference can be lived and shared with mutual respect. Secular humanism as a core Enlightenment project has been drained of confidence. It feels exhausted and consequently is mistakenly accused of being ‘wishy-washy’, with no apparent point of view. Its confidence needs to be restored. The confident secular humanist view proposes a set of civic values and rules of engagement which include providing settings for a continually renewing dialogue across differences, cultures and conflicts; allowing strongly held beliefs or faiths expression within this core agreement; and acknowledging the ‘naturalness’ of conflict and establishing means and mediation devices to deal with difference. It seeks to consolidate different ways of living, recognizing arenas in which we must all live together and those where we can live apart. It generates structured opportunities to learn to know ‘the other’, to explore and discover similarity and difference. It wishes to drive down decision-making on the subsidiarity principle, which implies much greater decentralization and devolution of power. Central government takes on a more subsidiary role. This enhances participation and connectivity at local level. It helps generate interest, concern and responsibility. ‘Secular’ does not mean emotionally barren. In fact I treasure the heightened registers of being that spirituality evokes. Indeed its animating force may be just the thing that makes some cities more liveable in than others.

14 The Art of City-Making

Shifting the Zeitgeist Better choices, politics and power City-making is about making choices, applying values, using politics to turn values into policies and exerting power to get your way. Choices reflect our beliefs and attitudes, which are based on values and value judgements. These in turn are shaped by our culture. So the scope, possibilities, style and tenor of a city’s physical look and its social, ecological and economic development are culturally shaped – culture moves centre-stage. If, for example, a culture invests its faith only in the market principle and trusts the drive of capital to produce sensible choices, the logic, interests and points of view of those who control markets will count for more than those who believe market-based decision-making is an essentially impoverished system of choosing.3 If a culture holds that individual choice is everything – individuals always know best – this impacts the city. Conversely, if it is held that there is something in the idea of a public, common or collective good that has value and is beyond the vagaries of the market, credence can be given to inspirational and emblematic projects that can lift the public spirit: buildings that are not constructed according to market principles, imitate environmental initiatives, attending to the sickly or investing in youth. City-making is a cultural project involving a battle about power. Power determines the kind of cities we have and politics is its medium. What are the effects of these different values? Consider Mercer’s ‘quality of living’ rankings of 2006.4 This US company’s annual survey of 350 cities, focused especially on expatriates, is now seen as authoritative. It considers 39 criteria covering economics, politics, safety, housing and lifestyle. European, Canadian and Australian cities dominate the rankings, with Zurich, Geneva and Vancouver the top three, followed by Vienna. Six of the top eight cities are European. The implications of the market-driven US approach for how city life actual feels to individuals is instructive. The top US cities are Honolulu at 27th and San Francisco at 28th; Houston, where you cannot walk the streets even if you want to, is the worst of all large US cities at 68th.

Challenging the paradigm The Art of City-Making wants to be a butterfly whose small movements contribute with many others to grander effects on a global scale. It feels to me that the Zeitgeist is ready to shift, and I want

Overture 15 this book to be part of encouraging a new spirit of the times. This involves more than just altering the climate of opinion or intellectual atmosphere. A Zeitgeist is felt more deeply. It is less malleable and it is sensed viscerally, so providing energy and focus. It makes every person who feels it want to be an active agent, pulling them along with a comforting and comfortable instinct bordering on faith. In each period of history we can discern overarching qualities; these are never formulaic and often contradictory. Intellectual, political, economic and social trends are etched with the characteristic spirit of their era. We can say ‘modern times’ are characterized by an unwavering belief in a particular, progressive view of science on its inexorable journey to the truth, and a faith in technology. Yet the ‘rationality’ of technology is being called into question and critiques of this approach are escalating in number. (As an example, what is rational about creating global warming and its consequences?) Post-modernism rejects the grand unifying narratives associated with the modern period that try to explain everything. The relative, multiple, culturally determined truths it upholds destabilize the position of the many who want a single answer, so unsurprisingly the truths of the Gods are back. They provide certainty and anchoring. But both the modern and the post-modern exacerbate the fragmentation of knowledge, the one through specialized research and scientific data and the other through the diversity of perspectives. The Enlightenment ideals of progress and reason have taken a battering; their confidence has been shaken.

The ethical anchor What is the quality of the Zeitgeist seeking to emerge? At its core is a belief in thinking in a rounded way and seeing different perspectives, not putting things in separate boxes. Thinking differently also means doing things differently and sometimes means doing different things. In the struggle about what is important, those pushing this Zeitgeist seek some form of unity beyond the ding-dong of either/or arguments.5 They believe in ‘seeing the wood and the trees simultaneously’, with ‘strategy and tactics as one’. They are able to ‘operate both with the market and against the market’ and to ‘assess things in terms of the precautionary principle and take risks at the same time’ or ‘to go with the flow of ambiguity but still be clear about where you are going’. This allows them to see things in more depth. They work against compartmentalized, ‘silo’ thinking

16 The Art of City-Making and the turgid bureaucracy of departmental baronies. They are against reductionism, which thinks about parts in isolation and sees the city in its parts, and instead consider the interconnected, overall dynamics, such as how socio-economic exigencies and crime inextricably interconnect. It is difficult, if not impossible, to understand wholes by focusing on the parts, yet it is possible to understand the parts by seeing the connections of the whole. How we manage a city is in part determined by the metaphors we employ to describe it. If we think of the city as a machine made up of parts and fragments rather than as an organism made up of related, interconnected wholes, we invoke mechanical solutions that may not address the whole issue. And a mechanistic approach similarly impacts on public spirit. If, instead, we focus on the widest implications of a problem, on connections and relationships, we can make policy linkages between, say, housing, transport and work; between culture, the built environment and social affairs; between education, the arts and happiness; or between image, local distinctiveness and fun.

Whose truths? The new Zeitgeisters value the subjective as well as the objective. If someone says ‘I feel good’ or ‘I feel bad’, this is a truth. They listen to emotions and credit these with due seriousness. They look at the effects on deeper psychology and believe these are important in citymaking. They’d ‘rather be vaguely right than precisely wrong’.6 They agree with those who believe the notion of a stable, unwavering truth waiting to be discovered has been discredited. Fritz Capra summarizes succinctly the point made earlier: My conscious decision about how to observe, say, an electron, will determine the electron’s properties to some extent. If I ask it a particle question, it will give me a particle answer; if I ask it a wave question it will give me a wave answer. The electron does not have objective properties independent of my mind. In atomic physics the sharp Cartesian division between mind and matter, between the observer and the observed, can no longer be maintained. We can never speak of nature without speaking about ourselves.7 The new Zeitgeisters want to encourage a conceptual shift in what we take seriously and how we view things. Most importantly, they

Overture 17 have a value base. It is based on curiosity about ‘the other’ and so is interested in cross-cultural connections and not inward-looking, tribal behaviour. It believes in bending markets to bigger picture objectives such as greater social equity, care for the environment or aspirational goals. The market on its own has no values; it is only a mechanism. The emerging spirit of the times tries to think holistically.

Being lofty These lofty aims are not unrealistic simply because they are lofty. Lofty does not mean vague. It can mean trying to see clearly and to give a sense of the direction of travel rather than the name of every station in between. Of course, this scares the pre-committed and closed-minded. Shifts in Zeitgeist are mostly triggered by the coming together of sets of circumstance: an event like Hurricane Katrina or 9/11 or, on a lesser scale, the sudden awareness of a tipping point – the UK government’s ‘Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change’ report of January 2006 makes global warming deniers seem crazily committed to being blind; the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency 2005 report documents coldly the connection between segregation, deprivation, sectarian violence and lack of economic prospects. These ‘events’ are enhanced by media clamour. Suddenly it seems the time has come for a set of ideas. And the hordes of the new Zeitgeisters are ready to pounce.

Crisp encapsulations Most importantly, Zeitgeist shifts because it becomes a better representation of reality. It chimes with ‘common sense’. A contested term, the idea of common sense has been argued about for centuries. In German it literally means ‘healthy human understanding’,8 but can be understood as the ‘generally accepted majority view’, with examples being ‘laws apply to everyone’, ‘peace is better than war’ or ‘everyone should have access to health services’. ‘Some use the phrase to refer to beliefs or propositions that in their opinion they consider would in most people’s experience be prudent and of sound judgment.’9 Common sense is dynamic, not static, and what makes sense changes with time and circumstance. Shifting common sense requires the dissemination of the starkly illustrative. New cultural narratives by their nature are more difficult to inculcate into common sense – there are few stark facts or figures that can evince an epiphany. But environmental

18 The Art of City-Making narratives, on the other hand, constitute a more jarring challenge to received wisdom and it is not difficult to construct out of them would-be iconic soundbites that can seep into common sense. For instance, you do not need to be a scientist to understand that increasing the number of cars in Britain by 800,000 a year cannot continue. This net increase is equivalent to an extra six-lane motorway full of bumper-to-bumper motor vehicles from London to Edinburgh, a length of 665km, every year.10 The average European car produces over 4 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. You do not need much skill to calculate that 800,000 times 4 tonnes equals 3,200,000 tonnes, nor that pumping this compound, invisible though it may be, into the atmosphere must have an effect. We simultaneously acknowledge and deny the link between exhaust fumes and acid rain, lead-poisoning and a variety of bronchial and respiratory illnesses. But we don’t need much insight to realize that cars, whether moving or static, clog up cities and give them an overwhelming ‘car feel’. Is it therefore not ‘common sense’ to curtail car use and encourage less-polluting forms of transport? Would-be iconic facts such as these enable the understanding of things that seem self-evidently true. Or do they? Many want to hide from ‘reality’. They are wilfully ignorant, their fear often masked behind arrogant overconfidence and power play. The will leading to ignorance and apathy arises especially among the beneficiaries of the status quo, whether financially, through peer groups or even emotionally. It takes commitment to change. The structures and incentives around us do not help, nor does the mantra of ‘free choice’, two deeply contested words that are used together as if they could never be queried. It takes behavioural change, but denial translates into avoidance activity. With glazed open eyes we sleepwalk into crisis. It hurts to digest the implications of facing things as they are, and to do something about them. The Zeitgeist changes when the unfolding new can be described in crisp encapsulations; this gives the spirit of the times a firm, persistent push, so it appears as the new common sense.

Capturing the Zeitgeist In every age there are battles to capture the Zeitgeist, because when on your side it is a powerful ally. The goal is to portray adversaries as if they are acting against history in some sense. So, for instance, hardened reactionaries will accuse emergent trends of being woolly

Overture 19 or devoid of reality in an attempt to put them down. Today the battles and dividing lines centre on your views around a series of faultlines, which determine whether you are ‘one of us’. The emergent spirit has an ethical twist and includes a concern for the following: • • • • • • • •

Distinctiveness – fostering authenticity of places to strengthen their identity and ultimately their competitiveness. A learning community – encouraging participation and listening. The city becomes a place of many learners and leaders. Wider accounting – balancing economic goals with others such as liveability and quality of life. Idealism – encouraging activism and a values-based approach to running a city. Not shying away from altruism. Holism – having a whole systems view so sharing a concern for ecology or culture. Diversity – having an interest in difference and cross-cultural consolidation and rejecting intolerance. Gendered approaches – having an interest in the other sex’s perspectives on running cities. Beyond technology – technology is not the answer to every problem. It is not a white knight that can address all urban problems, from segregation to gang culture. We also need to encourage behavioural change, while stopping short of engineering society.11

CITYNESS IS EVERYWHERE The world’s urban population has just passed 50 per cent. This is an iconic figure. We are inexorably leaving the rural world behind; everything will in future be determined by the urban. Of course, in more developed places in the world, the urban population is already well over 50 per cent – over 74 per cent in Europe and 80 per cent in the Middle East and Australia – but this is a critical moment, the turning point from rural to urban. ‘Cityness’ is the state most of us find ourselves in. Cityness is everywhere because even when we are nominally far away from cities, the city’s maelstrom draws us in. Its tentacles, template and footprint reach out into its wide surrounds, shaping the physical look, the emotional feel, the atmosphere and economics. The

20 The Art of City-Making

Source: Charles Landry

The city is more than ‘roads, rates and rubbish’, as the Australians say (or ‘pipes, potholes and police’, as the Americans say) perceptual reach and physical impact of London, for example, stretches 70km in all directions, that of New York even further, that of Tokyo well beyond. Their networks of roads, pipes and pylons stretch into the far yonder. And the same is true even for smaller settlements – each has a catchment area or dynamic pull around itself. When these magnetic maelstroms and catchments are added together, nearly nothing is left of what was once called nature. The overarching aura is the city. Urbanism is the discipline which helps us understand this aura and see the dynamics, resources and potential of the city and cityness in a richer way; urban literacy is the ability and skill to ‘read’ the city and understand how cities work and is developed by learning about urbanism. Urbanism and urban literacy are linked generic and overarching skills, and a full understanding of urbanism only occurs by looking at the city with different perspectives, insights and multiple eyes. Overlaying it is cultural literacy – the understanding of how cultures work – which ultimately is key.12 Night maps show the extent of urban ubiquity most graphically. The entire Japanese nation shines like a beacon. Osaka to

Overture 21 Tokyo is nearly one built mass, a contiguous city of 80 million people stretching 515km. The Pearl River Delta in Southern China went from paddy fields to near complete urbanization in 50 years. Even more extreme, the seaboard of the east coast of China will soon be one strip of urbanization. The east coast of the US is all but completely urbanized from Boston to Washington, which is 710km, and the lights extend inland too. From the east coast inwards are 1000km stretches of light blur. Forty years ago the Spanish coastline seen from the air was punctuated by a few large cities, such as Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Almeria and Malaga with some speckled fishing villages in between. Now it is almost completely built up along a 970km stretch. The same is true for Marseille in France to Genoa in Italy (440km). Only Africa is a far dimmer continent, rarely punctuated by bright interruptions. The inexorable movement of people, who hope cities can fulfil their dreams, expectations or sheer need for survival, feeds cities. But this is not happening uniformly. In Europe populations have stabilized and are about to begin their decline.13 During industrializing eras concentration is the dominant force, as witnessed in Europe and the US, with populations shifting from smaller towns to large cities. A second pattern now emerging is a parallel counter-urbanization – larger cities are stuttering, with the largest percentage gains seen in smaller cities and rural areas – though the rebirth of the city in the West is curtailing that trend somewhat, bolstered by attempts to make cities safer, more attractive, vital and vibrant, so enticing various subgroups such as empty-nesters or young professionals. In East Asia and the rest of the developing world, by contrast, the pull to the city continues unabated, fed by hope and need. We are witnessing the largest movement of people in history. Wave upon wave of incomers are arriving. The vast majority are poor, but once semi-settled there are layers of deprivation within this poverty and each layer has differing economic prospects. In spite of abject poverty at the lowest levels in the booming cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America, each stratum can provide services to the group slightly better off. So it partly fulfils its aspirations. This ranges from selling cooked meals to personal services as one moves up the chain. There is exploitative production-line work and transport services, then building and construction, and finally financial activities or leisure provision similar to those meeting demands in the West. This makes slums complex. They have their own class structure and stratifications.

22 The Art of City-Making Imagine the impact of Sao Paulo’s expansion from 10 million in 1984 to 20 million in 1999 – over 600,000 newcomers per year. Or, perhaps the starkest example, Shenzhen, a 90-minute train ride from Hong Kong, which has grown from a rice-growing village in the late 1970s to a city of over 10 million people today. In some sense the achievement is astonishing. Imagine the physical infrastructure needed. Imagine the psychological stresses. The figures are telling, but the added zeros barely touch the impact of dense living, exacerbating pollution, grinding poverty, the urban rush, the ugly slipshod-built buildings or the escalating sense of things being out of control. The zeros do not put across the heaving weight of fates fulfilled or destroyed, the sadnesses lived through, injustices endured, helplessness put up with, and occasional delight. In 1900 only 160 million people, 10 per cent of the world’s population, lived in cities. In 1950 it was 730 million people or 34 per cent. Today 3250 million or 50 per cent are urban dwellers – the equivalent of every single person in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Oceania and Western Asia living in cities.14 These average figures, however, mask gaping differences. Ninety-seven per cent of Belgians, 89 per cent of British and 88 per cent of Germans live in urban areas, against 74 per cent of Europeans as a whole. Every year another 68 million people move to cities, the equivalent of the entire French and Belgian populations combined. Mercifully, if predictions are correct, the world’s population will stabilize at 9 billion in 2050. Population has already stabilized in Europe, and the remaining the growth is expected to come from Asia and Africa. In 1900 the ten biggest cities in the world were in the North. Now that hemisphere has only New York and Los Angeles in the top ten and by 2015 will have none. In 1800 London was the world’s largest city, with 1 million people. Today 326 metropolitan areas have more than 1 million people. By 2025 there are expected to be 650. Many of these cities of a million you will have never heard of: Ranchi, Sholapur, San Luis, Potosi or Gaziantep, Nampo and Datong, Tanjungkarang, Davao and Urumqi. Who would have thought that Chungking had nearly 8 million people or Ahmadabad just over 5 million and Wuhan and Harbin just under? The number of megacities, cities of more than 10 million, has climbed from 5 in 1975 to 14 in 1995 and is expected to reach 26 by 2015. Lagos’ population in 1980 was 2.8 million and is now 13 million and

Overture 23 Kampala’s population has tripled over the same period. We could go on …

Feeling and perceiving geography How does the feeling of cityness come about? Figures rarely tell you how a landscape or space feels. Near where I live in Gloucestershire, 25 years ago there was a clear distinction between the natural landscape and human settlements, whether the village Bisley, the town Cheltenham or the city outside the county, Bristol. The county now has a population of 568,000 and 60 per cent of the land is rural; the growth in population from a figure of 515,000 in 1980 was 10 per cent. Yet car numbers rose by 30.2 per cent in the same period. Add to this a dramatic increase in mobility – people are currently moving around six times as much as in 1950, from 8km per day in 1950 to 19.5 in 1980, 48.2 in 2000 and a predicted 96.4km in 2025. By contrast, travel by buses has decreased from 32.8 per cent of all journeys in 1960 to 6.7 per cent in 2000.15 At the same time, personal living space has nearly doubled since 1950 and increased from 38m2 per person in 1991 to 43m2 in 1996 and 44m2 in 2001. This reflects the increase in single person households and the decrease in larger families.16 As more people demand more dwelling space, so existing settlements expand and new ones emerge. Empty space is ever more scarce. To accommodate the increasing numbers of people over time, open space was infilled and new estates were built. The greater number of cars led to strategic roads being widened, bypasses being added and more roundabouts. The larger supermarkets were moved from town centre cores to peripheries at the nexus points of various settlements, petrol stations were added along routes, ribbon developments were allowed and more signs were put up. Step by step and imperceptibly the atmosphere changed. The area’s overall feel is now one of cityness. Transpose this tiny local instance in Gloucestershire on to the global scale. Visualize the vehicles and the ever-expanding physical infrastructure needed and space used. The British net increase of 800,000 cars per year has already been noted. In the US the annual net increase averages 2.7 million per year. In Europe between 1995 and 2002, 32 million more vehicles hit the road. Wait for China and India fully to emerge – China has 20 per cent of the world’s population and only 8.1 per cent of its vehicles, a large proportion

24 The Art of City-Making of which are vans and lorries. The 5.2 personal cars per 1000 people looks minuscule in contrast with Western Europe, where it is just over 400 per 1000.17 If China catches up, the figures become absurd – several hundred million more cars would be on the roads. Look at living space. Similar processes to those occurring in Gloucestershire are taking place throughout Europe, where living space differs from place to place but hovers at around 40m2. Contrast this with the North American average of 65m2 or more dramatically still China, where prior to 1978 average living space was only 3.6m2. By 2001, with the massive expansion of apartments, this had risen to 15.5m2, close to the 19m2 in Russia.18 What are the spatial implications of China reaching European levels? Single person households are rising. In Britain in 2001, 29 per cent of households were solely inhabited by single persons, up from 18 per cent in 1971. Household inhabitants have reduced from 2.91 people per dwelling in 1971 to 2.3 in 2001. In Sweden, the figure is 1.9, the lowest in Europe. If Britain were to match Swedish figures it would require 47 per cent more dwellings by 2050. Consider the physical impact of these increased dwellings. In the rest of the developed world the range falls within the same margins – the US, for instance, has a figure of 2.61 – but for the less developed world it is just over 5. India has 5.4 and Iraq, the highest, 7.7. Once these countries develop, the demand for space and mobility will increase, although population growth will decline as education levels increase. This is the acknowledged pattern, but by the time that has happened what will the world look like?19

Flipping perception The impact of the intensification of land use and movement is dramatic. The distinction between the natural and built environment has eroded. The balance has tipped inexorably. From a feeling of settlements within nature, there are now interconnected, sprawling settlements within which there is parkland. The nature we have is manicured, contained and tamed. It is a variant of a park. The wolves, the bears and the snakes have long gone. Sad it may be, but better to start from an honest premise. Even widening a road through the countryside from one lane to two so that cars can pass one another has startling effects. In the one-lane landscape the car is careful, contained and cagey. Trees and foliage dominate. But as road space spreads, the visual impact

Overture 25

Source: Charles Landry

Cityness sprawls into every crevice of what was once nature of asphalt grows disproportionately, making the natural landscape feel less significant. The dual carriageway finally changes the perceptual balance completely, and this is a pattern seen the world over. To talk of urban versus rural makes increasingly less sense. For instance, the Midlands in Britain and much of the south of the country are in truth series of built-up villages, towns and cities connected by roads; the green in between is incidental. Transport is central to the equation and the need to think it through creatively is urgent. For example, the width of land surface taken up by a double railway line is only 12m, compared with 47m for a three-lane motorway. A typical freight train can move over 1000 tonnes of product, equivalent to 50 heavy goods vehicles. And around 30 per cent of the lorries are running empty at any one time. Moving a tonne of freight by rail produces 80 per cent less carbon dioxide than moving it by road. Light van traffic is projected to grow by 74 per cent by 2025. Articulated lorry traffic is expected to grow by 23 per cent by 2010 and 45 per cent by 2025.20 Rail freight accounts for 12 per cent of the British surface freight market and removes over 300 million lorry miles from the roads every year. Its external cost to the environment and community (excluding

26 The Art of City-Making congestion) is eight times less than road freight in terms of carbon dioxide per tonne kilometre.21 Alternatives are possible. The Brazilian city of Curitiba has a 150km bike network linked to a bus network. There is one car for every three people (which some might consider underdevelopment) and two-thirds of trips are made by bus. There has been a 30 per cent decline in traffic since 1974, despite a doubling of the population. Freiburg in Germany shows similar figures.22 Since 1982 local public transport has increased from 11 per cent to 18 per cent of all journeys made, and bicycle use from 15 per cent to 26 per cent, while motor vehicle traffic decreased from 38 per cent to 32 per cent, despite an increase in the issue of motor vehicle licences.23

A view from above Cityness is what comes to mind when you stand back and let the essence of cities seep over you. Picture yourself arriving at a big city for the first time from the air. What thoughts and impressions come to mind? On the whole, modern cities take on a Lego-like regularity when viewed from high altitude. Box-like buildings hug straight lines and curves while the general hardness of brick, cement and tarmac is occasionally punctuated by the dark green of trees or the lighter green of grass. Sometimes the sun is caught in the reflection of a pond or lake and often a river will run a course. Some larger structures – sports stadia, power stations, communications towers – stand out as distinctive and purposeful. As you decrease height, activity becomes more discernible. Vehicles move up and down tarmac arteries, the main thoroughfares more clogged up than residential streets. Many of the vehicles are moving to and from the airport you are about to land in. Lower still and you can start to make out people, but watching their busying about is akin to watching an ants’ nest – fascination, perhaps, but little comprehension of the activity. Nevertheless, you get the impression of purpose as they appear from and disappear into vehicles and buildings. If you arrive at night, you will note the not small endeavour of defeating darkness – billions of watts called forth to keep the urban environment physically illuminated. Cities rely overwhelmingly on energy.

Overture 27

An imaginary journey How you view the city varies according to who you are, where you come from, your culture, your status, your life stage and your interests. Yet some experiences of the city are the same for everyone. The city announces itself a long way off through the senses: sight, sound and smell. Take yourself on an imaginary early morning journey from out of town in summertime to a big city, the most common journey on Earth. We could be in Europe, the US, Australia, China – anywhere city-bound. The manifestations of the city become apparent early on, although you are 30km from the urban core. The once agricultural land left and right is speckled with windowless, uniform aluminium industrial sheds which are, on occasion, brightly coloured. Further out they are larger, the asphalted service areas more spread out, with articulated lorries in the forecourt. Closer towards the city the sheds compact in, they have a more cluttered feel. The three-lane highway itself has an urban feel – an expanse of pounded asphalt that stretches endlessly into the horizon. Compactly massed and close-set cars purposively batter the road, prancing fast-forward en route to the city. Some have blacked-out windows so the driver can maintain a private world in a moving sea of metal. It is very difficult to stop anywhere. Later in the day the asphalt will give way a little, especially in the heat, but it is still unresponsive and dead in look and in feel. Instructional signs begin to escalate, telling you to slow down here, speed up there and where to veer off into suburbs before you reach the outer ring road. And in the distance, still 15km away, shimmering against the morning sun that breaks through the clouds, a high-rise building reflects a sharp shaft of sunlight. You get closer, structures pile up. It is getting denser – the sensation of asphalt, concrete, glass, bricks, noise and smell mounts and spirals. Adverts swell, passing with greater frequency: ‘Do this’, ‘Do that’, ‘Want me’, ‘Desire me’, ‘Buy me’. Your radio is on, with continued interruptions. That makes 52 exhortations to buy since you left home. You protect yourself from information overload by selectively half-closing and half-opening your ears; but you need to know the traffic news. The car windows are closed, the air conditioning on, but the air is stale, so you need a waft of fast-moving air from the outside. Either way,

28 The Art of City-Making you are driving in a tunnel of pollution and you are beginning to smell the approaching city. The petrol vapour is warm, fetid and globular, perhaps even comforting. It causes a light-headed giddiness. It is the urban smell par excellence. The hard surfaces of the city intensify. You are in a completely built-up area, but the multi-lane highway means you can zip along. The road has just been widened to four lanes at this point. Now you’re in a secure funnel guiding you straight into town. You remember that argument with the eco-guy. You think to yourself, ‘I am moving fast. What was that nonsense about induced traffic transportation that planners dread?’ You recall that this is where despite highway capacity being increased when it becomes congested, over time more cars on the road drive longer distances to access the same services, and the new highway becomes just as congested as the old one was. ‘Forget all that. Any problem will be solved in the near future by technologies that are currently just around the corner, like satellite guidance.’ The urban street patterns are not yet clear; the sight lines are obscured by underpasses and overpasses. They are made from concrete. Inert and lifeless, they throw an unresponsive deadness back at you. Concrete’s shapes can on occasion lift – the swoosh and sweep of a concrete curve – but it ages disgracefully. It leaches, stains and cracks, not to mention cancerous concrete that breaks up to reveal rusty steel, or graffiti. Reinforced concrete24 is the material of the industrial age and you are seeing more of it now. Endless concrete garden walls, rashly constructed. Cheap housing estates. Cheaper breeze-block accommodation for the even poorer. A grey concrete car park on the horizon greets you with a garish red sign: ‘All Day Parking – Only $5.’ But still there is some green. A tree-lined street eases by in the once middle-class outer suburb of single detached houses. It is now a lower middle-class area with rented accommodation divided into units. A few abandoned cars, perhaps, but the place seems perfectly fine from a distance. It might just revitalize and become the new outer urban chic, maybe for those that moved to outer-outer suburbia and found auto-dependency too much. Over the last 80 years the transformation from walkable to automobile-dependent has been extraordinary. It didn’t just happen. A set of policies at all levels of government have favoured cars over all other transport.

Overture 29 You’re on a flyover, which explains why this area originally went into a downward spiral. Who wants to live under a motorway? But for you it provides a vista – you can see the urban panorama. Is that IKEA in the far distance? Closer by there is a colonnaded shopping mall within a sea of car-parking and brand names. You can read the signs from a distance. The mighty M sign is one, the famous golden arches – that’s four or five within the last 3km. Then there’s Wendy’s, Burger King, Nando’s, KFC, Subway. BP, Texaco. Wal-Mart or Tesco or Carrefour or Mercadona. As signs they are as recognizable as a smile or a wave. The ads are everywhere now: mobile phones (‘Stay in touch wherever you are’), finance deals (‘With interest rates this low, who can say No?’), banking (‘The bank you can trust’), telecommunications (‘Global connectivity at a switch of a button’), and property (‘Buy into urban living, the art of sophistication’). You should have left ten minutes earlier. The exit lanes are jamming up and the three sets of traffic lights ahead always cause a problem. You’re on the outer-inner edge of town. Brick and concrete give way to glass. The street is segmented into big blocks, with huge setbacks, with forecourts embellished by public sculptures in their ubiquitous red and their abstract forms; these are buildings that pronounce themselves, they shine in glass and marble yet feel as if they are warding you off and keeping you at bay. They are buildings that say ‘no’, and buildings which pretend to say ‘yes’. It’s down into the car park. There is still lots of space at 8.15am. For every person living in the US there are eight parking spaces. That’s over 1.5 billion.

Sameness and difference Suburbia and its discontents Some might say that this imaginary drive is an unfair depiction, only bringing out the worst of city life. We could have started with a more positive metropolitan adventure – one that skirts the more artsy, ethnically diverse side of things – but the drudgery of the daily commute is far more familiar. We could have driven the other way towards suburbia, the setting cognoscenti love to hate. One might tut tut at its popularity, but only 17 per cent against 83 per cent of Americans expressed a preference for an urban town house within preferred

30 The Art of City-Making walking distance of stores and mass transit in a national survey.25 Similar figures also hold for Australia, and the new world economies are catching on.26 Get Used to It: Suburbia’s Not Going to Go Away, as one author titles his book.27 Polls, Kotkin notes, consistently show a large majority of suburbanites are happy with their neighbourhoods in spite of the bad press suburbs get. Sprawl has provided individuals and families with a successful strategy to adapt to urban dysfunction: failing schools, crime, lack of space and the lack of personal green spaces of the inner city a stick; the ample car-parking and convenience shopping of suburbia a carrot. Why worry about the lack of urban hum? Let people have what they want, the argument goes. Forget the social and environmental costs and, anyway, suburbs are becoming more like towns. As Joel Kotkin describes: There are bubbling sprawl cities like Naperville, Illinois and brash new ‘suburban villages’ popping up in places such as Houston’s Fort Bend County or Southern California’s Santa Clarita Valley. There are glistening new arts centres and concert halls in Gwinett County, Georgia. Almost everywhere there are new churches, mosques, synagogues and temples springing to life along our vast ex-urban periphery. This humanization of suburbia is critical work and is doing much to define what modern cities will look like throughout advanced countries. These are great projects, worthy of the energies and creative input of our best architects, environmentalists, planners and visionaries – not their contempt and condemnation.28 Forget that sprawl is an inefficient use of land, with large quantities of space taken up by roads and parking and zoning laws mandating large setbacks, buffer zones or minimum lot sizes; that continual expansion of road systems ensures land is cheap, encourages ‘leapfrog’ development, and leaves undeveloped land or brownfield sites inside the city; that more roads increase traffic congestion, because it induces more driving; that it separates land uses, leaves commercial developments to ease themselves into vacant land usually at one storey; that it uses up almost exclusively greenfield sites, previously in either agricultural use or a natural state. Forget the health consequences of sprawl – a huge cause of premature death.29

Overture 31 Others point out how government incentives and regulations have consistently favoured suburbia, opening up land for suburban developments at the expense of the city core, destroying the urban neighbourhoods through which they pass. The urban regeneration boom that started 15 years ago has shifted the focus somewhat and created some turnaround, yet the shrinking tax base in cities has led to a vicious cycle, with public services such as education and policing far inferior to that in the suburbs. The balance of spending is still on multi-lane highways, bypasses and road-widening schemes, taking passengers away from public transit, with vigorous lobbying by automobile and oil companies lending a helping hand. Low density suburbs are in essence inaccessible without a car. Today’s suburbs include office buildings, entertainment facilities and schools and can exist independently of central cities. Dissatisfaction with their physical appearance, moreover, has led to the complex maze of regulations and the New Urbanism agenda that shape their current look and feel.30 Gridded street layouts have been abandoned in favour of sinuous networks of culs-de-sac, and zoning laws have been extended to address lot sizes, permissible uses, parking requirements, buffer zones, façade treatments and billboards. However, while they may be more attractive than before, their primary effect fosters car dependency, increases development costs, and makes it ‘illegal to build anything remotely walkable’.31 Even the French, urbanists par excellence, are into it. Head out to the grand couronne far outside the capital, skipping over the poorer, heavily immigrant suburbs closer to the centre. So far we have conflated Europe, Australia and the US into one and have thus made sweeping statements to get across an overall feel. Would there have been a contrast had we separated out the experiences? Yes and no. The sheer corrosive physical impact of quarter-acre block suburban development is more dominating in the US and Australia. Its hold on the psyche cannot be overstated. Some indeed love it very much. Suburbia is a form of urban development which lends itself to a particular form of description distinct from that of cities in general. The word city implies density, height, streets, intricacy, intimacy, intense interaction. Suburbia, on the other hand, is a new settlement form with its own logic and dynamic spread out like a flattened pancake. Europe is moving towards the North American and Australian way, but we have less space to play with. Advocates play with numbers and, depending on the country, argue that only 2–4 per cent of total land space is used up. Others say that

32 The Art of City-Making already 4 per cent of US land is used up as roads. There is plenty left, yet some people forget to assess the perceptual geography on the ground. The city’s linked physical infrastructure of pylons, roads and utility plants casts its net immeasurably further out into the landscape, so shaping the feel of the space as if it were merely supporting the city and suburbia. In terms of perception, roads feel as if they are taking up a third of overall space and, indeed, in cities such as Los Angeles asphalt takes up even more. The US, Canada and Australia still play with space as if it were in endless supply. Transportation codes demand greater leeway on turning circles, turn-offs, emergency lanes, lay-bys, parking bays and setbacks. These destroyers of streets are ever present. Flipping the parking to the back and the building to the front to create a street alignment is clearly a solution too obvious. The tired, listless arguments along the lines of ‘this is what customers want’ or ‘it will increase turnover in shops’ hold little water when you see the (lack of) vibrancy of these streets recreated. Visually there is a vacant endlessness. These wide roads project a boundless expanse of ungiving, unforgiving asphalt. Inert machines lazily flop on to the tarmac in front of sheds of chain shops, and there is an overarching sensation of sluggishness and lack of energy. The dominant hue is grey, interspersed with billboards and shop fascias that jump out at you, grabbing you by the neck. Their garish, brightly coloured signs create a tacky modern beauty and a touch of originality; mostly, though, it is the dulled familiarity of fast-food chains where those that are getting too obese feed as if from a trough. North Main Road in Adelaide, a suburban car-borne shopping strip, is the kind of exception that excites. Shocking, bold ads screech at you with their alluring plastic ugliness, as do frontages: This is the car sales highway, one car salesroom following the next; then it is DIY goods; later bulk furniture. European cities are more contrite in trying to attract custom. There are equivalent streets, yet they have a tighter feel; you feel space is more at a premium. Many places, of course, are hollowing out as shopping has switched out of town, as happened some time ago in North America. Britain is further ahead here, with mainland Europe catching up significantly.

The past is a prettier place? But the older fabric with which European cities can work is a true gift. It gives far greater scope to mould cultural resources. You can

Overture 33 work with layers of history and the patina of ages, blending old and new. You can contain the car and make places walkable, and the density makes public transport very efficient. Yet finding novel, vibrant roles and purposes for the more ancient European towns, beyond keeping them pretty for tourists, is hard. Nothing wrong with tourists, but when there are too many the lifeblood of a city can be sucked out. A place can fossilize. Think, almost at random, of Delft, Rothenberg, Vaasa, Cortona, Broadway in the Cotswolds and thousands more from Italy, France, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands. Antiques and souvenir shops are fine as far as it goes, but is that wealth creation? Going up a notch or two, Europe has a plethora of mid- to large-scale cities which seem to define what we mean by urbanity: Nice, Parma, Munich, Lucca, Lyons, Reims, Heidelberg, Graz, Orvieto, Utrecht. North America has few cities of this type as most cities there were constructed to feed the needs of the car. The great Italian or French cities and the cities defined by 19th century urban bourgeois architecture in particular have something handsome about them: a touch grand but not overblown, not overwhelming in height but manageable, with mixed uses – ground floor shops, first floor offices and residential above. The streets are tree-lined, wide enough to take parking and often boulevarded to reduce the visual impact of endless asphalt. The vibrancy generated can stretch across the emotions: selfsatisfied when the bourgeois sense of self is too confident; gutsy when the urban grime and grot creeps in as the poor and better off coexist; and purposefully calm when you know business is being conducted behind façades encrusted with the urban sweat of ages. However, Europe, like everywhere else, has it share of ugliness: cheap buildings in the modernist vein, inappropriate design, grim outer estates, shed culture at the urban edges. The functional buildings of the industrial age often had a proud presence and solidity in marked contrast to the throwaway, portal-framed sheds that allow for vast covered spaces, with a built-in 15- to 20-year cycle. Can you imagine the artists and hip designers of the 2030s recycling these sheds for inspiration or trendy middle classes converting them into designer apartments? Another thought. We think of Italy as an apex of the urban experience: the walkable, mixed-use city clustered around a historical core enlivened nightly by the hubbub of the passegiata. Yet if we only consider Italian post-war settlements, forgetting pre-war grandeur, you sense they have lost the art of citymaking. True, the grid-patterned streets and boulevards are

34 The Art of City-Making leavened by ground-floor uses in apartment blocks. There are messily parked cars, ubiquitous cafés and general hanging around – outdoor life to give the city a greater street presence. But beyond the ring roads that hug the centres and probe into the estates, there can be a dull bleakness to match anything else other countries can offer. Although there is increasing convergence, we can still contrast Eastern and Western Europe 15 years after the fall of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall. Ironically, as Western Europeans yearned after lost architectural grandeur, they rediscovered Krakow, Prague, Budapest, St Petersburg, Ljubljana, Lvov, Odessa and Timisoara, where there were few resources to allow modern development to take them apart, and where budget airlines now ply their trade. Their faded, dilapidated elegance, as that of Havana, reminded people of what their home cities could still be. Interestingly it was often the more successful places of the past in the West that suffered most in terms of losing their grandeur. Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol had their hearts transplanted and renewed or torn out, depending on perspective. Those cities struggling in the 1960s and 1970s boom, like Glasgow, were by contrast able to maintain most of their fabric. Thus the example of Eastern Europe represents a mixed blessing. Grandeur is often preserved through lack of economic good fortune. A washed-out charm – peeling delights mixed with grey clad buildings in a Soviet style – can take some beating. Some of the best buildings of the earlier Stalin period have a grandeur and self-confidence, especially in Moscow, Warsaw or even Kiev. Ex-Yugoslavia had its own socialist modernism that still has much to offer in places like Belgrade or Zagreb. Kenzo Tange’s brash, bold Skopje reconstruction plan of 1966, after the 1963 earthquake, particularly stands the test of time. But as money ran out, standards dropped and an obsessive homogeneity began to tighten its grip, leaving a beaten-up feel: the ‘joys’ of Bucharest, Katowice, Iasi, the outer estates of Sofia, Kishinev or St Petersburg, the Nova Huta steel factory and its estates in Krakow come to mind. With rust seeping through the reinforced concrete, these buildings are nonetheless difficult to destruct. Here are tired metal bus shelters, twisted concrete benches, concrete cancer, weeping cement, bent metal shutters. Now political posters from last year’s election add to the visual cacophony. There are more adverts for Coca Cola, West and Marlborough cigarettes, beer, vodka, the

Overture 35 swoosh of Nike and mobiles than a Westerner will ever have seen. Sometimes they take up entire sides of six-story buildings. They are placed inappropriately. In Odessa I was bemused by 4⫻3m flashing, noisy ads covering the windows and sightlines of 19th Century buildings. And for visual clutter, the surrounds of Bucharest airport must be breaking some records. One senses and knows this was not planned, however – a great deal of corruption and backhanders have played their part. And one sees on occasion a calming relic: old hand-painted giant adverts for collectivized firms. The larger cities at least have some buzz to go with the visual pollution, but less-known, smaller cities like Kraljevo, Ucize, Elbasan, Durres, Nickel, Tetovo, Banja Luka, Bitola and Kosice have less to offer. Then there are moments of surprise, originality and inspiration. Tirana’s mayor, Edi Rama, ordered the painting of several hundred old buildings, using the drab and dismal grey buildings as a fresh canvas and creating a riot of brash colour and Mondrian-style designs to beautify the city and change its psychological state. It is more reminiscent of a Pop Art painting than an urban restoration project. For a couple of years, around 4 per cent of the city budget was spent on paint in an attempt change the psychology of citizens. Rama noted that the main challenge was to persuade people that change is possible. The former artist noted, ‘Being the mayor of Tirana is the highest form of conceptual art. It’s art in a pure state.’ In contrast, in the drive for modernity in most of the East, a pervasive, new hyper-capitalist style has spread. Cheap reflective glass – if you’re lucky, in fake gold or luminous green – throws your image back at you. Sometimes you can catch yourself in the mirror against the backdrop of an old building. Pressed and anodized aluminium, plastic sheeting and panelling, fibreglass, crushed aggregates and insulation materials collude to flimsy, mean and miserable effect. Patterns are cruder, colour definitions as yet still too unsubtle. These materials are not flexible and do not weather well. Bits are bolted on to the main structures rather than being designed in, giving buildings an unrefined, mechanical feel. Modular design and new techniques able to produce larger panels, much bigger than bricks, have made buildings lose texture. The ability to extrude sections and shape and bend segments in enticing ways is limited. Able to get greater access to the West’s new materials of 25 years ago, the Eastern European city planners aim to get as much fanciness as possible for the minimum cost. Yet the results can be tawdry and cheap. This was (and to an extent remains) no

36 The Art of City-Making different in the West across the whole developed world. Its scars splatter the horizon. The buildings are technically fine – they do their job functionally – but not aesthetically. In the East costs remain more important than aesthetics, whereas in the West the value-adding impact of design and quality is now more recognized.

Local idiosyncrasies Would our earlier imaginary drive have been different travelling into a huge Asian or Latin American city? Again, yes and no. With, say, Japan or India there is a completely contrasting experience from that in the US or Europe. The overall sense of noise, bedlam, visual chaos, dilapidation, trading, traffic, smell and many, many more people lends a cab ride around New Delhi, Buenos Aires, Caracas or Manila a different feel to an equivalent journey in Europe or North America. But flagship Asian cities such as Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong rise up like the best the West can offer, if not better. Glass and steel challenge concrete’s hegemony. Their fast, efficient, frequent public transit systems far outstrip those in the West. What is different and what is similar as you take an eagle’s eye view of cities across the globe? Mending a car in Punta Arenas, Southern Chile, surely serves the same core function as in Kirkenes on the Barents Sea, Maputo in Mozambique, Kanazawa in Japan, Oshkosh, Wisconsin or Cebu in the Philippines. The same should be true for building a house, fixing the roads or putting in electricity, going shopping, having a break, drinking a beer, getting rid of rubbish or saving something for a rainy day. Superficially doing many of these things looks the same and has the same output: shelter, sustenance, getting by and getting around. The differences, however, are in the logistics, organization, process, technique, technology, management and cultural idiosyncrasy which shape the comprehensive flow of urban dynamics. Interactively they shape the look and feel of cities and are in turn shaped by them. We have to consider cities globally as an interconnected system of settlements. Chains of causes and effects circulate in feedback loops with real daily consequences on the ground. Whatever locational advantages a city might have had in the past, now its physical and cultural resources, its intrinsic gifts and the skills of its people are all part of a global network. To consider in isolation a piece of the world urban map, say Europe or Africa, is to ignore the interdependencies. Every action

Overture 37 in one place can affect a world away. The shape, structure and stage of economic development are determined by threads of history from past colonialisms to current global terms of trade. In the development rush we rarely stand back and assess the balance of gains and losses in places as different as Memphis, Port of Spain, Bamako, Oulu, Norilsk, Frankfurt, Qatar and Chennai. It is as if only one rational approach counted: the unfettered logic of capital and property values inexorably drives the evolution of cities and their shape, segregating rich from poor and casting light or shadow depending on perspective or circumstance. The market economy has no mechanism within itself that ensures ethics or trust; it is the embodiment of self-interest. Using money values to drive progress to create more monetary assets means monetizing all aspects of life, even relationships. On its own it is an impoverished theory of decision-making which excludes considerations of forms of sociability, exchange and bonding, as exemplified in bartering or other voluntary exchanges of favour. It also curtails the imagination in recreating anew forms of free exchange, cooperation and endeavour and circumscribes thinking about alternatives. It puts its monetary stamp on everything; someone has to make money somewhere. Capital’s gleam lies in its seeming simplicity. It works, too, in a way, if you forget all the downstream consequences and look at the world through the narrow prism of ‘economic man’.


The Sensory Landscape of Cities

What do things look like? What colours do you see? How far can you see? What do you smell? What sounds do you hear? What do you feel? What do you touch? The city is an assault on the senses. Cities are sensory, emotional experiences, for good and for bad. But we are not accustomed to articulating things in this way: the smelling, hearing, seeing, touching and even tasting of the city are left to travel literature and brochures. It taxes our vocabulary as we are used to describing the city in an ‘objective’ lexicon deprived of sensory descriptives. We thus experience the city at a low level of awareness. We do not recognize, let alone describe, its smellscape, soundscape, visual spectacle, tactile texture or taste sufficiently. Our impoverished articulation is made all the worse because the city can overwhelm our senses – honking, flashing, whirring, whizzing, precipitous, huge, confusing. Too often, urban stimuli induce a closing rather than opening out of our senses. Depleted, drained and defensive, our field of experience is diminished. We live in an impoverished perceptual mindscape, operating with a shallow register of experience and so guiding our lives through narrow reality tunnels. The primary overwhelming paradox for those who care for cities is this: our capacity to perceive is shrinking at precisely the moment when it needs to increase. And this will cause a crisis of growing proportions as the individual and institutional capacity to cope with and address predicaments and possibilities will decline. Our perceptive capacities are shrinking because we do not sufficiently recognize or practise most of the senses. By diminishing our sensory landscape, we approach the world and its opportunities within a narrow perspective. By being narrow we do not grasp the full range of

40 The Art of City-Making urban resources or problems at hand, their potential or threat, let alone their subtleties. We do not connect the sensory to the physical and work out how each can support the other. Our world is shrinking as its interconnections become far more tightly bound, as mass movement and mobility continue unabated, as economies intermesh globally, and as electronics flattens the distance between places. This is happening at speed and simultaneously, rapidly bringing together cultures, people and ideas. To handle this complexity we need deep and discriminating minds that grasp the delicate diversities and understandings required to operate in worlds of difference and distinctiveness. Constricted, we understand and interpret the city through the technical rather than the sensory, yet it is the sensory from which we build feeling and emotion and through which our personal psychological landscapes are built. These in turn determine how well or badly a place works – even economically, let alone socially or culturally – and how it feels to its inhabitants and to visitors. Technical disciplines like engineering, physical planning, architecture, surveying and property development are important, but they are a smaller part of the urban story than their practitioners would wish to think. The senses contribute to a rudimentary form of knowledge upon which our worlds are built. The sensory landscapes we focus on are the five senses first classified by Aristotle: hearing, smell, sight, touch and taste. Yet it is now recognized that this list is not exhaustive. For example, perceptions of pain1 and of balance2 have been identified as distinct from these five. Depending on classification, somewhere between 9 and 21 human senses have so far been identified, more (up to 53) if you include those recognized by metaphysicians.3 Take electroperception. The city is a vast, dense sea of electrical energy fields and waves estimated to be 100 million times stronger than 100 years ago. Urban life systems cannot operate without electricity; an electrical shutdown will bring the city to a halt. The accumulative cocktail of magnetic and electrical fields generated by power transmission lines, pylons and masts, mobile phones, computers, television and radio, lighting, wiring and household appliances can seriously interfere with the subtle natural balances of each cell in our body. These massive currents criss-crossing the urban environment are unseen, unfelt, unheard, without taste or smell, yet they operate upon us, albeit at a subconscious level.4

The Sensory Landscape of Cities 41 Whatever the semantics, there is clearly a lot more to our sensory landscapes than we acknowledge. And our circumscribed, cramped focus has pervasive implications. It limits perception, thinking, the way we analyse, what we think is important and the ideas we come up with to solve problems or create opportunities. It pares down our mindscape. A mindscape is the totality of our thinking: the modes, proclivities and gut reactions of thought; the theories we use to interpret and construct reality; how this in turn shapes all the sensory elements and how these are perceived, taken apart and interpreted; how our mind responds to and is moulded by the media and cultural representations; and how it handles, engages with and uses its own historical sediment and traces. This mind sets the preconditions for our perceptual geography. Just as geography describes the Earth and the impact of human interactions upon it, deriving as it does from the Greek words for ‘earth’ and ‘to write on’ or ‘describe’, so perceptual geography is the process of acquiring, interpreting, selecting, and organizing sensory information about the places we inhabit. The aim is to encourage our minds to be wider in analysing opportunities and problems and in finding richer ways of identifying and implementing solutions. In order to do this, the first step is to perceive expansively in order to work with the full register of experience. The next step is to interpret broadly to appreciate the range of possibilities. Intelligence is the capacity to make these two steps, encompassing as it does vital intellectual abilities: comprehension and understanding, profiting from experience, reasoning, planning, problem-solving, abstract thought, linguistic flexibility and learning. As a corollary, there is an implicit need to rethink our narrow definitions of intelligence as merely a numeric, verbal and logical capacity. It is appropriate to point to Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences here.5 Gardner proposes that people have several kinds of ‘intelligence’ and suggests that, in teaching, we have for too long given greater credibility to the thinking intelligences concerned with words and writing or with numbers, logic and abstractions. Sensory intelligences, on the other hand, have been given secondary status. Sensory intelligences here include the visualspatial, concerned with vision and spatial judgement, the body-kinaesthetic, concerned with muscular coordination and

42 The Art of City-Making doing, and the auditory-musical, concerned with hearing and listening. Although we admire painters, singers and dancers, their insights are rarely incorporated into how the economic or social worlds might operate. Further, two intelligence types concern communication: the interpersonal, the capacity to interact and exchange ideas and information with others, and the intrapersonal, the communication a person has with themselves, the ability to reflect. Finally, there is naturalist intelligence, the ability to understand the various functions of and mechanisms behind life, an intelligence often lacking for those who live in cities and who are often completely divorced from nature. But, given the fragility of our ecosystems and finiteness of our resources, understanding the relation between, say, a hamburger and a cow is ever more important. The sense-making process applies forms of intelligence to perceptions and a ‘post-sensory cognitive awareness’ process begins. This is the mind operating aware of perceptions, thought and objects and it includes all aspects of perceiving, thinking, feeling and remembering. This interpretative process is culture in the making as it involves beliefs, desires, intentions, past knowledge, experience and valuing what is significant. The sensory realm of cities generates strong feelings, and emotions spawned by urban life are not neutral or value free. They are subjective, yet similar emotions are often shared, especially between individuals within a cohesive group. Conversely, while the fact that we have emotions is universal, our culture determines how our emotions unfold and how we interpret their significance, as do expectations, norms and the conditioned behaviour of the group. They affect the mechanics of body function as well as behaviour. Emotions are the domain where body mechanisms and thought mesh, where the physical ‘self’, instinctive drives and our perceptions, values and opinions collide. This can cause tension and affects how we behave towards others. It is clear that the urban experience should very much be understood as a psychological experience. And, as discussed earlier, the physical and social environment deeply affects the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. Beauty and ugliness impact on our behaviour and mental state; building configurations can engender feelings of safety or fear. People have thresholds of tolerance as to what they can psychologically bear in terms of stimuli. But we approach the urban sensescape with chronic myopia and thus an ill-equipped toolkit. Paradoxically, this aggravates the

The Sensory Landscape of Cities 43 problems, dysfunction and malaise it is trying to solve. This feeling of not sensing can dull and foster a feeling of being out of control, taking people almost to breaking point. What will be the effect on the new generation, who have never experienced anything different and are unaware of sensory richness? This focus on the senses is not about making people feel paranoid, frightened, hyperaware or over self-conscious. Instead it aims to get us to concentrate on two important things. First, how we feel as individuals and city-dwellers in negotiating urban life in order to live well, generate wealth, coexist without harming fellow citizens and collaborate. Second, to care for the environment, without which life as we know it is not possible. The implications of this expanded awareness are far-reaching. It demands, unavoidably in the end, that, as a collective body of people, we change our behaviour and lifestyles. But better to change through our own conscious choice rather than have the change imposed on us through circumstances out of our control. Seeing the city as a field of senses could be an invigorating experience. Playing with the senses can trigger action; it might generate the pressure for ecological transport more quickly, for planting more greenery or for balancing places for stimulation and reflection in the city. It would force us to ask questions such as: How can the smell, sound, visual, touch and taste landscapes help cities? Bold inroads into sensory fields have already been undertaken by some cities: light6 and colour7 have been tackled where issues such as colour planning strategies, future colour, and space or colour and its effects on the mind and well-being are considered. Imagine, if you will, the differences in effects of a city that is essentially white (Casablanca or Tel Aviv), pink (Marrakech), blue (Jodphur or Oman’s new Blue City project), red (Bologna) or yellow (Izamal in Yucatan). Or imagine a city that is black – the darkness would provoke seasonal affective disorder, well-known in Scandinavia where winter light is scarce. Until the 1960s, London was in fact a black city. Emissions of smoke from coal and industry blackened stone and brick, shading buildings with a uniform, light-absorbing black. Decades of scraping off the surface dirt reveal colour and detail hidden for years. The nickname of some cities involves colour: Berlin or Milan are both known as ‘the grey city’. Clearly planners and developers deal with sensory elements, but often with insufficient thought, subtlety or care. Even worse, sensory awareness is strongly manipulated in the world of

44 The Art of City-Making shopping malls and destination marketing without an ethical aim. The purpose is for people to spend more so ‘nice’ smells and ‘good’ sounds direct and guide people. At the very least we should know what is happening – that, for instance, the smell of bread is pumped out in supermarkets, as is the smell of turkey at Christmas. Sensory resources and awareness are seen as offbeat, without much credibility. There is no acknowledged professional discipline focused on the whole picture and linking these resources to the physical. Planners and architects might argue they take these issues into consideration, but they focus more readily on look, colour and light. Equally, there is a neglect of the senses in education. You rarely discover a teacher discussing someone’s sense of sight, sound, taste or smell. As a consequence, there is no related career advice or training or job route. Within schools, the arts curriculum is the main area where appreciation of the senses is specifically highlighted – of those, that is, apart from smell and taste – yet the arts continually remain in the firing line, having to argue that investing in them is worthwhile. The kinds of imagination and thinking the arts’ focus on senses and sense-making engenders rarely, if ever, carry into city-making. Increasingly, artists are members of planning teams, but still more as an exception than the rule. Usually, too, they are restricted to the visual, as in public art projects, where all too often they are brought in as decorative embellishment and as an afterthought rather than as part of the initial conceptualization of possibilities. Artists play large roles in urban events, but little as healers of the soundscape or developers of colour strategies. People within and between cultures perceive and value the senses in different ways. Places will be loved or hated depending on sensory cues. The sensory environment for an older person might be noisy or unsafe while too quiet or safe for someone young. The same differences can apply to people from different class and income backgrounds. A smell is seen as sweet and comforting in one cultural context and as fear-inducing in the next. A smell can be nice if you associate it with someone you like, horrible if exuded from someone you dislike. The sound of nothingness may feel relaxing to a Finn and like a heavy rumble to someone from Taipei. And for each of the landscapes of sense, there are cultural codes of conduct. The Chinese and Italian speak far more freely about smell in comparison to the English. Italians are encouraged to touch merchandise, especially fruit or vegetables, whereas it is discour-

The Sensory Landscape of Cities 45 aged elsewhere. In Northern Europe people tend to touch each other less. Southern Europeans shake hands and hold shoulders more. Our experiences of stimuli are also mediated by culture. For example, we consider the sounds of animals as neutral and similar across cultures, but this is not reflected in onomatopoeia. English dogs woof woof or bow wow, German ones wau wau. Around the world, dogs bau bau in Italy, ham ham in Albania, haw haw in Arabia and wang wang in China.8 And woof woof is definitely not a dog in Japanese. Roosters cock-a-doodle-do, kikeriki or chichirichi depending on where you are.9 Importantly, though, in spite of differences about interpretation, there are broad agreements on the significance of the senses across time and culture. Drawing back to this essential sensory realm, the aim is to trigger a direct unmediated response to the urban environment (while noting that nothing is completely unmediated).

SENSESCAPES I use the suffix -scape in soundscape, smellscape and mindscape as I would in landscape. I want to convey the fluid panorama of perceptions. Building on the ideas of Arjun Appadurai,10 each scape is a perspective depending on the situation of those navigating their way within it and on how they view these scapes, how they perceive and act upon them. These are the shifting and fuzzy ways and shapes within which we construct our world and views about it. Appadurai defines further scapes which, while they need not detain us here for long, are useful background tools for understanding difficult areas. They include the ideoscape, the linking together and valuing of ideas, terms and images, especially the Enlightenment worldview and its master concept, democracy, as well as freedom, welfare, rights, sovereignty and representation, around which political and economic discourses in the West revolve; the ethnoscape, the fluid and shifting landscape of tourists, immigrants, exiles and other moving groups and persons; the technoscape, the grid of interlocked technologies that connect the world; the financescape, ‘the very complex fiscal and investment flows’ that link cities in a ‘global grid of currency speculation and capital transfer’; and mediascapes, the representations and media through which cultural images are conveyed. This broader sense of the urban landscape

46 The Art of City-Making can shape our thinking and precondition our worldview as well as our physical and mental geography. And it forces us to reconsider the maps we need to know where we are. A map is an image that represents graphically the position of elements in the real world. But many ‘real’ elements of the world are invisible. We have maps of territory in abundance: some enlarge or shrink space, some show physical features and contours or buildings in three dimensions, some colour-code activities or facilities. Mapping the flows of goods, people, diseases, weather and the like between cities and countries has long been an important part of cartography; any good atlas shows these flows. Mapping information landscapes, the internet, network structures is a recent development.11 There are a few maps that express financial flows such as those of the World Bank, but getting an easy sense of how the power configurations in the world work is not a straightforward task. And there is hardly any mapping of the sensory landscape. An exception here is the Noise Mapping England project initiated by the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).12 This aims to calculate noise levels and produces noise maps across England. Governments have traditionally viewed noise as a ‘nuisance’ rather than an environmental problem. As a result, most regulation has been left up to municipal authorities and bylaws and ordinances vary widely from one place to another or do not even exist in some towns and cities.

The car and the senses The fact that city-making impacts on our senses is no better illustrated than by reference to the automobile. When a city is built with the car rather than the pedestrian – the person – in mind, the car underpins the sensory experience of that city. Too often, the urban background of what we see, smell and hear is car-related: a sound wall is generated by the background hum of engines, punctuated by beeps and horns; the lingering, pervasive smell of petrochemicals permeates the air; the fuel-burning activities of engines and the thermodynamic properties of asphalt affect the temperature; and our sightline is dominated by metal and asphalt. But because of the very ubiquity of these stimuli, we almost forget they are there. But the presence of the car also affects our experience of the city in very tangible ways. Cars are a very real danger that both pedes-

The Sensory Landscape of Cities 47

Source: Charles Landry

How many old industrial buildings are left to be regenerated? trians and motorists have to be aware of in order to survive. If we’re careful, we look sharply left and right at junctions and crossings to check for oncoming traffic. Thus, by necessity in such situations, we are forced to ignore the finer details and nuances of the cityscape. Similarly, we are attuned to an entire lexicography of signs dedicated to communicating conduct in relation to motor vehicles. But the interpretation of greens, reds and ambers at traffic lights and crossings can preclude an even-paced, reflective urban experience. In the sensory descriptions of the city below, it is therefore not possible to avoid returning to aspects of the car. But the point here is not to sound a rallying call against cars per se, but rather to remind ourselves how motorized society inflects our senses, our emotions and our being. The car sights, smells and sounds that frequently confront us do not beckon or welcome us, or lead us to open out. Instead we tighten up, close in our ears and noses and squint our eyes as we try to blank out the persistent roary growl of cars or the leaden odour of fumes. We then operate on restricted registers of experience and possibility. The tightening up process encourages withdrawal into inner worlds with a desire to communicate less. This is the opposite of the image of the good city life of human interaction, vibrancy and vitality.

48 The Art of City-Making

Transporting into a past sensescape13 To understand the sensescape of cities today, transport yourself back into a yesterday perhaps 250 years ago somewhere in Europe. Subtract the noises, smells and what you can see, touch and taste one by one: the car, petrol fumes, the hum of electrical appliances, air conditioning, grinding mechanical noises, asphalt, tall buildings, the profusion of glass, plastic materials and concrete. Mid-18th century, a central street like Oxford Street in London, Nevsky Prospect in St Petersburg or Via Condotti in Rome would be deafening. The clacking and clatter of horses’ hooves and carriages were so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think. It would be almost impossible to hold a conversation. For a while the stone cobbles in London were changed into wooden cobbles to dampen the sound and quieten things down. The side streets would be immeasurably calmer and, away from the city hub, it would be near silent bar the shout of a voice or a distant bell. You get a sense of the back streets of old when walking through Venice today. You hear footsteps and even dogs walking, which can be eerie. In Europe the sound of bells would be everpresent, telling the time every fifteen minutes to watchless citizens. Bells would also call the people to prayer. The bells of each church were slightly misaligned for identification purposes. There were only short breaks between chimes. In market areas, there would be the sound of talking and shouting as wares were sold and other trades plied. There were fewer shops. Horses, dogs and pigs would add to the cacophony. There was thudding, clanging, banging and clinking as hammer hit metal or wood, making or mending things. Near the rivers on a busy day, the human voice would rise above other sounds. The pathways to the riverfront would be clogged up by horses and there would be lots of shouting as boatmen loaded and unloaded. In contrast to today, the sound of humanity would be more obvious. The smell could be very strong, powerful, pungent and putrid, at times made up of horse, other animal and human shit, stagnant sewage, rotting garbage, interlaced on occasion by the whiff of lavender from a rich passer-by or a stall. A whiff too on occasion of a bakery, but more likely overpowered, especially if a tannery was nearby. Though not every street would have a stench this bad. You would smell people. People generally stank. Hygiene only truly came into its own from the mid-19th century.

The Sensory Landscape of Cities 49 There was more wood and masonry around. Things had a more hand-made feel, more rough to touch. The urban shapes were more crenulated and less angular. The hue of colours was more sombre – browns, greys and blacks, even for clothes because of dirt, dust and a lack of washing. Brighter reds, greens, blues and yellows were a rarity as dyeing was very expensive. The height of buildings averaged perhaps five times the human height, with the churches thrusting above as the only high buildings. The look and smell of poverty would be all over – people dressed in unwashed, stinking rags, scrapping a living from the streets. The sound of disease would have been more prevalent too, with coughs and spluttering joining the yells and clatter. But once out of the city, very soon the sounds and smells of nature and the overriding sense of the rural would take over. The city was the exception not the rule. Fast forward to the early 20th century and much of the old smell has abated: sewerage systems are in place, there is a greater awareness of cleanliness and the motorcar has not yet marched its way to dominance. Nevertheless, new smells are on the horizon closer to those of today: smoke from coal whose heavy particles hang in the air and hover over the ground especially on cold days; burning home coal fires creating over time a smoggy filter and muggy atmosphere that would make you cough and choke. Perhaps there would be a background of grease, sweet and sharp to the nose at the same time. Mechanical sounds are increasing: regular grinding, pumping, cutting and banging noises. The city begins to acquire its more angular, upright feel and heights are rising – ten, twenty times human height. Height is especially dominant in the emerging cities of the ‘new continent’. Chicago, New York and Philadelphia adopt a template of wide grid-patterning and buildings are built towards the sky, fuelled by an optimistic modernism. The building archetype is the factory, a paean to production. Retrospectively, the factory has a beauty, generates awe and inspires artists to revitalize them and the chi-chi-ria to transform them into apartments. Yet in their time, they told a different story. Factories, especially the great mills of Lowell or Halifax, have a monumental quality with their regular patterning, great halls and assembly yards. There is a mechanical feel, people suddenly feel secondary and like automatons.14 The machinery of city-making, as in construction, becomes ever larger with new types of crane, steel, pylons. Electricity is being embraced with such enthusiasm that

50 The Art of City-Making New York builds its first electric chair in 1888. Things are becoming more like today. These are mere flavours of a past, not a detailed description. They seek to call forth memory, to suggest and evoke. Everyone can paint their own picture. Lest we are tempted to romanticize, they also remind us of some past dreadfulness, much of which has been overcome – disease, hunger and poverty, at least in the more developed world. On the other hand, grim and hideous as these were, they did not threaten the planet and civilization as have today’s toxic set of chemical compounds and relentless exploitation of finite resources.

Linguistic shortcomings We do not have a well-developed language to explore and describe the senses, let alone in relation to the city. This restricts our capacity to experience fully, as only when we have words can we build on primary sensations. Without suitable descriptors, it is difficult to create and work with a rich associational palette around a sensation. Often we have to turn to literature to seek linguistic inspiration. Sights are better articulated because in general we have a rich vocabulary around physical appearance. Sounds too are easier to describe because language (itself a system of sounds as well as visual signs) can be used to approximate them: The whoosh of a car going past or the buzz of a bee (although, as noted, there are cultural discrepancies here). Smell and taste, however, seem to evade easy encapsulation. (Interestingly, unlike our other four main senses, smell goes directly to the limbic system in the brain. As a result, the immediate impact of smell is unfiltered by language, thought, clutter or translation.15) We rely more on metaphor and associations with other senses, dangers and pleasures here, hence terms such as ‘comfort food’ or ‘the smell of death’ and the use of adjectives like ‘sharp’, ‘warm’ and ‘bursting’. Or else, we describe smells and tastes with reference to the source of the stimuli: ‘fishy’, ‘musky’, ‘salty’. The language of the senses is not rich enough for describing our cities today, especially when we think of the combined sensory experience together as one. Our language, unless we look to artists, is hollowed out, eviscerated and dry. It is shaped by the technical jargon of the professions, especially those in planning and the built environment: planning framework, qualitative planning goal,

The Sensory Landscape of Cities 51 spatial development code, development strategy, outcome targets, site option appraisal process, stakeholder consultation, the role of the development board in delivering integrated services, income inadequacy, statutory review policy programme, neighbourhood framework delivery plan, sustainability proofing, benchmarking, underspend, empowerment, triple bottom line, visioning, mainstreaming, worklessness, early wins, step change, liveability, additionality. The language of what cities look like is thus dominated by the physical but without descriptions of movement, rhythm or people. This visual language comes largely from architecture and urban design. Its principles derive from key texts such as that by Vitruvius, with notions of symmetry or harmony at its core.16 Descriptions of the visual city come from habits of portraying classic architecture where building components are illustrated: pedestals, columns, capitals, pediments and architraves. The language has broadened somewhat, yet still has a focus on static elements rather than dynamic wholes like space, structure, technology, materials, colour, light, function, efficiency, the expression and presence of a building. Urban design, meanwhile, sees and describes cities more as dynamic totalities: place, connections, movement, mixed uses, blocks, neighbourhoods, zones, densities, centres, peripheries, landscapes, vistas, focal points and realms. But both frequently exclude the atmospherics of cities, the feeling of the look. Does it make you shrink into yourself, make you calmly reflect or fill you with passion? Does it close you in or open you out? Does the physical fabric make you respond with a sense of ‘yes’ or ‘no’? Does it involve you, make you want to participate? Let’s explore senses in turn, starting with sound.

Soundscape With urbanization comes a proliferation in sounds. Sound can have positive connotations in the context of music, but more is less with the increased roar of noise in the city. It becomes less differentiated and variegated. Put simply, there are more decibels from more sources. Yet many sounds attract people: the busy hum of a commercial district, the twang of a guitar from a busker, the murmuring of human voices in a tranquil park offset from the hubbub of the city, the shouts of market traders, the hurly-burly of the morning rush

52 The Art of City-Making hour. If you like a sound, it can trigger pleasurable emotions. If you don’t: Adrenaline ... is released into your bloodstream. Your heart beats faster, your muscles tense, and your blood pressure rises. Sudden spasms occur in your stomach and intestines ... thoughts are interrupted and the digestion of food halts.17 Noise created by humans can be harmful to health or welfare: headaches, fatigue, irritability, sleeplessness, lack of concentration and other symptoms where the body screams for help. Not forgetting the most obvious problem – loss of hearing. Noises loud enough to cause hearing loss are almost everywhere in larger cities. Or, as one writer put it, ‘New Yorkers (or Londoners, Tokyoites, Shanghai citizens, Romans) are expected to work and live in an aural state of siege.’18 Most city-dwellers experience the barrage of noise as a soundwall which prevents us from hearing distance, space and the more subtle exchanges among humans or animals. Transport vehicles are the worst: large trucks, buses, cars, aircraft, trains and motorcycles all produce excessive noise. As does construction equipment such as jackhammers, bulldozers, drills, grinding machines, dumper trucks, piledrivers and cranes. Air conditioning provides a constant background whirr and computers an electrical hum. So the noise of global transactions is a broadband hum. Shops have foreground and background music. Even in the suburbs we have lost the art of silence; gardening equipment grinds, grates and whirrs. Overwhelming everything is the big petrochemical roar of the car, but we do not notice it anymore. We cannot afford to. We must adapt as a function of self-protection. We are selectively attentive – we try to hear what we want to hear and we filter out noise. This is white noise, the total sum of all noise, the noise we take for granted. If we didn’t, we would go mad. Look at people in the noisy city. They knit their brows, they squint their eyes and pucker their lips in a fixed position to shield themselves from and to ward off the sounds of the city. To make matters worse, the sounds of the city are amplified by the physical structures that hug our street. Concrete, glass and steel create a ‘canyon effect’ that loudens the growls and honks of traffic, sirens and exhaust from big buildings. The sound artist and urban

The Sensory Landscape of Cities 53 observer Hildegard Westerkamp sums up parallel developments in modern architecture, as exemplified by the Bauhaus movement, and sound. She points out that the new international architecture that is homogenizing our visual urban environment is also homogenizing our soundscape: Although most likely not anticipated by Bauhaus designers, functionalism and efficiency in building design have been developed to great extremes during the twentieth century as banks and corporations have been erecting their tall towers. Artificial control of air and light has become an integral aspect of this type of building design, where no windows can be opened and natural light does not find access. Sonically this translates into electrical hums from artificial lighting and broadband sounds from air conditioning inside, and powerful broadband sounds from the buildings’ exhaust systems outside. Modern cities are not only throbbing with amplified and reflected traffic sounds, but also with the ‘bad breath’, as Schafer calls it, of high-rise buildings… So, the internationalism in urban design has resulted not only in visual but also in aural sameness: same materials, same structures, same sounds.19 The original impetus for sound awareness came from composers and musicians. As professional listeners and makers of sound, they are acutely aware of the sonic environment and its acoustic ecology, the discipline that explores the ecological health and balance of our acoustic environment and all living beings within.20 It is in large part artists who have been at the forefront of sensory searching. R. Murray Schafer introduced the concept of soundscape in the mid-1970s and, later, that of acoustic ecology.21 Westerkamp defines soundscape as ‘the sum total of all sounds within any defined area, and an intimate reflection of, among others, the social, political, technological, and natural conditions of the area. Change in these conditions means change in the sonic environment’.22 Schafer noted too that ‘to grasp what I understand by acoustic aesthetics, we should consider the world as a vast musical composition which is constantly unfolding before us’. The goal of acoustic ecology is to raise listening awareness and to preserve acoustically balanced soundscapes. Westerkamp again:

54 The Art of City-Making Soundscape Studies and Acoustic Design want to strip the soundscape of its sonic overload, its noise and all the acoustic ‘perfume’ that the Muzak Corporation, for example, has introduced into urban environments… Wanting to care for the acoustic environment in the deepest sense creates the desire to listen to it and vice versa, listening to it creates a desire, or, perhaps beyond that, it highlights the urgent need to care for it – just as caring for our children creates desire to listen to them and vice versa.23 In fact, in Western Europe, muzak has declined in influence, but wander around any shopping mall and you can hear the muffled cacophony of MTV culture and dance music, in place to energize consumerism. Hence there remains, at least in some quarters, the desire to remove background aural clutter so as to enjoy varied, distinct sounds from place to place. Sound classifications obviously come from music. The main qualities cover pitch, the location of a note between high and low; timbre, the tone colour or quality of the tone that distinguishes it from other tones on the same pitch or volume; intensity, the loudness or magnitude; and duration, the length of a tone. Some have enriched the descriptive vocabulary further to portray subtler detail within a sound.24 Yet it is difficult to articulate the urban soundscape with these categories alone – its noises ranging from hum to hubbub, from din to honking, beeping and the whoosh and swoosh of cars. So we have a low whirr, brrrrrm, brrrhh, with changing volume from a rumble to a roar, but always a continuous soft echo of rubber on the road. The more continuous backdrop of motorized sound is interspersed with sporadic interruptions: a staccato screech, whine, beep or honk, the straining sounds of cars going uphill or changing gear, and blaring, thumping car stereos. The occasional unmuffled motorbike exhausts make your ears boil. Sometimes there is a siren or a car alarm, designed to irk and annoy with its high-pitch, unrelentingly piercing whining or wailing. When these sounds cumulate, they crescendo to a roar. There is often an aeroplane above, rumbling with a gravelly roar, and on occasion it rasps with a gruffness as it flies directly overhead. Cities are always on the move with accompanying construction and demolition: whirring, whining, clanking, drilling, banging, grinding; or the sound of swooshing or noisy crumbling as things

The Sensory Landscape of Cities 55 fall down. The vibrations even reverberate within your chest if you are near enough. Extract the car, the plane and construction and listen to the sounds of buildings in isolation, if you ever can – they breathe a steady, long, drawn out hummmmmm. The air conditioning and electrical gadgetry give out a coated, dulled whirr. If you listen closely, they alert rather than relax your ears. The sound on the streets is the faint sound of people brushing against each other, a rustle, the patter of feet, the odd intermittent cough or loud exhalation of breath. Some voices break through, though commuters are rarely vocal. Then open the door of a bar, pub or restaurant, and you are hit by a soundwave. Voices can burst out as if the sound had been condensed in a fizzy bottle. A mix of pitches high to low, distinct voices in the foreground, the words nearly clear, sound in the background more like a rhythm of noise. A giggle or a laugh might break through and someone always has that unpleasant, piercing, whiny, nasal voice. Walking the streets at night and there will be a repetitive beat, lots of bass, faster today than yesterday – a basement bar or record shop, again you feel the vibrations. If you want to hear a thousand voices chattering, move out from Europe or North America to the bazaars of the East or the souks of the Middle East. Really, it is noise not sound that you hear in the city. Sounds are mushed together and it is difficult to pick out individual ones. Rhythm is rare – and a comforting relief when it comes. Moving trains provide some rhythm, the dadumdadum dadumdadum as wheels click the joints on the tracks. Usually, though, the noise is random, a hubbub all around. Traffic throws a blanket over the soundscape so you lose the subtle sounds. Rarely is there a clear note. Discrete and continuous sounds simply coalesce. You would have to shut down electricity to hear silence without the hummmmm and it is difficult to experience pure sound. Remind yourself of times gone: what sounds did you hear that you will never hear again with such pristine clarity? Sounds disappear like species: the hooves of horses clopping that you now only encounter in the military parade or TV period dramas; the clink of glass milk bottles on the front doorstep; the clack of typewriters keys on carbon paper; the pop of flashbulbs; the slamming of telephone handsets. You don’t hear church bells often and when you do they are not crystal clear, masked as they are by the noise wall. You rarely hear the varying wind sounds in the city. Long gone is

56 The Art of City-Making the tweet of urban sparrows or starlings, unless you are in Rome, where you might see a hundred thousand starlings in the evening light.25 Normally you have to concentrate hard and get rid of the noise in your head to pick out a poor miserable bird. While some sounds have gone, others have evolved: think of police and ambulance sirens, car engines and, of course, the styles of music you hear on the streets. The sound of commerce is the sound of movement: packing, unpacking boxes, plonking crates on top of each other, shouts, selfadvertising, the rustling of paper, trolleys, forklift trucks and their high-pitched whining. Markets are a sound and smell cliché, but compelling and ubiquitous. They have a rich sound colour and variations coming more from people than machines, with those from the latter often monotone. While the precise texture of market sounds across continents is different, its general tone is similar. If you are near a port, sounds seem to emerge from the bowels of the hulls of ships. Add to this the deeply pitched vibrations of heavy containers clanging and juddering on to the ground. The sound is paced and measured in ports; heavy machines don’t zip about, although the agile forklifts can dart about like ants. The sense of slow movement is inflected by our knowledge of port activities. The noise of industry has largely left cities whose economies are now based more on service industries and at whose edges the noise is trapped in large industrial sheds. This is especially true of cities in the Far East. But in the former Soviet Union you can encounter industry in its classic industrial revolution incarnation. Often it is silent as the massive centralized plants have gone bankrupt, with rusting debris lying forlorn, the wind on occasion whipping through the landscape causing irregular clangs. I remember a section of the shipyards in Gdansk, the rusting hulks in the port of Murmansk, the steel works in Elbasan, Albania. Then there are the still active plants like Nova Huta near Krakow or the Mittal steelworks in Iasi, Romania. The noise rings, booms and echoes as it hits the metal structures of the factory. Nearing the city core there is the silent commerce behind the humming buildings’ façades. You’ll be lucky to see white-collar workers in the cheaper buildings, whose reflective glass returns your image. Yet transparency is all the rage now and behind seethrough glass they go about their silent business. They, in turn, will be hearing sounds coming off the streets, muffled and less distinct though they are because of the double glazing. Inside their offices is

The Sensory Landscape of Cities 57 the sound of static and hum coming from computers mixed in with voices. If the phone is used a lot, the workers hear the private sounds of other voices. More frequently than not, they will be on hold as they wait to be connected. How many times have they heard Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which has taken over from Albinoni’s Adagio as the new muzak for calls on hold? The sound of shops is chart music pumped out mainly by fashion and record stores. Usually more discreet in the West, there is a kind of social noise contract for which regulations are notoriously flexible. Thresholds of acceptable noise differ from country to country. The loudest street sounds I have ever heard were in Taipei’s Hsimenting, a district popular with the young. Full of teeny-bopper boutiques, six-storey high-rises cram in up to 50 shops. They sell every kind of the latest that is bizarre, self-made and imported. On the ground floor the music thumps out from each of the competing stores, colliding with each other. The sounds vibrate underneath your feet as if you were balancing on a lilo and at head level your ears are assaulted. No wonder the sound of silence was too loud for the Taiwanese woman I met in Inari in northern Finland. She could hear her blood pumping and this frightened her. Calmer variations on the Taipei theme can be found in Tokyo’s Harajuku, Electric City in Akihabara or Hong Kong’s Nathan Road. But the new Eastern Europe is competing on the noise front. Think of Deybasovskaya in Odessa, Durrësi Street and Boulevard ‘Zogu I’ in Tirana or even Arbat in Moscow, with sounds coming mostly from cafés. Evidently, being modern is being noisy. The dominant department store and supermarket noises are more curtailed, in the first a discreet hush, in the later the pings of items being scanned at the checkout or the squeak of a trolley. Places to escape from noise increasingly play significant roles: museums, galleries, libraries and places of religious worship are sanctuaries of quiet. Their silence wafts over the brow, easing tension along the way. Uninvited noises take energy away; silence can revivify and recharge. With time, relaxation sets in. Often people use these spaces as mental cleansing rooms. Every city has its own sound atmospherics, even if too many are alike. Yet the sound of elsewhere can be enticing, even though it is largely the same. The combination with other impressions makes us hear sounds unlike those we have heard before. Also, if you listen intently, the sound palette of the roars is subtly dissimilar. The honk in one place says ‘look, I am here’, in another ‘get

58 The Art of City-Making out of the way’. In one, the honk is a quick beep, in another it is more drawn out. It is rare for the sound of the city to come up at you at once, encapsulating all the fragments, but from vantage points around the world you can appreciate different sound panoramas: the din looking out from Zócalo Square in Mexico City, the children, birds and hooting from the panoramic view of Jodhpur’s blue city from Mehrangarhin, or the more discreet noises from the castle in Salzburg. East Berlin once had a special high-pitched, two-stroke engine noise from the Trabants. In Los Angeles the horns and sirens pierce more sharply because the motors there are now quieter. In Italian cities there was far more hooting and beeping from motorinos and Apes, the tiny three-wheeled vans, until the government raised noise as an issue. One of my most memorable sound experiences was in Sarajevo, where three global religions meet at a point. The main mosque and orthodox and catholic churches are a few hundred metres from each other. Within a few minutes of each other, there was the tinny call to prayers through a megaphone from the muezzin, bells ringing first to a catholic service and shortly afterwards to an orthodox one – all competing for attention. Only a few years before, practitioners of these religions had been slaughtering one another. When we think about space, not just in terms of the physical structures that delimit it, but also as occupied by sounds and noise which are wittingly and unwittingly propagated, we begin to realize we are far more enclosed than we care to acknowledge. Hildegard Westerkamp describes Brasilia’s soundscape: As much as the Monumental Axis and the Residential Highway Axis may connect people between sectors or between home and work, acoustically speaking they form two enormous soundwalls that divide the city… The acoustic space traffic on these arteries occupies is much more extensive than their geographical dimensions. The traffic noise travels right across the expansive green spaces into hotel rooms, offices, churches, even schools, and many living areas. The eyes can see far but the ear cannot hear beyond the acoustic immediacy of the car motor … because everything looks wide open one gets the illusion of space. Acoustically, however, one is closed in.26

The Sensory Landscape of Cities 59 As an exercise, try to imagine your own city in similar, auditory terms. What noises would you rather not have? Which are an unnecessary, unpleasant imposition? What would you like to hear more of? How can sounds – especially those that grate – be better contained? As sounds occupy space beyond the geographical purview of their origins, we need to think of sound territorially. Imagine music that you like: orderly chamber music, stirring Romanticism, catchy pop, exploratory jazz, whatever. Contrast this with the sounds of your city. How far is one from the other? Imagine yourself as a sound engineer. Reconstruct the sounds of the London of 1660, Cairo of 1350 and Baghdad of 1100. What sounds do you need to add to and subtract from today’s noise? Imagine reconstructing the sounds of the city in a way that feels good to you. What would you foreground? Would the sounds be, as in nature, more distinguishable and identifiable, even the intrusive aircraft? But we also have to be cognizant of the cultural contingency of sound. Sounds mean different things and have different weightings across cultures and territories. Our conditioning determines our response to noise, though it is risky to generalize too strongly. Scandinavians, it is said, prefer less cluttered, quieter sound environments; the Chinese need some noise to ward off the chasing ghosts of the dead; and Americans have become too used to fractured soundscapes typified by the constant advertising interruptions in their media. People hear, listen to, make and want sounds differently. A church bell might evoke a warm feeling even if you are not religious, but it might irk a Muslim. The sound of a police siren may provoke comfort, fear, anxiety or even excitement, depending on context. As travel and migration increase, there is greater awareness of soundscapes, but we accept too passively what we have at home. As cultures interpret sounds differently, so they also make sounds differently. North American cites have less vocal sound unless in a shopping mall; Indian urban sounds reflect a greater human intricacy – they are more expressive; and Japanese cities have a more focused, hectic feel. Or is that too simple? Everywhere a low motorized rumble threatens. How many decibels are OK? It depends; the sound of a baby crying has more decibels in it than a pneumatic drill. But the baby induces the emotion to help; the drill you want to destroy. Westerkamp describes bemusement at Delhi’s car horns. But she realizes there is an intricate system behind the seemingly chaotic noise:

60 The Art of City-Making I realize quickly that car-horns ‘speak’ differently here. They talk. ‘hallo’, ‘watch out, I am beside you’, ‘leave me some space’, ‘I want to move over to your side’, ‘don’t bump into me’, ‘hallo’, ‘I want to pass’. What seemed like chaos initially starts to feel like an organic flow, like water. There is an undercurrent of rules.27 Sounds engender emotions, they have meaning, and they reflect the cultures from within which they stem. We could change the soundscape dramatically; it is in our capacity. Electric cars are already pretty silent. We could challenge our innovators to invent the silent computer or air conditioner. We could ask what would a public space sound like. Did you ask for your soundscape? Is auditory trespassing part of the landscape of planning? Clearly not. Acoustic sensitivity is not designed in. It is hardly part of urban planning and development. It is an unplanned sideshow. Unsurprisingly, noise is now on many other agendas, such as those of the ‘right to silence’ and ‘sound rights’ campaigners: The Right to Quiet Society for Soundscape Awareness and Protection.28 The World Federation of Acoustic Ecology, inspired by Murray Schafer, is based in Vancouver, which perhaps makes British Columbia and Vancouver the urban sound awareness capital of the world. Awareness of noise pollution is rising fast. In New York, London, Delhi and Chennai to name but a few. New York’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, put forward legislation in 2005 which will provide the first comprehensive overhaul of the New York City Noise Code in over 30 years.29 In New York, noise is the number one complaint to the city’s citizen hotlines, currently averaging nearly 1000 calls a day. The city is developing a new noise code, focused on construction, music and other nuisance but not the general din of traffic. This will augment the successful anti-noise initiative, Operation Silent Night. Silent Night targeted 24 high-noise neighbourhoods throughout the city with intensive enforcement measures. From its inception in late 2002 to early 2005, using sound meters, towing of vehicles, seizure of audio equipment, summonses, fines and arrests, the initiative issued 3706 noise summonses, 80,056 parking violations, 40,779 moving violations and 33,996 criminal court summonses. The City Police Department is now identifying new neighbourhoods to be targeted for noise control.30

The Sensory Landscape of Cities 61

Smellscape That smell is extremely evocative is evidenced by neuroscience. The olfactory system has close anatomical affinity with the limbic system and hippocampus, ‘areas of the brain that have long been known to be involved in emotion and place memory, respectively.’31 Olfactory information is therefore easily stored in long-term memory and has strong connections to emotional memory. Smell can remind us sharply of a precise moment a very long way back. Perhaps the smell of an old relative or the whiff of perfume that enveloped you in one of your early kisses. A classic example linking smell with memory occurs in A la Recherche du Temps Perdu (Remembrance of Things Past) by Marcel Proust. Early on in the first book (‘Swann’s Way’), the protagonist Charles Swann finds that the smell from a small piece of madeleine cake soaked in tea triggers a raft of memories from his childhood. But powerful as it is, smell is a sense that we have neglected in cultural terms. And it is the one people are most willing to give up when asked, ‘Which sense would you be prepared to lose?’32 Yet without this sense, our sense of taste would be terribly depleted. If you eat something while holding your nose, it is impossible to distinguish subtle flavours. Smell leads to heady feelings and triggers emotions: at one extreme we can smell arousal and sexual excitement; at the other, fear, as the body releases aromatic substances called pheromones. Smells affect our mood quite easily, relaxing us or dulling our senses. As we can detect atmospheres, our sense of smell gives us a strong grasp of place and location. But, as noted, in contrast to the sound or look of a place, smells are hard to describe. They defy onomatopoeic encapsulation and visual metaphor. We therefore resort to their associational relations. So the smellscape is transient and difficult to capture in words. As Pier Vroon notes: Our terminology for describing smells is meagre or inadequate due to our neural architecture. The parts of the brain that are closely involved in the use of language have few direct links with the olfactory (smell) system. Because consciousness and the use of language are closely connected, it is understandable why olfactory information plays a part mainly on an unconscious level.33

62 The Art of City-Making To make matters worse, although we can measure sound in decibels, colour in frequencies and touch in units of force and pressure, we have no scale against which the intensity of a scent, smell or odour can be measured, so we resort to human inspectors, who are by definition subjective. Perhaps this is a reason for the lack of campaigning organizations to improve our smell environment. Nevertheless, classifications of smell go back as far as Plato, whose simple dividing line was pleasant and unpleasant. Aristotle and later Linnaeus in the 16th century enlarged these to seven: aromatic, fragrant, alliaceous (garlic), ambrosial (musky), hircinous (goaty), repulsive and nauseous. Two other smells have since been added: ethereal, which is fruity, and empyreumatic, the smell associated with roasted coffee. Smell exacerbates the differences between urban and rural experiences. Smells in nature have a purpose – to attract or repel. Honeysuckle’s smell, intensive yet transitory and fragile, often attracts a double take. Rotting flesh repulses through smell, and for good reason. Evolution doesn’t favour those who find the poisonous, the diseased or the dangerous sweet-smelling or tasty. Smell is part of the signal world of nature. The smell of cut grass is a familiar one throughout Western culture. Behavioural studies have shown that this ‘green odour’ involving cis-3-hexenal and other compounds has a healing effect on psychological damage caused by stress. Another familiar smell is that after rain. The wetness and force of rainfall kicks tiny spores – actinomycetes – up into the air where the moisture after rain acts as an aerosol or air freshener. The spores have a distinctive, earthy smell. There are also other scents after it rains as the impact of rain stirs up aromatic material which is carried through the moist air. Most people consider it pleasant and fresh. It has even been bottled. In the city after rain, the air feels polished and cleaner as the rain has pushed down the dust. Dust is a quintessential ingredient of the urban sensescape. It flattens and makes bland the air. Not so much a source of smell, it muffles the perception of other smells. If it has an odour, it will be a composite of the particular urban matter from which it has arisen. There are so many subtle smells bumping into each other in the city. Unfortunately, most are unpleasant, unhealthy and bad for us, yet the background smell remains predominantly petrochemical, so it is difficult to discern the detail. If you are exposed to it for long enough, the fumes from cars can give you a foggy,

The Sensory Landscape of Cities 63 swimmy feel with light-headed giddiness. After a while it feels like a dulling thwack on the head. To an avid urbanite the fumes may be intoxicating at the beginning, but then your head starts to swirl. You can wretch and gag if by mistake you happen take a deep breath in Norilsk in Siberia or Lagos as a 30-year-old dieselpowered bus expels its exhaust into your nostrils at the changing lights. Even with modern buses, the acrid smell and taste can be sickening. When you get close to the running motors of cars and lorries, you can smell the chemical activity before particles become charred and olfactory activity begins to tail off. You can taste petrochemicals, but this does not excite your taste buds, make you feel hungry or build up your appetite. It feels empty and disappoints. You cannot move an inch without petrochemicals. They are everywhere – in petrol, grease, paint, heated-up engines, white spirit, turps, plastics, trainers, households cleaners, cosmetics and glue. They envelope us like a smog. What is the smell of a new car? It is essentially like sniffing glue. The new car smell emanates from 40 volatile organic compounds – ‘primarily alkanes and substituted benzenes along with a few aldehydes and ketones.’34 You slide into a new car and see plastics, fabric, and upholstery – held together with adhesives and impregnated with sealants whose gases are released into the car as it warms. You smell solvents, adhesives, gasoline, lubricants and vinyl. Perhaps you also smell the ‘treated leather’ odour of shoe stores. Tanned leather smells slightly rank so tanneries add an artificial ‘treated leather’ fragrance. Some car makers spray this in their cars. This is a cross-cultural, homogenizing, globalized smell and it blankets the intimate smells distinctive to a place. It sits low rather than rises like gases do; its synthetic feel is almost like a physical layer. Often heat is involved, and the smell rises in waves and convection currents. There are petrol-fuelled industrial environments where the grease on machines leaves a residue and the sparks on metal create a tighter and more tinny scent. This common fumefilled urban experience can be debilitating, irritating and have a degenerating effect. For a more varied olfactory experience, head to a market. Markets can be thrilling urban smell experiences when not inundated by endless, odourless variations of T-shirts, jeans and other cheap clothing or the cheap plastic whiff of shoes and trainers. It’s the scent of food that hits you right up the nose as if it is pushing

64 The Art of City-Making your head back. This is most strong in a covered market, where smells and scents are trapped and can circle in a whirlpool with their mixed messages: fish and fowl, meat and offal, fruit and vegetables, beans and pulses, nuts, berries and dried fruits, pastries, bread, flowers, and most of all the wonderful smell-world of herbs and spices. Displayed to entice and to make your mouth water, they play on both your sight and sense of smell. This organic scent-world conflicts at edge points in the markets when we move to synthetic household goods, cleaning materials, polishes, the DIY section, haberdashery, and cane and wicker work. If you enter a market at the vegetable end, you are hit first by the overriding smells of a complexity of freshness. There are too many subtle aromas around to discern individual ones, save perhaps for bunches of mint, coriander or rosemary. And many vegetables hold back their aromas until cooking. But overall, there is the smell of earth, of green. But the smell of individual vegetables is contributing to the whole, especially when samples have been cut to release scent. The earthy, moist tones of root vegetables – carrots, parsnips, potatoes, beetroot; the ebullient, fuller, subdued pepperiness of the allium family – red and white onions, shallots, scallions, leeks and garlic; and the clean chlorophyll of greens – cabbages, chard, spinach, lettuces. Over to the fruit. The zesty citrus of lemons, lime, oranges and tangerines, as powerful in their scent as they are in their colour. Ripened summer berries, mangos, guavas, bananas and pineapples give off aromas that hint at what they will taste like. In East Asian markets, you might encounter the durian, with its enigmatic – to some, foul – stench. To many, spices release the most evocative of scents, and here individual smells become distinguishable: the warm, spicy-savoury tones of ground cumin and coriander; woody powdered ginger; the penetrating, bittersweet burnt-sugar smell of fenugreek; the arresting, sweet aromatics of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and green cardamom; and the more complex composites of Indian garam masalas, Jamaican jerk or Moroccan ras-el-hanout. Far more confrontational to the nose are the smells of meat, fowl and fish. In many markets, the produce is still alive, along with the unattractive smell of chicken shit and, by association, fear: the juxtaposition of live and dead flesh will unnerve the squeamish as well as the livestock not long for this world. In the meat section the unavoidable smell of death hangs in the air, leaden, thick, dense,

The Sensory Landscape of Cities 65 bloody, congealed, concentrated. Offal might contribute a smell of urea or bile. There is an urgency about the smell of flesh and blood in that you might be conscious of the potential transition to the fetid and therefore repulsive. The incipient decay of fish is arrested in ice. Some oily fish like sardines and mackerel are particularly pungent as the digestive juices in their stomachs begins to digest their own flesh. A tinge of seaweed, ozone, a bit antiseptic and oddly heavy, static air. The smell of even fresh fish is unpleasant to some, but the fish water that runs off the display slabs becomes repulsive to all within a matter of hours, hence the need to continuously wash the area. There is not an individual aroma to any individual fish species bar the fresh shellfish which smell of the sea itself. Overriding everything is the superimposed blanket of coldness. Contrast the vivid smell sensation of markets with the neutralized, antiseptic scent-world of supermarkets. These cultivate the smell of nothingness, impenetrable, empty, blank. Creating the smell of absence is an art in itself – the blander the better – but there is a constant background tinge of refrigeration: dry, sickly and plastic when you get your nose right into it. You are smelling iced water and air conditioning. The non-smell of food in supermarkets is ironic. It smells not of what you are buying, except for the bakery, where they pump out the flavours of hot crusty bread, or the roast turkey smell at Christmas. Cheaper supermarkets or grocery shops do not succeed in creating an odourless world. More often there is a stale, sweaty odour that seems to cling to grease that you cannot see. The typical shop smell in the old Eastern Europe was old sugar mixed in with disinfectant and lino, which you can sometimes also encounter in a hospital setting. Yet even hospitals are seeking to control the smell environment through herbs, such as the relaxing lavender, as awareness of the power of aromatherapy becomes more widespread. Aromatherapy is defined as ‘the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essence from plants to balance, harmonize, and promote the health of the mind, body, and spirit’.35 Essential oils range from the calming to the stimulating, such as citrus or peppermint oils. Increasingly shops aware of its potency are constructing smell environments, often linked to sound, to seduce people to buy. There is an irony in that we pump the air with unpleasant petrochemical odours, then neutralize their smell in controlled settings and try to put back natural smells.

66 The Art of City-Making Interior environments are now essentially controlled. The odour control and creation industry is massive. In the West you wonder about the origin of the smell, whereas in a less economically developed context at least you know where it is coming from. The odours, scents and fragrances have uncalculated effects. For instance, around 70 per cent of asthmatics report that their asthma is triggered by fragrance and skin allergies are known to be common.36 Department stores are an example where you might be affected. In colder climates they first hit you with a waft of warm, stale air and in warmer climes, a draught of cold. Yet from Dubai to Tokyo, from London to Buenos Aires, the first impression is of a powerful, heady blast of perfumes and cosmetics. With profit margins high, the ground floors provide an oversaturated smell environment. The perfumery hall is full of sales women who have put on body lotion, piles of foundation, powder, scent and deodorant. The smells are different and are fighting against each other. Every perfume company is fighting the fragrance battle, luring and seducing customers into their smell zones. Chanel, Guerlain, Issy Miyake, Dior, YSL. The list grows yearly as fashion designers, pop stars and the odd football player branch into fragrances. The continuous squirting from tester bottles replenishes this heavy petrochemical cocktail. Modern perfumes are constructed chemical smells with a substantial benzene base. The odour industry can create any scent from chemicals and, just in case we get starry-eyed about fragrances, let’s remind ourselves that perfume-makers use the odours of urine, sweat and vaginal wetness in their products, knowing it is a turn-on. Their scents are nearly accurate, yet a good nose will tell the difference between the real and the fake. Synthetic fragrances do not linger and have no staying power. Long gone are the days of real constituents in perfume. Everything is synthetic: remember the real smell of jasmine, rose, lavender, gardenia, lily of the valley, violet, cedar wood, sandalwood, frankincense, myrrh or eucalyptus? Walking in dining areas of cities, you might hit a row of Indian or Chinese restaurants whose food smells emanate from their air conditioning, either by design or inadvertently. The good Chinese restaurant will exude a blend of ginger, garlic, spring onion and soy sauce. If it is cheaper this mixture will include a fullish greasiness, partly inviting but interspersed with the smell of plastic and disinfectant. The dominant smell of Italian restaurants is often that of

The Sensory Landscape of Cities 67 pesto, the mix of basil, parmesan, garlic, pine nuts and olive oil, tart but fruity. The Indian restaurant’s exhaust might smell of cumin, coriander and turmeric, but pre-made sauces which blur distinctions between individual spices are beginning to dominate. The fast-food chains have a smell of their own. McDonald’s, KFC, Wendy’s, Subway, Burger King. They mush into one. They are almost sweet, crusty, a slight smell of cardboard, dry. Grease and ketchup liberates and heightens the papery cardboard smell from which you eat the chips and chicken nuggets. Let’s move from the crusty smell of fast food to the antiseptic non-smell of electrical goods. Think of non-smelling computers, televisions and radio equipment, where only the rubbery connections exude a tiny whiff. However, changes are on the horizon to control our smell environment comprehensively. The Japanese communications ministry is investing large resources in creating the first 3D virtual reality television by 2020 to change the way we watch TV. It is proposed to have several thousand smells so as to create any mood. If that is frightening, consider that Las Vegas casinos already pump the smell of money on to the gambling floors: dry, sweaty, sweet. Cities have their own scent landscapes and often it is an association with one small place that determines a smell reputation. We can rarely smell the city all in one so we can say that a city’s smell makes us happy, aroused, or down and depressed. It depends on circumstance. There is the smell of production (usually unpleasant) or consumption which is hedonically rich and enticing. There is even a smell of poverty. Our home has a smell, but we don’t smell it as much as visitors do. Going home is about presence as well as absence of smell. But there is the sulphurous, bad eggs smell of Los Angeles which grabs you by the throat as this high pressure area holds everything in. The same is true for tall buildings in narrow valleys, as in Caracas, that act as a canyon and container so that smells do not circulate freely. And this equally applies in Broad Street in beautiful Georgian Bath, one of the region’s most polluted streets, from fumes that are trapped as the older buildings bend in. The breweries of Munich throw out a distinct aroma of heavy yeast: piercingly pungent, acrid, it darts into your nose and catches you unawares. The tannery in Canterbury, England is just as bad as that of Fes in Morocco. Left untreated, the hides or skin of animals quickly begin to rot, putrefy and stink, which is why originally

68 The Art of City-Making tanneries were on rivers at the edge of town. The penetrating smell in Fes is caused by the use of all kinds of animal products (excretions, urine and brains). It makes you look at the leather products in a different way. Finally us. What do we smell like? The city smell is that of people, and the cross-cultural issue is ever-present, with this as with every other sense. Different countries perceive the same smells and tastes differently. To the Chinese and Japanese, Europeans apparently smell cheesy or like congealing diary products, unsurprising, perhaps, given the lack of diary products in their diets. We smell of what we eat and that is a fact, but in our antiseptic world, talking of the smell of people is seen as politically incorrect. We prefer to mask ourselves in deodorant. Personal body smell is affected by several factors – the types of food consumed, the use of scented products, and even the distribution and abundance of scentproducing glands in the skin may vary from culture to culture.37 The interplay of these factors may result in a body odour which is specific to a culture, a city or a geographic region. With mass mobility and migration, the variation within a culture or geographic region is very wide. Equally, within cultures, people interpret smells differently. For some, petrol fumes are fine while for others they are sickening. So people and places have their scent DNA related to trades, industry, diet, landscape and level of development. The ‘developed’ West tries to sanitize smell, masking what is bad behind created odours of ‘pleasantness’. ‘Less developed’ places smell much more as they are.

The look of the city When we envisage a city, we are quite likely – especially if we haven’t been there before – to draw on previous, perhaps iconic, representations of it: postcards, paintings, maps (London’s wonderful though abstracted Tube map), TV programme opening titles (Eastenders for London, Friends for Manhattan) and news images (where else, alas, can you see a city’s skyline changed live, as in the 9/11 disaster?). We may also recall personal memories of arrival – landing close to Las Vegas’ Strip or driving into Mumbai from the airport – and catching a particular view, of Rio from Cordovado Mountain or London from Parliament Hill. Monuments may or may not be prominent in our picture – the Eiffel Tower perhaps, or the Sydney Opera House. But in all cases, our picture will be just

The Sensory Landscape of Cities 69 that – a subjective one formed by our experiences and by other narratives. The look is always gleaned from a particular vantage point. The look of the city depends on where you stand and its layout. A warren of streets is a different experience, from the ground or from on high, than a grid pattern. In one case it can seem like a maze; in the other, like an arrow with a purpose. Each vantage point from which you look tells a different story of the city. Are you high up or low down? Are you seeing the city from a distance or close up? Our eyes determine what we see. If you are young, disabled, old, a woman or a man there is a contrast in focus. For one the buildings loom overwhelmingly or can appear claustrophobic hemming you in, for the other they soar grandly into the sky. Our jobs, too, shape what we see and what we leave out as we see selectively. The strategic planner typically sees the city from the air on large-scale maps, whereas the local planner zooms in to the great detail. The one sees the city as slightly flat, more like a surface, and with computer technology its 3D shapes come across with the tilt. The other needs to walk the streets and nearly touch the surfaces of bollards, pavements and houses. The engineers might look at structures and ask ‘do they stand up?’. The crime prevention officer is looking for hidden crannies where the sightlines aren’t clear; and the thief wants some confusion in the space. There is one eye and vantage point that has shaped how we look and talk about cities: that of the architect/interior designer. It is but one view, yet it predominates. A raft of glossy magazines reinforces the message. They are supported by an industry waiting to sell its product. There is a vast architectural publishing industry and so far more has been written about the look of places, but in very restricted terms, than the sounds and the smells of the city, for which there is no market to sell to. Occasionally you sense the architect and their critics reflect in each other’s glory. Too few architectural critics and urban writers write with the ease and insight of James Howard Kunstler,38 who reflects a view of city life in its full dynamic. Instead, usually the tone is rarefied, its vocabulary dense, arid, precious or even pompous. The pictures are beautiful, yet lifeless and rarely peopled. The architectural object comes across too much as isolated, as if it had landed somewhat disconnectedly in the urban landscape. This is a reason why the profession stands accused of being self-referential. There is much left out; you are often not sure that someone is talking about

70 The Art of City-Making a city within which people live. The confident tone and selfunderstanding reinforces the view that it is the architect who is really the city-maker. Let us take some snapshots of the look of cities. The sense of sheer compacted physicality is what makes the city so distinctive. It is the first impression. No other structure built by humans is so complex and extensive. On occasion, the largest steel works have a similar feel. The bigger the height and size, the more different we feel. The extent of loomingness is partly perceptual. With a wide pavement and boulevarded, broken-up street pattern, the fact I am 120 or 60 or 20 times smaller than the building is of little consequence. The same is true when I can view the building from some distance. There are other compensations too. I sense a certain grandeur, power and energy. Yet when the public realm does not work, when streets are too narrow and the road feels like a motorway, the difference between how big I am and how big the building is matters. Too great a difference feels oppressive, interfering and looming. But a ratio of, say, one to six creates a dramatically different feeling. It is more comforting because it is more human in scale. This is why, apart from the buzz, we like markets. Angularity is the other predominant feature: straight lines; right angles; sharp edges, some jutting out; squareness; planes; blank walls. From above, this angularity comes across as a chaotic range of heights and right angles. There is hardly a place in nature that looks like this except, perhaps, the famous Devil’s Causeway in County Antrim, Northern Ireland – a mass of basalt columns packed tightly together that resembles a mega-city. The latest trend in architectural fashion helped by new technology and buildings techniques is to break out of the angularity prison. There are a few more swoops and swerves and rounded buildings. In London, for instance, there is the Norman Fosterdesigned Swiss Re building – the ‘gherkin’. In Birmingham is Future Systems’ Selfridges store – the ‘curvy slug’. Yet the surface feel of the city remains hard, ungiving, unbendable, inflexible. More like a rod than a bendable reed. Nature, by contrast, feels movable, adaptive, changeable. Materials matter. Buildings speak to you in different ways through their materials. We notice this especially when they are made just from one material, like the largely unpainted wooden town of Koprivshtitsa in Bulgaria, the cement-clad towns of the former Soviet block, the mud buildings of Yemen (as in the aston-

The Sensory Landscape of Cities 71 ishing Shibam, called the Manhattan in the desert), the grey limestone of the Cotswold towns, the red bricks of industrial Lowell, USA, or the sand-coloured buildings in Fez. Then the material speaks to you in its full glory. Wood ages well; it fades, but does not crumble; it feels animate, a reminder that it was once a tree. Cement, by contrast, has a deadening patina; it absorbs light back into itself, and its deceptive evenness gives a place a musty feel; the dust is in the air. Think, for instance, of the once grand Shkodra in Albania. It was given the cement makeover in the Enver Hoxha era. The red bricks in older towns have blemishes; they felt already weathered when new. Colour variations seep through the bricks and there seems to be a story in each one. New brick buildings are too smooth and mechanical; the up-to-date chemical processes of brick-making have evened out the surface and given them a lifeless, impenetrable shine. And they come in non-brick colours: every hue of yellow, terracotta and red. We live in the age of glass. Glass and mirror have come into the frame with new techniques of heating and air conditioning. The reflective buildings that mirror themselves back at you in a ‘look at me’ kind of way seem impertinent and self-imposing. To the Western eye they now look cheap and garish, but to the post-Soviet eye they are like modernity par excellence. This has come in phases as new materials emerged and were tried out. The sturdy sickly brown and green glass feel; then the reflective golden touch for the attention seekers; and now the predominant silver that throws back clear mirror images. They do not invite nor have a conversation with you, the passer-by. They assert, aggressively, their presence. The West favours more the transparent look of see-through glass. At its best it projects a sense of democracy and modernity. It feels airy, open, cool and uplifting. When done well the steel and metal buildings combine strength and lightness. The Pompidou Centre in Paris was one of the first of that generation, followed shortly afterwards by I. M. Pei’s Louvre Pyramid. Now the style is commonplace and the Toronto Eaton Centre stands out as an example from a cold climate. At night, of course, glass refracts light differently than a brick building. For how long will glass stay as the material of choice for malls, museums and city halls? Colour is everywhere. It is all-embracing and in every culture. Meaning is attributed to each colour. There is a difference between the psychological effect of a colour and its symbolism. For instance, green is symbolically associated with envy, while psychologically it

72 The Art of City-Making denotes balance. One does not need to be a specialist to understand instantly that colour shapes how you feel. Dark colours can depress, and darkness has become a metaphor for negatives like evil, ignorance and mental gloom. Light colours lift; again, word associations reinforce our perceptions – light and enlightenment. If a city were to be black it would be depressing, and the blackened industrial cities of industrial Britain were depressing in their time – and grey is not too uplifting either. It was always said that Berlin and Milan were grey cities, which is why their more recent creative and fashionable associations also change how you think of what their colour might be. Until very recently the colour and the palette used was limited – you rarely saw a green, purple, bright yellow or blue building. The new coloured glasses are changing that, such as Herzog de Meuron’s Laban dance centre in London, clad by sheets of multicoloured glass. The new Musée du Quai Branly of indigenous art in Paris by Jean Nouvel is another. It is a kaleidoscopic, anarchic montage of structures that will annoy those who love Paris’s considered order. It clashes well with the exterior of the administration building, which is swallowed up by a vertical carpet of exotic plants punctured by big windows. The hydroponic green building feels as if it is alive – a sharp contrast to most buildings, which feel inert. Clearly the local materials determined the colour of a place in the past; today this is far less apparent as materials are moved around with ease, with sheet glass and cement the overriding materials in use. Think of the ‘granite city’ of Aberdeen in Scotland; it wears its sobriquet with pride, but the grey, silvery stone material is unforgiving. Do its colour, weight and heavy density determine the character of Aberdonians? The predominant hues in Mediterranean countries were variations of terracotta going into sandy beiges. It is pleasing on the eye in that sunny light. Many Italian cities are an exception in having widespread colour strategies as part of planning. There are the famous coloured cities of the world which show how paint has an impact: the pink city of Marrakech and, nearby, the blue and white town of Essaouira, or the blue city of Jodphur in India. The vivid colours of painted houses of Latin America, equally, both shape and respond to character. The crisp colour combinations on the corrugated iron buildings in the once seedy La Boca in Buenos Aires has become so fashionable that it has become the city’s design template. Designer

The Sensory Landscape of Cities 73 articles, from sheets and pillows to furniture, seem to carry the imagery. Did the impoverished residents of La Boca ever get a royalty? I doubt it. Overriding everything – and again we cannot avoid the greys and blacks – is the colour of roads on which the buildings sit as if bedded in a sea of asphalt. Grey is the canvas on top of which the city plays itself out. The buildings do not feel independent. Asphalt’s homogenizing feel shrouds the city at ground level in a veil interspersed by signage and yellow and red traffic lines. Advertising hoardings increasingly shape the look of the city as they expand in size and impact. Less discreet than a decade ago, they can be immense – the largest billboard in the world, erected in Manila in 2005, was 50m long and 50m high. Occasionally beautiful and often intrusive, it is Eastern Europe that sets new standards of garishness, impact and boldness, and the Far East has always been visually wild to Western eyes. Think of Tokyo’s electric city, Hong Kong’s Nathan Road or Delhi’s Chandri Chowk – you choke in colour and sign overload. The city is increasingly a sign system and a message board. It is a staging set communicating products and images to you. But it all depends where you are. The colours and materials used in commercial districts vary. In the upscale parts things are more discreet and materials obviously better. The hues in modern settings, in part because of the mass of glass, have a light blue, light yellow translucent overlay. Think here of the new 101 district in Taipei, where the world’s largest skyscraper stands. The more downmarket places screech their colours at you. A business district communicates differently. There is more black – usually shiny black marble – as this is the colour of authority and power. It comes across, too, as stylish and timeless, because black makes things appear thinner and sleeker (a reason for its popularity in clothing). Increasingly, too, blue is coming in. It is tranquil and in control, but blue can also be cold and calculating. Silver has a sharpish clarity, and again it creates a distance between the viewer and passer-by – it reflects back at you. And glass, glass, glass – it is the gloss of corporate openness. Brown is less in evidence now, unless left over from a former period. It looks murky, unclear, unfocused. A housing or apartment block area can be as different as the country or city it is in, so it is difficult to generalize across cultures and places even though the homogenizing process continues

74 The Art of City-Making unabated. Suffice it to say it depends on land costs and availability. The denser city will compact building upwards, as in Hong Kong or Singapore, but where people feel land is limitless – as in Melbourne, for example – the city spreads out into endlessness. In denser places, people spill out into the streets as if pushed out of their buildings. The rising numbers of the middle classes in places such as Russia, Turkey or India are creating new, largely gated, edge-of-town settlements in dinky, post-modern apartments, typically 10–20 stories high. The message here is one of ‘lifestyle’. Buildings will reflect the past, particular regional styles, the materials available at various times in history, power relations, class, their function. Often, a principle of city design will inform and order these buildings into a particular layout that affects our visual experience of the city, such as the grid systems of America. Regarding the grid, this tyranny of the shortest distance can have a uniform beauty. But when combined with architectural monotony, it can be dull and oppressive. Green spaces contribute to a city’s quality of life, but remember that a green impression of a city can be misleading – much of London’s ‘green’ is private gardens, for example. Whatever the colours, materials and layout of a city, the climate remains a check on our visual experience of it. A blanket of snow transforms a city; a shroud of mist (or, worse, smog) can hide its vista; and a serious flood can render the cityscape totally unfamiliar to even its own inhabitants. Cities look different depending on whether it is sunny, gloomy or rainy. And above all, light plays on the physical structures that make a city. How different does Helsinki look in winter, when bereft of natural light, than in summer, when the days are long? Light changes all, and that includes the man-made. Electricity must be seen as pivotal in the history of urban spaces. Artificial light illuminates the dark and allows activities that were previously confined to the day to continue into the night. Light facilitates the 24-hour city. It can also, unfortunately, dull the pleasure of a starry night sky as we unwittingly illuminate particles in the air above with light pollution. More positively, light can make a street look safer at night and can transform the façades of otherwise dull buildings. It can allow us to watch a football match in the evening. A well-lit or sparkling city view can be inspiring. Lighting has been discovered as a resource to enliven the city. Some cities (such as Naples) have recognized the power of light and have specific light strategies. Against the chaotic background

The Sensory Landscape of Cities 75 of the changing city, every new public lighting scheme illuminates a complex clash of priorities and agendas. How can public lighting create an image for the city as well as support urban renewal? How can safety and security needs be reconciled with a desire for visual communication and delight? A new way of looking at urban lighting, based on a relationship between identification and regeneration on any given site, can be expressed through three stages: light marketing, light art and light landscape. Centrepoint and its environs in central London were adopted as a ‘laboratory’ from which to evolve and test out a set of generic strategies and tactics. The research demonstrates the ability of lighting to transform our urban spaces at different levels – and to generate and communicate powerful new spatial identities within our nocturnal environments that underpin the urban regeneration process. The visual environment should be public property, but there are vast differences in how it’s thought through. Illumination, of course, is central to advertising and its flashing, bright visual interjections are forced upon us. Japan, notoriously, has a lightscape dominated by brand and advertising messages. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself, but we must be careful in matters of deregulation that our cities do not lose overall control over their lighting. These pages have provided a short treatment of the city’s look. There is much more to explore. For instance, we have concentrated on the outdoor look of places when there is much to say about the indoor life of cities, especially in cold climates. We could have explored the underground world of some cities, their metros and subways. Nevertheless, the salient point of this entire section on the senses is that the city is a sensory experience and this should never be overlooked when thinking about a city’s future. Above all else, we see, hear, smell, touch and taste the city.


Unhinged and Unbalanced

THE CITY AS A GUZZLING BEAST Stark images like those in One Planet Many People: Atlas of our Changing Environment by the UN Environment Programme can sear into your mind.1 Everywhere you look there is cityness. It has invaded our landscape, so shaping our mindscape. Comprised of time-series satellite images of the globe over the last few decades, the images provide powerful visual testimony to our increasing dominion over the planet. Considered ecologically, these images should sound alarm bells: industrialization and agriculture sweeping over indigenous flora and fauna, water resources shrinking, deserts increasing. Most strikingly, they show the irresistible growth of urban areas. While half of us now live in cities, this will reach two-thirds of a 9 billion world population by 2050. While the city can signify a triumph over nature, urban dwellers exact more of the Earth’s resources than their rural counterparts. In fact, there is not enough planet to support the Western lifestyle. We will show below the implications for resources of running a London lifestyle, which requires three Earths to meet its demands. The Los Angeles population, meanwhile, with their meat-heavy diets and car-embracing culture is, per capita, even more voracious. Six billion people living like Los Angelinos would require five planets. Living like Dubai perhaps ten.2 Even many rural existences need more than one planet, and indigenous lifestyles are in the minority in terms of being sustainable. The city is a massive logistical endeavour. It as an overwhelming input/output machine, a voracious beast guzzling in, defecating

78 The Art of City-Making out. It stands at the apex of the global nexus of goods distribution. Like any living organism, the city consumes food and water, expends energy and produces waste. Cities require bricks, mortar, cement, lime, steel, glass and plastics to generate and renew their physical presence. Then manufactured goods – fridges, clothes, televisions, washer-driers, books, CDs, cars – are used, exhausted and eventually expelled as carbon dioxide, ash or simply junk to be buried out of view. Increasingly, too, goods travel greater distances between their places of origin and consumption end points, using a complex global distribution system of massive supertankers, lorries, airplanes, trains, containers, warehouses, cranes, forklift trucks, pipes and wires, not to mention a workforce coordinated by increasingly sophisticated and powerful logistics companies. In the following sections I have used quantitative measures to get the feel of the urban endeavour across viscerally. Throwing these figures at you might give you a headache, but please bear with me. They reveal the folly of our lifestyles, the irrationality of our production systems and built-in inefficiencies, notwithstanding ecological impact. They starkly raise the question, ‘Can civilization continue in this way?’ And the answer is, ‘No.’ Everything we do is implicated in the consumption of resources reliant on supply chains. Consider a morning routine: (1) having a cup of tea; (2) morning ablutions; (3) having breakfast; (4) putting out the rubbish; and (5) taking the metro to work.

The logistics of a cup of tea We start the day with a cup of tea, and Londoners drink enough tea or coffee to fill eight Olympic-size swimming pools every day. The UK drinks 165 million cups per day, or 62 billion cups per year, which is 23,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. You put the kettle on. A standard kilowatt kettle uses some 80 (food) calories to come to the boil, about the same as the potential energy stored in five teaspoons of sugar. In a year, London consumes some 132,769,103,200,000 calories or 154,400 gigawatt-hours of electricity, the equivalent of 13,276,000 tonnes of oil. This is more than Ireland consumes and about the same as Portugal or Greece. Half the tea consumed in London comes from East Africa, the rest mostly from the Indian subcontinent, China or Indonesia. It gets to Britain packed in either foil-lined paper sacks or tea chests, in containers, by ship, in three to five weeks. In Britain, it is deliv-

Unhinged and Unbalanced 79 ered to blending and packaging centres, and packets of loose leaves or tea bags are distributed to retail shelves. Ninety-five per cent of tea is consumed in tea bags. Most likely, milk will be added – 25 per cent of the milk consumed in Britain is taken with tea; 674,000 tonnes of milk and cream are consumed in a London year, or approximately 240 Olympic swimming pools.3 In the UK there are 2,251,000 dairy cows producing 14,071,000,000 litres of milk a year. This easily makes the UK selfsufficient in milk. However, because of the idiosyncrasies of international trade, countries import and export the same product at the same time. In 1997, the UK imported 126 million litres of milk and exported 270 million litres. Imports are now less, and exports greater, but 2002 still saw more than 70 million litres come into the country.4

Washing and toilet flushing Shortage of water is emerging as a global crisis and many predict that the wars of the future will be fought over control over water. Water gets to us through a daunting network of pipes to households and Londoners use approximately 155 litres a day each, compared to the average for England of 149 litres, a third of which is used flushing the toilet. An American uses more than treble the amount, while the average African uses only 50 litres a day.5 In taking a 5-minute shower, we use about 35 litres of water, over twice this amount if we have a bath. Brushing our teeth while leaving the tap on uses 6 litres, a washing machine cycle 100 litres, while a tap left dripping for a day sees 4.1 litres of water go down the plughole. And water waste happens at the infrastructural as well as the individual level. In 2000 water consumption in London reached 866 billion litres, of which 50 per cent was delivered to households. The volume of water lost through leakages (239 billion litres or 28 per cent) was more than the total amount of water used by the commercial and industrial sectors (195 billion). In Manila some 58 per cent of water is lost to leaks or illegal tappings. In Istanbul vendor water is 10 times as expensive as the public rate; in Bombay it is 20 times as much. In developed countries an average of 15,000 litres of treated, safe drinking water is used to flush 35kg of faeces and 500 litres of urine per person per year.6

80 The Art of City-Making

Food and eating On an average day Londoners might eat over 3 million eggs in one form or another and the equivalent of about 350,000 large (800g) loaves of bread. As a nation, Britons eat nearly 10 billion eggs a year – 26 million every day – which placed end to end would reach from the Earth to the moon. Londoners consume 6,900,000 tonnes of food per annum. A good portion goes through Smithfield, which sells 85,000 tonnes of meat a year, and Billingsgate, which sells 35,000 tonnes of fish. Between 700 and 750 million broiler chickens (chickens bred for their meat) are reared and slaughtered each year in the UK. When eating out, Londoners consume 74 per cent more ethnic food, 41 per cent more fish and 137 per cent more fruit than the British average.7 Vast amounts of water are consumed by agriculturists and horticulturalists to keep their crops alive, healthy and growing, not to mention fertilizers and pesticides. Animal farming impacts even more. For cattle raised in feedlots, it takes roughly 7 pounds of grain to add a pound of live weight to the animal. Seventy per cent of the grain produced in the US and 40 per cent of the world’s supply is fed to livestock, largely to satisfy burger demand in fastfood chains.8 To produce 1 pound of beef, a cow has produced 0.5 pounds of methane, a very potent greenhouse gas, which is equivalent to 10.5 pounds of CO2. The beef eaten by the average American in a year has produced the methane equivalent of 1.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide.9 To get on to supermarket and shop shelves, food travels ever greater distances to sate multicultural and metropolitan tastes. Of the 7 million tonnes of food consumed by Londoners each year, 80 per cent is imported from outside the UK. Over half of the vegetables and 95 per cent of the fruit Londoners eat is imported.10 Each tonne of food in London has travelled approximately 640km. Therefore, 3,558,650,000,000 tonne-km of road freight was required to meet London’s food demands.11 Even though the UK is able to grow lettuces throughout the year, imports increased from 21.8 per cent of the total supply in 1987 to 47.1 per cent in 1998. Nearly a quarter of all lettuces imported into the UK come from Spain. For every calorie of carrot flown from South Africa, we use 66 calories of fuel. For every calorie of iceberg lettuce flown in from Los Angeles we use 127 calories of fuel.12 The food chain, including agriculture, processing and transport, contributes at least

Unhinged and Unbalanced 81

THE LONG-DISTANCE LUNCH A traditional Sunday lunch could easily have travelled 25,000 miles if a chicken from Thailand and fresh vegetables from Africa are included in a supermarket shopping basket. The trend for supermarkets to source food from overseas that could well be grown in the UK is the problem. In Britain the distance food is transported increased 50 per cent between 1978 and 1999. • • • • • • • • •

Chicken from Thailand: 10,691 miles by ship Runner beans from Zambia: 4912 miles by plane Carrots from Spain: 1000 miles by lorry Mangetouts from Zimbabwe: 5130 miles by plane Potatoes from Italy: 1521 miles by lorry Sprouts from Britain: 125 miles by lorry Transport of imported goods from port of entry to distribution centre: 625 miles Transport from distribution centres to supermarket: 360 miles Total: 26,234 miles

However, choosing seasonal products and purchasing them locally at a farmers’ market, for instance, could reduce the total distance to 376 miles, 1/66th of the distance of the meal above.13

22 per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to one estimate.14 Conversely, many high-density cities in the developing world produce up to 30 per cent of food production within their city boundaries.

Rubbish Around one third of food grown for human consumption in the UK ends up in the rubbish bin and Britain throws away £20 billion worth of unused food every year, equal to five times its spending on international aid and enough to lift 150 million people out of starvation.15 Seventeen million tonnes of food is ploughed into Britain’s landfill sites every year.16 Meanwhile, food is increasingly packaged using plastics, metal and paper products. A typical London household generates around 3–4kg of packaging waste per week. It is estimated that London households produce approximately 663,000 tonnes of packaging

82 The Art of City-Making waste per annum, of which 67 per cent is food packaging. A quarter of the overall waste we produce is packaging.17 For every tonne of food consumed in York, a quarter of a tonne of packaging is produced.18 Londoners consume approximately 94 million litres of mineral water per annum. Assuming all bottles were 2-litre, this would give rise to 2260 tonnes of plastic waste. A bottle of Evian, the top-selling brand, travels approximately 760km from the French Alps to the UK.19 In total, the average Londoner throws away more than seven times their own weight in rubbish every year and a London household produces a tonne of rubbish in that time, the weight of a family car. Londoners produce enough waste to fill an Olympic swimming pool every hour or to fill the Canary Wharf tower every ten days. London’s waste is transported to 17 main municipal solid waste transfer stations, 45 civic amenity sites, 2 incinerators, 23 recycling centres, 2 compost centres, 18 landfill sites and 2 energyfrom-waste plants. Of the 17 million tonnes produced by the capital, 4.4 million is collected by councils. Seventy per cent of this waste travels more than 120 kilometres. For every million tonnes of waste generated in London, approximately 100,000 waste vehicle journeys are required.20 Developed countries produce as much as up to six times the amount of waste of developing countries. English-speaking cities are almost linguistically predisposed to treat waste as a nuisance rather than a resource, perhaps thus adopting an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach to waste. Seventythree per cent of London’s waste goes to landfill, 19 per cent is incinerated, and 8 per cent recycled or composted. Overall the UK recycles 23 per cent of waste; in the Netherlands the figure is 64 per cent and in Germany 57 per cent.21 Ninety per cent of all of London’s landfill goes to areas outside London. Perhaps the most recognizable landfill site in the world is Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island, New York. The site covers 2200 acres and mounds range in height from 90 to approximately 225 feet. The result of almost 50 years of land filling, primarily of household waste, it is estimated to contain some 100 million tonnes of garbage. Now Fresh Kills is permanently closed, New York’s rubbish is sent to landfill sites in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia, some of them 300 miles away. Over 333,000 disposable nappies are buried every day in Essex landfill sites alone.22 Approximately 1.7 million nappies are used

Unhinged and Unbalanced 83 every day in London, which equates to around 202 tonnes of waste per day or 74,000 tonnes per annum; 75 per cent (55,000 tonnes) of this is sewage.23 The number of live births in London in 2001 was 104,000. This equates to a total weight of 354 tonnes (assuming the average weight of a newborn is 3.4kg). The number of deaths in London in for the same year was 58,600. This equates to a total weight of 4160 tonnes (assuming the average adult weight is 71kg). The dead are buried in 124 municipal cemeteries, 12 Jewish, 3 Roman Catholic, 1 Church of England, 1 Muslim cemetery and 9 operational private cemeteries.24 London’s cemeteries are running out of burial space. Central London, Hackney, Camden and Tower Hamlets will run out of space within five years. Pollution keeps the death rate up. On the Marylebone Road on 28 July 2005, one of the hottest days of the year, NOx levels rose to 1912 micrograms per cubic metre, the equivalent of motorists and pedestrians breathing in four cigarettes a minute. Normal daily exposure to London’s air is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes. In pollution hotspots like the Marylebone Road, daily vehicle emissions are so concentrated that pedestrians and those with offices or homes on the roadside are exposed to the NOx equivalent of more than 30 cigarettes a day. Other affected areas include King’s Road (29 cigarettes a day) and Hammersmith Broadway (27.3 cigarettes).25 Consider Kolkata, where the pollution in cigarette equivalents is over 40, or the far more polluted Chinese and Russian cities.26 Disposal or reuse of waste apart, there is the cosmetic matter of street cleaning. Fast-food lovers, smokers and gum-chewers keep council workers employed cleaning up after them. It is estimated that three-quarters of the British population chew gum regularly. They buy 980 million packs a year, and spit out more than 3.5 billion pieces – most of which they dispose of ‘inappropriately’. On any given day, there are as many as 300,000 pieces of gum stuck to Oxford Street.27

Transport About a billion trips are made on the London Underground each year, 70 per cent more than in 1980.28 Four thousand London Underground carriages whiz around 408km of route (181 in tunnels), travelling at an average speed of 32km per hour, including

84 The Art of City-Making

Source: Charles Landry

Cars being the priority, pedestrians have to adapt stops. The metro uses 1091 gigawatt-hours of electric power a year – less than 1 per cent of the total for London. On the surface things move more slowly: inner London traffic speeds are between 19 and 24km per hour (9–15 km per hour in the worst areas) and 30 per cent of a typical peak-time journey is spent stationary.29 In the major cities of the European Union the average speed is 15km per hour. This is no better than 200 years ago. Of 11 million daily car journeys in London, just under 10 per cent are of less than one mile. London has the highest concentration of cars in the UK at ten times the average – 1500 cars per km2 compared with an average of 150 cars per km2 for the regions.30` Each weekday, 6000 buses accommodate 4.5 million passenger journeys on 600 routes around London. Local bus journeys rose in London by 25 per cent between 1991/1992 and 2001/2002 – a period that saw bus use in other British metropolitan areas decline.31 In central London in 2001, only 12 per cent of people commuted by car, compared to a figure of 41 per cent for the whole of the city.32 More sprawl equals more car use. Seventy-two per cent of those working in central London used trains, 32 per cent using the Underground and 40 per cent surface rail. Compaction and density encourages public transport use. Men travelled 10.3

Unhinged and Unbalanced 85 miles to work on average in Britain in 1999/2001, 70 per cent further than women (6.1 miles). The average distance between home and work in Britain increased by 17 per cent over ten years from 7.2 miles in 1989/1991 to 8.5 miles in 1999/2001 as cities spread their tentacles outwards.33 In the EU as a whole between 1975 and 1995 the daily distance travelled per person doubled and a further doubling of traffic is predicted by 2025.34 Two contrary trends are occurring in London with regards to transport. On the one hand – and in keeping with expectations of urban sprawl – people are travelling further to work. On the other, London’s congestion charge for motor vehicles travelling in central districts has encouraged overland public transport, with fewer people commuting by car and more trips taken on local buses. The British annual motor vehicle increase is running at 800,000. The movement of freight (measured in tonne kilometres) increased by 42 per cent between 1980 and 2002 and the length of haul of goods moved by road increased by over 40 per cent between 1990 and 2002. This means more traffic delays, given limited space resources, and more congestion, and it costs Britain around £20 billion per year.35 For the EU as a whole, congestion costs 130 billion euros annually and the total external costs of motorized road traffic are estimated at 270 billion euros per year – around 4 per cent of Europe’s gross national product. Calculating all associated car activities into time, the typical American male devotes more than 1600 hours a year to his car, sitting in it while it’s moving or stands idling, parking it and searching for it. Add to this the time spent earning the money to pay for it, to meet the monthly instalments, and to pay for petrol, tolls, insurance, taxes and tickets and you arrive at a figure of 66 days or 18.2 per cent of his time.36 London drivers spend 50 per cent of their time in queues. On average, Londoners spend nine days a year just sitting in a car and just three days walking.37 In 1950 there were an estimated 70 million cars, trucks and buses on the world’s roads. Towards the end of the century there were between 600 and 700 million. By 2025 the figure is expected to pass 1 billion. Around 15 million vehicles are sold every year in Western Europe alone.38 When you average the space taken up by small cars and trucks and buses this equates to about 9500km2. This is as if just under half the size of Wales were a car park. Put another way, it is the equivalent of back-to-back vehicles stretching on a 1000-lane highway from London to Rome, a 250-lane

86 The Art of City-Making highway from New York to Moscow, a 120-lane highway stretching from London to Sydney, or a single lane stretching 1.9 million km into space, five times the distance to the moon.39 A double-track urban railway can move 30,000 people per hour in each direction. A two-lane road can only handle 3000 to 6000 people an hour in each direction. A double-decker bus carries the same number of people as 20 fully laden cars. A double-decker bus takes up to a seventh of the road space of the equivalent number of cars. Cars need as much road space as five to eight bicycles and as much parking space as 20 bicycles. Buses, coaches and trains in Britain are seven times safer than cars in terms of fatalities per passenger kilometre.40 But over the past 20 years the overall cost of motoring has in real terms remained at or below the 1980 level while bus fares have risen by 31 per cent and rail fares by 37 per cent.41

Materials: Cement, asphalt and steel In 2000 Londoners consumed 49 million tonnes of materials – 6.7 tonnes per person. Some 27.8 million tonnes were consumed by the construction sector, out of which 26 million tonnes of waste was generated: 15 million by the construction and demolition sectors, 7.9 million by commerce and industry and 3.4 million by households. Buildings consume some 40 per cent of materials in the global community. And cement is a key component. In 2000 1.56 billion tonnes of Portland cement was manufactured globally. One third of this was produced in China alone.42 And global demand is expected to double within the next 30 years. Cement is a noxious, or even obnoxious, substance. Each tonne requires about two tonnes of raw material (limestone and shale), consumes about 4 gigajoules of energy in electricity, process heat and transport (the energy equivalent to 131 m3 of natural gas), produces its equivalent weight in CO2, about 3kg of NOx, a mixture of nitrogen monoxide and nitrogen dioxide that contributes to ground-level smog, and about 0.4 kg of PM10, an airborne particulate matter that is harmful to the respiratory tract when inhaled. Cement manufacturing accounts for approximately 7–8 per cent of CO2 globally. Yet twice as much concrete is used in construction around the world than the total of all other building materials, including wood, steel, plastic and aluminium.43 The

Unhinged and Unbalanced 87 annual global production of concrete is about 5 billion cubic yards, which is the equivalent of a massive block 1000m long, 1000m wide and 3824m high, a bit higher than Mount Fuji in Japan (3776m). More than 65,000 square miles of land have been paved in the lower 48 states to accommodate America’s 214 million cars; there are 3.9 million miles of roads, enough to circle the Earth at the equator 157 times, in that area alone.44 This amounts to 2.5 per cent of the total land surface – an area more than the size of Georgia, far, far more if you consider car parks and other areas. For every five cars added to the US fleet, an area the size of a football field is covered with asphalt. Close to half of the land area in most US cities goes to providing roads, highways and parking lots for automobiles, close to two-thirds in the case of Los Angeles. Not many cities calculate their asphalt, but Munich, one of the more environmental cities in Europe, has only 4 per cent pavement, 15 per cent asphalt and 16 per cent built area, against 59 per cent vegetation and 6 per cent bare soils.45 Of London’s 175,000 hectare area, 62 per cent is urban – buildings, asphalt, and pavement – with 30 per cent of London’s area dedicated to parkland.46 Metropolitan Tokyo is 82 per cent covered with asphalt or concrete.47 An area the size of Leicestershire is now taken up by roads in the UK, with an additional fifth as much land given over to parking. ‘Once paved, land is not easily reclaimed,’ as environmentalist Rupert Cutler once noted. ‘Asphalt is the land’s last crop.’48 In 1973 the tallest building in the US opened its doors. At 1454 feet tall (110 storeys), the Sears Tower took three years to build at a cost of more than US$150 million. From the Skydeck, on a clear day, you can see four states – Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. The building contains enough steel to build 50,000 cars, enough telephone wiring to wrap around the world 1.75 times, enough concrete to build an eight-lane, five-mile-long highway; it contains more than 43,000 miles of telephone cable, 2000 miles of electrical wire, 25,000 miles of plumbing and stairways totalling 2232 steps.49 It took 36,910 tonnes of steel to build the Petronas Towers. The Empire State Building contains 60,000 tonnes of steel – 4500 elephant equivalents – and 10 million bricks.50 A threebedroom detached house requires about 10,000 facing bricks. Total brick production in UK is 2.8 billion a year, which if lined up end to end would reach to the moon and back.51

88 The Art of City-Making

The ecological footprint The ecological footprint is a concept used to calculate the area of land required to meet consumption and waste demands. As well as land and bodies of water required for food, forestry required to absorb carbon dioxide emissions and land used for waste disposal are taken into account. Calculations can be made for any unit of consumption (e.g. the individual) and have been made for the world as a whole, for individual nations and for towns and cities. Unfortunately, there are wide discrepancies in methodologies, making comparisons between cities very difficult: estimates of London’s ecological footprint range from 125 to 293 times the size of London itself.52 Nevertheless, suffice it to say that even at lower estimates, the footprint of London (and that of most cities) extends well beyond its geographical area. That cities’ footprints are far greater than the cities themselves is neither surprising nor necessarily problematic. One would expect an area of dense population to exact disproportionate demands on the planet in terms of area and less peopled regions produce food for ones more so. Agriculture is configured in such a way. However, problems become clear when we look at consumption on a wider scale. For example, Europe’s ecological footprint represents an area more than twice the size of the continent. (Americans’ needs per capita are nearly twice those of Europeans). And, as a planet, we consume more than the Earth can sustain. Since the early 1980s, we have been living in ‘ecological deficit’. In 2001, we used 1.2 times the biocapacity of the Earth.53

URBAN LOGISTICS Putting food on supermarket shelves or supplying the high street with clothes and other consumer durables is no small feat. The guzzling city presents titanic and complex organizational challenges. Sating the demands of a city like London requires the movement of huge ships filled with oil or piled high with minerals or Lego-like containers, thousands of kilometres of pipeline carrying oil and gas, and just-in-time meetings of different transport modes. The port infrastructures of Hong Kong or Rotterdam are small cities in themselves. But since they are usually cut off behind fencing and customs barriers, we often overlook them. Equally, we

Unhinged and Unbalanced 89 see trucks on motorways with names like Maersk Sealand or CN, but few of us have much of a grasp of what they are doing. Logistics is the art and science of coordinating the myriad movements of goods and information within and between nations. It involves the process of strategically and profitably managing the procurement, movement and storage of materials, parts and finished inventory (and the related information flows). City logistics require an intensely complex coordination of tangible and less visible things – trucks, planes and ships on the one hand, computer systems and software on the other. When it works it has the grace of the well-oiled machine, but its resilience is far lower than we think, its fragility exposed in a computer shutdown or traffic crisis. All this may sound dry, but logistics constitutes the respiratory and digestive systems that make cities work; without them cities fall apart. Logistics is big business. The logistics sector is worth £55 billion to the UK economy alone. It contributes 15–20 per cent of total product costs. The sector currently spans some 63,000 companies, employing 1.7 million people in the UK and, although often neglected, is one of the largest employment sectors in the economy.54 The size of the US logistics industry is US$900 billion – almost double the size of the high-tech industry, or more than 10 per cent of US gross domestic product.55 The global logistics industry is worth US$3.43 trillion.56 This includes a wide variety of jobs, from vehicle tracking, cargo securing and protection to customs brokerage, warehousing, distribution and the associated IT connected to these activities. And it is a fast growing business. Food imports and exports have tripled over 20 years in the UK.57 Significantly, recent years have seen the emergence of third party logistics companies (3PLs) who are solely concerned with organizing these movements. Theoretically, and historically, there are a number of different players in the supply chain whose activities have to be coordinated: road haulers, rail operators, shipping companies, airlines, freight forwarders, warehousing companies, postal companies, and packaging and distribution companies. Increasingly, however, sophisticated one-stop companies – 3PLs with unfamiliar names like Christian Salvesen, Wincanton, and Tibbet & Britten – offer solutions over a range of sectors. New software and satellite technology tracks inventory and movement, allowing suppliers and importers to locate their shipment at any one time. The newest

90 The Art of City-Making trend is radio frequency identification (RFID), which is now being standardized at a global level, allowing companies to tag all their goods to provide uninterrupted tracking of goods in transit. Sea ports are the main hubs of global freight distribution. There are some 2000 ports worldwide, from single-berth operations handling a few hundred tonnes a year to multipurpose facilities handling up to 300 million tonnes a year. The largest include Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, New York, Houston, Rotterdam, Hamburg and the ports around Tokyo Bay. Fewer and fewer ports handle the lion’s share of world traffic: the top ten container ports handle close to 40 per cent of world traffic today. You can recognize the containers in any port: Maersk Line (with 18 per cent of world trade, by far the largest), Mediterranean Shipping Co., Evergreen from Taiwan, Cosco (China Ocean Shipping) from Beijing, Hanjin from Seoul and NYK Line from Tokyo. Port infrastructures can be massive. For example, Rotterdam’s Europort stretches 40km and covers 10,500 hectares (industrial sites plus water), has 60,600 people in directly port-related employment and handles some 1 million tonnes of goods every day. In 2005 the equivalent of 8 million 20-foot containers passed through Rotterdam. The port is now expanding by claiming land from the sea. World port traffic surpassed 5 billion tonnes in 1998 and it is estimated that by 2010 world seaborne freight will approach 7 billion tonnes. Of this, Chinese ports will handle about 4 billion tonnes of freight throughput, 57 per cent of the total.58 Forty-five per cent of sea freight is liquid. Dry bulk goods – coal, iron ore, grain, phosphate – make up 23 per cent and general cargo accounts for the remaining 32 per cent. The transportation of general cargo has become increasingly containerized. Freight containers are typically 20 feet long, 8 feet wide, and, usually, a little over 8 feet high. Some are 40 feet long. One twenty foot equivalent unit (TEU) equals about 12 register tonnes or 34m3. One TEU can carry 2200 VCRs or 5000 pairs of shoes. There are estimated to be 15.9 million TEU containers in the world. Container traffic breaks down globally thus: the Far East 45 per cent, Europe 23 per cent, North America 16 per cent, the Near and Middle East 6 per cent, Central and South America 4 per cent and Africa 3 per cent. Movements of empty containers are estimated to make up about 20 per cent of the total. In 2003 sea port container traffic was 266.3 million TEUs, treble the container traffic in 1990. Thus more goods are moving around faster.

Unhinged and Unbalanced 91 Ports handle about 26,500 ships of over 500 gross tonnage criss-crossing the seas. They include 5500 crude oil tankers and oil product tankers, which between them can carry 175 million tonnes of oil, 2600 container ships, 4900 bulk carriers carrying loads such as grains, over 2000 chemical tankers and around 11,500 general cargo ships sailing around the world. The largest ports handle the super-sized ships, over 300m long, that can carry up to 9000 20foot containers, 13 storeys high and 10 containers wide. One of the largest, the OOCL Shenzhen, can carry up to 100,000 tonnes of cargo; it is driven by a single 12-cylinder, 69,439kW (93,120bhp) engine which turns an 85 tonne propeller. By way of comparison, a typical family car engine generates around 90kW (120hp), 776 times less. Fuel consumption is measured in tonnes of fuel consumed per hour, and the rate is around 10 tonnes. On the drawing board is the MalaccaMax ship, 470m long, 60m high, with 16 storeys, an 18,000 container capacity and a 200,000 tonne cargo capacity.59

Has decivilization started? We live in awkward times. Between now and 2050 world population is expected to grow by 50 per cent and, as we have seen, our per capita consumptive demands on the planet are also growing fast. In the 1960s the world’s ecological footprint was below the planet’s biocapacity; by the end of the 1970s it had risen to about one planet, where it stayed until about 1983. By the end of the millennium our footprint had reached 1.2 planets. We have now been living in ecological deficit for two decades.60 At the same time, wealth differentials are getting more extreme. Global inequality is worse than it has ever been. Such trends gloomily raise the question, Has modernity failed us? Has, indeed, decivilization already begun? In 1992 Francis Fukuyama buoyantly declared in his book The End of History and the Last Man that the end of the Cold War meant the end of the progression of human history with Western liberal democracy as the triumphant, final form of human government and liberal economics as the ultimately prevailing mode of production. However, this thesis has not been able to withstand geopolitical – Balkanization, Islamic fundamentalism – and environmental objections. Capitalist ideologies assume inexhaustible resources which just aren’t there. The global economy cannot, or

92 The Art of City-Making

Source: Charles Landry

The basic infrastructures of life simply do not exist in many places across the world – such as Shkodra, Albania (above)

Unhinged and Unbalanced 93 plain won’t, continue in its present form. We cannot rely on the market to respond appropriately to environmental, social and cultural crises in time because environmental, social and cultural costs are not factored into economic calculations. Barring manna from heaven or an extraordinary scientific discovery, it is safe to say that civilization will not survive in its present form. This is not to make an ideological point. There’s just not enough planet to maintain culture as we now know it. Our addiction to the automobile will have to be addressed because even if or when sustainable energy sources arrive on a widespread, global scale, we do not have an infinite supply of metal. Tastes will change as we readjust to agricultures and industries closer to home. Water will become, as it should be, precious. Given this material backdrop, ideologies will of course change. Perhaps the current rhetoric of rational economic man will be seen retrospectively as rather mad. The cult of individualism may wane when we realize in full how dependent our individual existences are on others (since we are all in effect sharing the same pie, having more means someone else having less). And change will be traumatic. Extreme economic crisis has historically precipitated extreme ideologies.

THE GEOGRAPHY OF MISERY Light and shade accompany the urban story, and in some places it is the dark that dominates. Too often, grinding poverty, hopelessness, drug dealing, child prostitution, people-trafficking, petty crime, street children, AIDS and the fear induced by local gangs characterize the urban experience. And let’s not forget Grozny or Baghdad. We can take extremes of suffering and well-being as a given. Columbia’s murder rate is 100 times that of Copenhagen. Gloom is fairly unavoidable when you dwell on these thoughts, and trying to empathize with the city’s most afflicted hurts in the gut. But misery is exactly where the greater focus of creativity should be. Forget for the moment the more attractive glamour of new media industries or the latest icon building in a city centre. Finding imaginative solutions to day-to-day needs, human distress, thwarted ambition, and crime and violence is a far more creative act. The creativity needed has different qualities. Good ideas are

94 The Art of City-Making interwoven with courage, the skill of mediation, negotiation, dialogue and even love. This chapter and the two that follow approach the concept of geography in terms of the way feelings and experiences are distributed over physical space. Further, these chapters explore how misery, desire or mere blandness can pervade the way a city looks and feels. Endemic misery among an urban population, for instance, will impact on the subjective experience of a visitor to their city. But misery may also be reflected in the physical structure of the city: crumbling buildings, filthy streets, public spaces no longer tended by a local authority, no-go areas. And the same applies to desire and blandness, which can manifest themselves in advertising clutter or homogenized shopping malls respectively. Misery exists everywhere, even in our most affluent cities – mundane, everyday miseries of redundancy, not being able to make ends meet or the alienation that dense but fragmented communities can induce. However, I concentrate here on extremes of misery to illustrate more starkly how creativity can be brought to bear on problems we are all too aware of, if probably not close to. While sometimes grim, these narratives are intended to emphasize hope rather than despair. Even for a city in acute distress, those that live there can still harbour a love. In each of the cities mentioned in the pages that follow, there are wonderful people battling against the odds. As we survey misery, consider the NGO Viva Rio’s campaign ‘Choose Gun Free! It’s Your Weapon or Me’, where women are taking the lead in reducing debilitating levels of gun violence in the favelas. Consider Viktor Melnikov, the surprise new mayor of shockingly polluted Norilsk, who is trying to force the local mining company into safer practices. Consider the project that Cirque du Soleil, in conjunction with Save the Children, and in addition to its shelters, has developed to provide circus training as an alternative to education for the street children who lived in the sewers and heating pipes beneath the streets of Ulan Bator. Or consider the reaction ‘without precedent in Japanese society’61 to the Kobe earthquake of 1995, which killed 6279 people. Although volunteerism is not nearly as widespread in Japan as in Europe or North America, most search and rescue was undertaken by community residents. Spontaneous volunteering and emergent group activity were widespread throughout the emergency period. Residents provided a wide range of goods and services to their fellow earthquake victims, and large numbers of

Unhinged and Unbalanced 95 people travelled from other parts of the country to offer aid. Officially designated rescue agencies such as fire departments and civil defence forces were responsible for recovering at most one quarter of those trapped in collapsed structures. There was not a single authenticated case of looting.62 To focus on misery can depress, yet it provides a broad and rich context in which to imagine positive, original alternatives. A reminder of urban difficulties challenges us to imagine deep down what it is really like to live in such places. It reminds us what the challenge is to creativity: to build civility, a civic culture and some sense of fairness, to curtail the corrupt, to generate jobs, and to create cities that can do more than just serve basic needs.

Organized crime and the rule of fear For centuries now the Italian Mafia has distorted and impoverished the South Italian economy, extorting shopkeepers and taking a cut on any economic activity. Even today it seems it takes a cut on any big construction project. This is why Rico Cassone, the mayor of Villa San Giovanni who opposed building the Messina Bridge to connect Sicily to the mainland, resigned – he received the classic Mafia threat of five bullets through the post. Organized crime is expected to profit hugely from the bridge’s construction. But their tentacles go much further. Building cities is a construction game, so Mafia involvement in Southern Italian city-making will continue ad nauseam. The yakuza in Japan, like other mobster groups, are far more than gangs of thugs that oversee extortion, gambling, prostitution and other traditional gangster activities. They have bought up real estate and have their tentacles in some 900 construction-related firms. The three largest groups are the Kobe-based Yamaguchigumi and the Sumiyoshi-Rengo-kai and Inagawa-kai, both headquartered in Tokyo. The National Police Agency indicated that the Yamaguchi-gumi had 20,826 members and 737 affiliated groups in the late 1990s.63 In 1998 the South China Morning Post reported Japanese police data on mob involvement in the nation’s construction industry, showing that Japan’s mobsters stood to make about US$9 billion just in the reconstruction needed after the major earthquake hit the port city of Kobe in 1995. The same story is repeated with the Chinese triads in Taiwan, Macau and the wider diaspora. It is evident also in places like Moscow, where older

96 The Art of City-Making tenants are brutalized out of their cheap communist tenancies in desirable areas to make way for new construction and where listed buildings are burnt down to enable new building at higher plot ratios. And the US mafia’s historic involvement in construction is well documented. Think of Belfast, where a number of the ‘freedom fighters’ on both sides of the religious divide – Catholic and Protestant – now hold whole communities to ransom as they slide into drug dealing, racketeering and violence under the guise of protecting their communities. Think too of the apartheid on the ground that still continues in spite of efforts towards peace. Like a poison, it leaches into the daily fabric of life. For instance, in the Ardoyne district of Belfast, four out of every five Protestant residents will not use the nearest shops because they are located in Catholic streets, and a similar proportion of Catholics will not swim in their nearest swimming pool, which is located in a Protestant street. Most 18-year-olds in Ardoyne have never in their life had a meaningful conversation, about, say, sport or family, with anybody of their own age across the ‘peace line’ and religious divide.64 The connection between segregation and deprivation is startling. Virtually all the most deprived areas are highly segregated and have the most significant levels of sectarian violence. The link between economic well-being and prejudice is clear.65 Rio conjures up a particularly powerful resonance: carnival, dance, gyrating, big-busted girls, Copacabana beach and the Sugarloaf. But any party atmosphere is severely compromised by the threat of gangs. Drug organizations like Red Command control most of the city’s 26 sprawling shanty towns or favelas, whose population exceeds a couple of million people. The leader of the Red Command drug organization, Luiz Fernando da Costa, better known as Fernandinho Beira Mar, has been in a top-security prison since 2001, but he still exerts power. He is reputed to have negotiated arms deals on his mobile phone there. In 2002 he managed to torture, murder and burn four of his enemies. To murder his opponents he needed the connivance of prison staff to be able to move through six sets of iron gates. Prison staff are threatened if they do not accept bribes. The repercussions reached Rio. Armed supporters of one of Mar’s victims, Ernaldo Pinto de Medeiros, moved slowly from street to street ordering shops to close and schools to send their children home as a mark of respect. Rio, normally chaotic, fell silent.

Unhinged and Unbalanced 97 Rio’s largest favela, Rocinha, prone to landslides as it clings to the hillside above high-class beachside areas which provide easy access employment for residents, is often held up as an example of a greatly improved area of squatter housing. However, pitched battles between the police and drug lords have drawn attention to its underlying social problems and the challenges that still lie ahead for city planners. The sheer size, topographical complexity and social structures of Rio’s favelas mean that police are reluctant to intervene unless serious violence or drug-trafficking has been detected. Rocinha is in fact the largest favela in South America, with some 127,000 residents. Despite a more violent past, it is now relatively peaceful – thousands of tourists even visit each year, often on organized tours. Yet Rio is a major transit point for Colombian cocaine on its way to Europe and represents a big market itself for the drug. Higher up the hill, in a community that is both socially and spatially segmented, lie parts of Rocinha that are largely controlled by drug lords, not the city authorities. But lower down there is a structure of local government and the community has developed services for itself, such as crèches, and three-quarters of residents now have access to electricity. The 2002 film City of God shone a spotlight on favelas, chronicling the cycle of poverty, violence, and despair in a Rio de Janeiro slum. Overall the murder rate in metro Rio is declining. It is now 50 per 100,000 inhabitants per annum, down from 78 in 1994, although in some favelas like Baixada Fluminense the murder rate is still 76. But it is not only murder that shifts perceptions. ‘Gunmen rob British coach party in Rio – Raiders storm airport bus carrying 33 elderly British tourists – cameras and jewellery worth thousands snatched,’ read a headline earlier this year.66 The road that links Rio’s international airport to the glitzy South Zone has become notorious in recent years for carjackings and shootings. In Rio they speak of the ‘parallel power’ that traffickers exert while enriching themselves, or even of a ‘parallel state’. Gary, Indiana, with a population of 120,000, has a murder rate of 79 per 100,000, the highest in the US. Dominated by drug gangs fighting for turf, it is a hollowed out, desolated place and has been so for a couple of decades. The drug dealing is seductive – you can triple your money turning cocaine into crack and if you are very lucky move on when you have some money. But most end up dead or in prison. In 1995, when the murder rate was 118, the state governor ordered in the state troopers amid great fanfare. On

98 The Art of City-Making national TV he ordered them to go to war on Gary’s gangs. The troopers set up roadblocks in the most dangerous neighbourhoods. During their three-month stay the murder rate went down by 40 per cent only to go back up again when they left. Once a racially mixed steel town, a dozen years after the mills began to shrink from employing 30,000 workers in the 1970s, it became a wretched black ghetto. Today employment hovers at around 5000. The story of Gary’s descent into violence is an extreme version of one played out in many American cities where ‘white flight’ is followed by ‘urban blight’. But murder rates are only one indication of urban distress. Behind these murders lie untold stories of violence, unpleasantness, paranoia and fear. One may note that the average murder rate in the US is 5.6 per 100,000 people, with New Orleans on 53.3, Washington on 45.8 and New York, with its dramatic reduction in crime, on 7.3. Contrast this with two of the most multicultural cities in the world, Toronto on 1.80 and Vancouver on 3.45.

People-trafficking and the sex trade After drugs and arms trading, the £4 billion global sex trade business comes in third in illegal trade. An estimated 600,000–800,000 people are trafficked in this way per annum, according to the US State Department. I witnessed for myself several instances in Iasi in Romania on the Moldavian border and then in Moldova’s capital Kishinev: burly, blurry-eyed men in their 40s shacked up in hotels with waif-like 18-year-olds waiting to be transported on. The contrasts in Kishinev are stark. The main thoroughfares have some faded class and a mix of garish bars, clubs and shrill advertising. In the evening, you see hoards of scantily dressed young women, the target of the traffickers. Immediately off the main roads there is no street lighting and you are enveloped in gloom. The European Parliament estimates that around 4000 women a year are trafficked to Denmark and over 10,000 to the UK. Many come from Eastern Europe but others increasingly from places like Thailand, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Often they are sold on to work as prostitutes who can make several thousand pounds a week for their pimps and are effectively imprisoned in our major cities. The London Metropolitan Police estimate some are forced to see between 30 and 40 clients per day. It is estimated that only 19 per cent of prostitutes in

Unhinged and Unbalanced 99 London are British: 25 per cent are Eastern Europeans and 13 per cent are of Southeast Asian origin. Pattya, 100 miles east of Bangkok, where the streets are lined with go-go bars and where English-style pubs display signs declaring ‘lager louts welcome’, teems with prostitutes. Of the 200,000 inhabitants, it is estimated that 100,000 have some kind of connection to sex tourism. Pattya’s population virtually doubles during the winter months, when affluent European and American tourists – many of them well past middle age – flee the cold of their own countries to seek the warm weather and sensual pleasures of Pattya. Three decades ago, Pattya was an obscure fishing village. With the advent of the Vietnam War, it became a popular recreation resort for American marines based at nearby Sattaship; their weekend escapades sowed the seeds of the sex industry. From that beginning, prostitution spread like wildfire. Because of the enormous financial success of sex tourism, thousands of young women and girls barely into their teens come from the impoverished villages of northern Thailand to seek the easy money. Even women and girls from neighbouring Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam are brought to work in the sex shops. And lurking behind the lure of pleasure lies endless violence. Cambodia has become a favoured destination for paedophiles since Thailand, previously the most notorious centre of under-age sex, began a crackdown on child prostitution two years ago. The paedophiles come from America, Canada, Australia, Holland and Germany, as well as Britain. Svay Pak, the infamous brothel area 11km north of central Phnom Penh, is the epicentre. ‘Out here you can get anything, you do what the fuck you like, girl, boy, twoyear-old baby, whatever you want. Nobody cares.’67 And Pattya and Svay Pak are just at the apex of many more towns and cities across the region that rely on sex and have lost their dignity.

The human cost of change Over the South China Sea to Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea. No other country has been wrenched into the modern world with such brutal swiftness, and it is now on the brink of social and economic meltdown. For two years running it came out worst in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability rankings of 130 cities, behind the likes of Lagos, Algiers and Karachi.68 Crime is extremely high, armed hold-ups perpetuated by raskols are

100 The Art of City-Making common, and expatriates and middle-class locals live behind high walls and coils of razor wire. Yet grass-roots crime may simply reflect the corruption of authority: ‘Raskols mimic political leaders’ corrupt behaviour at the street level, enriching themselves through theft and operating with relative impunity. When criminals and corrupt politicians go unpunished, people lose respect for state laws and the authority of central government collapses.’69 Back North. While admiring the amazing growth and sparkle of the new China, let us not forget the grim cost of China’s economic miracle, even though in comparison with other recently developing countries in the region, this immense logistical challenge has been managed with some sense of planning and order. There are only a few slums, a significant achievement given that this is the biggest mass migration in the history of the world, with rural people move into cities creating a second industrial revolution. A massive building boom, unparalleled anywhere, is taking place. In 2003 half of the concrete used in construction around the world was used in China’s cities. In 1950, 72 million Chinese lived in cities; in 1997 the figure was 370 million and by 2020 it is predicted to be 800 million, perhaps 950 million by 2030. The extreme example is Shenzhen, constructed at breakneck speed by ‘architects on acid’.70 In the 1970s it was a fishing village. Then the government established a special economic zone there and the growth was non-stop. Recent government estimates put the population at 10 million, well above the 7 million counted in the 2000 census. We hear little about the industrial and construction accidents of this expansion. Official estimates are that 11,000 are killed every year, but it is privately acknowledged to be more than 20,000 a year.71 China competes on price in the global market and safety measures add costs to the bottom line. This speed of development means safety standards do not catch up and compensation is so low there is little incentive for operators to ensure safety. Furthermore, in spite of increased awareness of pollution, the environmental crisis appears in danger of getting out of control. China’s spectacular economic growth over the past two decades has dramatically depleted the country’s natural resources and produced skyrocketing rates of pollution. Environmental degradation has also contributed to significant public health problems, mass migration, economic loss and social unrest. ‘The result is a patchwork of environmental protection in which a few wealthy regions with strong leaders and international ties improve their

Unhinged and Unbalanced 101 local conditions, while most of the country continues to deteriorate.’ Elizabeth C. Economy documents in a gripping way the severely degraded environment where ‘rivers run black, deserts advance from the north and smoky haze covers the country’.72 Imagine, after a hard day’s work, being cocooned in small apartments in endlessly similar 25-storey blocks in ever-burgeoning cities. Think of the social life, leisure, shopping. And yet ‘It is better living here than living in my home village in Anhui,’ comments a Beijing resident.73

Grinding poverty and stolen childhood The suffocation, by surveillance, shadowing, wiretapping and mail interception, is total. Most patients in hospitals suffer from psychosomatic illnesses, worn out by compulsory drills, innumerable parades, ‘patriotic’ assemblies at six in the morning and droning propaganda. They are toil-worn, prostrate, at the end of their tether. Clinical depression is rampant. Alcoholism is common because of mind-numbing rigidities, regimentation and hopelessness. In patients’ eyes I saw no life, only lassitude and a constant fear.74 North Korea represents a ‘prison state’ where criticism of the state constitutes treason. Pyongyang recoils from outside intervention, but recent appeals for aid reveal the desperation of a people shut off from the rest of the world. In fact, in relative terms, the capital is a better place to live than the countryside and its residents would find the idea of Western middle classes wanting to move out of the city quite bizarre. Pyongyang’s restaurants and nightclubs contrast absolutely with rural North Korea, where citizens face crippling poverty, with starvation particularly rampant among children. But repression also takes its toll on childhood: Children have had the creativity and spontaneity of childhood taken away from them. The unquestioning following of the instructions and behaviour of adults suggest that the children are aware of the consequences of misbehaviour in adulthood and don’t wish to dabble in it. There is a sense of defeat about children’s behaviour – that they are subconsciously aware of the intransigence of the status quo and have decided to meekly accept it.75

102 The Art of City-Making Meanwhile, in Mongolia’s capital, Ulan Bator, where temperatures can fall as low as -52°C in winter, more than 3000 children live on the streets. Many shelter in the sewers for warmth, refuge and to escape violence in the city. The collapse of communism saw most factories shutting down, leaving thousands unemployed. The result was escalating crime, domestic violence and alcoholism. This poverty forced children out of their homes and now they beg, steal and wander the ice-covered streets.76

Filth Let’s explore some of Russia’s (and the world’s) most polluted cities, such as Norilsk, 2875km east of Moscow, in Siberia, at the edge of the Arctic circle, where the temperatures can drop to -60°C in winter, Dzerzhinsk about 380km further east, or Murmansk and the Kola Peninsula. In Norilsk the snow turns black, and is discoloured yellow across a 30km radius, and the air tastes sour from sulphurous fumes. It is a closed city, but one which my Comedia colleague Phil Wood had the pleasure to visit. Like 90 other towns and cities, it is normally off-limits to foreigners. The authorities say that this restriction is to protect Norilsk from Azerbaijani traders flocking to this economic zone. Others argue it has more to do with hiding highly unpleasant facts. A former Soviet penal colony, safety was never a concern. Norilsk, with a population of 230,000, is home to the world’s biggest nickel mine and known for industrial pollution so severe it drifts over to Canada. Evidence of Norilsk’s activities has also been found on polar ice. The city itself is a paradise compared to what goes on in the plants, where workers wear respirators as fumes giddy the senses and where ‘workers’ lives have, over several decades, been remorselessly put upon the sacrificial block’.77 Chimney stacks to the south, east, north and west mean the city is hit by pollution whatever way the wind blows. The appalling conditions mean the average life expectancy is ten years below the Russian average and the men in the mines live barely beyond 50. Norilsk produces 14.5 per cent of all factory pollution in Russia,78 an astonishing fact given Russia’s poor pollution record. Each day the stacks blurt out 5000 tonnes of sulphur dioxides into the sky. The lure, however, is the high wages.

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Source: Charles Landry

One of around 600,000 bunkers in Albania: these are often in the most unlikely urban settings, built under Enver Hoxha’s leadership to control the population

Prisons and borders Think of the once-proud Shkodra in Albania, now forgotten at the edge of Montenegro, where electricity is still intermittent and the potholes are deep enough to conceal a small child. The population was transformed after the flight of many of the ambitious to Tirana, tempted by its glitz and apparent opportunities. The mountain villagers, who in turn are tempted by Shkodra, have replaced them. Clannish attitudes linger in the city and family blood feuds persist. For instance, in December 2000 the nephew of Ndoc Cefa, a famous Albanian theatre director, assassinated another Albanian in London. While the assassin is locked up in a psychiatric hospital in Albania, the blood feud must continue and all males of the Cefa family in the Shkodra area are targets. Their houses are their prisons. Consider the wall separating Israel from the West Bank and partly running through Palestinian territory. It was built to prevent Palestinian would-be suicide bombers from entering Israel. It is part wall, part fence, and most of its 670km length has a concrete base

104 The Art of City-Making and a 5m-high wire-and-mesh superstructure. Rolls of razor wire and a 4m-deep ditch are placed on one side. In addition, the structure is fitted with electronic sensors and it has an earth-covered ‘trace road’ beside it where footprints of anyone crossing can be seen. Parts of the structure consist of an 8m-high solid concrete wall, complete with massive watchtowers. Many towns are cut off or cut up by the wall. Imagine living in Qalqilya, where the wall surrounds the town almost completely. Residents are imprisoned, cut off from neighbouring Palestinian villages and the rest of the West Bank. Palestinian property within 35m of the wall, including homes, farms, agricultural land, greenhouses and water wells, has been destroyed by the Israeli army. Four entrances to the town have been blocked, while the only remaining entrance is a military roadblock. It denies locals the means to livelihood and access to natural resources. Qalqilya was once known as the West Bank’s bread basket, but nearly 50 per cent of the city’s agricultural land has been confiscated, as have 19 wells, representing 30 per cent of the city’s water supply, forcing residents to migrate to sustain a livelihood.79 Border towns, especially between countries where wealth differentials are great, can also be problematic. Cuidad Juarez in Mexico and El Paso, Texas effectively constitute one city but they are separated by the Rio Grande River and the border. More than 320 women have been murdered in Juarez since 1993. Of these deaths, approximately 100 have been sexual-torture killings of young women aged between 12 and 19. Several hundred women are missing and unaccounted for. Nobody takes responsibility for solving the cases and corrupt police are in cahoots with the public prosecutor’s office. The powerful drug cartels and outdated laws have allowed the perpetrators to go free. Since 1995 police have jailed more than a dozen killers but the murder spree continues and has now attracted global attention, with Amnesty International at the campaigning forefront.

Tourism and its discontents What about the gleaming tourist spots of Faliraki, Goa or Ibiza? Thousands of places worldwide are caught up in the tourism maelstrom, and, while it has clearly done much for many places, it also has its flip side: the effect on local identity, ecological despoliation, overdevelopment and more. Fuelled by cheap airlines, charter

Unhinged and Unbalanced 105 flights and media attention, Faliraki, the once sleepy fishing village on Rhodes, became a ‘modern-day Sodom’, according to some, after a TV series called Club Reps, which followed the activities of holidaymakers and reps. It rapidly became a destination for British youngsters and developed into a place of binge drinking orgies, fighting, vomiting and casual sex, encouraged, it must be said, by local bar owners. In 2004 it had clubs with names like Sinners, Excite, Bed, Climax and The Pleasure Rooms. Then the authorities clamped down after a fatal stabbing of a British boy in a drunken brawl and introduced a zero tolerance policy. Quickly the action moved on to Zakynthos. Once exclusive, for the moment it enjoys the dubious reputation of being the party haven of Europe. But in the evening a darker side quickly emerges. Barely dressed girls weave their way drunkenly between guys whose strut has been reduced to an alcoholic crawl. Flashes of violence and casual sex skirt the streets and rape is then never far away. Goa, once a dope-filled, peace-loving haven, has long lost its innocent, fun-loving reputation, blown away by a spate of drug deaths as the hippie paradise is taken over by British traffickers. Ibiza, once a Spanish idyll, is now another party haven invaded by unshackled tourists. The club names are again appropriate: Amnesia, Eden, El Divino.

Cultural prosperity among poverty As I have already suggested, acute misery is not confined to developing nations. Material poverty exists alongside prosperity. Nevertheless, culture can be wielded to alleviate poverty by recentring communities and by providing a foundation upon which tangible, material economies can be built. Paris’ Val-Fourre sink estate is Europe’s largest council estate, with 28,000 inhabitants, sky-high unemployment and growing school drop rates – inevitably worse for the immigrants, most of whom are from North Africa. Despite the republican French ideal of equality, they do not feel treated and respected as French. The combination – no job, no education, no respect – is a dangerous cocktail as the riots in the banlieues all over France in late 2005 showed. But here, as in so many other places, there are bright sparks such as Radio Droit de Cite, run by 60 local teenagers. The station gives them a platform on which to shape their identity and foster self-belief through producing documentaries, phone-ins,

106 The Art of City-Making community information, sports and music. More than a dozen teenagers from the station have moved on to jobs in national broadcasting. Finally, back to my home country, Britain, where the Joseph Rowntree Foundation revealed that 70 per cent of Britain’s poorest children are concentrated in just four conurbations: London, Greater Manchester, Merseyside (which includes Liverpool) and Glasgow.80 The Rowntree report points out ‘the huge damage caused by the persistence of poverty and disadvantage in a generally prosperous country’. The poor areas in these cities, like Harpurhey in Manchester, Everton in Liverpool, Tower Hamlets in London or Easterhouse in Glasgow, can feel like desolated places, but here, as elsewhere, civic leadership can produce innovative ideas. For example, in Easterhouse a new Cultural Campus, appropriately called the Bridge, has opened, incorporating a library, a lifelong learning centre, a flexible auditorium, rehearsal, photography and multimedia studios, a flexible exhibition and performance space, and an education centre, the John Wheatley College. This large, multifunctional building also offers office suites, a new swimming pool, water features and a health suite, which will attract many users. Its goals are to increase opportunities to develop personal self-confidence, new life skills, such as communication and team working, and good health and to increase employability. Most interestingly and counter-intuitively, it is also the base for the new National Theatre of Scotland. Conceived as a ‘virtual’ body, with only a small number of permanent staff, it will research at the Easterhouse base and create plays for touring. This alone will bring people into the area who previously had no reason to be there. In London the new Idea Stores in Tower Hamlets are remodelling the view of libraries, which were previously underused and unloved. The plan is to create a series of bright, new buildings in local shopping areas, combining lifelong learning and cultural attractions with all the services normally associated with libraries, from classic books to DVDs and CDs. They borrow the best that can be learnt from the world of retail – presentation, use of colour, sense of welcome – while retaining a public service ethos. The first three in Bow, Chrisp Street and Whitechapel have an airy, transparent feel, in tune with a democratic spirit and that of valuing users as citizens. The first Idea Stores have trebled the number of visitors. The dowdiness of the old libraries has been left behind and a new image has drawn in new users. Acting as a community hub,

Unhinged and Unbalanced 107 the word library has disappeared. We now have Idea Stores, complete with cafés, crèches and multimedia offerings. Whether the word ‘store’ reflects the right ethos is another matter. The Easterhouse Cultural Campus and Tower Hamlets’ Ideas Stores projects attempt to build social capital, characterized by encouraging social trust and mutual interconnectedness, which is enhanced over time though interaction. The analogy with capital can be misleading, because unlike traditional forms of capital, social capital is not depleted by use, but in fact grows by use and is depleted by non-use. It is accumulated when people interact in a purposeful manner with each other in families, workplaces, neighbourhoods, local associations and other meeting places.

Learning from Katha The goal of the art of city-making is to create more liveable places with decent services, good housing and the possibility of a livelihood. If these are missing, not to mention the basics like shelter, food, drinkable water and elementary security, there is the danger of falling back into chaos in spite of the selfless and courageous acts of individuals. I want to conclude the geography of misery with the story of an organization I know well. It stands as an exemplar for all the other creative projects around the world that attempt to grapple with ordinary and dramatic misery in cities. It reminds us how the worst can be turned into something better. It is called Katha and it works largely in Delhi’s largest slum, Govindpuri, where 150,000 people live. Katha is now at the epicentre of activities that are transforming the Govindpuri slum cluster. Katha supports people’s movements in over 54 communities with the aim of turning ‘the slums into the gold mines they are – the powerhouses of creativity, entrepreneurship and drive’. Its slogan is ‘uncommon creativities for a common good’ based on an ‘uncommon education’ (visit for more information). The word katha itself means story or narrative. It started with a simple idea ‘to enhance the joy of reading’ and to foster storytelling. India has always been a land of storytellers. It honed over centuries the fine art of telling the story – in epics, mythologies, folk tales and more recent writings. Stories can transmit values, morals and culture. Founded in 1988 by Geeta Dharmarajan, Katha started as a small publishing house translating stories from

108 The Art of City-Making the different Indian regions. But the story idea has had greater impact. The organization then started schools and income generation projects in Govindpuri. Its educational ethos is centred on developing a story each term. There are no discrete topics such as biology or maths. Children learn these through the story along the way. I was involved when the theme was ‘Transforming the City, Urban Stories’. In its main school and 12 smaller ones the whole curriculum was focused on the city and all the rooms had city themes. They surveyed sewage conditions in their own slum and so learnt about safe water, biological processes, bacteria and diseases. In bringing together the results they grasped proportions, percentages and statistics and so got to know maths. By interviewing residents and writing up impressions, they learnt to articulate and craft language and learnt how to create presentations on computers. By building models of how their slum can develop, they learn how to design, paint and make models. And they get to know their community: every day their urban story gets added to through talking to their parents, friends and neighbours. Since the Katha schools started in the early 1990s, over 6000 children have benefited and over 1000 have gone on to higher education, this in an area when illiteracy runs very high. But in order to get parents interested in sending their children to school, Katha started a women’s entrepreneurship programme, which in 1995 evolved into the Katha School of Entrepreneurship, to develop leadership, mentoring and work. The idea of ‘[SHE]2’ is at its core, meaning that any investment in women brings double the results.81 Hundreds of women in the last decade have gone out into the community and entered full-time employment as home helps or office workers or started businesses as stallholders or tailors earning up to 20 times what they did before. Many have gone on to take further education courses. There is an in-house bakery at Katha that employs some of Katha’s beneficiaries. This education and employment provides women with resources with which to send their children to Katha schools. Parents pay a small but, for a slum dweller, significant fee (£4 a year) – Katha believes this personal investment increases commitment and motivation. Yet it is possible to recoup all the fees through results attendance and the involvement of parents in schooling. Additional costs (£50 per year per pupil) are obtained from grants and sponsorship. Katha has now added city development to its repertoire. Again, its ethos here is poor-friendly, taking the ideas and aspirations of

Unhinged and Unbalanced 109 the impoverished into consideration. It asks them how they want to improve their environment and to bring themselves decent lifestyles. It seeks equitable growth, with more people involvement, as only then will growth be viable or sustainable. From 2007 onwards Katha will begin to help redevelop a part of Govindpuri through a process of co-designing and co-creation with the local community. The Katha philosophy has grown organically over the years, yet at its core is a desire to stimulate an interest in lifelong learning that will help children grow into confident, self-reliant, responsible and responsive adults; to build social capital; to empower; to help break down gender, cultural and social stereotypes; and to encourage everyone to foster excellence and expand their creativity. Katha’s ‘9 Cs’ slogan, based on what they believe helps form character, is embellished on a main column in the principal school. It could stand for what The Art of City-Making is attempting to promote: Curiosity Creativity Critical Thinking

Competence Confidence Concentration

Concern Cooperation Citizenship

THE GEOGRAPHY OF DESIRE Desire is the flip side of misery. Let’s look again at Rio de Janeiro, where desire and misery clash. The city has a powerful resonance: sexuality, heat, glamour, energy. Our vantage point is the giant 38m-high Christ the Redeemer statue on the Corcovado mountain, 710m above sea level. The city’s vista is unrivalled anywhere in the world, even by Sydney, San Francisco, Hong Kong or Vancouver. Even the favelas look enticing. But down on the ground, things are different. The 1950s and 1960s, as nearly everywhere, took their toll, as rampant redevelopment fractured the tree-lined boulevards and decorative apartments. Carnival, beautiful women and men, samba, bossa nova. Even the once seedy and dangerous Lapa is now a hub of the music scene and is a regenerator’s dream: faded 19th century houses and warehouses are waiting to be turned into more hip apartments and offices. It still has an edginess, yet the clubs, bars and restaurants are opening and beginning to tame the threats.

110 The Art of City-Making Rio’s resonance is why the Guggenheim wants to be linked with it. The associational richness of the two brands, Rio and Guggenheim, seems irresistible; they are a city-marketer’s dream. At first, the idea was to help regenerate the Mauá Pier area in the historic centre of Rio de Janeiro. The redevelopment of this site as a new cultural centre is expected to be a crucial and strategic landmark in Rio’s plans to bring life back to the Cais do Porto region. Apparently mutually beneficial, the aim of redevelopment is to strengthen the Guggenheim’s ‘global brand’ and turn Rio into a ‘global city’. Visionary architecture was contractually required, and Jean Nouvel was chosen and has provided the design. But there has been a stand-off: The plan has stalled politically and the city cannot get it approved. The battle lines are drawn between those who believe the Guggenheim will be a regenerator and those who think it will only gentrify the area and be of little or no benefit to the poor. The fate of the Rio/Guggenheim connection is the supreme symbol of The Art of City-Making story and of the battle of how to deal with misery. Do you create fashionable desire, whose economic effects are unlikely to trickle down in a positive way for the poor but which pleases the better off, or do you go about the less glamorous process of bottom-up economic development? It is only when we see these things from a detached, eagle’s eye view that the shape and overall dynamic of things are clear. Those who move around from place to place can see the full impact of the dull sameness of the ‘same place everywhere’ syndrome, which is why the promise of another Guggenheim icon seems so attractive. Then the sharp dominance of global brands becomes clear, from Wal-Mart to Tesco to McDonald’s to Gap, whether you are in California, Milan, Lyon, Moscow, Yokohama or Johannesburg. But locals instinctively know too that in spite of the glamour of the brands, they are a double-edged sword, endangering local distinctiveness. Finding an inventive route that balances the local and global is the challenge. Which way the creativity of people is focused to make cities great places is a subtext throughout this book. It is highlighted more sharply below when we talk of the geography of desire. The question that lurks in the background is this: What if the immense energy, resources, creativity and imagination that are used to seduce us to buy more were used for different aims? Inevitably the text has a somewhat critical tone, but it is not a personal criticism of the

Unhinged and Unbalanced 111 many shopping centre managers, developers, marketers or policymakers I meet daily through my work. They, like me and all of us, are caught in a maelstrom and a system that pushes us inexorably towards speeding up, consuming more, with greater focus on individual wants than on bigger-picture, communal needs. Many want to bend the market to more lofty aims. But to stand alone against the prevailing wind is hard.

Ordinary desire Yet ordinary desire is a more beautifully mundane thing, a less thrusting desire, one that is softer. It is the ordinary day-to-day lived urban experience of people. It is the basic needs that count. Can I walk from where I live or work to a public space where I can just be rather than having to buy something? Desirable places fulfil the need for just being, so enabling us to experience the moment, a chance for incidental encounter, a space open for coincidence rather than having to do something specific or continuously having to consider, ‘What next?’ The Plaza Nueva in Bilbao fulfils this need, as does the contained Caracas town hall square or Stavanger’s Sølvberget Square, where, as so often, the public library, the Kulturhus, is an anchor. The sensually perfect oval square Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, the shopping street Via Fillungo in Lucca or even Djemaa el Fna in Marrakech, one of the world’s great squares, satisfy ordinary desire, as does idling around one of Amsterdam’s many markets or even ambling along its canals. Mothers looking at their kids running around, idle chatter, old guys reading the newspaper and smoking, a stall to buy a drink or a bun, a market selling flowers and food one day, second-hand knick-knacks the next. The community centre or library, a place to browse, let a chance encounter with books or through the internet take its course, read a magazine. A city is not only a static thing consisting of its built form, but also a series of small human interactions that fill a cauldron. Ordinary culture in action. Is the housing well designed, well built, well maintained, spacious and affordable? Does it meet the varying needs of single persons and families? Does the urban design meld the interior and exterior landscapes into an integrated whole? Does it meet the needs of privacy yet also encourage people to interact? Are uses mixed so that living, working, shopping is convenient, so that people have many reasons to cross paths and communicate in the

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Source: Charles Landry

Libraries are among the most inclusive cultural institutions … and Vancouver’s is one of the best: note how rounded the building is, which may account for its popularity simple ways that build social capital and make communities work? Can I go swimming? Is there a gym or a cinema nearby? Are services – doctors’ surgeries, schools, meeting places – local? Is the rubbish cleared, does the graffiti get cleaned and do potholes get dealt with? Can I ring a council official and get someone – a human being – to answer the phone? Do I have confidence in the voluntary bodies or the businesses around me? Ordinary needs well met. How do you get around? Does the transport system work? Is the metro clean? Does it operate frequently and without hiccup? Are suburban train lines efficient? Is the journey itself worth the experience, so you relax into the journey itself, just travelling, as you might in Hong Kong? Or is it more unpleasant, like in London, where you feel crowded in and your body tightens up and where you think of the next experience to take your mind off the present one? Does the car traffic flow through the city? Is parking available? Ordinary facilities working like clockwork. Are there bright lights in the city core to stimulate aspiration? Are there places to hang out – special shops, cinemas, theatres, outdoor spaces for gathering, celebrating, demonstrating? Could

Unhinged and Unbalanced 113 you call your city a vibrant hub and a place of flourishing neighbourhoods? Is the gap between the rich and poor leavened? Are segregations reduced? Do cultures cross boundaries? Is prejudice minimal? Does it all add up? Does this stage set feel safe? Does it meld into an overall quality of life? Ordinary equality lived out in real life. This picture exists in snatches in many of our cities without conscious planning or any new ‘ism’. It is astonishing how simple this quiet desire feels, where time is slowed down and with the occasional burst of excitement. This is what makes café culture so appealing. Yet economic drivers go against maintaining its simplicity.

Pumping up desire ‘Since 1970 the number of consumer products introduced each year has increased 16-fold’.82 This is the inexorable dynamic that means retailing must pump up desire and push us to buy more. Yet the mall and shopping as the metaphor for a good life cannot sustain the spirit. Filling emptiness with busyness rarely works, however enticing it may appear at first sight. In our age of consumption, we buy many things we don’t need, at least not to survive biologically. Increasing purchases take on a social function, expressing sexuality, status, wealth and power. For capitalism to keep going, needs must grow and so they must be manufactured. The ‘free market’ propels the inexorable dynamic to get you to spend. Otherwise the system falls apart. Every sensory means is used and orchestrated to trigger the imagination: sound, smell, the look and feel, texture, colour and motion. It is enticing, it has its delights, it projects pleasure, but it is emptier than it appears. The system could not survive if it was not immensely seductive, and fashion is its name. Yet it is a hedonistic treadmill that drains our energy. Retailing is the engine of this process, fashion the mechanism and technique, and the manufacture of dissatisfaction the result. It is a double-edged sword, twisting discontent into urges and the desire to want. The shift to compulsive consumption changes the nature of ordinary desire. All-pervasive, it changes the way we relate, so that everything feels it should be an economic transaction. This is a voracious desire that can never truly be satiated. You might retort, ‘But you have a choice.’ But when everyone around

114 The Art of City-Making you is wanting, it is hard to go against the grain. In the past we conceived most things as necessities. Treats were less in evidence. We had less disposable money. Today many have little too, but the credit system has expanded to soak up wants, even though it might ultimately hit you and throw you back on the heap. Now treats, surprises and the new have become necessities. Think of humble spectacles or glasses, once bought once and for life. The same for your umbrella or wristwatch. Now there is Swatch and you need watches for every occasion: my dress-up watch, my dress-down watch, my sports watch, my fun watch. Think of functional Wellington boots, just there to keep out the rain for those in the countryside, by tradition usually green and on occasion black. Now they are an urban accessory. They come in bright red, translucent blue or garish yellow, and you need a different colour for every occasion. Everything is turned into a fashion item. The life span of things like clothes once stretched into the horizon. Now they quickly become disposable. Even your home. Now all too soon things are perceived to look tired and worn. This feeds the DIY craze. Even your looks are up for grabs. ‘I need a makeover.’ Wrinkles no longer reflect experience – they are a cosmetic nuisance. The idea of the beauty of ageing is disappearing. Everything must be young, young, young. In the end, life itself becomes a commodity, but sadly there is only one. Out has gone the well-worn shirt fraying at the edges – chuck it instead. Or wearing a pair of shoes until you can see your experience etched into them – chuck them. We have lost the sense of small history, the little pieces of personal experience melding together into a textured life. And along the way we have lost the art of repairing and feeling a sense of trajectory and the patina of ages inscribed into things. Old clothes still look smart if worn with a quiet confidence. Instead we have to invent ‘shabby chic’ as a fashion type, so you have to buy new things made to look old. The production cost of making jeans look old is more than producing jeans that look new. Something always needs to make a buck, otherwise it all falls apart. In the name of choice there is a continual roll of inventions: new breads, butters, every variation of milk, chocolates. Who thought they needed 40 varieties of candles or that 30 styles of coffee were necessary? Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less documents this and the increasing reaction to wish to simplify things well.83 Schwartz starts with a story of

Unhinged and Unbalanced 115 trying to buy a pair of jeans in Gap and talks of the 85 brands of crackers in his local supermarket. He experiences choice overload, a condition that can make you question your decisions before you even make them, setting you up for unrealistically high expectations, where inevitably you fail and blame yourself. This can lead to decision-making paralysis. A culture of limitless choice that implies that somewhere there is perfection leads to a sense of emptiness and possible depression. We are being bred to buy and to give up on the simple pleasures of creating our own entertainment: singing, dancing, playing games, having fun and making our own things from clothes to furniture. This is a loss so strong that it has counter-reactions, which is why activities such as karaoke are so popular.

Mentally moving on before arriving Being locked into a pattern of needing to consume forces people into a lifestyle which they cannot quite afford. And so we are dissatisfied. Continually needing makes people needy because they are permanently being shown the next thing they do not possess. The retailing dynamic unhinges the anchored self, always under threat from other causes too, as it focuses on what is missing. It changes how we perceive existence. Rather than experiencing what is and concentrating on the here and now and its attendant realities, it shifts focus to tomorrow and what could be. This means we do not appreciate the fullness of possibilities or the engagement of daily life. Insidiously this logic has crept into other parts of our life. Everything is becoming a paid-for experience. Like a rash, the market has eviscerated much of the finer texture of urban living, the unpaid transactions that build social capital and trust. Many of these are the invisible threads upon which collaboration was built. Relationships and interactions that were once free are now set in the exchange economy; they are now a commodity. Social relations are being determined by whether you can buy. Even how you meet people is increasingly arranged, brokered and paid for. And everything has to be fast, thus the rise in speed-dating. There are fewer free activities or places to hang around, to sit around in public and not spend money. Some people, especially the elderly, now go to the doctor simply to have a chat and have human contact rather than be at home on their own.

116 The Art of City-Making Indeed, what does desire look like through the eyes of the elderly, the poor and those otherwise disenfranchised? They are already swept up in its maelstrom. The market has already sniffed out that there is an audience to be captured who are nurturing their savings when they could be spending them. Make them feel inadequate, make them want. Make them understand that just like a tired shop needs a design makeover or facelift, so too do older people. The poor are a harder challenge: give them a sense that everyone can be a winner, keep them wanting too. But this is a fragile balancing act, because at some point the dream has to come to fruition or else resistance might grow, endangering the whole house of cards.

Speed and slowness The consuming logic that is never fulfilled means people want to experience more, perhaps 30 hours of experience in a 24-hour day. There is more on offer, but the same amount of time. In our desire not to waste time, we are left with even less of it. Speeding things up means substituting quantity for quality and along the way a certain depth to life is lost. Travel is faster, communicating electronically is faster. Eating has become faster – fast food is just one manifestation of this. Lunch breaks are shortening, with little time for eating, let alone digesting. Getting to know people and relationships are speeded up through speed-dating. With names like Speeddater or Hurrydate, it is possible to meet 20 people for three minutes each on an evening and decide who you want to follow up. The length of time we keep clothes has shortened. Disposability is key. The shelf-life of buildings is shorter. Room decorations can be bought off the peg and discarded with each new move. This is the throwaway city. Caterers with names like On the Run or Gourmet on the Go! (‘Providing healthy, delicious meals for busy people’) are proliferating.84 With everything speeding up, people are trying to adapt; the high visibility and immediacy of advertising messages becomes crucial and very fast instant response rates are required. People are in danger of becoming overloaded. More and more messages are trying to get through and the urban landscape is increasingly one large advertising billboard. Eye Contact, a new device, helps calculate the amount of advertising messages we receive in a day. In a large city like London we see as many images in a day as people

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Speeding up the world allows no space for reflection saw in a lifetime in the Middle Ages, around 3500. Yet in a survey it was discovered that 99 per cent of messages are not consciously remembered.85 A reaction to speed is ‘slowness’. Now joining the stress consultants, therapists and time-management consultants are ‘slow coaches’ to treat ‘rushaholics’: At work they are management freaks, on holiday they are activity freaks, in the evening their time is jammed with social functions … they’re constantly working on their wardrobe, darting into shops buying things … between watching a video they’ll be phoning friends. A woman who was cured noted: ‘I’ve slowed down, I live more basically and because I shop less, I want less… I’ve replaced quantity with quality.’86 The Slow Cities movement is a reaction to speed based on ethosdriven development. Slow Cities developed out of the Slow Food movement, which started in Italy in the 1980s. Slow Food promotes the protection of local biodiversity, the right to taste through

118 The Art of City-Making preserving local cooking and eating traditions, and highlights the folly of fast food and fast life. Slow Cities is expanding the concept to be a way of life. It emphasizes the importance of local identity through: preserving and maintaining the local natural and built environments; developing infrastructure in harmony with the natural landscape and its use; using technology to improve quality of life and the natural and urban environment; encouraging the use and production of local foodstuffs using eco-sensitive methods; supporting production based on cultural traditions in the local area; and promoting the quality of local hospitality. The aim of the Slow Cities movement is to implement a programme of civilized harmony and activity grounded in the serenity of everyday life by bringing together communities who share this ideal. The focus is on appreciation of the seasons and cycles of nature, the cultivation and growing of local produce through slow, reflective living. Slow Cities is not opposed to progress but focuses on changes in technology and globalization as tools to make life better and easier while protecting the uniqueness of town characters. To be a member of Slow Cities and to be able to display the movement’s snail logo, a city must meet a range of requirements, including increasing pedestrian access, implementing recycling and reuse policies, and introducing an ecological transport system. Working with the Slow Food network, the Slow Cities movement is spreading the word about its slow brand of community connectedness.

Trendspotting or trainspotting? ‘Fashion is not just a matter of life and death, it is more… it helps define who we are.’87 Fashion is the cause and retailing the agent of the change hysteria. Fashion has a glow, yet also a withered sadness, as what we wear is always on the cusp of going out of fashion. The industry of fashion trendspotters inexorably forges the forward path. Trendy they may seem, yet in their own way they are as obsessive as trainspotters in their raincoats and anoraks. With their ear to the ground they read the signs and symbols of changing taste and desire. They not only track change but also create it, as there are always leaders, early adopters, before the laggard majority. Being sensitive to trends helps companies stay ahead of the game, a game that is moving ever faster. Barely a decade ago there were two fashion cycles in clothing. Now there

Unhinged and Unbalanced 119 are six, requiring the frenzied change of window displays and media bombast. Car purchasing is moving down to a three-year cycle. Home makeovers, which did not exist as a concept until recently, are now on a five-year cycle. Moving house was a once-in-a-generation thing. It is now down to a seven- to ten-year cycle. Relationships are shorter and divorce no longer carries a stigma. Consider some trends from the trendspotters – and they will have already gone by the time you read this (see box overleaf). For example, ‘branded brands’, ‘being spaces’ and ‘curated consumption’ are, apparently, just round the corner if not already upon us. At their core they are about individuality, not solidarity, and they seek to distinguish the individual from others, making you as the individual feel you are the most important person in the world. You become what you are through the brand and your control of it. You surround yourself with associational richness.

The shopping repertoire We could divide the shopping world into essentials, such as food, and inessentials, like fashion accessories, but both are subject to the same forces. The competition to generate desire spills out into the landscape of cities and helps shape them. The city then becomes a desire-inducing machine. It needs to draw attention to itself for its local, national and international audiences, and a repertoire has emerged to make this happen. At its core lies shopping and culture. Property prices are the core driver of this urban development. Retailing is the main driver of its changing shape and look. Creating the destination is the goal, generating the experience the means. The aim is to craft an experience that has rich layers that mean something. Much as people try to give products or brands depth, they still have a hollow ring as consuming, in the final analysis, has limited value. A pair of shoes is just that – a pair of shoes. Even though staying in that ‘special’ boutique hotel, eating refined food and going to that seductive lounge bar might be great, in the end does it give longer-term sustenance? Generating associational richness is the challenge and the city itself needs to play its part in keeping the machine speeding along. And there are alternative strategies here – one shouts louder through its sign and symbol system, another more quietly so as to project class. Yet interwoven in most strategies are arts institutions and cultural facilities as is evidenced by every single city-marketing brochure, which highlights

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Youniversal branding At the core of all consumer trends is the new consumer, who creates his or her own playground, own comfort zone, own universe. It’s the ‘empowered’ and ‘better informed’ and ‘switched on’ consumer combined into something profound, something we’ve dubbed MASTER OF THE YOUNIVERSE. At the core is control: psychologists don’t agree on much, except for the belief that human beings want to be in charge of their own destiny. Or at least have the illusion of being in charge. Curated consumption … make way for the emerging trend of CURATED CONSUMPTION: millions of consumers following and obeying the new curators of style, of taste, of eruditeness, in an ever-growing number of B2C industries (Martha and home decorating was really just the beginning ;-). And it’s not just one way: in this uber-connected world, the new curators enjoy unprecedented access to broadcasting and publishing channels to reach their audience, from their own blogs to niche TV channels. Nouveau niche BusinessWeek called it The Vanishing Mass Market, Wired Magazine spoke of the Lost Boys and the Long Tail. Others talk about Niche Mania, Stuck in the Middle, or Commoditization Chaos. We at TRENDWATCHING.COM dubbed it NOUVEAU NICHE: the new riches will come from servicing the new niches! And while all of this may smack of wordplay, the drivers behind this trend have been building for years. Branded brands In plain English: BRANDED BRANDS means you will get a pizza from Pizzeria Uno on an American Airlines flight. And onboard perks offered by United Airlines include Starbucks Coffee, Mrs. Fields Cookies and even a McDonald’s ‘Friendly Skies Meal’, including the ubiquitous promo-toy. Cars aren’t immune either: Lexus proudly promotes their Mark Levinson audio systems. It all points to consumers on the road increasingly wanting to find the brands they trust and enjoy at home. Being spaces With face-to-face communication being rapidly replaced by email and chat, goods and services being purchased online, and big city apartments shrinking year by year, urban dwellers are trading their lonely, cramped living rooms for the reallife buzz of BEING SPACES: commercial living-room-like settings, where catering and entertainment aren’t just the main attraction, but are there to facilitate small office/living room activities like watching a movie, reading a book, meeting friends and colleagues, or doing your admin.


Unhinged and Unbalanced 121 how vibrant their cultural scene is in terms of these institutions. For many, still, culture simply equates to museums, galleries and theatres and not a great deal else. For this reason, mobilizing these institutions remains central to cultural policy. Architects, lighting engineers and billboard animators stand in the centre, seeking to dazzle, amaze and stun their audience. The level at which this is executed depends on the city’s role in the larger world urban hierarchy. Think of the historic ‘boulevards of dreams’ and their resonance. They once played on a larger stage, but many now live off memories of a past heyday. They tend to attract an older audience now as their hipness has been drained out of them. The Champs-Elysées, once a place which fed desires and a synonym for Parisian chic, has lost some of its lustre and glamour, dominated as it is by airline offices and car showrooms, though it is still the site of fashion houses and expensive restaurants. Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street in London have suffered a similar fate. The Ramblas in Barcelona is perhaps overrun now by tourists, but at its best you can still watch the world and not be contained in a fence of consumption. There is Düsseldorf’s Königsallee, which the locals avoid when the tourists swarm in, or Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm, whose energy is waning. In the Malecon in Havana, the flow of old classic cars and the music excite, but on the down side you are aware of the clash between tourists and poor locals. The latter are tied into an oppressive relationship with the tourist; their relaxed, laid-back lifestyle contrasts with the need to hassle and compete for tourists. Ginza in Tokyo is a byword for its department stores, such as Mitsukoshi or Matsuya, into which are interspersed the trendsetting shops like Sony or the cool and sleek Apple Store. All are kept in trim by stylish new architectural insertions. The louder response is best seen in East Asia, although Eastern Europe is also making its mark. Adverts become increasingly vertiginous – six stories high as in Hsimenting in Taipei, where to attract the young Taipei hipsters the music also pounds out so loud that the ground shakes. New York’s Times Square is another instance, as is the Strip in Las Vegas. For a sheer blast of colour, action and head-spinning animated billboards, perhaps none can rival Dotonbori in Osaka, packed with people at night. It uses every latest advertising gizmo and its craziness has an outlandish beauty. To get an idea of what the future may hold in store, Japan is instructive. Its aesthetics so different from European sensibilities, it combines the stark crassness of Osaka’s

122 The Art of City-Making Electric Town or Tokyo’s Akihabara computer district with the sublime beauty of the perfectly crafted object, shop front or urban setting. They come together in Kyoto around Kiyamachi-dori and Kawaramachi-dori, calm yet exalting Zen gardens with buildings built by architects seemingly inspired by watching Star Wars on acid. Vegas looks tame and controlled by contrast. China, in frenzied growth zones like Shenzhen, is beginning to rival this new aesthetic. Cities use every trick they have to ‘spectacularize’ themselves: image, media and trophy buildings by ‘star’ architects are brought into harness. Segmentation and area character are key, with property prices driving the design quality and focus of any area and its distinctiveness. Most large cities can be divided into high-end, mainstream, alternative and grotty. Like a Ginza or Sloane Street in London, where high-end architecture, design, image and aspiration mix, strongly fed by media attention and focused on an older, richer crowd. There are the mainstream, less rich areas like Oxford Street in London, where most day-to-day shopping takes place. Then there is the continual search for the new upcoming area. In London once Notting Hill, then Camden and now Hoxton. It is always on the move. The next will be an area that today is still relatively cheap. The very cheapness that makes an area attractive to the young and inventive is the very thing that raises prices over time. With trendspotters on the prowl, providing the media oxygen over time, the edginess is tamed and the gentrification process starts. This is both good and bad and keeping the balance of shabbiness and chic or inventiveness and convention is an immensely difficult trick. Very few places have achieved it. Amsterdam, though, is one instance. This is largely because mainstream retailers, with the profit ratios they demand and minimum size requirements for their stores, cannot impose their templates on to the city. In Amsterdam the intricate physical patterning and structure dominated by canals cannot be broken up. In addition it is extremely difficult for corporations to buy up large areas. The resulting fragmented ownership means that landlords are not always pumping up rents to their highest levels. As a consequence, the sheer number of unique shops is astonishing. Think of the Nine Streets area, the Jordaan and the myriad other small streets that offer surprise. But when the market has unfettered leeway, the Amsterdam scenario is nearly impossible to sustain. Typically the pioneers discover an area, perhaps an old industrial site such as the

Unhinged and Unbalanced 123 Distillery in Toronto, a set of industrial streets like Tribeca in New York or streets near a university where many young hang out, such as Deptford High Street near Goldsmith’s College in London, famous for graduates like artist Damian Hurst. They try out a shop. It might succeed. The cafés come in. The word spreads. Alternatively, larger industrial structures are converted into artists’ studios or incubator units for young design companies. A gallery opens; there is a cultural venue which shows fringe material; the bar there becomes popular; a restaurant opens, then another; and the gentrification process begins as it spills into the surrounding area. Gentrification remains a double-edged sword. It is an essential process through which property values rise to make it worthwhile for investors to get involved. On the other hand, it can push out those who make the gentrification process possible in the first place. In essence, the fate of cities is determined by property prices. When a city like London or Berlin is selling its property to a global market, this will tend to price out less affluent locals. This is why we are faced with a crisis of finding accommodation for people in lower paid but crucial employment such as nurses, teachers and police, without whom a city cannot function. The gentrification of an area can spell the exclusion of key workers if left unchecked. The only solution is to contain the market and to find alternative ways of providing affordable accommodation. A few places have tried to challenge this logic. Temple Bar in Dublin is an instance. A finely knitted pattern of streets in the heart of the city, it was once threatened with demolition to make way for a transport hub and inevitably declined with this sword of Damocles hanging over it. Many years later, when the plan was rescinded, the area’s attractiveness was recognized and redevelopment was planned to make it an artistic hub. The development was controlled by a quasi-public authority which either owned or had influence on leases and tried to obviate the logic of price spirals that were inevitable given Temple Bar’s central location. Its lease structures guaranteed affordable, longer-term security for the many arts organizations, such as the Irish Photography Centre, the Irish Film Institute, the Temple Bar Music Centre, the Arthouse Multimedia Centre, Temple Bar Gallery and Studio, and the Gaiety School of Acting. However, the creative vitality that these organizations represent is being threatened by over-popularity and consequent growth in tourist fodder restaurants and meat-market

124 The Art of City-Making pubs to deal with stag and hen night parties. This has led to TASCQ (Traders in the Area Supporting the Cultural Quarter) encouraging people to stay away. Normality is increasingly the out-of-town suburban mall associated with mid-America but now wending its way through Europe and into Asia. It is even reconfiguring shopping in India, so long a bastion of thousands of stallholders. At the moment 97 per cent of Indian retailing is by small independents. ‘The malling of India’, though, has become a recognized phenomenon. When it fully takes hold millions of Indians will have turned from small entrepreneurs to wage slaves. But there is resistance to the chain gang. In Singapore the food hall adjacent to Erskine Road in Chinatown has 140 independent cafés or restaurants, rather than the usual crowd of multinationals who would fit about a dozen brand names into the same space. Asia is catching up just when the homeland of malls, America, is reconsidering their value. For many, the well-known mass brand names are enough, cosseted next to the big box retailers. Enclosed somewhere, essentially in places of no distinction in the middle of nowhere, the business of shopping can proceed conveniently with an ocean of parking spaces attached. The architecture imitates Classical or Art Deco, built to last a shopping generation that is measured in half-decades. The substance only skin deep, façades hide false ceilings and the sites can be reconfigured when required.

Making more of the night The dream of the 24-hour city for groups of all ages has largely faded, heralding the arrival of an urban drinking environment for the young only, especially in Northern Europe. The continental European café, eating and entertainment culture, with the generations intermingling, has not happened. With cities increasingly spread out, travelling downtown is too much of an effort. The famed Mediterranean passegiata can only occur with vibrancy where living and shopping are close to each other. This means urban density with accommodation for single persons as well as families. Being able to deal with the night is culturally learnt. A decade ago the symptom was dead town centres at night in places like Britain where the tradition of living together and socializing publicly in the evening had been lost. When the city began to be

Unhinged and Unbalanced 125 revalued and a shift towards an urban renaissance occurred, it led to an increased awareness of the value of public space and investment in it.88 This occurred throughout the country, with some high quality examples, such as Brindley Place and Broad Street in Birmingham. But generally, in the early evening, city centres empty, to be reclaimed at night by mostly young drinkers, bolstered by the drinks industry with bars competing loudly for attention. The result is monocultural. Hordes of young drinkers put off other age groups. The city centres in Britain are usually very lively, yet it is an exclusionary feeling: less intergenerational, less intercultural. Children and older people hardly dare venture in. Twenty-fourhour services are limited to bars, bars, bars, restaurants, clubs and bars. Facilities to broaden the appeal of night are rare. Libraries, museums and galleries close early, some even at 5.00pm. In effect, many such places are open on weekdays when most people have no time and closed when people have time. Urban management should have a strong role in assessing the palette of possibilities in each segment of the day, as it should in the management of public space to ensure diverse use and users. The Italians have come up with an innovative solution and are addressing the democratic deficit of the 24-hour city. At least half a dozen Italian cities now have an Ufficio Tempi – an Office of Time. These try to reorganize time in more flexible ways to meet new needs, especially those of women, who often juggle two timetables, work and home. The Offices of Time try to bring together transport providers, shop-owners, employers, trade unions, the police and other services to see how their efforts might mesh better to produce more flexible ways of living and working. They use time as a resource by staggering opening hours of offices, shops, schools and services to maximize time and to avoid crushes and rushes. Shops might open and close later, and police might work more in the evening when people want to see them, rather than in the morning.

THE GEOGRAPHY OF BLANDNESS Fifteen years ago I started to count shops on the high streets of different cities to see how many names I knew. I was disappointed. I was already beginning to recognize too many and gave up. Last year I started the counting again and idly counted the shops in

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Source: Charles Landry

Corporate blandness, anywhereville Cornmarket and Queen Street, the main shopping streets in Oxford, one of Britain’s most distinctive cities. I knew the names of 85 out of 94. I experienced a lurching feeling of dullness. In those 15 years, the world of retailing in Britain has changed dramatically, with the march of malls and global brands sucking the life out of ordinary high streets. I have travelled too by car, criss-crossing the suburbs and outer entrances of cities from Europe to North America, Australia and elsewhere: always the same picture, always the same names. Thought experiments kept coming into my mind. What if you lined up all the 30,000 McDonald’s in the world next to each other – how long would the McDonald’s road strip be? Six hundred kilometres or so? And then add the 25,000 Subways, 11,000 Burger Kings, 11,000 KFCs, 6800 Wendy’s and 6500 Taco Bells? Hey, if we line up the ten top fast-food chains, they will stretch half the 4504 kilometres from New York to Los Angeles. A chilling thought. And even Starbucks has over 11,000 outlets with joint ventures. Then I went though the same exercise with other shops, like Gap, which has 3050 outlets, before a headache set in and I stopped. This is the geography of blandness, and the blanding processes are worldwide, as witnessed by counter-activities such as the ‘Keep Louisville Weird’ campaign, which, picked up on from

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WEIRD = ‘OF STRANGE OR EXTRAORDINARY CHARACTER’ Keep Louisville Weird is a grassroots public awareness campaign, recently and quietly begun by a small but growing coalition of independent Louisville business owners who are concerned with the spreading homogenization of our hometown. We’re concerned that the proliferation of chain stores and restaurants in Louisville is not only driving the independent business owner out of business, but is also robbing the city of much of its unique charm. While we don’t discount the need for the Wal-Marts of the world, we’re troubled by the current civic notion that excitement for our town should come from the courting, establishment and promotion of chain stores and restaurants that can be found in many other cities across America.89 Suddenly large billboards started dotting parts of Louisville with a striking black and white design and with the simple message ‘Keep Louisville Weird’… and then there were T-shirts … and bus cards … and stickers. No one knew where they had come from. And the story behind the ‘Keep Louisville Weird’ motto did not come out until almost a year later. By then, the media were raring to cover it. The billboards were placed by an informal coalition of independent Louisville businesses – a protest against ‘Starbucksification’, sparked by the sale of Hawley-Cooke, Louisville’s largest independent bookstore, to Borders in August 2003. They borrowed the ‘Keep My Town Weird’ idea from a similar slogan on car bumpers in Austin: ‘Collaborative fission of coordinated individualism’.

bumper stickers from Austin, has been followed by others like ‘Keep Portland Weird’.

The march of the mall Regional malls initially started without too much of a threat to diversity. They had foundation stores to ‘anchor’ an end of the mall, typically then a department store. In between were several specialty shops, often smaller local traders relocating from older, declining shopping areas. But to ensure the highest possible rent, mall

128 The Art of City-Making operators preferred leasing to stores with proven track records, especially those with marketing success in malls. Few small, local stores could match the track records of national specialty retailers, chains of stores specializing in a single product niche but operating internationally, such as Gap, Williams-Sonoma (cooking supplies), Dorothy Perkins and Benetton. As the market became saturated with malls, specialty retailers thrived even when malling declined. Malls began homogenizing by the early 1990s. They now break down into three broad categories, driven by class and income. ‘A’ malls cater to upper- and upper-middle-class shoppers. In the US they include department stores, such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s; exclusive national specialty clothing retailers like Ralph Lauren and Kenneth Cole; household goods stores like Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel; and national niche stores that appeal to broader audiences, such as Gap. ‘B’ malls are targeted more at middle- and partly upper-middle-class shoppers. Their department stores have large selections, but not as large or as exclusive as those in ‘A’ malls. While the mix of specialty shops in ‘B’ malls is similar to those in ‘A’ malls, retailers like Bulgari, Yves Saint Laurent and Tiffany & Co. would not locate in ‘B’ malls. Others, such as Banana Republic, offer reduced selections of merchandise. ‘C’ malls cater to middle- and lower-middle-class shoppers. Their department stores only target people with lower incomes. Specialty retailers that seek to attract wealthier shoppers, such as J. Crew or Abercrombie & Fitch, will not locate stores in ‘C’ malls. This retail mix renting strategy significantly reduced risks for mall operators but has created a monotonous shopping experience for consumers, who want a more varied choice. Visitors increasingly feel the convenience of one-stop, climate-controlled shopping in regional malls is counter-balanced by the inconveniences of parking, ever-expanding buildings and limited choice heavily focused on national speciality retail stores. Two approaches are being offered as an alternative to regional malls. The first is the ‘big box’ shopping centre, which is essentially a strip mall that contains several very large stores. There, outlets are 10–20 times the size of the speciality mall store. Shoppers park their cars in parking lots directly in front of the store. Depending on where you are you see Best Buy, Home Depot, Currys, Halfords or Office Depot. The second is to reinvent the old high street: the ‘main street mall’, combining big box and smaller shops, designed

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Source: Charles Landry

A good secondary shopping street in Cork, Ireland – the kind that is disappearing very rapidly to resemble the fantasy of a main street in a small American community at the turn of the 20th century. The storefronts in main street malls, like those of early malls, face a pedestrian walkway. Parking is tucked inconspicuously behind the building.90 The bland processes of malling, shedding and big boxing have reconfigured cities dramatically. They tore older cities apart by inserting malls inside their cores, losing the street in the process and breaking up community patterns, rupturing the historic urban fabric. Placement on the edge of town or out of town drains the city of its lifeblood – a process well documented. It has led to the decline of local shopping and the attendant network of relationships. It has made facilities like libraries and other services feel out of place, because they are now separated from shopping.91 It has helped the process by which chains have become ever dominating, providing the larger templates they require. Yet what irony! Back in 1956, when the first mall was opened in Minnesota (Southdale Mall in Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis), the father of the enclosed mall, Victor Gruen, stated that the mall was the way to replicate community by providing social interaction and recreation in pedestrian-friendly environments by incorporating civic and educa-

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RECREATING THE PAST FOR THE FUTURE As much as malls and shopping centers have morphed in the past few years, even more changes are coming. The retail cycle is shrinking, change is accelerating and store sizes and formats are in flux. There will be some stunning new designs and lots of white-hot technology, but the biggest changes will be less obvious: redesigned malls with different kinds of anchors and different tenant mixes, and lots more space for non-retail uses. Everywhere, there will be a new focus on convenience, including, perhaps, daycare facilities and a place to check your coat. No one can say for certain what the world of 2013 will look like, and interviews with industry insiders produce some predictable predictions. Developers with a heavy focus on enclosed malls say they’ll remain the big dogs; those who’ve invested deeply in lifestyle and power centers think that they’ll be on top, and that a lot of the older enclosed malls will be long gone. Get beyond those disagreements, though, and a common vision emerges. The retail center of the future – whether it is enclosed or open-air, big or small, themed or general – will be designed to resemble a community, not just a place to shop. That means environments that place as much emphasis on recreation (everything from skate parks to jogging paths to entertainment complexes) as they do on consumption. The developments under way in 2003, as well as various remalling/demalling, already point to a future in which retail blends with other functions. Source: excerpted from ‘The Future’ by Charles Hazlett, published on the Retail Traffic website, 1 May 2003, index.html

tional facilities. It filled rather than created a void, he said. What irony again to note that the latest retail trend is to recreate community precisely along the lines of that which retailing took apart in the first place, often on the edge of town. The developers made money taking things apart and now are making it again putting it back together. Yet what was lost in the process? The walkable place where living, working and having fun are in close proximity, with doctors and dentists nearby, schools accessible, a park… Precisely what they are now recreating. For the aspiring city that wants to project an edge, an imagination or to play on a world stage, the simplistic, low-textured mall is

Unhinged and Unbalanced 131 not enough. Think of Harajuku in Tokyo. The chains are present on the traditional gridded streets. Yet whereas most American teenagers follow the dictates of fashion provided by stores like Gap, Urban Outfitters, Hot Topic or any large national or international chain, many teenagers in Harajuku set the trends that are then taken up by the fashion industry. They are not the followers of trends dictated from the top of the fashion food chain. Like peacocks showing their feathers, teens go through an amazing ritual of preening, creating a visual feast, claiming the area as their own along the way. Garish colours shout, subverting traditional Japanese styles and borrowing from Western ones. They create elaborate shapes and hairstyles and, with their powdered faces, they are punky and rebellious. They twist perceptions and warp them into a strong tension of ritualized behaviour and controlled wildness. Think of restaurant brands. Whether upscale or run-of-the-mill, they do not register on the ‘desirometer’. Thirty thousand McDonald’s or 11,500 Burger Kings do not get the blood racing. Consider instead Zurich’s Blinde Kuh (Blind Cow), set up in 2000, which has taken the city by storm. (Similar ventures have been set up in Paris and London.92) This combines gastronomy with a social purpose. These are restaurants where you can’t see – you eat in total darkness – and the waiters are blind. Only the manager and the receptionist are sighted. Blinde Kuh is owned by a charity, Blindlight, set up by Jorge Spielmann, a blind clergyman. The meal creates a bonding experience between diners and makes sighted people focus on their senses afresh, which many find profound. For blind diners it can be liberating and those going blind can show their partners what life may be like.

The death of diversity and ordinary distinctiveness Once upon a time, not so long ago, people used to shop on foot in their local high street. They bought individual products from different retailers: screws from the hardware store, bread from the baker, meat from the butcher, fruit and veg from the greengrocer. This process developed an invisible web of community. Those days are gone. Instead, supermarkets reign supreme and they are aggressively expanding their offer of non-food goods.93 The one-stop shop only appears beneficial, however, because we think we are time-pressured and convenience-driven. The high streets, the malls

132 The Art of City-Making and big box centres all look similar and to create distinctiveness they need to spice up the bland with ‘total experiences’. There are gains and losses in this process. We have lost the option of shopping at small, local, specialist shops and building relationships with owners. The link with supermarkets check-out staff is minimal. Fifty years ago in Britain, independents made up half of the market; now the figure is below 15 per cent. Between 1997 and 2002, 13,000 specialized shops – bookshops, hardware stores, butcher’s, baker’s, fishmonger’s, chemist’s, multipurpose corner shops, newsagent’s, clothes shops, whatever specialism you care to think of – were lost. In 2004 alone, 2157 independents were lost. Overall that is nearly 50 per week. Add to this the branches of post offices, banks and building societies and the pubs and the figure doubles. Based on current trends, 33 per cent of local outlets will have shut between 1990 and 2010. These deep changes sound the death knell for local economies, and it is happening everywhere. The decline in neighbourhood shops and services breaks up the social fabric on the way and replaces it with large-scale, industrialized, corporate landscapes and relationships. Left behind are deserts where communities no longer have easy access to local shops and services; you get an increasing sense of multiplying ghost towns.94 The result is a bland, imitative shopping landscape of multiple retailers, fast-food chains and global fashion outlets. And the decline of local shops forces many to travel greater distances to do their shopping, even in the largest cities. This process has insidious downstream side effects, affecting the system as a whole. As smaller shops close, the number of suppliers to small shops dwindles, leading to a Catch 22 situation. Without local suppliers, local retailers suffer; and when local retailers close, suppliers suffer as they become increasingly reliant on a handful of supermarket purchasers. These in turn hold them in a vice-like grip. Between 1997 and 2002, the number of UK farm workers fell by 100,000 as supply chains globalized. Supermarket chains are not interested in the ‘real’ economy and real costs of food miles. And the popularity of the new ‘local’ stores emerging under the big supermarket brand banners presents yet another threat to independent stores.95 Supermarkets and malls eviscerate the city. A 2005 report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Small Shops stated, ‘Small and independent shops may vanish from the UK’s high streets by as early as 2015 … The erosion of small shops is viewed as the erosion of the social glue that binds communities

Unhinged and Unbalanced 133 together.’96 The British Retail Consortium responded that the group was ‘trying to turn the clock back’. And a Tesco spokesperson, seemingly quoting Britain’s largest retailer’s PR manual, delivered the rather ignorant statement, ‘The consumer is the best regulator and there is room in a thriving market for anyone who satisfies customers.’ How very ironic, then, that the US trade magazine Retail Traffic’s issue on future trends in retailing in May 2003 cited recreating a sense of community as the key trend for the next decade. The retailing logic that tore quite resilient communities apart is now trying to put them together again in its own image and on its own terms. Governments can only deal with wider issues of social exclusion, disadvantage and poverty if they understand that an economic system seen as ‘natural’ favours the large, the distant and the uniform. It damages diversity, choice, local economies and communities. Conversely, ‘relocalizing’ the economy empowers communities. It requires courage and tenacity to resist the lobbying capacity and media-savviness of the large retailing giants and to address the pressures of the wider economic forces head-on to create a balance between local and global economies. This requires understanding real economic value flows or local transaction analysis and distinguishing it from surface value.97 And this in turn means redefining what we understand and measure as progress and finding ways to make the invisible value of things – social, cultural and environmental values – visible. The New Economics Foundation proposes measures to restore local communities and shopping cultures. These include: •

Local Communities Sustainability Bills. Based on a bottom-up philosophy, these bills would create a coherent framework for pro-local policies by giving local authorities, communities and citizens a powerful voice in planning their future to guarantee dynamic and environmentally sustainable local economies. In 2003 such a proposed bill got the support of 33 per cent of British MPs. The goal is a ‘realignment of power between the forces driving ghost and clone towns and those seeking to build more healthy, vibrant and sustainable local economies’. Local competition policy. In France, the Royer and Raffarin laws have limited the development of new supermarkets over the past few years, requiring special approval for any proposed new retail store bigger than 300m2. This has guaranteed the

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BLANDNESS AND CITY IDENTITY Italy and France have so far been able to resist the arguments, blandishments and pressures towards blandification coming from the large chains in the name of efficiency and progress. Many of their socalled restrictive planning guidelines are precisely those that are securing diversity and resisting what the French call ‘la Londonization’. Paris approved a Local Urbanism Plan in 2005 which seeks to encourage small shops and key workers to stay in the city. It seeks to sustain the economic, social and cultural ecology of Paris, not in a nostalgic way but to strengthen locality and diversity. Central Paris, with just over 2 million residents, is far livelier because it has a dense and varied network of shops and people. It wants to sustain the social balance that makes Paris what it is and not have a place with the rich on one side and the poor on the other. It seeks to achieve this goal by influencing the market through regulation and incentives. To nurture la mixité sociale, a requirement for developers is to set aside 25 per cent of any project spanning more than 1000m2 for social housing apartments in districts where there is little at present. The majority of these will be reserved for key workers, such as teachers, nurses, council employees and shopkeepers, who are rapidly being driven out of a city where many residents rent their homes, endangering the social fabric. To enhance a vibrant local retail sector on the streets of Paris and to sustain its distinctive food culture, half the 71,000 shops in Paris have restrictions placed on them to prevent inappropriate change of use when the shopkeeper either sells up or retires. This means that a small food shop would have to remain a food shop, and it would prevent, for example, a string of mobile phone chain shops replacing butchers, bakers or greengrocers. The move follows studies showing that the number of delicatessens has fallen by 42.8 per cent in the past decade, with butchers falling by 27.2 per cent, fishmongers by 26 per cent and bakers by 16.2 per cent. At the same time, the number of mobile telephone shops has risen by 350 per cent, fastfood restaurants by 310 per cent and gymnasiums by 190 per cent. Other measures in the plan include a requirement for developers to set aside 2 per cent of any new building for residents’ bicycles and pushchairs. On the other hand it will reduce the number of parking spaces they are required to create.98

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• •

diversity of French shopping. Poland has also enacted similar versions of this law. Using planning law to protect locally owned stores. Planning gain agreements, such as Section 106 in Britain, which usually grant planning permits to social housing, should extend to include locally owned stores. Introducing a retail takeover moratorium and limit market share to 10 per cent. Tesco in Britain, for example, currently has a market share of over 30 per cent; the next three each have over 10 per cent. Extending local tax relief to independents, such as newsagents, and food, beverage and tobacco retailers, particularly those in villages, town centres and deprived urban neighbourhoods. Undertaking local money flow analyses. Local authorities, planning agencies, regeneration bodies and regional development agencies need to monitor local money flows to help guide local retail development. Setting requirements for economic and community impact studies. Holding local referenda on major developments that affect the identity of localities. Some issues, such as local identity, are so important that the ordinary democratic process is not enough.99

The curse of convenience The blanding process needs to be counteracted by creating the lure of excitement and massive choice. A brief excursion into the world of supermarkets reveals that in Britain, the big four control nearly 75 per cent of food retailing, a frightening figure. Tesco has 30.6 per cent, Asda (Wal-Mart) 16.6 per cent, Sainsbury’s 16.3 per cent and Morrison’s 11.1 per cent.100 They have drained the life out of the high street and cleansed it of diversity. The supermarket model is also space eating and they have wrenched space away from the edge of town and out of town. Looking at their activities through a broader food miles and sustainability perspective, they are far less efficient than they make out. They have sidled into the imagination of the public as the onestop destination for your every need. They have projected themselves as the only way. They are not stupid and they have a wealth of expertise and resources at their fingertips to lobby, to change minds and to get their way. And when the going gets tough,

136 The Art of City-Making they adapt, chameleon-like, and pretend to be local in their desire to please. Many fund local initiatives, as long they can get on with business as usual. In sum, they pull the wool over our eyes so we do not understand the underlying dynamics of their operations and their impact on real life. These guys are professionals, exert immense power and are in it for the long haul. Few other shops swallow such a huge chunk of our net income as supermarkets do. Tesco, for example, takes £1 in every £8 pounds spent in British shops. Do we get the value we are promised? Comparing the big chains and local, independent shops on the high street, the result is surprising. Guardian journalist Sarah Marks conducted an experiment over two weeks. In the first week, she spent £105.65 at Sainsbury’s. In week two, a total of £105.20 at local shops was spent on the same groceries. A difference of 45p is admittedly not an enormous amount and she had to walk around more. Nevertheless, local retailers suffer because there is a perception that the big four are cheaper and because they tell us they are ‘good value’. But they rely on people only knowing the cost of a small number of goods, referred to as known value items (KVIs). These are items that supermarkets price check against their supermarket and independent competitors and keep as low as possible to attract custom. Other items can be much more expensive. Bananas are one KVI and the local market cannot match the price. But other fruit, like seedless white grapes, can be twice as expensive in the supermarkets. There is a ‘hierarchy of value’, with extra cheap ranges, everyday prices and premium brands. Basic sliced white bread cost Sarah Marks just 19p, but its country style with rye loaf was eight times more expensive at £1.49. Overall, chemist and grocery items in the supermarket were cheaper by 11 per cent and 28 per cent respectively, but fruit and veg, meat and fish were not.101 What are the gains and losses in shopping in different ways? In one you support the local economy and in the other the corporatized economy with global supply chains. Supermarkets have maintained their power because of their convenience and seductive tricks like pumping out smells near the bread counters. But how else? The planning system is weak in practically all countries and favours multiple retailers over independent stores. In Britain, in contrast to France, the government’s Planning Policy Statement 6 (PPS6) is failing to prevent out-of-town development, possibly as a result of supermarkets lobbying central

Unhinged and Unbalanced 137 government. Yet PPS6 forms the only formal defence that local authorities have against retail development that may negatively impact on the community. On the one hand the policy states it is ‘facilitating and promoting sustainable and inclusive patterns of development, including the creation of vital and viable town centres’. On the other, about 60 per cent of development still takes place out of town, with a rising percentage in edge-of-town locations. PPS6 also states, ‘Larger stores may deliver benefits for consumers and local planning authorities should seek to make provision for them in this context. In such cases, local planning authorities should seek to identify, designate and assemble larger sites adjoining the primary shopping area (i.e. in edge-of-centre locations).’102 But local authorities have no ultimate control. Supermarkets are beginning to have more power than local councils, as local decisions are being overturned on appeal by higher authorities. Councils are also influenced by the very high costs of appeal and are reluctant to lose. As one councillor, also a shopowner, noted: Tesco has hit the town really badly. My typical daily turnover went down 50 per cent the day it opened… They are too big and powerful for us. If we try and deny them, they will appeal, and we cannot afford to fight a planning appeal and lose. If they won costs, it could bankrupt us.103 This is the result of supermarket lobbying and leveraging planning gain whereby a developer agrees with a planning authority to pay for community facilities in return for planning approval. Supermarkets run lobbying and public relations campaigns focused on local authorities and communities respectively in order to increase the likelihood that planning applications for their stores and the stores themselves, once constructed, will be accepted. The focus on out-of-town and edge-of-town development reduces creativity because it is geared towards branded, global chains. A feeling of public space may be propagated but in reality it is privately owned space that is tightly controlled to foster a consuming environment. There is little or no room for individual participation and invention. One could imagine food chains and other stores rethinking their service delivery so that people can use city centres without worrying too much about carrying things about. Internet grocery shopping with home delivery is one

138 The Art of City-Making development but as are local pick-up points where shoppers collect their shopping without worrying about being at home at a certain time. Such delivery innovations lessen the imperative of supermarkets to locate on the edge of town. Clearly some chains have better track records than others, such as Waitrose in Britain, which has a good reputation for quality and is owned by its employees and not shareholders. As one would expect, this produces a high level of commitment among employees and a far stronger commitment to locality. In contrast are Wal-Mart and Tesco. Wal-Mart is the world’s largest retailer, with more than 3000 stores in the US and almost 1300 international operations, such as Asda in Britain. It is also the world’s largest corporation. It employs 1.4 million workers worldwide and with over a million in the US it is the largest private employer there. More than half of Wal-Mart’s US employees leave the company each year. They earn an average hourly wage of US$11.00 for non-management positions, with no defined benefit pension and inadequate healthcare. Wal-Mart was sued 4851 times in 2000 – or about once every two hours, every day of the year. Wal-Mart lawyers list about 9400 open cases.104 They pay below poverty-level wages. At 34 hours per week (fulltime at Wal-Mart), a person makes US$19,000 per year, well below the poverty level for a family of four. Six hundred and sixty thousand of its employees are without company-provided health insurance, forcing workers to seek taxpayer-funded public assistance. A US congressional study found that Wal-Mart costs the American taxpayer up to US$2.5 billion in public assistance to subsidize its US$10 billion in profits. But the going may be getting tougher. Wal-Mart won city council approval in May 2004 to build its first store in Chicago after months of delay and intense lobbying by the chain’s foes and supporters. After a raucous debate, the council voted 32 to 15 to allow Wal-Mart to construct a 150,000square-foot store in a poor, largely black and Hispanic neighbourhood on the city’s West Side. In a second vote, however, the council rejected a huge store that Wal-Mart wanted to build in a racially diverse, largely middle-class South Side neighbourhood.105 In June 2005 Vancouver city council rejected (by eight votes to three) Wal-Mart’s bid to build its first store in the city, a big-box outlet on Southeast Marine Drive, this in spite of the green design that Wal-Mart put forward after criticisms of its environmental practices. As councillor Peter Ladner noted, ‘There was a

Unhinged and Unbalanced 139 real “undercurrent” that wasn’t officially part of the council’s debate about Wal-Mart’s labour practices, its sourcing practices, the satanic nature of giant multinational corporations.’106 In 2005 producer/director Robert Greenwald made an emblematic film called Wal-Mart: The High Price of Low Cost, which took the viewer on an extraordinary journey that could change the way people think, feel and shop.107 It tracked the conditions of workers at Wal-Mart, the company’s intimidation of employees, its power over supply chains and the culture of fear it induces. It allowed these people to tell their story. The film really came alive when it utilized footage of deserted towns and main streets all across America, many of which had been affected by Wal-Mart and other big-box stores moving in and causing destruction. It was released through an alternative distribution network via thousands of house parties.108 Similarly, there is a growing movement of people in towns and cities across Britain who believe Tesco and other big superstores threaten to destroy their communities and reduce choice. Increasingly, local people are joining together to fight new supermarket developments that they believe pose a grave threat to the health of their local economies and communities. ‘Tesco has driven down the supply price of meat, vegetables, everything, because they have such a huge share of the market. It’s a monopoly position… they can simply go and find someone else who will supply them at the price they want.’109 The Tescopoly Alliance documents these campaigns. Britain is renowned for its apple varieties and quality, yet surveys by Friends of the Earth show that, at the height of the British apple season, over 50 per cent of Tesco’s apples are imported and that supermarkets reject perfectly good British fruit for no good reason. Tesco says it has 7000 regional (i.e. Welsh, Scottish, Irish and English) lines on sale and many promotions related to regional produce. Yet this figure is less than 20 per cent of the total of 40,000 Tesco lines and many of these ‘regional’ products are sold throughout Britain so are simply British produce.110 Many people choose locally grown produce because of the associated environmental and social benefits. Yet ethics are increasingly marketed as a consumer choice rather than a corporate standard. Fairness and justice in trading, for example, are niched as fair-tradelabelled speciality products and not mainstreamed into business practice as of late 2005. Tesco sells only 91 fair trade product lines, a tiny amount representing only 0.2 per cent of its lines. In

140 The Art of City-Making November 2004 no more than 4.5 per cent of Tesco’s sales of bananas were fairly traded.111 Tesco, like other major chains, claims to create more jobs, but the figures do not add up. In 2004 small grocery shops in the UK had a turnover of around £21 billion and employed more than 500,000112 while Tesco, with a £29 billion turnover, employed just 250,000 people.113 As retail chains grow, overall jobs are lost. This might be more efficient in narrow terms, but not when taking into account downstream impacts. Furthermore, the buying power of the big chains is considered to be distorting competition to a worrying degree.114 Londis, the national corner shop brand, has admitted that it is cheaper to buy brands from Tesco and resell them than to get them from its wholesalers.115 Tesco may claim to be a ‘magnet for market towns, keeping people shopping locally’,116 but the reality is that local shops close wherever Tesco goes, from Dumfries in the north to Penzance in the south. ‘The new Tesco in Dumfries now sells chart music cheaper than me, so people now only come to me for the rare stuff and the staple 35 per cent of my income from the chart music has disappeared,’ says an independent record retailer.117 The idea that regeneration can be driven by major chains needs close and sophisticated examination and appropriate and robust policy. Friends of the Earth suggest: •

a much stricter code of practice to ensure suppliers along the whole chain are treated fairly and which covers sustainability, labour and health standards; a supermarket watchdog to ensure that the grocery market is operating in the interests of consumers, farmers and small retailers; enlargement of competition policy to address impacts on suppliers (not just consumers) to prevent misuse of buying power; and a market study by competition authorities to examine the wider effects on society of the over-concentrated retail sector with a view to presenting policies to address market share.118

Shedland You come across iconic and representational buildings, new and old, more often as you drive to the core of the city. Yet the city is more than icons. Office parks, industrial estates, housing quarters

Unhinged and Unbalanced 141 rich and poor frame the overall urban experience. Perhaps the most dispiriting areas are shedland. This is the visual experience of most places when you navigate the ring roads and dual carriageways that feed into the city: cheap, windowless, large buildings of steel frames, corrugated iron and pre-cast slabs. They are distribution hubs or light industrial sites. Their blandness neutralizes the surrounding landscape. They are lifeless. Occasionally a garish logo is the only visual relief. Built with a short shelf-life in mind, perhaps 10 or 20 years, they are part of the throwaway, disposable city. Can you imagine the artist of the mid-21st century suddenly deciding to move into these as the new live/work space as they have in the solid brick buildings of the industrial age? What new areas can artists discover when all the industrial buildings have been used up?


Repertoires and Resistance

URBAN REPERTOIRES From Prado to Prada1 There is an emerging repertoire, often used thoughtlessly and in an imitative way, to use culture or arts in city development. The full repertoire includes galleries, museums, the concert hall, the theatre, the experience centre of whatever theme, the sports stadium and finally the aquarium. Indeed, as a perceptive commentator recently noted, ‘we live in the age of aquaria’.2 Back to Rio, which in 2003 announces with a fanfare the new Guggenheim, and also a new sports stadium and a new concert hall. More recently the repertoire has been broadened to include ‘creative quarters’ – which in fact are usually refurbished old industrial buildings in inner city fringe areas – as well as attracting big events, either sports or festivals. The aim is to enhance image and prestige and to attract visitors and therefore inward investment. The attempt is to brand the city and richly associate its name with cultural sophistication. In the past these institutions mostly carried the name of the city in their title, like the Birmingham Rep or the Cleveland Museum of Art. More recently the trend has been to create more unique and distinctive identifiers such as the ‘Esplanade’ in Singapore, ‘The Baltic’ or ‘The Sage’ in Gateshead, and the ‘The Guggenheim’ in Bilbao, where intense efforts are made to give the word itself powerful resonance. Taking the name of an existing cultural institution like the Tate, Hermitage or Guggenheim, which have spent generations building their reputations, is an attempt at a short cut. The costs of generating brand

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Source: Charles Landry

The urban regenerators repertoire: The concert hall and ferris wheel in Birmingham, UK

Repertoires and Resistance 145 recognition through a name from scratch are immense. Not only must the power of the building – the container – entice, but the contents also need to be associated with world-class quality to get through the ‘noise’ of information overload in order to become a ‘must see’ destination. And very few achieve this. The primary focus of these recognition strategies is outwardlooking and internationally oriented. This often creates problems for locals, especially indigenous artistic communities, who may feel their needs are being neglected. This is why Tate Modern hired a community regeneration manager while it was being built to ensure that rich links with and involvement of the community were fostered. The attempt to generate international attention in a world of short attention spans has meant architects now have an increasingly powerful role and there is frenzied competition to attract those with star quality who are able to create iconic buildings, such as Gehry, Izozaki, Snøhetta, Rogers, Foster, Alsop and Calatrava. There is a tension between the need to continuously provide innovative and technological derring-do, enabled increasingly through complex computer modelling, and the requirement to make buildings work functionally for their purpose. The latter requires a series of mundane considerations, such as ‘Can I get the lorries to actually deliver the theatre scenery?’ or ‘Can I clean the windows so as not to disturb the building as a work of art?’ As branding has become the mantra of the age, so cultural institutions have increasingly recognized that they can have drawing power and iconic qualities. Cities seeking to take the short route to international status now pursue them with vigour. They have recognized value in their brands and have begun to franchise their names, such as when Bilbao paid US$20 million for the use of the Guggenheim name for 20 years. The Guggenheim’s internationalization strategy includes outlets in Berlin, Las Vegas (built by Rem Koolhaas, another architectural star) and its oldest outlet in Venice. The Guggenheim frequently receives offers to establish new operations, from cities such as Tokyo, Rio and Johannesburg. But one day the deals are on the map, the next they seem to have fallen through. Others following this approach include the Hermitage in St Petersburg, with museums/galleries in Amsterdam and Las Vegas. The Tate in the UK has also pursued this route, although in a less commercial way. These outliers make sense given that the vast majority of their artworks are in storage.

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Source: Charles Landry

The Guggenheim in Bilbao, one of the few iconic buildings that is etched into the world’s imagination

Urban iconics In The Creative City I make the distinction between narrative and iconic forms of communication. Narrative communication is concerned with creating arguments; it takes time and promotes reflection. Its ‘bandwidth’ is wide as its scope is exploratory and linked to critical thinking. It is ‘low density’ in the sense of building understanding piece by piece. It is about creating meaning. Iconic communication, by contrast, seeks to be instantly recognized. It has a narrow ‘bandwidth’ and highly focused purpose; it is ‘high density’ because it seeks to ‘squash meaning’ into a tight time frame, creating high impact by encouraging symbolic actions that make what is being projected feel significant. The challenge of creative urban initiatives is to embed narrative qualities and deeper, principled understandings within projects which have iconic power. Emblematic initiatives can leapfrog learning and avoid lengthy explicatory narratives through the force of their idea and symbolism. In this context, visionary leaders, emblematic best practice projects, and the work of campaigners, radicals and risk-takers are all of paramount importance. The deci-

Repertoires and Resistance 147 sion to create the first directly elected mayor for London had huge iconic resonance. It symbolized not just the creation of a leader committed to the city but a break with tradition and a new start. The idea of ‘zero tolerance’ initiated in New York to combat crime was equally iconic. Everybody immediately knows the power of the word ‘zero’. ‘Zero tolerance’ was a packed phrase and people knew what it meant and what was expected without complex explanations. Even though it has an authoritarian feel linked to the word ‘tolerance’, it provides psychological comfort. Identifying the iconic trigger – whether light, a song or even a word like ‘zero’ – is the most difficult aspect as communication needs to relate to the place, its traditions and identity. In an age where attention span is at a premium, identifying projects that embody principled and fresh ideas yet can be communicated iconically is the challenge of the creative city. However, iconic communication, if not leavened by an understanding and acceptance of deeper principles, can be dangerous and turn into manipulation and propaganda.3 Places of desire need iconic projects. The aim of icons is to grab attention and profile. And if they fail, you can be stuck with architecture that you don’t like for a very, very long time. At their best, both good ordinary functional buildings and iconic ones can exude a deep register of feelings and emotions that can sustain or enrich a city. To succeed, however, they must reflect a range of triggers, from the layers of a city’s history to the thrill of the new. Calatrava’s airport in Bilbao and Liebeskind’s Imperial War Museum in Salford come to mind. What is right depends on context. A choice will be made as to what extent of stimulation is right and appropriate. In one instance calmness may be required, as in the de Young art museum in San Francisco; in another a sense of wildness, as in the Toronto art school by Will Alsop. Icons seem to be most accepted when they are part of a ‘head in the clouds and feet on the ground’ approach, as in Bilbao, where the Guggenheim Museum is part of a much wider economic and social regeneration initiative. Overriding everything, though, is quality. The discussion of and arguments about what quality is at any given moment is at the heart of what makes an urban culture. These qualities will not be the same for all types of buildings or hard infrastructure, although some criteria may be common: utility and use value, materials used, how it is made or projected, the meaning generated, craftsmanship, symbolic value or resonance in relation to

148 The Art of City-Making the visual forms that inhabit a culture. For example, the Kiasma gallery in Helsinki, Oslo airport and Amsterdam’s Borneo Sporenburg and West 8 housing development all meet these criteria. Icons are projects or initiatives that are powerfully selfexplanatory, jolt the imagination, surprise, challenge and raise expectations. In time they become instantly recognizable and emblematic. The Eiffel Tower is iconic, reflecting the confidence of Paris’ role in the industrial age, as is the Sydney Opera House, causing us to rethink the possibilities of Australia, or the Guggenheim in Bilbao, emphasizing the courage and determination of the Basque people. The London Eye is already rapidly becoming the marketing symbol for London after only five years. Such projects make us think again, so changing the perception of a place and expectations of it and for it. Museums, galleries, theatres and sports stadia in particular can communicate iconically. Because they often do not have to strictly apply market criteria in the same way an office building needs to, they can concentrate more on quality. However, commerce, especially in fashion, is catching up and risking far higher costs for downstream image benefits. Witness Koolhaas’s Prada, minimalist John Pawson’s Calvin Klein flagship stores in New York or Norman Foster-designed Asprey’s in London and New York. Shopping provides a showcase of what is new in architecture as there are many new shops but only likely to be a few museums and galleries. These brand-building retail stores are visible for both the brand and the architect. The battle between content and container is key. Rarely do iconic buildings follow through this iconic approach into the content of the institution. An exception is New Zealand’s national museum – Te Papa. The name itself translates as ‘our place’, resonating with symbolic meaning behind which lies a powerful expression of the bicultural nature of the country: Recognizing the mana (authority) and significance of each of the two mainstreams of traditions and cultural heritage – Maoris and Pakehas – so providing the means for each to contribute to the nation’s identity … A place where truth is no longer taken for granted, but is understood to be the sum of many histories, many versions, many voices.4

From Repertoires to Resistance 149 This sensibility is built, in part, into the physical fabric. A long, noble, reflection-inducing staircase proceeds past outward-looking bays towards the top, where a dramatic promontory projects us out towards the drama of sea and sky, before we reach the marae atea (the traditional Maori meeting place), which is a symbolic home for all New Zealanders. This requires little explanation and is instinctively understood. The key objective of big events, festivals and icons is to increase drawing power. A building, a tradition, a person (such as Nelson Mandela or Frank Gehry), an event (such as the Love Festival in Berlin or the Notting Hill Carnival), a festival (such as Edinburgh) or an atmosphere (such as the liberal, free-for-all of Amsterdam) can have iconic status – yet cities seek to take the apparently easy and expensive route of a building without sufficiently exploring other dimensions. In reality there are very few icons that have world recognition, although the desire to create new icons is hotting up at a fast pace. This frenzy has, at the very least, dramatically increased discussion of standards of design. It raises too the question of whether we can have icon or big event overload. Anecdotally, I have found through my own work that only two buildings constructed in the last 40 years are consistently cited as immediately and popularly identifiable global icons: the Sydney Opera House and the Guggenheim in Bilbao. Others vying for iconic status among the cognoscenti include Richard Meier’s new Getty in Los Angeles, the Louvre Pyramid in Paris and the Miho Museum near Kyoto, both by I. M. Pei, and Calatrava’s City of Arts and Science in Valencia. Most icons built in the UK through its national lottery funds are of largely regional significance, such as the Life Centre in Newcastle or the Hull aquarium. This is in part because the cities themselves are not sufficiently known at an international level. The UK’s new national icons can be counted on one hand, but who knows them internationally? They are unusual: the London Eye wheel; Cornwall’s Eden Centre (an imaginative use of an old quarry in the middle of nowhere); and Tate Modern (which had the inheritance both of an old building and a name). Some would argue that the list should also include the Walsall Arts Centre, Peckham Library and the Millennium Bridge in Gateshead. Iconic status accrues more easily to those cities that are already seen as icons, like Paris, for example. Second- and third-tier cities simply have to try much harder in a hyper-mediated world. It helps

150 The Art of City-Making

Source: Charles Landry

Iconic buildings are sprouting everywhere: Canberra’s National Museum when, like in San Francisco, you already have one: the Golden Gate Bridge on to which you can add another layer like Herzog de Meuron’s new de Young museum. Within this repertoire, festivals and big events seek to provide the content for the iconic containers. The larger festivals have, however, an additional value in that they use many other unconventional locations which allow both locals and visitors to explore less well-known parts of the city. Sometimes the use of these sites creates a dynamic for renewal. An example is the use of the massive Binding-Brauerei for Kassel’s Documenta 11 in 2001, essentially the cultural Olympics for the visual arts. This redundant brewery site became subject to intense local discussion with the idea of incorporating it into the regeneration of its area rather than tearing it down. It is now a performance and exhibitions space. Melbourne is interesting as it is seeking to define the city as a whole as an icon and stage by holistically using and orchestrating iconic triggers, from urban design to events, and by increasingly projecting the city as a ‘style’. Significantly, icons can be negative when they are deemed to fail, either subjectively or objectively, such as London’s Millennium

Repertoires and Resistance 151 Dome. The same media frenzy that helps generate iconic impact is the same that can work in reverse. There is also a growing worry that in a world of attention deficit, we are about to suffer icon overload. This means that people can only remember a distinct number of icons. This in turn might create a more intense battle to create ever more outrageous or innovative structures that can blast through the miasmic information swamp.

The crisis of meaning and experience ‘Shoppertainment’ is the next phase of retailing, where consuming becomes a greater leisure ‘experience’:5 acrobats in the atrium, fireeaters in the parking lots, music bands in record shops, celebrity chefs rustling up gastronomic feasts in kitchen shops, TV decorating personalities doing their DIY, Comme de Garçon in New York wooing customers through art exhibitions or chill-out areas. Bluewater, one of Britain’s largest shopping complexes, even once suggested charging customers entrance fees to come to their ‘experience’. When that happens, the distinction between the theme park and shopping centre will have all but evaporated. Over to Las Vegas, and what Steve Wynn is up to counts. When the Wynn Las Vegas opened in April 2005, visitors stormed the entrance to see if his US$2.7 billion luxury resort would live up to all the hype. And there they were with ‘dozens of designer shops tailored to one lifestyle – yours’: Dior, Cartier, Manolo Blahnik, Louis Vuitton, Gaultier, Oscar de la Renta, Graaf, Ferrari Maserati, Chanel – you get the picture. The shows like La Reve? ‘As an exercise in sheer power they’re unbeatable.’ ‘La Reve is a new world of dreams that will alter the theatre-goers experience of theatre forever.’ Franco Dragone, the artistic director ‘has presented us with dazzling images that stir the senses and the soul’. The stores in Vegas are not just stores, they’re the backdrop for shoppertainment. At the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian, singing gondoliers whisk shoppers down a winding canal and street performers distract those on foot. The Desert Passage at the Aladdin has a Moroccan bazaar theme in its mall and a thunderstorm that explodes every half hour. At the Forum Caesar’s Palace you walk past gigantic fountains, statues, colonnades, animatronic Bacchus and Venus sculptures, and a spiral-shaped escalator – ‘all to get a sense of the real spectacle: the stores themselves’.6

152 The Art of City-Making Commerce has recognized that consuming on its own increasingly provides insufficient meaning and satisfaction. It has sought to wrap the transaction of buying and selling into a broader experience to give it greater purpose. This development, labelled ‘the experience economy’, is a new mantra and a union of everyday consumption and spectacle.7 The process is turning retailing into a part of the entertainment industry, often blurring the boundaries between shopping, learning and the experience of culture. It involves creating settings and using every trick in the book, where customers and visitors participate in all-embracing sensory events, whether for shopping, visiting a museum, eating at a restaurant, conducting business-to-business activities or providing any personalized service from haircutting to arranging travel. In this process, shops can develop museum-like features, such as the Discovery Store or Hard Rock Café, with its display of original artefacts. Vice versa, museums can become more like extensions of entertainment venues, such as the new collection of museum spaces in Las Vegas, where ‘cultural quality’ is added to the menu of possible experiences. Shops are turned into stage sets, installations and artworks, such as the Future Systems Selfridges store in Birmingham that looks like a reflective bubble, or Koolhaas’ Prada stores in Las Vegas and New York. The latter cost US$40 million for just 23,000 square feet of retail space. The ground floor has little merchandise. The majority is in the basement. It feels cramped and lacks appropriate lighting. Bars are becoming less like your local, which you could rely on being the same for years on end. Their design can change as fast as an art gallery. These trends are shaking the foundations of museums, libraries, art galleries, science centres, shopping malls, cultural centres as well as virtually every aspect of the business world. Design, multimedia, theatrics and soundscapes increasingly move centre-stage. Given that we are subject to the vagaries of fashion, ‘beyond the experience economy’ is already being discussed, in which a transformation economy where people will pay for a life-changing series of experiences is upon us.8 And then towards the ‘dream economy’? With greater choices on offer and given our higher expectations, marketers are competing for customers’ attention – trying to break through the clutter and sensory overload to capture their attention and to try to give them a sense of depth. How is this done? By creating experiences that are so distinctive that they stand out in a crowded landscape. Suddenly for the mainstream, the power of

Repertoires and Resistance 153 Disneyland is seen as salvation and organizations are seeking to create their own ‘brandlands’, which are destinations, both real and virtual, that deliver a memorable message by telling a compelling story that reflects magic and wonder. Theme park-style technology, special effects, and storytelling techniques are applied to projects like the Sephora and Niketown stores and Volkswagen’s experience centre, Autostadt, at its factory in Wolfsburg. Casa Bacardi’s tells the story of rum, the Rainforest restaurant creates a plastic jungle environment. Leading imagineering companies work on corporate ‘brandlands’, cultural ‘discoverylands’ and ‘learninglands’, wrapping everything up in a cohesive narrative, engaging visuals and soaring musical scores. Everything in order to make a bigger story out of a mundane product. Everything to charge you more for a cup of coffee. In its latest guise, the market economy has recognized other aspirations in its public beyond consumption alone – a desire for engagement, involvement and participation. Commercial enterprises have begun to take on core roles associated with culture and cultural institutions: The ‘educational’ experiences of Disney World’s Epcot Center, Niketown’s museum-like stores, and epic bookstores such as Borders come to mind. At the same time, there is a corresponding, defensive appropriation of aspects of the marketplace by cultural institutions. They may borrow commercial criteria in selection processes, evoke entertainment modes in presentation, create facilities nearly indistinguishable from shopping experiences, or justify their existence in terms of marketplace goals. Borrowings and uneasy graftings are one approach to understanding the interconnection of culture and the marketplace. Another is the response broadly defined as post-modernist, which views the jumble of modern conditions with ironic detachment, appropriating stylistic aspects as it suits. In effect, this viewpoint treats this complexity only whimsically. In examining these conditions, is it possible to identify and assert cultural values and priorities that are based neither on resistance nor on capitulation, to feel at ease with markets, but at the same time go against them?

Capturing the final frontier: Ad-creep and beyond We have allowed marketers to blast our senses with manufactured smells and sounds to affect our mood. We have been too relaxed

154 The Art of City-Making about ad-creep, which has allowed us to be assaulted by adverts in schools, airport lounges, doctors surgeries, offices, cinemas, hospitals, gas stations, elevators, convenience stores, on trains, on roundabouts, on park benches, on escalator rails, on the internet, on fruit, on ATMs, on garbage cans, on beach sand and on toilet walls. We are compelled to watch and listen to tamper-proof TV sets in airports, buses and other mass transit. TV programmes in an innocent guise are packed with embedded advertising. No place is sacred. The urban environment is a canvas for adverts. Public space has become advertising space.9 Will we respond at last to the assault on the final frontier, the inner workings of our minds? Neuromarketing charts the neural activity that leads to our selections in the supermarket and the voting booth. It studies the subliminal responses of the brain to adverts, brands and other messages littering the cultural landscape. The aim is to transform otherwise rational people into consumption-driven robots, so achieving the complete corporate manipulation of people. The means are to trigger neural activity in various ways so as to modify our behaviour. Atlanta’s Brighthouse Institute for Thought Sciences claims it is closing the gap between business and science – with the goal of getting us to behave the way corporations want. ‘What it really does is give unprecedented insight into the consumer mind. And it will actually result in higher product sales or in brand preference or in getting customers to behave the way they want them to behave,’ notes company executive Adam Koval.10 ‘Let that quote linger in your mind,’ as the organization Commercial Alert comments acerbically.11 Those involved in neuromarketing try to make it sound like nothing special. They simply want, they claim, ‘to help consumers understand their true desires’. Alternatively their research ‘could be used to shut off a buy button as well as turn it on’. Paying for a technology that makes people buy less? Sounds very unlikely.12

Gratification over fulfilment We have speeded up experience, desperate to get more out of each moment. But the result is we experience less. We rush so fast, it is a blur. We have learnt to absorb quickly, but have overloaded our senses with information and have dazzled them. Often there is a thrill to the spectacles of fast life and it can have a seductive quality. Yet too often this impact is without meaning. In this mental evolu-

Repertoires and Resistance 155 tion, the ability to process vast amounts of information is almost machine-like and we lose the capacity for reflection. In this world of bright lights and logos you only look and experience the things that jump out at you – the hype, the shrill, the loud – and miss out on subtler intricacies – the enjoyment of lingering, mulling over things, simply being. Proliferating needs get us on to the treadmill of consumptive desire. It can create greed that needs to be permanently fed. But induced and perpetuated by the media and retailing industries, it will never be sated. We are left permanently hungry. We are in danger of living solely through consumption. To be is to buy. The effect on the city is dramatic. Places need to be made into destinations, where you go with the intention of being dazzled and where, as Rem Koolhaas notes, shopping is arguably the last form of public activity.13

URBAN RESONANCE The city as a fashion item Cities are now part of the fashion parade. Fashionability is used by cities as a global positioning tool in their attempt to anchor or shift their identity. But being fashionable is almost by definition unsustainable and on its own is incapable of achieving long-term recognition. Fashion can take on a life of its own that can send cities on a trajectory on which they do not want to be. Avoiding this fate is therefore of paramount importance. A city’s resilience needs to reinforced and buttressed by ‘real’ economic drivers, such as what wealth it is creating, what it is producing, its research and development capacity, its generation of employment, and how open its investment environment is. Nevertheless, image and fashion is both an industry in its own right that may be significant for a city and also a means of putting the icing on the cake to reinforce its attractiveness to other investors in its industries, from car manufacturing to IT and finance. What cities look for is to lodge in assets that are difficult to dislodge, such as a stock exchange or major university. It is unlikely that the New York exchange will locate elsewhere or that Harvard will move from greater Boston. Having the right image strengthens the image of a city’s assets. It has a psychological effect on residents too. Being deemed to be part of a ‘cool city’ gives people confidence and in

156 The Art of City-Making turn makes the city cooler, thus creating greater desirability in a virtuous circle. The principle of fashion is changeability, always transforming, always moving, departing before it arrives. Most of us are living a step or two behind. Only a few urban fashionistas can stay close to the pace. Driven by the trend industry and travel market, cities move in and out of fashion and only a few keep up with the pace for the long term as, for example, New York, London and Amsterdam have managed to do. Others, through historical accident, fall off the radar screen, as happened to Berlin and Vienna in the Cold War, to Barcelona under Franco and to Shanghai when China was a more closed society. Yet with their intrinsic substance and their cultural resources, from heritage and museums to political power, they have the assets to re-emerge and create a global resonance to attract attention. ‘Move over London – Berlin is coming up the slipstream,’ a headline might read. ‘Shanghai, the Paris of the East, is coming back with a vengeance.’ ‘Barcelona, the designer capital of Europe is the essence of urban chic.’ ‘Relive Eastern grandeur in St Petersburg.’ ‘Vienna is the gateway to the East; more to the city than waltzing, Lipizzaner horses and Sacher Torte.’ These cities were dormant giants whose energies were suppressed by conflict. When a resolution was found, a burst of creativity expressed itself in relief. Visibility comes to capitals of countries or regions as they inevitably draw the power brokers to themselves: politicians, investors and cultural types. The interplay of economic opportunity, construction possibilities, a position in the world of arts and heritage, a reputation for trendsetting, and the lure for tourists reinforces their position as hubs. As the world production centre inexorably shifts east, a raft of places are ‘rediscovered’. Once cities reach a certain level of development they begin to shift towards service industries and their capacity to consume, especially of clothes, entertainment and travel, increases. The international movement of ideas and people goes with it and the fashion media industries play a strong role. Places like Hong Kong and Taipei, once seen as low-grade production centres for textiles, inevitably seek to move up the value chain. Rather than buying into Western design aesthetics, the large Eastern production empires hired in-house Western designers. Yet as places gained confidence, rather than borrowing from elsewhere, they found their own voice and Eastern designers began to make their

Repertoires and Resistance 157 own name: Vivienne Tam, Lu Lu Cheung, Harrison Wong, David Tang, Sophie Wong. In the process of fostering its own, indigenous fashion designers, the city itself becomes fashionable because it is part of the media whirlwind. Behind this lies a mighty economic infrastructure of market intelligence, major production, finance houses and, at the apex, catwalks. The aim is to make the city a world centre of fashion. The association of fashion is partly how Paris and Milan built a core aspect of their image and reputation. Already, Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou are being advised to rethink their role and to allow a move of their industrial facilities to second-tier areas like Hefei, Nanjing and Wuxi. Soon, with this refocus, the names of Beijing and Shanghai designers will be on everyone’s lips. Both already have their Fashion Weeks. As China Daily noted in 2003, ‘to create Shanghai with an image of world metropolis, and to promote export and import in the fashionable fields … we are going to organize [the] second Shanghai Fashion Week.’19 This is part of Shanghai’s strategy to play on a bigger stage. It was disappointed it could not get the Olympics, which went to its main competitor, Beijing, and so took the consolation prize of the World Expo 2010 instead. Two decades before, the same process happened in Japan, especially in Tokyo. Japanese design first made a real impression on the fashion world back in 1982, when 12 designers showed their collections in Paris at the ready-to-wear shows. Already known at home, Issey Miyake, Kenzo, Yoji Yamamoto, Kawakubo Rei of Comme des Garcons and Hanae Mori shot into world consciousness. Since then, a few such as Keita Maruyama have been added to this established list. This shifted focus on to things Japanese, with Tokyo as its hub. In terms of global awareness, it is street fashion that leads the way, and the Harajuku crowd in Tokyo are as hip as their contemporaries anywhere in the world. The fashion focus shapes the physical environment as the big bosses of fashion are ‘now competing for high profile architects to create the ultimate accessory – extravagant buildings designed to impress’. The drive to redefine fashion as ‘art, removed from commerce and something more than mere clothing, is reinforced by such shopping temples’.20 Fashion and art live together in an odd symbiosis: art contributes to fashion’s cutting-edge feel and fashion helps art’s fashionability. Both are part of the repertoire for cities to grab attention for themselves and project distinction and distinctiveness:

158 The Art of City-Making I think it’s going to happen here… I’ll be surprised if in five to ten years Taipei is not considered one of the great cities of the world for doing contemporary art… I’ve been struck by the youthful, vibrant art talent here. And unlike New York, London and Paris, Taipei is relatively affordable for young artists from Taiwan and abroad. Most importantly, Taipei enjoys an unselfconscious and freewheeling city life that lends itself to an explosion in the arts.21 As a city’s fashion status increases, the advantages of cheapness disappear. Taipei, once ‘the ugliest city of the planet’,22 suddenly becomes a hive for the hip where trends are made; Hong Kong is the safe starting point to get a glimpse of the Chinese miracle. Mumbai is the city to experience urban India and Bollywood films help keep the media profile in view. As the urban fashionistas scour the world for new hip places, Bollywood’s popularity in the West has grown exponentially, and with that comes Indian music, design and fashion. And so it moves around. The new disposable income of the new middle classes provides the opportunity once a certain stage of development has been reached. The international executives, with their demand for international-level services, drive the consumption patterns on and the battle of the brands keeps attention focused. What will be the next stop on the fashionable city treadmill? Anywhere is fair game. Accra briefly appeared for a moment, linked to an ethnic look and shabby chic: the chic of poverty and the unknown. It was an ugly, downplayed chic. Then its Western protagonists out-shabbied themselves and had to back-pedal so that the clothing could be universally appealing. Having gone out on a limb, they had to coil back and so Accra was less in the limelight. Will Lagos make its star turn or Johannesburg? Buenos Aires and Rio are due for a comeback.

Drawing power and the resonance of cities The drawing power concept pulls the various aspects of a city’s desirability together. It assesses the dynamics of attraction, retention and leakage of power, resources and talent. Equally, it looks at what repels people from a place. It is the blend of elements that make a city attractive and desirable. And different aspects will tempt different audiences: power brokers, investors, industrialists,

Repertoires and Resistance 159 shoppers, tourists, property developers. The sum of these threads of attractiveness creates the resonance the city projects. If this is positive, the results will be shown through economic, social and others indicators. Many of the components can be quantified, yet much needs to be evaluated through peer-group assessment and qualitative judgements. The currently available data on cities, however, do not allow us to comprehensively assess drawing power. Sometimes this is because an element is not measured at all, say the image of a city or its resilience, in other cases because the various data are not brought together within a broader explanatory conceptual framework such as overarching drawing power. Economic, environmental, social and cultural data are looked at in isolation and rarely in terms of mutual impacts upon each other. The Global and World Cities (GaWC) project in Loughborough23 reminds us how out of date our measurement systems for assessing city dynamics are. There is a dominance of attribute measures over relational measures in social research. We measure static quantities, such as population or gross domestic product, usually derived from the census, as distinct from relational measures of flows, connections, linkages and other less tangible relations. ‘In this process cities are effectively de-networked’, which is ironic given the mantra about the importance of networking. The same applies to transnational statistics, which are based on the nation. For example, the massive concentration of flows of information across the North Atlantic and the vast connection networks linking London and New York are simply not picked up in ‘official statistics’. Lastly, GaWC note: There is a great temptation to interpret rankings as hierarchies. Since data can be compiled from official statistics on cities to provide quantities of attributes – population totals, employment sector totals, headquarter totals, etc. – cities can be ordered by size in various ways that may look like an urban hierarchy. Of course, it is no such thing: hierarchies can only be defined as relations between objects, mere ranking of cities says nothing about relations between cities. The axes of power and relations to be looked at should include social and cultural power as well as political, administrative and economic power. But there are other sources of power, especially within niche sectors. These include heritage or tourism power,

160 The Art of City-Making where clearly a Florence or a St Petersburg would score highly. Yet the judgement of how powerful these assets are would not be exclusively based on high levels of tourism. How exclusive it might be or how it might attract inward investors would also be considered. Another source of power is the attractiveness of learning institutions, especially to post-graduates. This gives a city more opportunity to be selective and perhaps attract greater talent. That talent itself, if it clusters in a place, becomes in its own right a source of pulling power.24 An effect of being a talent magnet is the ability of a city to get outsiders to associate with it, to attend events like conferences, which in turn have spin-off effects as people get to know the city and become ambassadors by sending out good messages. Other sources of potential power include research or industrial specialisms, such as the hardcore disciplines of computing, engineering or high-tech manufacturing. This was the initial trigger that made Silicon Valley happen. All power resources need tracking. The overall effect of drawing power is the resonance it creates. And this is made up of tangibles and intangibles – it is the multiple facts, stories, images, memories and associational richness a city establishes for itself. This might be to do with a historical event, an image or its role as an industrial engine. People often have strong views about a place, positive or negative, even if they have not been there. The phrase ‘black hole of Calcutta’ will always blight Kolkata’s prospects. It refers to the death of 123 British prisoners who had perished in an airless dungeon in 1756 after the Nawab of Bengal incarcerated them but, partly as a result, Kolkata is still seen as the epitome of urban hell and slum-living and is not attractive to inward investors. The reality is far away. There are some dreadful conditions, but the infrastructure, such as the metro, is very good. Mumbai by contrast, because of its association with Bollywood, is seen as glamorous, when in fact it has a far greater proportion of slum dwellers: 5.82 million as against 1.49 million in Kolkata and 1.82 million in Delhi. With 500,000 inhabitants, Mumbai’s Dharavi is the largest slum in the world. The positive or negative resonance of a city affects its citizens and they behave accordingly. It is difficult to measure, yet, in my experience, people in places that have a negative perception of their city lack confidence and have less motivation and energy. By contrast, those who know they are coming from a place that is going somewhere derive energy from that, even though objectively

Repertoires and Resistance 161 they may have no more talent than someone from a place lacking confidence. The collective psychology of a city plays a significant role in achieving its objectives. It affects its ambition, its chutzpah and its vision. That is why we can talk of ‘can do’ or entrepreneurial places, such as Birmingham in the past or present-day Shanghai or even Hong Kong. Conversely, Taipei’s or Osaka’s current difficulties with the rise of mainland China affects them deeply.

Forms of drawing power25 Political power implies assessing the number, level and importance of legislative functions or government institutions based in a city or region. If these only relate to a city and region, then the position is weak. The more national and international institutions based in the city, the better. For example, Leicester and Nottingham in Britain were equal regional powerhouses in the East Midlands. Over the last five years, however, the balance has tipped to Nottingham, even though Leicester is more conveniently placed for London. Nottingham always had the regional broadcasting authority. This became a point of leverage to attract the regional strategic economic authority, the regional arts council and regional headquarters of national companies, many of whom moved from Leicester. This inexorably reinforced Nottingham’s power. Perhaps most irksome to the city of Leicester was the renaming of East Midlands airport as Nottingham-East Midlands, even though it is in Leicestershire. At the global level the stakes are even higher as cities battle to attract institutions such as the European Central Bank, which Frankfurt won over London. Getting an institution to base itself in a city is more sustainable than being only fashionable. Yet being fashionable plays its part in getting on the radar screen in the first place and perhaps attracting the key institution. But it can be hit and miss. As Henry Ford said, ‘50 per cent of my advertising works great – I just don’t know which 50 per cent.’ The same is true for intangibles such as image. There is a symbiotic relationship between the different areas of power, and political and economic power often reinforce one another. The economic indicators are well known, such as the value-added created per employee, companies headquartered in the city, the presence of key research centres, and international trade fairs, events and so on.

162 The Art of City-Making Cultural power involves the assessment of the status of various institutions in the city, such as museums, theatres and art galleries, and where they fall in the national and international hierarchy. Of most importance is the content of these containers for culture. The container itself, even if it is an iconic building, is not enough. In addition there is a trendiness or hipness factor, where quality of restaurants, nightlife and overall design should be assessed. This is largely judged by peer-group assessments, food writing, for example, or through the views of the streetwise. Cities can accrue power and desirability by capturing a territory that others also want to occupy. This is where quality of life and environmental and sustainability power come in. Yet to gain from such an asset, it needs to be known about – tangible, selfevident and transparent. A range of cities have built reputations on these that create downstream spin-offs. These softer issues are now central to the quality of life and competitiveness surveys of organizations such as Mercer’s, the Economist Intelligence Unit or Jones, Lang, and Lasalle’s World Winning Cities programme. They help companies assess where to locate. Usually many Nordic cities as well as places like Zurich and Geneva come top. The city of Freiburg is instructive. Its strong environmental profile – car use has remained stable over the last two decades, despite growth in the population – has attracted major eco-research institutes, so the city is an attractor of resources and talent in this sphere. This reinforces its position, as do initiatives such as the solar region project or Vauban environmental district, where local job creation and local sourcing are important. Measuring the performance and competitiveness of a city across various dimensions is problematic because good performance according to one indicator may mean poor performance in another. A good economic indicator may cause a cultural, social or environmental problem. Economic vitality causes large movements of people. So the relevant cultural indicator may be levels of tolerance or interaction between differing groups. A social indicator such as levels of crime may require an assessment of the costs of crime to be set against an economic growth figure. The same is true for environmental damage. Within an overall assessment, competitiveness is a key criterion because it creates the resilience a city needs. Being competitive is essentially about doing something well and better than somewhere else. Its significance is growing because of the increasing interna-

Repertoires and Resistance 163 tional mobility of investment and skills. Gifted and talented people are attracted to such places, because they have vitality and they help individuals achieve more. Statistically, if a place has more talented people than somewhere else, it will perform better across all dimensions. Therefore the talent agenda is rising to the fore and a primary indicator for a city should be its talent churn, which is the balance between talented people moving in and out (who or what is talent will be subject to debate and is context-driven). If it is positive, a city is doing well. For example, one expects and wants clever locals to leave their city, to broaden horizons and learn about the wider world, but a city also wants them to return or, if not them, then talented people from elsewhere. Part of talent is the capacity for creative thinking which harnesses and maximizes competitive advantages. Economically, competitiveness is expressed in terms of profitability, levels of investment, technological innovation, access to venture capital, the quality and skills of the workforce, how well the city is networked at a human and technological level, and the rank and status of local firms as well as their products and services locally, nationally and internationally. Socially, it concerns the quality of the relationships between social groups (including race relations) as well as the achievements of a city’s voluntary sector. Environmentally, it is a city’s sustainability agenda. Culturally, it concerns the rank and status of educational and cultural institutions and activities, and particularly how they are seen by peer groups.

Cities on the radar screen Cities are now a media event and city-branding is the process by which media attention is secured. Like a voracious beast, the media needs feeding, and cities are part of the feeding frenzy. There is a persistent tendency for place-marketing literature to focus on clichés, to represent places as culturally homogeneous and not to show their diversity or distinctiveness, promoting a similar, bland mix of facilities and attractions for every area. Cities are now being treated like any other product, such as a car, computer or breakfast cereal, and similar techniques are applied to their marketing. Something as complex as a place cannot be marketed in onedimensional terms like an insurance policy. The identities of cities being peddled, especially in tourism literature, are at best partial and at worst fictitious, usually only accentuating hypothetical posi-

164 The Art of City-Making tives rather than reflecting better realities. The very creativity that has made places vital is lacking in the practice and literature being used to promote ‘places’. Further, promotional messages from different agencies are rarely aligned. There is often a conflict between the inward-investment promotional literature, which usually projects a breezy forward-looking tone, official tourism material, which can be backward-looking, and streetwise magazines, which project being at the cutting edge of style. For instance, a survey of 77 brochures of British cities showed the pages of brochures to be crowded with images of the past. Eighty-five per cent of the sample had a heritage theme for the cover – people in historic costume, knights in armour, gentle country peasants and local fisherfolk enjoying a pipe at dusk with their dog on the quayside.26 This precisely at the moment when Britain is seeking to project itself as ‘cool’, creative and innovative and when cities such as Glasgow, Manchester and Bristol have an underground gutsiness that defines their identity. This would not be a problem if the images had been balanced with others, but generally they are not. Clearly a city is an amalgam of personalities, but brochures lack a sense of authenticity or reality. The underlying criticism is that they depict a truncated, often sanitized experience. It is a short cut, perhaps telling an artificial story that creates an unfulfillable desire. The globalization process is a daily reality for large cities to deal with and, with competitive intensity increasing, it is hard for cities to create a sharp focus for themselves. In a crowded media landscape, branding a place is about claiming territory in people’s imagination. It needs to be sharp, memorable and work on different registers of consciousness at the same time. It has to be alive, it needs energy and it has to play the fashion game. The difficulty is making the old seem relevant, new and vital. An article on the ‘sexiness’ of cities felt that Paris or Venice were such well-worn names that they did not trigger the imagination to the same degree as before and that Stockholm exuded now a stronger sexy feel.27 To create brand symbols of desirability, every aspect from manufacturing vigour and research capacity to architecture and sex is used in city-branding. Cities are continually trying to broaden their appeal and change perceived images they consider false. Frankfurt once had the undesirable image of being a city of ‘Marxists, murderers and millionaires’, which led to a long-term campaign to invest heavily in cultural facilities to project the city as more sophisticated and

Repertoires and Resistance 165 build a series of high-profile museums including Richard Meier’s Museum of Decorative Arts and Hans Hollein’s Museum of Modern Art. Dubai is intensely trying to broaden its appeal, beyond shopping, as a leisure and knowledge centre. Amsterdam seeks to reflect its creativity to make the city part of the life choice of creative people around the world. The trendspotters are on the look-out for which city is high on the hip register. The hippest clubs and street scenes in the world are in continual flux. One day Miami, the next Ibiza, then London, Hong Kong, Cape Town, Berlin, New York. Even Singapore emerged briefly as Asia’s gay hub. Then for the aficionados there is the ‘I heard it through the grapevine’ tendency: Moscow, Beirut, Warsaw and Tel Aviv. The challenge for city-marketers is to reflect the associational richness of a city and to find simple ways of playing on these registers and layers of interest. Selling urban identity and the individuals within a city as a commodity is problematic given the differences between outsider and insider perceptions. When people do not participate in the story that is being sold about them, it creates resistance. A more culturally attuned approach to city-marketing takes a far broader perspective. It reflects and looks at the good and bad, it has honesty, it acknowledges conflict in cities. There is a danger of always falling into the fashion trap. For instance, behind the rise of favela chic in Brazil was a counter-branding strategy alluding to the gangs, graffiti and poverty as something truly authentic. I was personally involved in a strategic set of meetings with government officials in Johannesburg in autumn 2000 when South Africa was discussing its branding as a tourism destination. The meeting began with old-style marketing messages: sun, sand, lions. Stepping back from these core brands, the group realized that South Africa’s history of conflict was perhaps its best-known feature and that the country’s journey of self-discovery could be reflected in tourism by inviting the visitor to take part in their own self-discovery. These alternative approaches seek to pick up on local flavour and look at a bigger palette. Rather than seeing city-marketing as a narrow discipline, more integrated and multidisciplinary approaches should be used, cutting across the public and private sectors and involving a wider variety of insights, such as those of artists, historians, environmentalists, community representatives, urban geographers and psychologists. Most importantly, involve

166 The Art of City-Making too a wider range of people who actually live in places to help form the marketing messages.

BORROWING THE LANDSCAPE Tourism is vast and has transformed thousands of cities, for good and for bad. Many cities are drowned by tourists and have had their lifeblood drained out of them, their identity squashed by the sheer mass of human bodies crowding into sites. Think of Agra and the route to the Taj Mahal, Barcelona’s Sagrada Famiglia, Niagara Falls, Venice, and now Keralan beaches and Mayan temples. It is often better to look at a picture or watch a film than visit them because it is difficult to see them in the flesh, let alone sense their awe. With so many people there is little respect as chatter, flashing cameras, smelly food and sticky drinks impinge on the experience. It is one reason, money aside, why armchair tourism and virtual tourism have become popular, where you do not travel physically but explore the world through the internet, books or TV. Tourists mostly borrow someone else’s landscape for their own personal pleasures and needs. It may be an urban buzz or a beach. As tourists we treat those landscapes or cities as commodities – used one moment, thrown away the next, rather like we treat clothes. Tourists rarely converse deeply with the place, meet a local or go to their home, even though most of us want to pretend we are travellers. In the hierarchy of travel, tourists are seen as mere consumers, whereas travellers are – to themselves, at least – of a better class: amateur anthropologists. Frenzied tourism has transformed the way we treat places. One day Prague, the next Hong Kong – an endless list of the ‘next thing’. We see the cities briefly, we engage little with them, we use them (and abuse them). We give nothing back except a bit of money and rarely do we speak the language. How under those conditions can we find the ‘true soul’ of a place that seems to be authentically itself: resilient enough through inner strength to take on the blemishes, to absorb outside influence without being too absorbed? In the resilient city, such as New York, Hong Kong or Tokyo, the strength and sheer scale of activity, business and the industry means the tourist is a bit player. Their impact is minimized. The insider (the resident) rather than the outsider (the tourist) defines

Repertoires and Resistance 167 the city’s self-perception. In between there are those on their way to becoming insiders or temporary insiders and they are necessary to give the city new blood. But it is important to appreciate that they are committed to the city by living there. They give something back by providing their ideas and labour. Yet cities become a stage set when the balance is wrong and the outsider overwhelms. Think of the French Quarter in New Orleans, old Venice or even the strong city of Barcelona with Las Ramblas and new city beach. Tourism has recently opened in China and already the beautiful Lijiang is complaining about losing its identity. A city with too many tourists is like a home that receives too many guests; there is little time to be yourself and get on with your life. The contradictory effects of tourism come from its mixed motives, which represent two kinds of yearning. It is about transgressing and escaping from everyday reality. At the same time, by getting out of yourself you can reflect on and affirm who you are. You let go of yourself and at best you enrich yourself. Or, in complete contrast, you search for a home from home and that is truly borrowing the landscape. For the English abroad it can mean the clichés: fish and chips, lukewarm beer and a cup of tea. Where does this leave the city visited? The history of European tourism originated with the medieval pilgrimage. The purpose was religious; there was a humility and a respect for place, but the pilgrims already saw the experience as a holiday. The word derives from the ‘holy day’, where religious activities and fun and games are mixed. Pilgrimages created the souvenir business, helped banking to develop and, inventively, used all forms of transport, such as catching a lift on boats bound for ports near religious sites. From the 16th century onwards it became fashionable for sons of the nobility to take an extended Grand Tour of Europe as an educational experience. The equivalent today is perhaps the backpacker trip. Health tourism, such as visiting spas to take the waters, developed early and became popular by the 18th century. They helped create cities like Bath, Karlsbad or Baden Baden, which provided an active social life for their fashionable visitors, such as balls and tournaments. The tourism industry as we know it can be dated back to 5 July 1841 when Thomas Cook, a Baptist minister, organized transportation and entertainment for 570 people travelling from Leicester to Loughborough to attend a temperance rally. He

168 The Art of City-Making thought that the new power of the railways could help the cause of temperance. Cook argued that the lower and middle classes would be better off if they saved their money for trips rather than spending it on booze. Cook’s big break came with arranged package tours for the Great Exhibition in London that took place in 1851, prefiguring big-event tourism. For five shillings, a person could travel to the exhibition, eat and sleep in London. 165,000 tickets were sold in the county of Yorkshire alone. Cook arranged similar tours to the Paris Exhibition and developed many of the services we know today, such as help getting passports, language guides, transportation, food, lodging and traveller’s cheques.28 What a supreme irony that the temperance movement’s fight against alcohol shares a history with tourism! We have now turned full circle as cities and holiday spots around the world, from Prague and Dublin to Goa and Bali’s Kuta Bay, fight to control binge drinking and drink-induced bad behaviour by tourists. For instance, the traditional English habit of a ‘stag night’ or a ‘hen night’ before a wedding has taken on international dimensions. In Dublin’s Temple Bar area an association called TASCQ (Traders in the Area Supporting the Cultural Quarter) is actively discouraging such visitors and block bookings of hotels. Tour operators tout attractions such as Prague Pissup, ( ‘an all-in package for all-in drinkers’. Stand on Wenceslas Square on any Saturday evening and you will see lots of British stag groups. And they openly admit they’ve come to Prague for the cheap booze – and cheap sex: There’s fifteen of us in various places, all doing the same thing – all in strip clubs. Beautiful women … culture, beautiful blonde-haired culture. We like all that. Listen, it’s a beautiful city, and the architecture is fantastic. But what we’re saying is, it’s built up a culture now that’s a stag weekend … and people enjoying themselves. Cheap beer, it’s easy to get to – two hours from the UK. Fantastic, fantastic.29 As Peter Hall noted, ‘There’s a haunting sense that maybe Prague could become an urban Torremolinos, following the curve from charming discovery to mass tourism hell to tourist slum in one

Repertoires and Resistance 169 generation.’30 And expansion is on the way as the lure of Prague wears off: The cheap, beautiful East European cities like Tallinn, Budapest, Ljubljana and Krakow are next on the list of the Prague Pissup organizers. As they say, ‘The groups pump money into local businesses – hotels, bars, restaurants, taxis and so on. These blokes spend a lot more than the average tourist.’31 Tourism exploded from tiny beginnings into the world’s largest industry with finance.32 ‘The Lonely Planet is not lonely anymore’ reads a headline in the Guardian.33 Tourism employed 235 million people in 2006, which is one in every 15 jobs, and this is projected to reach 280 million (one in 11 jobs) by 2016.34 Its economic value was US$6.5 trillion (US$6,500,000,000,000) in 2006 and is expected to double between 2007 and 2016, 4.2 per cent annual growth in real terms. It represented 3.6 per cent of global GDP in 2006.35 Yet when considering both direct and indirect contributions to the world economy such as the growth in tourism-related businesses (cleaning companies, caterers, and so on), the industry is estimated at 10.3 per cent of gross domestic product.36 In 1950 there were 25 million international tourists. By 2005 it had risen to an estimated 800 million – an astonishing 24-fold growth. This was aided by the rise of low-budget airlines and cheap airfares, whose prices are cheap because there is no tax on their fuel. It is the environment that is paying the consequences. Of these tourists two-thirds are European, the equivalent of one trip per European. In 2004, just over half of all international tourists travelled for leisure and recreation, business travel accounted for 16 per cent and around a quarter had other motives like visiting friends and relatives, religious purposes and health treatments. Together, they spent US$623 billion on souvenirs, hotels, restaurant meals, museum tickets and the like. The World Trade Organization reports that the world’s 6.5 billion people produced US$8.9 trillion worth of merchandise exports in 2004 and international tourism represented 7 per cent of this total. This is a bit less than the total world agricultural exports of US$780 billion for that year; about twothirds of the US$990 billion in energy exports; more than twice the value of global steel trade; 40 per cent above the US$450 billion textiles and clothing trade; and 20 times the US$30 billion in annual arms exports.37 Tourism is growing at a faster rate than trade as a whole. In 1950, 25 million international tourists spent US$2.1 billion equivalent against a world export total of US$125 billion. The ratio of

170 The Art of City-Making tourist spending to export revenue was 1 to 60. In 2005 it was 1 to 13.38 And just wait for China and India to take off. For instance, in 2005 31 million Chinese flew abroad, admittedly most to Macau and Hong Kong, and by 2020 it is estimated it will be 100 million39 – and how many to Europe? 10 million? To Britain, perhaps 1 million? And the Chinese go to quirky places. In Germany, the second most visited place by Chinese tourists after Berlin is Metzingen, a small town in the Black Forest unknown to most Germans, but home to a giant Hugo Boss discount store – since joined by another 20-odd factory outlets for designer labels. The Chinese already account for 11 per cent of the annual US$121 billion luxury goods industry and this is projected to rise to 24 per cent by 2009, surpassing the Americans, Japanese and Europeans.40 But tourism is a two-way process and more will go to China, especially with the Olympic hype, and India. In 2006 alone China is building 48 new airports. There are also 120 million middle-class Indians longing to travel. People travel for bizarre reasons. Everything is now a potential tourism resource. Take any topic, theme or purpose and it has tourism potential. Does this show endless human curiosity or is it simply boredom that needs satiating? Obvious niche tourism includes: cultural tourism, like visiting museums and galleries; heritage tourism, such as visiting old canals and railways; ecotourism, which is responsible tourism that includes programmes that minimize the adverse effects of traditional tourism on the natural environment and enhances the cultural integrity of local people; sports tourism, which follows teams; adventure tourism; and gambling tourism. The raison d’être of places like Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Macau or Monte Carlo is gambling, and others are increasingly getting in on the act. And sex tourism is often connected. In spite of the gloss, there is a seediness. The more unusual tourist pursuits include: disaster tourism, not to help out but to be a voyeur; dark tourism, to visit places associated with death; pop-culture tourism, where you visit a particular location after reading about it or seeing it in a film; perpetual tourism, where wealthy individuals are always on vacation to avoid being resident in any country where they might be liable for tax. Not forgetting vacilando – where the process of travelling is more important than the destination – and the quirky experimental tourism.41 In this latter form of tourism destinations

Repertoires and Resistance 171 are chosen not on standard tourism merits but on the basis of an idea or experiment. For instance, try the ‘bureaucratic odyssey’, which recommends that you: Take a tour of the following places known for their administrative function (rather than their tourist value): waiting rooms, social services offices, town halls, police stations. Use the facilities and resources, such as the photocopier, brochures, magazines, and sample the gastronomic delights on offer like the canteen, coffee machine, sandwich shop.42 Another is by-night travel: ‘Arrange to visit a place and arrive at night. Spend the night exploring the town and return home at dawn the next day.’43 Experimental tourism reminds us that the ordinary and mundane can be strange places. By making strange what is familiar to us, we do not have to travel to far-flung clichés to escape the everyday or to explore our identities. Indeed, we do not need to leave our bedrooms. An atlas and a pair of dice may be all that are required for a journey. Experimental tourism cannot, by its very nature, become a growth industry. However, its ethos is not to be sniffed at. At present, much tourism represents a tired rehearsal of a song we do not understand the words to. We visit monuments, museums and churches because this is what tourists do, but vary rarely to explore the history, culture or spirituality of a place. This is not to deny the potential resonance of such places but to question the tourist– destination relationship itself. As it is currently configured, the tourist gaze brings no new life to places. Experimental tourism suggests that we look afresh at things, start from scratch. By so questioning the received wisdom of heritage and travel brochure narratives, new ideas about ourselves and others are generated, lending a new dynamic to tourism which isn’t just about taking but also giving. Further, the ordinary day-to-day facilities of a place can often offer the most rewarding experiences. Hong Kong’s transport system is a case in point. It has great diversity and is affordable, frequent, always on time and a joy to use. For instance, the midlevel escalators are, at 800m, the longest escalator system in the world. It is free. First thing in the morning they take people down

172 The Art of City-Making the steep Hong Kong island hill to work. Then at 10am they switch directions and take people up the incline. The escalator floats past the ever-inventive shops that advertise themselves on the higher floors of buildings, creating a strip of high-level shops. The areas it passes below have regenerated, affirming the truism that transport is the maker and breaker of cities. The Peak Tram funicular railway is a more typical tourist pull but it is still heavily used by locals because it gives an astonishing view of the city. The Star Ferry that runs continuously between Hong Kong island and Kowloon gives you a glimpse of the city from sea level for practically nothing. Hundred-year-old double-decker trams trundle around Hong Kong Island at a leisurely pace. The MTR underground system is clean, fast and very frequent and the Airport Express Link speeds you to and from the airport while you watch the personal TV that is in the back of every seat. When even transport is pleasurable in its finest detail, there’s no need to fetishize obscure historical relics in order to create an experience for the tourist. The everyday becomes as central to the tourism experience as more rarefied cultural attractions on offer. In fact, getting a visa extension, reporting a lost camera to the police or washing your clothes in a local launderette are, one could argue, somewhat more authentic experiences than eating ice-cream on a gondola, drinking beer in lederhosen or watching the Changing of the Guard in London. So why is it that the tourist industry peddles such invented traditions in the name of ‘authenticity’? Travel literature is fixed on ideas like ‘real food’, ‘local culture’ and ‘history’ while simultaneously propagating cultural antiquities. Why? Because both travel and destination are commodities which are subject to the imperatives of marketing and competition.

Selling places There is a gigantic global infrastructure of hotels, travel agents, transport providers and marketers driving the industry forward in search of ever more exotic, unusual places creating ‘must see’ destinations. Tourism is the coalface of branding: out there, garish, and, at its worst, prostituting the city. Everything is on the move to keep the frenzy of tourism going: Bangkok transforms itself from ‘Asia’s bargain basement’ into ‘the coolest city on the planet’; ‘Ich bin ein Berliner – how the city learnt to party’; ‘Tel Aviv has the edge of Belfast, the spirit of Rio and the 24 hour attitude of New York’;

Repertoires and Resistance 173 ‘Mumbai’s the word – get to grips with one of the world’s most extreme – and now most fashionable – cities’; ‘C’est chic – you bet – for the US, Montreal is Paris without the jetlag. Montreal can do that version of itself in its sleep’; ‘[Shanghai is] the most exciting city on Earth. There’s a boom-town exuberance to Shanghai with its outlandish skyscrapers, designer shops, hip bars and world-class restaurants.’44 Favourite destinations change by the season: one day it is Reykjavik, the next Ljubljana; and then the lure of the tango in Buenos Aires. You even hear, ‘Move over New York, bring on Bratislava.’ There are the perennial favourites, usually prefaced by the phrase ‘the irresistible charms of …’ (Paris, Venice, ‘Brazil’s most vibrant city’, etc.). And everything has to be ‘cool’, ‘hip’ or ‘hot’. ‘UK Cool: Why we are hip again’. There are the ‘cool capitals – Amsterdam, Berlin and Vienna’ – and ‘mid-sized cities get hip’. The elemental, primal and visceral is a strong theme and the ‘cold’: ‘try the untamed North’. By contrast it may be themes such as glimpses into Russia’s repressive past, gay tours, firing kalashnikovs or tracking wolves. Or ever dreamt of taking the kids to the beach in Europe, but find the logistics daunting? Stay at the pretend beach at Centre Parcs, a controlled indoor setting whose signature feature is a large dome that houses a landscaped waterpark and tropical pools, play zones, restaurants, shops and a spa and other ‘novelty features’. Or you want something more exclusive? How about the private world of Mustique in the Caribbean, where even the locals aren’t allowed to go. Is that too dull? Try Stalin World in Grutas Park, Lithuania, which mixes humour and history. An imitation Soviet prison camp interspersed with old communist statues may not sound like the ideal place for a good time, but in the search for the exotic anything goes. Or try the more sedate Statue Park in Budapest where another collection of old Marxes, Stalins and Lenins looks down on you. Excitement is promised and stimulation provided. The reality is that most of the experience is pre-digested and manipulated. And, on return, the tourist hunters bring back their trophies. Instead of brandishing rifles or shooting animals they shoot pictures and bring back souvenirs, memories and a passport stamp. It is still a conquest. It is collecting experiences, collecting places, collecting things. What is left for the city? It has to clear up.

174 The Art of City-Making

The limits to tourism The scale and growth of development is unsustainable, especially if the growing numbers of middle class around the world want the same experience. For instance, if not Dublin why not Serbia and Montenegro? It’s all the same. The Vega City theme park project that United Entertainment Partners (UEP) originally planned for north Dublin is now likely to be built in Serbia and Montenegro. Fingal County Council voted by a 19 to 1 margin to reject the scheme for the US$7 billion theme park on 2500 acres, describing it as ‘enormous, and unlike any proposal put forward in this country before,’ and contrary to proper planning and sustainable development of Fingal.45 Instead UEP is in talks with Belgrade. UEP had hoped to attract 37 million visitors a year to Ireland (nine times the Irish population) with its three theme parks, golf courses, shopping centres, 14 hotels, conference centre, equestrian centre, ice rink and 10,000 apartments for short-term lets. Carl Hiaasen, a newspaper columnist with the Miami Herald who has written extensively on the impact of large theme parks on his home state, says it sickens him to think a plan such as Vega City is even being considered by the people of Dublin. As a warning to Fingal, Hiaasen described the area around Orlando, where Disney World is based, as an ‘ugly, congested, sprawling hellhole’.46 Consider too the latest ideas for Venice. It is likely to become the first major living city to charge an entrance fee, to offset the damage done by hordes of tourists. Often over 50,000 people a day traipse through the city and this will increase dramatically when Chinese and Indian tourists begin to travel en masse. If Eurodisney charges visitors 50 euros a visit, surely Venice is worth much more? And the sums collected will help save the city. Implementing the ideas behind the eco-tourism movement is one way forward to overcome the contradictory dilemmas. It seeks to conserve cultural and biological diversity and to adopt an ecosystems approach to thinking through tourism. It involves being aware of the cultural sustainability of the places tourists go to and encouraging them to develop cultural knowledge and self-awareness. It focuses on providing local populations with jobs, sharing socioeconomic benefits with local communities and getting their informed consent in the management of enterprises, rather than encouraging foreign ownership of the majority of resources. In this way resilience can grow.

Repertoires and Resistance 175 The ideas behind the City Safari project in Rotterdam may be a model. They have invented a new sustainable approach to tourism development. The brand name ‘City Safari’ has been ‘stolen’ or copied by many, but not the core idea. The project has a list of over 300 people or organizations that are willing to be visited. The visitor chooses the kind of people they want to meet – which could range from priests to imams, from urban planners and gardening enthusiasts to unusual shopkeepers, tattooists, and collectors of the bizarre like a man who owns over a thousand koi carp kept in tanks in a collective garden of a series of apartment blocks – and places to go to, from delicatessens to sex shops to a café employing recovering heroin addicts. The visitor gets an address and has to find their target by exploring and navigating the city. They encounter people a normal tourist would never meet. They hand over paidfor vouchers and in return they get a service – primarily a conversation about their life and what they do. In addition, perhaps, a glass of wine, a tour of a building or a meal. Its power is that the tourist and the locals connect and the benefits go directly to the local rather than an intermediary. City Safari was started as an economic development project by Kees de Gruiter and is now owned by Marjolijn Masselink to bring more resources to local people rather than intermediaries.47 The problem for less-developed countries is that tourism is often presented as one of the only routes to development. But tourism can in fact be a terrible burden on the economy of the destination. There are a number of reasons for this. One is leakage: not much tourist expenditure stays in the economy after taxes, profits and wages are paid outside the area and after imports are purchased. Indeed, of each US$100 spent by a tourist in a developed country, only around US$5 actually stays in that country’s economy. A second reason is the phenomenon of enclave tourism: many tourist packages are ‘all-inclusive’ wherein tourists do not leave their resort or cruise ship. Third, infrastructure improvements – in roads and airports, for example – can cost the government at the expense of local health and education, especially if there is pressure from developers for tax breaks. Fourth, with an increase in the spending power of tourists, prices can rise faster than indigenous wages can accommodate them. Finally, an area can become dependent on tourism and therefore subject to tourism’s vagaries. Other parts of the economy are neglected and the area lacks a healthy diversity. Also, a local tourist industry may be seasonal, meaning

176 The Art of City-Making instabilities in employment and leaving the economy as a whole vulnerable to climatic instabilities.48 Tourism can be configured to help the areas it affects. Pro-Poor Tourism, for example, is an organization that promotes the local expansion of employment and businesses and the active inclusion of the poor. Eco-tourism as a movement is intended to encourage tourism that is responsible and environmentally and culturally sensitive. However, as with any industry, tourism must be understood as an extensive system of which no particular facet can be seen in isolation. Air traffic is increasing and, as an abundance of new wealth enters the tourism industry, this will continue. But at what cost? Clearly flying to the other side of the world to see the famous dyers in Fez market or to watch pandas chew bamboo shoots is not eco-tourism. Responsible tourism may in fact be travelling less far from home. Cities could do worse than look to Rotterdam’s City Safari as a model of how tourism can be incorporated into self-discovery. In fact, why not turn your own citizens into tourists of their own city?

URBAN RITUALS Making the most of resources Urban rituals provide one measure of resistance to the never-ending consumer journey. But even they are subject to becomming more commerical. Day-to-day rituals abound. The evening passegiata in the Mediterranean, where you look and are looked at, you have an idle chatter and you check out who you fancy. Coffee in the café with a newspaper. Going to a pub in Ireland or a beer garden in Germany. Sunday dim sum in Hong Kong. A Sunday stroll in the park anywhere urban. The weekly supermarket visit or – better – browsing the markets. The Saturday football or baseball match. In addition, a raft of new rituals has emerged: urban fun runs, marathons, heaving Friday night pub crawls, karaoke. In warmer climes, this urbanity is easier to experience in the open. In the damper, colder north, however, it is more difficult to get that sense of alfresco urbanity; activity tends to be indoors (though places like Copenhagen manage with outdoor heaters and blankets). Rituals serve a purpose. Rituals anchor individuals in time and place, they bond groups together, and they create an occasion and regularity. Even in an ordinary activity like drinking tea or coffee

Repertoires and Resistance 177 there can be ceremony which establishes, affirms or reaffirms social roles. In fact, every aspect of life and every resource is or can be ritualized and can thus be turned into an asset. Think of any food, animal, flower, art form, sport, religious occasion, major historical battle or topic and there is likely to be a festival or ritualized event surrounding it. Rituals mark the calendar. They identify seasons and create formalized activities that mean something to those in the know. They assert the ‘tribe’, personal and place identity, awe, and submission to a higher authority. In religion, ritual is geared toward union with the divine; otherwise rituals can celebrate achievement or are just fun. Celebrations after harvest or anniversaries of significant events are part of human history. Usually local in scale, in the past they helped form local identity and distinguished one city from the next. If anything was important to local life, it would be celebrated. Think of the Italian sagre or feste, where there is simply acknowledging and indulging: chestnuts, mushroom, artichokes, olives and wine; pigs, sheep and fish. And the same is true for other cultures. The snail is celebrated in Lleida, Spain, Belfort, France and Pianello, Italy. The donkey in Otumba, Mexico, and Aleria, Spain. Sheep in the US in Cummington and Bighorn. The cat festival in Ypres, Belgium, broadens the scope to consider myths around that animal. More recently, as festivals have come into vogue, places have consciously fostered the bizarre to get name recognition, such as Keppel, Queensland with its crab leg-tying event. Or Gilroy in California, branded the world’s garlic capital, which has been celebrating garlic since 1979 and whose festival attracts 125,000 people. The only problem is that now more and more of its garlic is imported from China. Religious processions have formed part of the social fabric since the first human settlements were formed. Many early settlements, like Nineveh or Antioch in the Middle East or Teotihuacán in Mexico, were dominated by ritual. The Christian celebration of Easter in Rome or the famous New Orleans Easter Parade; Christmas celebrations nearly everywhere, even in non-Christian places (another opportunity to shop); feasts before fasting such as the Fasching carnival in German-speaking countries in the period before Lent; the Haj to Mecca; and the Hindu Diwali festival of light in many places. The Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai is a ten-

178 The Art of City-Making day festival of the elephant god where, on the last day, Ganesh’s image is taken through the streets in a procession and immersed in water. The Esala Perahera in Kandy, Sri Lanka, celebrates Buddha’s tooth being brought to the country. The main elephant is preceded by a slowly prancing parade of dozens of elephants and a frenzied cast of thousands of Kandyan dancers and drummers. A bright white linen carpet is unfurled before him so that his feet do not touch the bare ground. Other festivals had and have a different purpose. Carnivals often represented the few moments in the calendar where rank could be forgotten, rules broken, barriers overcome and norms transgressed. It was a way of creating social equilibrium and letting off steam. Carnivals in Port of Spain and Rio and the New Orleans Mardi Gras are prime examples, as is the modern gay incarnation of the Mardi Gras in Sydney. Arts festivals are the most common form of festival today and they come in every conceivable form, from the specialist to the general. In Germany alone there over 100 music festivals in the summer, showcasing a range of genres from opera and jazz to electronic music. Then there is the raft of theatre, ballet, literature and book events. Within these, any theme can be explored, from hope and sex to urban utopia. The broader-scale festival and events culture which seeks to attract visitors as well as indigenous participation only took off in the post-war period. The Edinburgh, and later Adelaide, festivals were early prototypes. Since their inception, possibly tens of thousands have been conceived. The Notting Hill Carnival, now one of the biggest festival events in the world, seems to have been with us forever, but was only founded in 1964 on a small scale. It projects itself as multicultural, but in reality it is showcase for quite a narrow band of cultures. Its active participants are largely AfricanCaribbean. Today festivals are part of the urban regenerator’s armoury. In the process, many of the traditional events are in danger of losing their qualities of authenticity as the balance of participants to tourists tips against the former. Imagine anything and it can be turned into an event, ranging from Coventry’s ‘The virtual fringe: A festival of possibility’ that you only know is in Coventry if you are on the net; the short filmmakers’ frenzy in Newcastle, Australia, where people race through the night to finish a 24-hour shoot; Vancouver’s ‘Dancing on the Edge’; Marseille’s ‘Festival of the Wind’; the more sedate open-air

Repertoires and Resistance 179 painting festival in Geneva; to the surprisingly hectic ‘Slow Food Festival’ in Turin. A story, a person, an accident, a victory, a local resource, a skill, a bizarre idea – cities scour their cultural resources and ideas bank to turn anything into something bigger, from the very local to the globally significant. At its apex stands the super league of big one-offs: Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup. In the next division are the World Expos and European City of Culture celebrations. Below that are the ‘cities of festivals’ that build their reputations and city-marketing on putting on events, such as Cannes, Edinburgh, Cheltenham, Salzburg and Istanbul. They have different cycles, scales and purposes, but now the danger is that festivals are subservient to the overarching goal of marketing, of getting on the radar screen and breaking through the information clutter to create recognition. The regeneration agenda is another new objective, especially as cities which hold bigger events like the Olympics can use the prestige to do things that otherwise would be impossible. Typically this might be to renew the sporting or cultural infrastructure, extend a metro line, open out old port areas, reclaim derelict land, or extend the city. The special circumstances, the deadline and tight timetables make it possible to break through political obstacles, local resistance to development and red tape. It is possible to raise additional financial resources and to set up innovative, experimental delivery mechanisms, usually based on partnerships and a task force-based approach, which may then later become part of the mainstream. Two cities which have used big events to good effect are Barcelona and Glasgow. The 1992 Barcelona Olympics and Glasgow’s European City of Culture celebrations throughout 1990 pioneered a regeneration approach to big events. In Barcelona the Olympics was used to open out the port area and renew the sports infrastructure as well as to reposition the city globally. Equally, in Glasgow the building of the Royal Concert Hall was a by-product of the cultural year. Contrast this with the ‘disposable Olympics’ approach of Atlanta, tearing down the stadium as soon as the Games had finished. With major events, especially arts initiatives, a series of conundrums and strategic dilemmas occur that require reflection. How do you combine political ambition and external marketing goals with, say, cultural or artistic objectives? How can projects and events balance celebrating a city’s existing

180 The Art of City-Making cultural status and its past history with seeking to reflect more deeply on how a city’s culture could develop in the future? What is the respective importance of local residents’ involvement and attracting visitors and tourists? How do you follow up and maintain momentum in the wake of events and projects? What level of commercialization or sponsorship do you invoke? Indeed, ever more frequently fringe festivals and rituals are created in response to commercial aims. We learn too little about how these dilemmas are solved because evaluations are usually disappointing. They tend, with notable exceptions, not to go into depth and focus on a narrow range of issues, such as economic impacts.14 They are largely quantitatively driven, focusing on tourism figures and levels of participation rather than on the quality of the experience, its transformational effects on individuals or the social impacts of events, let alone the quality of the art or the nature of culture change and its meaning for the city in question. For the ‘realists’ these conceptual or philosophical evaluations appear too soft. But significant questions are not assessed: Who defines what culture is? Is the emphasis on city regeneration or the cultural development of art, creativity and identity? Is the priority to work with mainstream institutions or less formal entities?

Meaningful experiences Leaving aside fun, celebration, creating a spectacular and having a good time, what makes a festival significant in a wider sense? The best rituals respond to a deep yearning to be part of a bigger thing. You can take any theme as long as it is given meaning. Here are some ways of doing so in an urban context: •

Bonding individuals and the group. Collectively and selfconsciously sharing experience. Normally it is national events that do this, such as Anzac Day in Australia or National Day in Singapore. In terms of creating urban belonging and identity, the Mardi Gras in New Orleans is an example. It provides a forum for the sense of imagined community to be played out – people feel connected through a collective identity. Active not passive. To express self by being an actor on the festival stage. The carnival season in Christian countries is the party before the abstinence of Lent and its variations, like Fasching,

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Italy’s Carnevale or Mardi Gras, encourage the participation of the many. Such participation consolidates community solidarity. Ritualizing and reconciling conflict. The Palio in Siena is a famous horse race where the local contrade (districts) fight it out for supremacy. While it is very competitive, they are at least not cutting each others’ throats. The same is true for Trinidad’s Carnival. The gang warfare of the 1950s and 1960s was tamed and the energies were turned into making music, masquerading and parading. The names of the main mas camps (groups allied to a particular band) indicate the gang legacy: Invaders, Desperados, Renegades. Community self-reflection. The teatro povero (‘poor theatre’) and its festival started in 1967 and is like a community drama. It has taken on an important meaning in the life of Monticchiello, Tuscany, when it was realized it could help the village to overcome the threat of isolation and social breakdown in its transformation from peasant to modern life. Run by a co-operative and developed in an atmosphere of community solidarity and intellectual purpose, the whole community and surrounding areas are involved as actors and helpers. The theatre has become an important element in raising the village’s consciousness in its efforts to understand itself and achieve an identity. They developed the concept of autodramma (performing oneself). Relevant themes about the place itself act as a trigger for self-reflection. The theatre is centred on the Piazza San Martino. The square is the centre of the community from every point of view: the space for social encounter, confession, decision-making and self-analysis. As the natural meeting place for the whole community over the centuries, it is the ideal place to stage autodrammi and is transformed every summer into a stage.15 The city as a stage. The urban theatre festival in Rome claims the territory of the city, transforming city spaces into stages. It invades random streets and surprises the public, not countenancing indifference. It is preceded by the Estate Romana, from July to September, with nightly outdoor cinema in the best spots in the city, such as Tiberina island, with two giant screens overlooking the River Tiber and St Peter’s Cathedral in the background. The Estate Romana was initiated in the 1970s by the politician then in charge of cultural affairs, Renato Nicolini,

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who pioneered an annual summer arts festival to liven up the city and, to use the feminist campaign slogan of the time, to ‘Reclaim the Night’. He argued this was best achieved by designing cultural policies which would encourage people to use the city at night in large numbers, thus providing safety through the natural surveillance of crowds. Eliciting primal instincts. The basic elements, air, water, fire and earth, are deep themes of ritual. They have an authentic quality that harks back to origins. All major religions use light: Eid in the Muslim world, Diwali for Hindus, Chinese lantern festivals, Chanukah for Jews and Advent for Christians. Bonding across cultures and groups. Invented by Barnaby Evans, WaterFire in Providence, Rhode Island is one of the strongest new urban rituals.16 More than 20 times a year, a fire sculpture installation on the three downtown rivers becomes a moving symbol of Providence’s renaissance. It centres on a series of 100 bonfires that blaze just above the surface of the waters. They illuminate nearly two-thirds of a mile of urban public spaces and parks, and residents and visitors gather to stroll along the river while listening to an eclectic selection of classical and world music that serves as a melodic accompaniment to the normal sounds of urban life. The fires are tended from sunset to past midnight by black-clad performers in boats who pass quietly before the flames. There is no admission charge. The experience surrounds viewers on all sides and impacts all five senses. The crackling flames, the fragrant scent of blazing cedar and pine, the flickering firelight on the arched bridges, the silhouettes of the firetenders floating by in their torch-lit vessels, and the music from around the world engage the senses and evoke emotions in the many thousands who come to stroll along the river walks. It has a reflective quality, and people who have never met talk. Children, parents, the happy and the sad open out. Common experiences in open space. The Cow Parade has become the world’s largest public urban art event – cows painted in a maze of colours line the streets. It is a fundraiser for charitable activities and started in 1999 in Chicago, the US centre of cattle trading. At the conclusion of each event, the cows are herded up and many are auctioned, with a substantial portion of the proceeds benefiting charity. The initial Chicago auction raised US$3 million for charity. The average bid price

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on each of the 140 cows was nearly US$25,000. Over 40 cities have now held the event, from New York, London, Moscow, Telemark in Northern Norway and Boston to Buenos Aires. For those that travel a lot, it creates a thread of common experience that is different from a McDonald’s or a Hilton. A similar global event, though with no charitable aim, is Yann ArthusBertrand’s powerful ‘The Earth from Above’ outdoor photography show, whose core message is sustainable development. It has around 120 photos on sixty 2⫻1.5m panels aligned in various configurations in public spaces and has been displayed in places as varied as Dushanbe in Tajikistan, Helsinki, Ljubljana in Slovenia, Seoul, Taipei and Qatar. Since 2001, Berlin has had its ‘Buddy Bears’, who represent understanding among cultures and a peaceful coexistence. The event has now gone global, with artists making bears in Shanghai, Sydney and St Gallen, Switzerland. Twenty 6-foot Buddy Bears kicked the ball on the pitch of the world’s largest table football table to help launch the FIFA World Cup in Germany. The bears raise money for UNICEF and similar charities and had by 2005 raised over a million euros. At a more local level, Hamelin, the famous city of the Brothers Grimm Pied Piper story, has a Rattenfestival (Festival of Rats), last held in 2004. This public art event brings rats back into the streets of Hamelin in the form of 70 individually decorated five-foot rats. In their own way these shows are an indicator of a city’s presence in global consciousness. Social statement. Piobbico, Italy – ‘The World Capital of Ugly People’ – holds the annual ‘Festival of the Ugly’. ‘Ugliness is a virtue, beauty is slavery.’ Telesforo Iacobelli, its chair, has spent his life fighting for the recognition of the ugly in a society that places a high value on physical beauty. Iacobelli is considered ugly as he has a small nose in a culture where large noses are considered beautiful. The festival is a reaction against the forces of fashion, design and aesthetics and was relaunched 40 years ago with a new focus on a marriage agency for the town’s single women, who claimed they could not find attractive husbands.17 Today the Ugly Club, started in 1879, has 20,000 members around the world. Protest and protest within protest. The Love Parade was founded in 1989 in Berlin when 150 ravers protested for the right to party in a city just still divided. It claimed to be a polit-

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ical demonstration for peace and international understanding through music. Now a mass of DJs perform on their trucks, turning Berlin into one big club. At it highpoint, in 1999, 1.5 million people attended and it was copied from Santiago to San Francisco. When it lost its reputation as a political demonstration in 2001 and began to be seen as a mere commercial event, it entered financial difficulties but re-emerged again in 2006. Since 1997 there has been an alternative techno demonstration, Fuckparade, that protests against the Love Parade’s commercialization. Zürich’s Street Parade is similar to the Love Parade and since 1996 has similarly spawned a counterparade called the Antiparade. It fights for a vital subculture and sees itself as an antidote to the commercialization of the main event. The EXIT event in Novi Sad, Serbia, now simply a music event, started in 2000 as a response to student demonstrations against the political regime. For a hundred days, the EXIT organization coordinated a continuous programme of cultural and academic events, beach parties, live concerts and performances with a very powerful social dimension. It had one goal: to motivate all social groups, but especially young people, to vote at the presidential elections and remove Milosevic from power. Two hundred thousand people came to Novi Sad during this period to join the demonstration. Two days after the closing night of EXIT 2000, participants went to the polls and many ended up as part of the final 500,000strong demonstration that physically removed Milosevic from power two weeks later. Getting intellectual. Adelaide was one of the first places to have a Festival of Ideas. Started in 1999, its aim has been to celebrate ideas and innovation as central to South Australia’s values and identity. Rarely are there public opportunities to be part of a city that explicitly conceives of itself as a thinking city. In addition, Adelaide also has a Thinkers in Residence programme, which invites two or three thinkers to Adelaide each year to live and work. (I was fortunate to be one of these in 2003). The Thinkers undertake residencies of between two and six months, during which they assist South Australia to build on its climate of creativity and excellence. The Thinkers provide the state with strategies for future development in the arts and sciences, social policy, environmental sustainability and economic development. As the competition for ideas is so

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intense, the Ideas Festival was immediately copied by Brisbane and Bristol. A shared humanity. It is perhaps only sports events like the Olympics where for a time we reach across cultures and backgrounds and where a collective consciousness is created with a bigger message such as peace. Or the FIFA World Cup, where you know that you are just one person in a mass of humanity glued to the TV. At a national level, England regaining the Ashes against the Australians in their national sport, cricket, in 2005 provided a mass sense of unity that was positive. During that time, everyone was England, whatever misgivings they might have had about nationalism or cricket. Such occasions provide an excuse to participate in festivities and talk to strangers. Normally if a stranger talks to you, you might consider them as a weirdo. There is almost a tribal group consciousness that is also found in war when people say ‘our boys are out there’. Globally transmitted mega-events, which have charitable purposes, like Live Aid or Live 8, recreate a similar feel, because two pleasurable thoughts merge: enjoying yourself is helping others. The same was true for the Pavarotti and Friends concert, ‘Together for the Children of Bosnia’, with the song ‘Miss Sarajevo’ acting as a communal hymn. When mega-events are created on a simple commercial basis, such as the mega-operas like Turandot at the Munich Olympic stadium, they lack this quality. Other branded events like Expos find it difficult to tap into emotion in a similar way, although the European Cities of Culture programme on occasion has. Alternative views of life. Burning Man is a radical arts festival based in Black Rock, Nevada. ‘You belong here and you participate. You’re not the weirdest kid in the classroom – there’s always somebody there who’s thought up something you never even considered.’ Burning Man is a temporary town largely made up of art installations that exists only for one week a year. At its maximum it has 35,000 occupants with temporary facilities, from emergency services, a post office, bars, clubs and restaurants to hundreds of art installations and participatory ‘theme camps’. The city is then taken apart and mostly burnt, leaving the desert as it was beforehand. Each year there is a theme. 2006’s theme was ‘Hope and Fear: The Future and the Road to U(Dys)topia’. ‘Along the road to a utopia, the science fiction fantasies of the past gave way to traffic jams. The future,

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it begins to seem, has ran out of gas.’ The ten Burning Man principles include ‘radical inclusion’, so anyone can be involved (you cannot just be an observer); ‘decommodification’, so there is no sponsorship, advertising or commercial transaction (‘we resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience’); ‘radical self-reliance’, ‘encouraging people to rely on their inner resources’; ‘self-expression’; ‘communal effort’; ‘civic responsibility’; ‘leaving no trace’; and ‘participation and immediacy’.18 Release of tension and the bizarre. The out-of-the-ordinary has become ordinary as cities search to make themselves known. When it is gratuitous, such as the crab leg-tying event, it has little resonance. But when it has a local meaning, it takes on a different colour. As ever, local resources are key. At the Tomatina in Buñol near Valencia there is a mass release of tension when around 30,000 people throw tomatoes at one another – 110,000 kilos are used in the biggest food fight in the world. It is a free-for-all and anybody is able to throw a ripe or over-ripe fruit at anyone else. Its origin is disputed. One story is that it was a political response in 1945 to the continuing influence of Franco. A less lofty explanation is that it happened by chance after a lorry-load of tomatoes spilled on to the streets of Buñol around the same time. A similar event is Haro in Spain’s ‘War of the Wines’, which lasts for three hours and which began in 1906. In 2005, 4000 people were involved. It commemorates a tenth century property dispute between Haro and the neighbouring village of Miranda. Today anything goes, from squirting red wine on to the obligatory white shirts to pumpaction pistols capable of shooting half a litre in five seconds, water pistols, fire extinguishers, buckets and pesticide sprayers. Or consider the ‘Moose Shit Festival’ in Talkeetna in Alaska. When the snow melts at the end of winter, there are fields full of moose shit. The inhabitants arm themselves with what is at hand for the annual festival. Whatever is left over is used to make jewellery!

A CODA: URBAN RESISTANCES Like the proclamations of millenarian religions or ideologies of certainty, global capital projects an air of inevitability, even suggest-

Repertoires and Resistance 187 ing its forces are ‘common sense’. To question its unimpeded march is to invite ridicule. Yet conformity and resistance to the mainstream continually coexist. The winners and losers live side by side and inevitably they will fight. Creating the alternatives and building counter-arguments about how life can be lived are, in fact, what keep society moving and alive; it regenerates the culture. The issue is whether the alternative is absorbed into the mainstream simply as a new idea – as part of a general innovation process that strengthens its potency – or whether it has the power and resilience to change the system and its inner workings. Wherever you look, projects, groupings and movements batter against the implications of a narrow, self-interested globalization. As even George Soros notes: Unless self-interest is tempered by the recognition of a common interest that ought to take precedence over particular interests, our present system … is liable to break down… Unsure of what they stand for, people increasingly rely on money as the criterion of value… What used to be a medium of exchange has usurped the place of fundamental values.49


The Complicated and the Complex

THE FORCES OF CHANGE: UNSCRAMBLING COMPLEXITY Escalating change is in evidence. The shift of the global axis towards the East is one example, changing global terms of trade another and growing global disparities a third. Not to mention climate change, pollution and the growth of fear culture. With so much happening quickly and simultaneously, the world feels complex and disturbing. The changes feel dramatic, like a paradigm shift unfolding. How do you unscramble the complexity to see clearly and disentangle the different layers and levels of problem? It is more than unpeeling an onion or an orange, because the elements interweave, interlock and reinforce. If you look at the world within the mindset that created the problems we worry about, you will only replicate those problems: the mind that created the problem is unlikely to be the mind that solves it, to approximate Einstein’s words. An underlying theme is that our mental toolkit may not be appropriate for current circumstances. Our intellectual architecture was constructed for the age of industrialism and has sedimented itself into our minds like a cityscape of familiar streets and buildings which we simply take for granted. Since such mental architecture gets out of date, it causes a particular set of conundrums and strategic dilemmas when we try to apply it to the emerging world. And we attribute incomprehension to ‘complexity’ rather than revisiting and questioning the

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Source: Richard Brecknock

Anish Kapoor’s beautiful and popular sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park embodies physically the idea of thinking in the round, holistically and from multiple perspectives appropriateness of that mental architecture. Yet each generation says its age is more complex. What we really mean is ‘this is a pattern of events that I do not understand’. The distinction between complicated and complex is useful. Brenda Zimmerman has noted that: ‘Complicated’ is essentially mechanical. ‘Complex’ is essentially relational. ‘Complicated’ is about acting on. ‘Complex’ is about acting with. ‘Complicated’ is appropriate in a world of predictable outcomes. ‘Complex’ must acknowledge and respond to uncertainty. Putting a rocket on the moon is complicated where an enormous number of detailed steps have to be taken into account from engineering to navigation. There’s lots of room for error. But we know how to do it if we stick to the plan and execute with diligence. ‘Complex’ is raising a child. We learn and adapt from day-to-day experience. And we co-evolve in relationship to one another.1

The Complicated and the Complex 191 A conceptual framework is proposed through which it may be easier to focus on the significant and strategic, to unravel the trivial from the profound, and to understand timelines and connections. Taking an eagle’s eye view of the 20-year horizon requires us to look at existing trends to assess their depth or superficiality, their characteristics, their differential rates, and their impact. In spite of all the unpredictables, you can interrogate and assess the changing dynamics which shape possibilities and determine the direction of change and its possible routes. Even deep trends can be charted, although not with precision since they evolve gradually. Trends can be linear or cyclical, they can gain or lose momentum, and they can create cleavages and occasionally flip into entirely new trends in a paradigm shift. They can coalesce, so gaining in force, speed and power, or they can operate independently without affecting the broader environment. Thus understanding the difference between a trend and a fad is crucial. Some deeper trends and drivers are now easy to see because we have lived with them for a while and their impacts are unfolding with increased force. For example, the nexus of emancipation built around individuality, choice and independence spilling out from the Enlightenment has been with us for some 250 years. Some feel this particular driver of change is at the edge of exhaustion: its selffocused energy is causing more negatives than positives. Yet evidently it still has enough energy to shape everything, from how politics appeals to its constituents to how we customize products and services, how we appeal to individual desires, whether housing choice or the types of cheeses on offer. Business creates the increasing wants: Who would have thought ten years ago that we deeply needed iPods? There is little doubt that a realignment between individual desires and a broader public purpose is in the offing. The environment is just one example. With an incentives framework in place, thousands of products and services wait to be invented at the right cost to wrench our habits and behaviour in a more sustainable direction. We now know that individuals pursuing personal wants do not add up to a harmonious whole. Another trend is the renewed vigour and degree of globalization enabled by IT, which both makes operating across boundaries easier and helps shift global terms of trade. In the context of cities, it makes operating globally an imperative for success.

192 The Art of City-Making Just because we are so acquainted with such deeply embedded trends does not mean they will not have considerable further effects. They will continue to affect urban lifestyles, social and economic structures, policies and choices. The significant issue is where the continuities and, especially, discontinuities are likely to fall, who and what configuration of forces will make that happen, and when it will happen. Most importantly, it is necessary to go below the surface to discover the undercurrents and tectonic shifts in the socio-political substrata that shape trends and drivers in the first place. By undertaking this exercise we can see they have been underpinned by ideas and motivations about how life should be lived. An analogy is to think of change like an ocean. Ripples on the surface are less important than waves of increasing significance which are themselves formed by tides, currents, climatic changes and geological events which shape the movement and dynamics of the whole – and which might throw up the occasional tsunami.

A conceptual framework The central dilemma of our age is how we live together. Peaceful coexistence is the goal of civilization and avoiding the ‘clash of civilizations’2 should be the overarching intent of politics. But in trying to achieve these goals we are to a lesser or greater extent prisoners of circumstance – of old habits, assumptions, battles and animosities, struggling with the physical and mental worlds. History circumscribes possible future trajectories. However, we can at least partially transcend this imprisonment through understanding and analysing the world, and, crucially, acting on our reflections. Selfreflection should focus us on considering boundaries, barriers and borders within cities, such as ghettoes, voluntary or imposed, and between cities and countries. This draws attention to our tribal tendencies and our insider/outsider instincts, as well as how we claim territory, as when gangs physically occupy an area or when we distinguish ourselves from others through lifestyle choices or making people like the homeless feel like outsiders. These are questions of identity and belonging. It challenges us to ask how porous we are while still feeling confident about who we are. As the world comes closer together virtually and in real time and space, how we gather, communicate and understand each other rises in importance. Then it becomes crucial to assess more what

The Complicated and the Complex 193 we share as common citizens of the world rather than what divides us. This is not to claim that some cosy togetherness should occur, but rather to stress how we negotiate conflicts and be together in difference. If being global in every sense is the tenor of the age, then the notion of the intercultural moves centre-stage. This means the ability to look at the world through an intercultural lens, which implies a cultural literacy, an understanding of how different cultures think and see the world. From this premise of the aim of civilization I propose a conceptual framework. Think of faultlines, battlegrounds, paradoxes, drivers and strategic dilemmas and navigate your mind around them. It may help decipher what is happening and what might be done. You will find gaps that you can fill in. To do this adequately requires a kind of thinking that is holistic and sees the connection between things rather than the fragmented parts. Indeed, the battle between these two ways of thinking may be the biggest faultline of all.

Faultlines Faultlines are change processes that are so deep-seated, intractable and contentious that they shape our entire worldview. They determine our landscape of thinking and decisions across multiple dimensions and can be global in scope, affecting our broadest purposes and ends. They may create insoluble problems and permanent ideological battlefields. Even if they eventually solve themselves, such problems are likely to take a very long time to resolve: 50 years, 100 years or more. It is then more a question of mediating and managing conflict. The five most important faultlines are the battles between faithbased and secular worldviews, between the rational, irrational and arational, between environmental ethics and economic rationality in running countries or cities, between the artificial and the organic, and of realigning individualism with collective good. These affect a mass of downstream decisions. Taking the first, the most obvious aspects at a global level are the varieties of religious fundamentalism. Fundamentalists are responding to disappointments with a material progress that neither makes us happy nor answers genuinely fundamental questions such as ‘What is life for?’ What in this context are the agreements that bond and anchor communities when fundamental views of the

194 The Art of City-Making world are so different and people with diametrically opposing views now live in the same place – a city, a neighbourhood, a street? The search for greater meaning and releasing the spiritual realm beyond consuming lies at its core. What, if anything, can city leaders do to both balance differences yet also provide citizens with greater sustenance beyond material wants? The second faultline is between the rational, irrational and arational. A big put-down is when the logical rationalist claims someone they don’t agree with is irrational or arational. Being arational is not to be irrational (that is, to act without reason). It implies instead acknowledging that a narrow rationalist, linear approach is not the answer to inextricably interwoven issues where to untangle the threads involves thousands of variables. The result of trying to isolate each thread or system of threads is logical entanglement. It is rather like the cat that starts pulling a thread of a ball of wool and entangles itself as its claws get stuck. The result is confusion. The bigger picture made up of flows and dynamics disappears from view. Being arational is being full of reason and openness, because it implies the belief that an imaginative leap in thought can occur; that very deep instinct exists; that there are higher registers of understanding, knowledge and insight, some of which will remain intuitive for a very long time. It sees things less as a machine or defined structure and more as an organism that evolves and is emergent as things unfold, where the seeming randomness is not mindless. It can be intuited from within a higher pitch. The arational person understands the principles of connections and processes and is not scared of emotion. They believe emotion is a source of great value and that it enriches understanding. The narrow rationalist eschews emotion and so misses out, and makes decisions without sufficient knowledge and insight. The third faultline is the conflict between environmental ethics and economic rationality. The rise of environmental ethics is a sustained challenge to an economic rationality increasingly regarded as an impoverished theory of choice-making. This rationality implies a value set and resulting behaviours and states that the sum of profit-maximizing individual choices and self-interest-driven behaviour through ‘the invisible hand’ in the longer run equates to public good. A central fault is that it assumes that the environment is a free exploitable resource. ‘Rational’ choice and its associated economic system have led to environmental degradation and

The Complicated and the Complex 195 massive pollution. Eco-efficiency on its own is only a small part of a richer web of ideas and solutions that requires a fundamental rethinking of the structure and reward system of commerce. This implies developing a regulatory and incentives regime attuned to encouraging resource efficiency by combining innovations in business practice and public policy. It implies a different taxation system which in essence makes what is considered good for us tax-free and taxes heavily what is bad. This might relate to encouraging recycling, creating local energy-efficient building standards or the public sector acting as a role model in using alternative sources of energy. To what extent have cities got the independence and power to operate in this way? The more urban we become, the more we hanker after the wild, the untamed and unexplored. We want to touch nature and the undisturbed. This mirrors the divide between culture and nature, or that made by humans and that which pre-exists. It mirrors too the urban/rural split. In other words it is the clash between the artificial and the organic. This is the fourth faultline. The urban stands for the rational, the logical, the instrumental, the constructed, however little the results speak for its rationality. Thinking driven by the urban mindset appears to those on the opposite side of the fence as lifeless, lacking in understanding of natural cycles, seasons, forces and rhythms. The divide typically is with the eco-view and expresses itself in many manifestations contrasting the fast and the frenzied with the simple and the slow. The growth in organic foods or farmers’ markets are instances of the latter. The fifth faultline is the struggle to realign the individual and the collective in 21st century terms. Many feel individualism has gone too far. Expressed differently it is about how much we take or how much we give. How far we are going to remain egocentric or understand that being egotistical is a blind alley. The trumpeted choice of individuals has largely reduced people to consumers with a parallel loss of what it might mean to be a citizen. Instead the battle is to reframe day-to-day individuality so it embeds a concern for the larger whole, be this a local community, a city or an activist campaign. The default position of a new ‘common sense’, however disputed the term, is to consider individual and collective needs simultaneously. In The Malaise of Modernity, Charles Taylor (1991) suggests that the source of our malaise can be largely summed up as individualism and instrumental reason. Individualism has resulted in the

196 The Art of City-Making growth of human rights, perhaps the finest achievement of modern civilization. However, ‘in its debased forms, individualism comes with a centring on the self, which both flattens and narrows our lives’, it makes them poorer in meaning and less concerned with others or with society. Instrumental reason is the kind of rationality we draw on when we calculate the most economical means to a given end, the maximum efficiency. The combination makes people feel a lack of meaning in their lives, an emptiness that is filled often materialistically, but does not provide satisfaction. Private life becomes more important, civic life atrophies and when life is moving fast it ‘spins out to a rationalization that the average citizen is accomplishing a great deal simply by coping with or even surviving in this modern milieu, never mind being expected to assume responsibility for civic engagement and concern’.3 And remember the Ancient Greek origins of the word idiot: meaning self-centred, private, separate and only concerned with self-interest rather than the public or common good. There are also human attributes that feel like faultlines as they rarely seem to solve themselves and are constantly present. It is perhaps better to describe them simply as part of the human condition. These determine how we feel, what motivates us, our patterns of behaviour and how we act. Often they oscillate from one extreme to the next. One is the striving for fullness and avoidance of void. There is a yearning for completion, being at one, having a sense of wholeness that might result in fulfilment. The desire to fill the absence leads to a striving and the void is filled in various ways – religion, ritual, spirituality, internal mediation. Ultimately these seemingly abstract things are expressed in the city. It might be a place of worship, an urban festival or the way a public space is laid out. Another example is the human tendency to flip between needing anchorage and wanting exploration. Seemingly contradictory, but still sensible, this highlights the desire for stability and familiarity while constantly striving to experience the new, which often merely means consuming something different. Resolving the contest between new experience and the familiar and fixed creates cultural identity. It explains why tourism is so appealing. The dilemma today is that swaying between the two is happening more quickly and so absorbing what it means is difficult. The great cities, in passing, are those that manage to make you feel you know them, but that you can still explore.

The Complicated and the Complex 197 Finally, those with power often want to project the inevitability of things as they are. They do not quibble, for instance, at the commodification of everything – our time, social interaction, every transaction. They argue that this is economic ‘reality’. Yet a counter group will always resist and create a backlash, arguing these trends are merely self-serving. Alternatives are always available.

Battlegrounds Discussions and policy debates around faultlines often become battlegrounds because the nature of debate is intense and contested. Yet there are other battlegrounds less concerned with ultimate purposes, although at times touching on them. They are usually about significant policy choices and thus more concerned with pragmatics. Each battleground has implications on the future of cities. To elaborate briefly on a few: •

Multiculturalism versus interculturalism. In the multicultural city we acknowledge and ideally celebrate our differing cultures and entrenched differences. In the intercultural city we move one step beyond and focus on what we can do together as diverse cultures sharing space. The contention is, as history tends to prove, that the latter leads to greater well-being and prosperity. Yet funding structures are usually predicated on the first. Environment matters versus the technology fix. Will the regulatory and incentives regime at differing levels (city, state, nation) be constructed to encourage recycling, renewable energy resources, energy efficiency and behaviour change in general or will it just be left to the market to produce new technologies? Social equity versus disparity. The inclusion and empowerment agenda will remain with us as the dynamic of capital tends to produce excluding effects which impact more strongly on the disadvantaged, who have the least capacity to respond. What power do cities have to bend markets to broader social needs? Sharing responsibility versus exporting problems to neighbouring jurisdictions. The compact cores of major cities have widespread assets. Some of these, ranging from transport networks to cultural infrastructure, need to be maintained by the public purse. Outlying suburbs which jump over jurisdic-

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tions seek to avoid paying appropriate contributions for their use by their residents. Central versus local. The battle between central and more localized power is ever present, yet the trend is towards the local. If cities accrue greater powers, do they in aggregate have broader responsibilities for their countries? How do they activate this? Compaction versus dispersal. It is said that density creates a better urban fabric since it results in viable activities born of the increased vitality and economic efficiency that sprawl dissipates. Can cities counteract decades of city-building and habits that encourage sprawl? Can cities built with the car in mind be reconfigured to a pedestrian focus and to public transport? This is easier for highly textured European cities or dense Asian cities. Fear versus trust and openness. The pervasiveness of risk consciousness and fear come from deeper anxieties about life, from fears for personal safety and of crime to those of out-of-control technology, of the speed and scope of globalization and its unintended effects, and of unconstrained pollution. This has coincided with the decline of traditional ties, based on trust, whose value bases anchored people. We need to be open to compete and operate and not draw ourselves into voluntary ghettoes. Authenticity versus global markets. The contrast between the real, the virtual and the fake will move into a new gear. The search for the authentic, distinctive and the unique has become pervasive as our sense of the ‘real’ and the local is dislocated by virtual or constructed worlds such as those of cyberspace and theme parks and standardized, global mass products with little link to a particular place. Related to this is the battle between chain-store power and its homogeneity and locally distinctive shopping. Once basic facilities exist, it is difference not sameness that contributes the most. Holism versus specialisms. There is a battle between those who see issues such as urban decline or how cities as a whole operate as being composed of interacting wholes that are more than simply the sum of the parts and those who look at the fragments within narrow specialisms. Increasingly, we know we need to see the parts and the whole simultaneously. Hard versus soft indicators. What indicators are the most important in measuring the success or failure of organiza-

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tions and cities? If competitiveness combines the hard and the soft, will hard indicators such as levels of employment, growth, income or GDP suffice? Soft factors of competitiveness are people-related, for example a city’s networking strengths, governance capacity, cultural depth and creative milieus. How do we know where a city stands when these are not measured? Speed versus reflection. Competitive pressure with IT as an enabler speeds up life and makes it shrill to the extent that the slow is increasingly desirable, and not just for the old and infirm. From the Slow Cities movement to the ‘clock of the long now’ that will chime only once every 1000 years people are trying to avoid existence becoming a whistle-stop tour through life and then you are dead. This connects to another battle line between always emphasizing the next or the past, with the futurists fighting the nostalgics and rarely anyone living in the present. Forgetting versus remembering. The residue that remains from the past is a selection of what could have been remembered. For instance, the feminist movement helpfully reminds us of the women urbanists well beyond the remarkable Jane Jacobs.4 Equally, philosophical and psychological traditions get sidetracked. These are often more than mere battles of history – they reflect power struggles. What we choose to forget and remember reflects a society’s priorities.

Paradoxes A paradox is an incongruity that seems to be contradictory or an outcome that is different from that envisaged. There are seven worth highlighting in the context of cities. The first and overarching paradox is the conflict between risk and creativity that will be elaborated upon below. The other six are: •

Calculating tangibles in a world of intangibles. We live in a ‘weightless economy’, or an economy of ideas, where 80 per cent of wealth is created through intangibles. We talk too of the importance of people. Yet our systems of measurement and the calculation of value are out of step and lag behind realities. For instance, accountancy systems invented in a mercantilist age and developed under industrialism remain largely focused

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on measuring assets as material entities. People, who as ideasgenerators create most value, are by contrast treated as an accounting cost even though in the sale of a company they are part of its goodwill. As mentioned earlier, too much of our data gathering is based on nations and static measures when it is cities that are the driving forces of national economies and it is relations and flows that reveal more about urban dynamics than quantities of attributes such as population. Accessibility and isolation. Can there be too much access? Being swamped with cascades of uncontrolled information impossible to filter is a well-known problem. Reflection often thrives more on being under-stimulated. Accessibility is deemed an unquestioned good, yet too much accessibility can destroy what it sets out to do. Unfettered access can make things too popular or bring things into reach too easily. The isolated settlement that thrives on being distant can suddenly find the outside world too close for comfort. It can be overwhelmed by popularity fired by a new accessibility and mass mobility. The critical mass tips from being ‘just right’ to being ‘out of control’. A heritage setting can inspire and generate welcome tourism. Yet if too many visitors appear, they can drain the lifeblood of and drown local identity. The result may be that a city’s future is determined by the nostalgic past that visitors want to see, but which residents do not need, with knick-knack shops, souvenir outlets and interpretative centres that gel the past into aspic. Porousness and identity. People need to be porous to new influences as well as to retain their identities. We need to be both local and global to survive in the current world, selectively open and closed at the same time. We need boundaries and borders to ground and anchor identity as well as bridges to connect us to the outside. Although identity is shaped by a variety of factors, from upbringing and friendship networks to work, crucially it is also rooted in geography and place. In spite of increased mobility, a sense of place remains a core value and often acts as the pivot point around which a person acts. This tends to mean that cities need to balance being parochial and cosmopolitan. Space and density. People want space and density at the same time. Some will want both, others one or the other. Space is at a premium and will become the benchmark of luxury. Perceived

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lack of space will drive location decisions, lifestyle choices, densities and technological development. Systems to optimize space, such as roads, will develop by making journeys more efficient through autonomous vehicle control devices involving smart card technology so that a greater number of cars can travel at far higher speeds in convoys on existing roads or by car sharing. Simultaneously, and in a seemingly contradictory way, densities will increase as the number of households rises and urban vitality is deemed to come from close-knit mixed uses, so shaping the look and feel of cities. City and country. The more we move to the country, the less like countryside it will become. According to a recent UK RICS survey, only 4 per cent of people want to live in urban areas, a figure constant since similar surveys were first conducted in the mid-1990s.14 The overwhelming majority want to live in the countryside. This will exacerbate the intense pull out of urban areas, putting pressure on market towns and villages whose formal integrity will be blown apart by in-fill, edge developments and rises in population. It will all merge into a built-up mass. The overall feeling will be of many highways connecting some settlements rather than many settlements connected by some roads. The battle between perceived urban and rural values will surely get worse. Age and technology. The capacity to handle technology is a form of power, and the young feel more comfortable with it than older generations. As technological change drives the economy, it could thus transform power relationships between generations. We already know that children teach parents how to use videos, email and the internet: they have become the translators of the modern world. In a global culture where age has engendered respect, what will technology do to social relations when older people feel increasingly disenfranchised? For some older people there is a growing sense of being an immigrant in their own technological country.

Risk and creativity The landscape of risk5 We are caught between a rock and a hard place. The simultaneous rise of the risk and creativity agenda is one of the great paradoxes of our time, with risk avoidance strategies often cancelling out

202 The Art of City-Making inventiveness. Creativity, openness and risk-taking are demanded of us to be competitive in a globalized world and to be inventive to adapt to 21st century needs. At the same time creativity is denied. The evaluation of everything from a perspective of risk is a defining characteristic of contemporary society. Risk is the managerial paradigm and default mechanism that has embedded itself into how companies, community organizations, the public sector and most cities operate. Risk is a prism through which any activity is judged. Risk has its experts, consultants, interest groups, specialist literature, an associational structure and lobbying bodies. A risk industry has formalized itself. It subtly encourages us to constrain aspirations, act with overcaution, avoid challenges and be sceptical about innovation. It narrows our world into a defensive shell. The life of a community self-consciously concerned with risk and safety is different from one focused on discovery and exploration. Risk consciousness is a growth industry: hardly a day passes without some new risk being noted. It is as if risk hovers over individuals like an independent force waiting to strike the unsuspecting citizen. This might concern personal safety or a health scare. In 1994 Factiva noted 2037 mentions of the term ‘at risk’ in UK newspapers; this rose to over 25,000 by 2003.6 The notion of accident seems to have gone from our vocabulary. Cleansing the world of accidents means scouring the world for someone to blame. Bad luck gets retrospectively reinterpreted as carelessness. Risk-taking, a positive activity, is viewed negatively through a prism of negligence. This drives a tendency never to blame oneself or to take responsibility. Instead many litigate, leading to claims of a ‘compensation culture’, yet that culture feeds on deeper fears. The opportunity side of risk-taking begins to disappear. There seem to be no more good risks; all risks appear bad. The mood of the times is averting the worst rather than creating the good. Guidelines are drawn up on worst-case scenarios. Many say this culture of fear and litigation started in the US and developing from there has been exported to other societies, where the idea of ‘reasonable endeavour’ had a much stronger hold. The media shapes perceptions of risk, creating a climate which disposes us to expect bad outcomes. It heightens dangers, it spectacularizes issues and even creates panics. Which risk factor emerges within the media or political battlefield can seem arbitrary.

The Complicated and the Complex 203 The risk of food poisoning, constantly highlighted, is far less than risks caused by sedentary lifestyles encouraged by urban planning that reduces walkability in our cities and makes people obese. Consciousness of risk comes in myriad forms. Some have been with us for a long time, such as assessing the financial viability of projects. Others concerned with safety, health, epidemics or bullying are more recent and grabbing most headlines are safety concerns about personal injury in the public realm, such as tripping over a tree trunk, stepping off the road into an oncoming car or tearing your trousers on the edge of a park bench. Undoubtedly a perception exists that the public have a greater tendency to seek redress if they suffer an injustice or injury. People look for someone else to blame for their misfortune. The rise of claims management companies help; they advertise on TV, radio, the press, through direct marketing, street canvassing or tele-sales with slogans such as ‘No win, no fee’ or ‘Where there’s blame, there’s a claim’. One group in Britain alone generated 15,000 claims per month, selling them on to solicitors, some of whom have up to 10,000 personal injury claims running, with dedicated departments acting like production lines. An environment emerges where suing is seen as an entitlement as when a leading practice was asked, ‘Who can I sue when nobody is to blame?’ The major categories of claims affecting our living environment are fourfold. Occupier’s liability affects the design of buildings and their aesthetic, for instance what railings or banisters are acceptable to ensure no injuries. Liability under the Highways Act affects the look of the streetscape, junctions or interchanges. Protecting against road accidents results in an increased clutter of barriers, guard rails and excessive signage and signalling. The only defence for local authorities is to have ‘a reasonable system of inspection’, with everything hinging on the word ‘reasonable’. The basis of arguments concerns whether it was reasonably foreseeable that an accident could occur. The boundaries of ‘foreseeable’ are continually being tested and stretched.7 The rise in claims has forced local authorities to enhance their inspection and maintenance regimes. In Britain Leeds, Cardiff and Liverpool are often cited as having good procedures. For example, when claims clusters occur in specific areas, Leeds targets these for attention. This has affected the culture of maintenance, so maintenance is now conducted specifically with the avoidance of claims in

204 The Art of City-Making mind rather than seeing the urban environment in terms of criteria such as ‘Is it pleasing?’ or ‘Does it feel attractive?’ Concerns about construction industry safety have been widespread and involve employers’ liability; there is little criticism of their safety improvements, embodied in Britain in the Construction, Design and Management (CDM) regulations which have created new professions such as planning supervisors. The process, though, has affected urban professionals in pursuing innovations. There is a preference to go for tried and tested technology, materials or procedures. Ironically there is one area within this where people have become blind to risk – ‘megaprojects’8 – because human frailties come into play. Megaprojects and Risk: An Anatomy of Ambition provides a detailed examination of how promoters of multibilliondollar megaprojects systematically and self-servingly misinform parliaments, the public and the media in order to get projects approved and built. It shows, in unusual depth, that the Machiavellian formula for approval is underestimated costs, overestimated revenues, undervalued environmental impacts and overvalued economic development effects. This results, the authors argue, in projects that are extremely risky, but where the risk is concealed from MPs, taxpayers and investors. Yet we need to take measured risks as new agendas challenge us – think how the built environment is put together. The sustainability agenda demands new ways of building and sometimes using novel materials; new architecture can push at the boundaries of the tried and tested within construction; the desire for more walkable places can tip the balance between pedestrians and cars. Achieving these aims involves ‘good risks’. They confront the legacy of how things have been managed in the past, yet, aligned to a culture of risk aversion, moving forward becomes doubly difficult. The result of this thinking would be a reframed approach to risk management. A first emblematic step would be to rename the current risk statements as ‘risk and opportunity policy’, where each side of the coin is equally validated. Most risk statements currently focus on problems rather than possibilities.

A trajectory of risk consciousness What social and political conditions have encouraged a risk perspective on life? The question does not denigrate the contribution risk consciousness makes to addressing legitimate concerns.

The Complicated and the Complex 205 The pervasiveness of risk consciousness and aversion comes from deeper anxieties about life. They are part of broader historical forces impacting on our sense of self and how we view the world. From the early 1990s onwards a series of books highlighted a profound shift in our view of the modern world and notion of progress embedded in the Enlightenment ethos.9 The increasing disenchantment targets the Enlightenment’s limitless optimism, the arrogance and over confidence of science and industrialism, the fear that technology is out of control, the speed and scope of globalization and its unintended effects, or unconstrained pollution. This has coincided with the decline of traditional ties that provided values and models for action and readily understandable identities for individuals, whether through religion, ideology or a fixed community setting. Those value bases anchored people, giving them a purpose and direction allowing them to negotiate life’s travails. The erosion of tradition and taken-for-granted relationships and responsibilities breaks continuities and establishes uncertainty within which individuals have to assess lifestyle options themselves.10 The paradox is that the freedom of choice projected as liberation, especially in the commercial world, is then experienced as frightening. When little can be taken for granted, like ties of community, ideology or other forms of solidarity, it is difficult to know which information to trust and what to predict. This loosening of ties feels like swimming in the rapids with free-floating anxieties. Periods of transformation and transition can involve a mix of heady expectation and worry as the foundations are reassessed before they move to a more settled pattern. Within this setting, trust in oneself and others erodes. Everything is uncertain. Francis Fukuyama defines trust as ‘the expectation that arises within a community of regular, honest and cooperative behaviour, based on commonly shared norms, on the part of other members of the community’.11 An absence of trust in humanity shapes our perception of risk. It is a symptom of the cleavages which have made us fearful and risk aware. Misfortune cannot be blamed on acts of God so the blame must lie elsewhere. Risk consciousness rises when conditions of uncertainty and the perception of powerlessness increase. Unable to control pressing issues, from environmental degradation, crime and health hazards to the imbalances created by globalization, the ‘system’ is

206 The Art of City-Making to blame for what is wrong. This affects public perceptions and the emotional frame which guides perceptions independent of the reality of risk, so negating objective risk calculations. The sense of powerlessness, vulnerability and impotence begins to shape selfidentity. The responsible individual as potential maker, shaper and creator of the environment becomes a passive individual, always on the receiving end. The world is negotiated as a dangerous jungle with risks lurking in the undergrowth beyond the control of humanity. The author of circumstance becomes the victim of circumstance. Resilience, alertness and self-responsibility lose sway and by making claims we assert our authority and identity. How responsibility and accountability is defined is determined by social and political norms. If we focus on the fragility of people it shapes norms of accountability. People who believe they cannot cope will find it difficult to be responsible for their behaviour. Blame is credited to an external force and the sense of responsibility is distanced from ourselves. It legitimates the growth of litigation and shifts individualism defined as self-sufficiency and personal responsibility to a rights-oriented individualism. ‘The expansion of the right to compensation is proportional to the shrinking of individual autonomy.’12 Ironically this raises a further paradox, as the science that now allows us to assess and calculate risk is the science that we blame for causing risk in the first place. The capacity to absorb the speed of change is difficult, which is why the notion of the precautionary principle has gained currency. That principle suggests we are not merely concerned about risk but are also suspicious of finding solutions. It is best not to take a new risk unless all outcomes can be understood in advance. Judgement remains the key in deciding where to act with caution and where to give leeway for experiment.

Risk and the urban professions Thirty leading urban professionals, including engineers, architects, project managers, valuers, quantity surveyors, estate agents and property developers, were interviewed to assess how their work and perspectives are shaped by risk consciousness. They concluded: •

‘Risk has moved into the core of what we do.’ ‘Increased risk process tends to focus on managing the downside rather than considering potential.’ The consensus is of a clear increase in the awareness of risk, especially with the development of CDM

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regulations. A number noted that risk has sharpened up their practices, yet felt it constrained their capacity to innovate and provide certain design features. ‘There is now little intelligent interpretation of the rules.’ ‘The risk industry has a vested interest in a climate of risk.’ None of the design professionals is against design review processes, but there is a hardening view that risk assessment professionals ‘want an increasing climate of risk as it justifies their existence’. ‘The new planning supervisory and risk assessment roles reduce the risk for themselves.’ Those with responsibility for design tend to believe those attracted to risk assessment are not people with imagination. Acerbically, someone noted, ‘They are from the lower end of the gene pool – most of them want the ordinary because they can manage the ordinary.’ The notion of undertaking work on the basis of ‘reasonable endeavour’ is declining. ‘Do risk assessors understand design?’ Lack of understanding by risk assessors or safety auditors often makes assessments inadequate, especially in relation to environmentally sustainable design. Criticisms centre on a desire for design to be looked at from a broader, long-term perspective. ‘Increased resources are being spent on risk assessment.’ Practically every practice is spending more resources on risk than five years ago. This ranges from employing people with legal experience or risk assessors as part of instituting new management procedures. Insurance cover for all professions has increased beyond the level of inflation. ‘The rise of intermediaries cramps our style.’ In the past engineers dealt with a single client, who might take the whole risk of an innovative project. Now more projects are undertaken through intermediaries such as projects managers and contractors. This fragmentation tends to increase risk aversion. ‘Passing the parcel on risk.’ In a world of multiple contracting and intermediaries, where is risk located? ‘There is a merry-goround’ with people trying to pass on and export their risk to someone else. Risk should reside with those best able to manage a specific risk was the consensus. ‘The price we pay if you create pressures on various consultants to manage their own risk by building in too many safeguards is that engineers will overdesign and build in self-preservation and waste.’

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‘Design for risk rather than against it.’ There should be an assumption, especially in public space projects, that risky activities might occur, such as skateboarding. Rather than designing street furniture to repel skateboarders it should be designed to withstand it. ‘More safety rather than health conscious.’ The risk agenda from the perspective of urban professionals focuses too exclusively on safety and not health. This stunts debate on creating urban environments and developing a regulations and incentives regime that fosters healthy lifestyles. This ranges from encouraging public transport use to creating walkable urban settings or cycling-friendly environments. ‘Keeping the client close and consultation.’ The way forward proffered was to develop risk mitigation strategies by keeping close to clients and other contractors in a collaborative process of systematic risk assessment. Closeness to clients will help avoid litigation. ‘The biggest risk is not to take the risk.’ The risk of not going against the grain of perceived rules ‘was the far greater one of creating depressing cities that do not work emotionally’ so generating spin-off problems from crime to vandalism. ‘Our palette of possibilities is shrinking.’13

Drivers of change We are used to discussing futures by using ‘drivers for change’ as the template, and the basic drivers are known which determine much of what will happen. This is fine as far as it goes, but tends to tell us little about the depth or severity of a change process and its possible timeline. For this reason faultlines, battlegrounds and paradoxes were discussed first. The core drivers include: demographics, and especially an ageing population in the West, with inward migration balancing out expected skills and job shortages; globalization, which will move forward unabated; global terms of trade, which will shift inexorably to favour the East; technology transfer periods, which will reduce dramatically; and climate change, which will hasten the end of the oil economy and speed up the search for energy alternatives. New issues will rise to the fore and shape urban decisionmaking. These include:

The Complicated and the Complex 209 •

The health and urban design agenda, which will push debate on city-making more towards the New Urbanism agenda. Public health and urban design will come together. Healthpromoting urban design will emerge as a central planning issue over the next decades, underpinned by arguments for containing the car, increasing pedestrian-friendly environments, controlling out-of-town shopping, creating local facilities within walking distance, making cities more compact and investing in public transport. Safety, surveillance and a public realm. Safety and responses to terror will determine how cities are built and managed. The ‘watchful eye’ of surveillance will be with us wherever we go in cities. People will choose to live in voluntary physical ghettoes and gated communities will proliferate which parallel the mental ghettoes they create to block out a seemingly uncontainable world. This is why the fake experience is easier for many to cope with than reality. The question is, What types of gated enclaves are created from the urban design point of view? Crime and fear of crime, which regularly come at the top of people’s concerns, affect the way the built environment is constructed. Troublesome trade-offs will need to be negotiated, such as those between convenience, cost and profitability; privacy, freedom and creating sustainable environments; and legal and ethical norms. Design tactics will become more sophisticated in anticipating and blocking criminal activity. Variations of gated enclaves have always existed, kitted out with a diversity of surveillance devices. How will arguments for public realm investment be made in a context where no one feels public space has anything to offer? Will urbanity completely disappear in the newer gated communities which tend to be severed from the local community, with everything sealed within a fortress? Time and the spectacular. People increasingly perceive themselves to be ‘time poor’ and yet dream of being time and experience rich. The commercial sector will respond and increasingly seek to make all experiences, especially leisure activities, more intense and spectacular in an attempt to give them greater impact and meaning. This will affect design, especially for shopping, culture and education facilities. The same is true for public authorities, who will increasing feel they need to play the game of ‘urban iconics’, throwing up ever more

210 The Art of City-Making spectacular buildings to catch attention. Additionally, new, more invasive ‘spectacularizing’ technologies will emerge as knowledge from brain research cascades down into commercial applications, giving rise to neuromarketing whereby the individual at a conscious level does not realize they are being sold something. One effect may be the increasingly animated advertising hoardings that both lull soporifically and excite. The pressure to maximize every moment, and increased globalization, will encourage the development of truly 24-hour cities. Compressing time may increase the speed of events to a point where people cannot, or will not, make the necessary psychological adaptation. This is likely to generate a counter-reaction towards slowing things down again. The Slow Cities movement is an example of such an ethos-driven development. Crucially, pre-existing decisions and dominant ideas and mindsets are the forgotten drivers. What shapes present decisions more than the decisions that have preceded them and the intellectual architecture of those that make them? But precedent and ideology are rarely, if ever, mentioned in terms of the future. Pre-existing decisions, such as those which have resulted in the houses, shopping malls, roads and industrial sheds already built, are significant determinants of the future look and feel of the city, narrowing the range of alternative choices, for good and for bad. The future, longerterm plans of cities, such as the expansion of airports, land-use decisions and tourism developments, also tell us now what cities will be. The shape, style and form of the future city is in essence embedded in the laws, regulation, codes and guidelines of the present. A simple way to assess whether such decisions were right is to ask some simple questions: Does this building or structure say ‘yes’ or ‘no’? Does it feel right emotionally? Is it good enough for my city? Once standards are raised in these kinds of ways, it is possible to bring in a language of city-making long lost. Beauty can be demanded from a shed, a mall or an industrial estate, let alone a residential apartment block. How dominant ideas and mindsets affect what we do is forgotten. The central idea of our civilization is the notion of business logic and efficiency and economic rationality. It has significant merits, but does not tap the complexities of human behaviour. Its ideas provide the warp on which the patterns of our behaviour are encouraged to be woven. It affects the language we use and the discourse of public

The Complicated and the Complex 211 affairs. It entraps us, however much we talk of ‘thinking outside the box’. So there are often surprises when people do not behave ‘logically’. Cold economic logic is coupled with the rise of managerialism, with its colourless, grey, neutralized language of process that has little flavour or energy. Not surprisingly, civic engagement and connection is in decline. The managerial logic spills over into other domains that traditionally worked on different principles, such as ethics, morality, justice, voluntary work and the idea of the public. Yet discussion of such concepts is now shaped by the language of ‘efficiency’. Because ‘efficiency’, when narrowly defined, seems to work by definition, it is a given. But it favours means over ends and process over broader ambitions. When efficiency is itself the end, it strips out other life values, creating as many problems as it solves by promoting short-term thinking. Some will say, ‘So what?’ The logic of efficiency affects how issues like public transport, waste management or service provision are addressed since it conditions deeper, wider mindsets. It becomes difficult to ask questions like, ‘What is transport for?’ because the efficiency criterion makes it difficult to calculate ‘soft’ benefits.



The cities we have disappoint. Too many do not work as a fine, webbed whole, although there are urban delights in parts – the well-crafted building, an occasional housing estate, an uplifting icon, a buzzy retail centre or a comforting, small park. Too often we turn to the past to look for urban features we like: in Britain this might be the sweeping crescents of Bath, the streets of York, the lanes of Brighton, London’s Regency squares, a village neighbourhood like Hampstead, the market hub of Norwich or the gardens of once grand houses. Think of Italian cities, which in our surveys of cities people like usually come on top. Again people usually refer to the older fabric and not the new. There are too few examples from today. What went wrong? Have we all lost the art of city-making? Is it to do with us, our addiction to cars, our love of asphalt and our blindness to pollution? Or is it down to forces beyond our control, such as the overwhelming needs of global companies? The fact is that when you try to replicate the principles of those places we like the rules usually forbid it. For instance, the intimacy we might try to create is seen as a safety problem,

212 The Art of City-Making because a fire engine cannot drive down as it needs at least twice its own width or a turning circle needs to be extra wide just in case an articulated lorry comes your way, so making a physical setting lose its sense of place. We have increasing expertise in the technical aspects that make up the city, a neighbourhood or a building: the qualities of materials, heating and ducting systems, air circulation, sound- and damp-proofing, road-building methods, the carrying capacity of new engineering structures, demographic prediction, spatial modelling. We can speedbuild with new techniques. Scientific studies on every conceivable microscopic aspect multiply and proliferate. We go down narrow funnels, increasingly separating the parts from the whole. We consider feasibilities, we cost, we predict, we project plan, project manage, review, assess, monitor, evaluate. Yet we still seemed to have lost the plot. We regenerate one kind of area – former light industrial zones, say – and no sooner than we have done this, another type like inter-war housing estates raises its ugly head. But somehow it does not hang together and we seem no closer to better cities.

Escaping the silo What aspects of city-making get left out in the gaps between the professions and who is responsible? Often the physical spaces in between – the public realm. It is simply undervalued. And secondly – since a city is made up of both hard and soft infrastructures – social, cultural, psychological and sometimes even economic domains get overlooked. Professionals can become entrenched in silos. Being a professional shapes a person’s self-identity and, allied to the ‘natural’ tendency to act tribally, are the traditional views of more hierarchically based management. Knowledge and specialism silos can ossify without proper communication to outside learning and development communities as there is little discussion and challenge of assumptions. Such silos see the world from their own point of view. It becomes difficult to make bigger-picture strategies. Criticizing silos does not mean we should all know a little about many things without deep knowledge of a particular subject. Instead it implies that more important, higher-order forms of thinking, understanding, knowledge, interpretation and behaving exist that should shape how the silo works. This will make silos more porous and permeable and give them the lifeblood they need to develop and expand.

The Complicated and the Complex 213 The play of similarities and differences between insights is central to good city-making and the differences should be exploited as they enlarge the whole. The best professionals know the other silos well and allow themselves to be influenced by other insights. Some solutions have been proffered in response to a series of crises of confidence in the main built environment professions. These have been attacked from various quarters about what they have done to cities over the last 30 years. Urban design emerged as a discipline and profession and sought to put the fragments together again as a means of giving coherence and continuity to urban developments. Urban design highlights the need for collaborative working too, but still remains largely a physical discipline. There is a new wave of change occurring in Europe, North America and Australia. In Britain is was initiated by the Richard Rogers’ Urban Renaissance report and the development of Regional Centres of Excellence as well as the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister’s ‘sustainable communities’ agenda and the Egan Review of New Skills for Sustainable Communities. They all have been helpful in shifting the debate and setting out its new terms. The Egan Review16 reminds us usefully that nearly all of us are part of making sustainable places, from the core professions whose fulltime job it is, through associated professionals whose impact is also great, to the wider public. It outlines a set of generic skills, behaviours and ways of thinking that are requirements for moving forward, such as ‘inclusive visioning’, team-working, leadership and the ability to manage processes and change. Crucially, they are not discipline specific. The review lists over 100 jobs cutting across several dozen professions. The first group includes those whose primary concern is planning, delivering and maintaining sustainable communities, including the elected and appointed decision-making classes, from politicians, members of regeneration partnerships and agency leaders to infrastructure providers. The second group consists of those whose contribution is very important, such as the police or health professionals. The third wider public group includes those whose active engagement is important, such as local residents, the media and school children. This agenda has also begun to impact on the more enlightened parts of the development community and professions, because seeing the world through a sustainable communities prism reshapes not only goals and priorities, but also how to get there. The tide is turning positively even though there is much to be done.

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Whole connections and specialist parts We now have a greater understanding of the connections between things. For centuries we have been splitting knowledge and insight into fragments, boxes and segregations. From this have grown many inventions and innovations, albeit moving along a narrow furrow. The evaluation of everything from a perspective of specialism and narrowness is a defining characteristic of contemporary society. Narrowness is the paradigm and default position that has embedded itself into how companies, community organizations and the public sector operate, even while partnership building is a mantra of the age. Others prefer to call this narrowness ‘focus’. For the majority, narrowness is the prism through which any activity is judged. Narrowness also has its experts, advocates consultants, interest groups, specialist literature, associational structure and lobbying bodies. It has formalized itself. This has made us lose the art of holistic thinking. Holism is a scientific theory with a proud history of over 100 years, but its insights were battered into submission in the race to understand ever smaller bits of the puzzle, whether this was how cities work or nuclear physics. Yet we should remember that native or aboriginal people have been thinking holistically for millennia. Holism as a theory emphasizes the whole and connections over the parts. In the context of the city, it stresses the relationships between elements such as transport, social life and the economy. It argues that you cannot understand a system such as a city by merely looking at parts, like traffic, in isolation from its effects. Ecological awareness and environmental distress have revived an interest in holism. It has refocused us on chains, loops, cycles and feedback mechanisms. Transferred to cities it has made us see connections between the different domains: the environmental, social, economic and, at last, also the fourth pillar of sustainability, the cultural. For far too long, the cultural has been neglected, yet it is cultural literacy that in fact helps us understand where a place has come from and what is important to it and has meaning. It helps us understand the present and thus possible futures too. If we are culturally confident rather than self-effacing, we are much more likely to take the necessary risks to move ahead. (In fact the cultural should be seen as overarching, as it determines how other areas are conceived and perceived.) Thinking through the issues a city throws up, the city needs many experts. Since most opportunities or problems are inextrica-

The Complicated and the Complex 215 bly interwoven, experts need to take account of each other. Yet ordinary citizens are also experts – they are certainly the expert of their own concerns and what they want. ‘Taking account of’ should not be seen as a marginal add-on once the basic decisions have been made. The list of urban issues is well known and extensive: choices of shelter at varying standards and sizes; comfort; warmth; making services – from rubbish and waste removal to maintaining roads and walkways – work; the capacity to move around in cars, bikes or public transport; the ability to earn money in varying places of work, from offices to factories; the ability to shop in differing types of outlets; to have fun; to be artistically challenged; the availability of facilities for health or social care; spaces to relax and reflect, meet people and interact; spaces to avoid noise, to escape into natural surroundings, to feel safe; to be free of vandalism; to reduce fear and crime; and to be part of decision-making. Which of these factors are more important? Clearly the built fabric is key: it sets the frame and provides the setting within which the city conducts its business and goes about its life. Not every structure works. If it is ugly and projects itself as if it were saying ‘no’, leaves out consideration of how people use space, uses cheap materials, impedes the pedestrian through a clutter of obstacles and signs, or is insufficiently accessible, it affects the rest of the urban system negatively. For the city to work well requires more than the simply utilitarian, although the practical and functional remains key, as inspiration is required to motivate. That motivation has manifold downstream impacts, from the ability to get a job to aspiring to learn and do better for oneself. This reintroduces the idea of beauty, a word long lost from our urban lexicon. A simple device may be for cities to ask themselves, ‘Is this beautiful (and practical) enough for us?’ Addressing how people feel about their city is not ‘just another burden we have to bear’ but tangibly affects the value of property, how long it will last and reduces maintenance costs. To make the varied urban factors mesh well means assessing mutual interdependencies and impacts. The life of the city shaped by a community of professionals selfconsciously concerned with niches or specialisms is different from one focused on connecting and integrating their knowledge with others. This specialist focus has shaped the growth of urban professions, usually seen as those concerned with the physical: engineers, planners, surveyors, architects. They have associational structures that mirror the shafts of light they throw on to city-making. Their

216 The Art of City-Making list of abbreviations exemplifies the profusion of organizations and divisions. In Britain they include APS, CIBSE, CIOB, CIH, CILT, ICE, IHIE, IHT, ILT, IMECHE, IstructE, LI, RIBA, RICS, RTPI and TCPA. However open-minded the professions are, it is in their interests to claim special knowledge and specialist knowledge is needed. Often this is translated into technical codes, standards, guidelines and directives. This is not to decry the specialist, but to avert the tendency for particular professions to feel they are ‘the top dog’ of city-making. Architects, it is argued, feel they have the monopoly on three-dimensional design because they can draw. Planners might see themselves as ‘the kings of the process’ because they know the steps to the agreed plan. And surveyors might consider themselves the arbiters of every kind of value, even though there are broader definitions as to what value is. In arguing for integrated thinking and cross-cutting team work, a sustainable response to the challenge must be a cultural one arising from the heart of the professions’ values and purpose, rather than an add-on approach which mimics a changed mindset. Integration is about mutual respect and the ability of the various team members to be full and equal members of a project. Integrated working implies allowing others to comment on or even rewrite the script or rules of a project. This does not displace the architect, engineer, planner or other professional: it invites them to rethink how their gifts and experience can be opened to genuine partnership within an honest, reflexive conversation. It means working towards professional institutions whose interpretation of citymaking is dynamic, aware of the tensions between perspectives within contemporary society and more instrumental as a result. It means forging new hybrid and evolving practices which secure our shared values and goals.17 There remains a misalignment between the challenges and tasks of city-making and the types of thinking, intelligences and skills we apply to it or give legitimacy to. This is a faultline of major proportions. The primary aspect of this is between the dominance of hard infrastructure professionals, from engineers and architects over those concerned with soft infrastructure, those who understand social, psychological, cultural and economic dynamics. In the hierarchy, the built environment professions are deemed to be on top. Perhaps at the beginning of the process others are consulted, but once the ‘real’ project starts, ‘the regen lads’ take over as the more exciting activity of getting things on the ground takes hold.

The Complicated and the Complex 217 There is a need for more cross-connections between planners and historians, developers and sociologists, and surveyors and health professionals. A useful technique is to consider ‘outcome swaps’ in implementing a city vision. Here a planner might be charged with gearing plans to the goals of health professionals, thereby considering, say, obesity issues in thinking through urban design. The same notion might work with transport planners taking on the mantle of the person concerned with social inclusion or the head of environment taking on the mantle of transport planning. Each profession has its value, but none fosters key elements of the combined qualities of thinking required for city-making: holistic, interdisciplinary, lateral; innovative, original, experimental; critical, challenging, questioning; people-centred, humanistic, nondeterministic; ‘cultured’, knowledgeable, critically aware of the past; and strategic.18

Stereotypes and the professions Urban transformation lives with the legacy of stereotypes as each profession and their associated institution finds ways of justifying its primacy or dominance. In interviewing the professions in the Future London survey I asked each what they thought of the other, what they thought others thought of them, and whom they admired and for what qualities. I was attempting to get a 360-degree perspective. The aim was to explore their frustrations in finding ways of working across disciplines with mutual respect, including the soft disciplines, and in addition how new knowledge could be embedded into the common sense of city-making. Rather than getting the developer or engineer to say, ‘And now I also have to learn about this facilitation and consultation stuff,’ the goal was to reach an understanding that a broader perspective helps achieve their personal, professional objectives better as well as those of citymaking as a whole. We live in a world of clichés and stereotypes. By using these the aim is not to complain about any particular profession or add another layer of prejudice. Stereotypes are revealing about perceptions or prejudices and useful in helping to assess and overcome obstacles. Like all caricatures, stereotypes are grotesque, yet they retain a grain of truth and can be amusing, even though the images often linger long after realities on the ground have moved on.

218 The Art of City-Making A difficulty is that each profession is taken as a catch-all, when in fact there are great distinctions within each profession. For example, there are many types of surveyor, such as building, quantity or planning surveyors, and many types of planner, such as spatial, development-control or more process-oriented planners. Linked to stereotyping is scapegoating. Yet who gets the blame changes over time: the spatial planner today, the highway engineer tomorrow. I offer the following composite sketches based on verbatim remarks from these interviews, strung together to form a narrative. These are by no means scientific, but there is merit in highlighting prevailing assumptions and incomprehensions. The conclusions do not constitute the whole truth, but they will contain elements of it.

The planner ‘Planning is about fairness and sorting out the muddle.’ ‘They plan, they project into the future.’ ‘Planning attracts people who want to make a difference. They have a social conscience, but are depressed at being worn down.’ ‘They have become grey-haired, especially those in planning control. Spatial planners are less grey because they feel they are shaping the city.’ ‘But the way the system now works is that increasingly the private consultants are doing the creative stuff, leaving the public sector planners to deal with the drudgery.’ ‘The cliché of the planner is that they are bearded, a bit left-wing and have a social agenda.’ ‘They are worthy and their origins compared to an architect are more likely to be working-class.’ ‘They are downtrodden, spending their time holding back the floodgates; but they generate quite a lot of sympathy since they are treated quite badly, and more and more of them are thinking, “I’ve had enough, I can barely cope.” And there is a lot of exasperation that the government is not making their life easier, the whole system is under-resourced – so the system can’t work.’ ‘There is a huge gulf between the best and worst of planners, and the outside world can’t understand why planning procedures can not be business-driven.’ ‘I understand the accountability issues, but why are the processes so slow?’ ‘Planners are quite defensive, they stand between a rock and a hard place – the local community says that you don’t listen, and the developers say that you don’t act.’ ‘Architects see planners as dull, dowdy, bureaucratic, nit-picking, with a lack of imagination.’ ‘Planners and architects are in an adversarial position. The planner decides what the architect can’t do.’ ‘Planners are very processy, they go step by

The Complicated and the Complex 219 step.’ ‘They have a tidy mind and tidy, unflashy dress. In fact they are a bit anal.’ ‘The surveyor sees the planner as bureaucratic, with a lack of a sense of realities, a bit self-serving and focused on committees.’ ‘Planning in itself tends to rely on analysis and objectively seeing what the problem is; there is a particular twist in developmental control – it is reactive; it has not got a huge amount of creativity; there is too much emphasis on rules, looking at others. It’s not instinctive. There’s less trust in terms of planners trusting their own judgement. These planners don’t speculate, they like to assess others.’ ‘Actually, most of the time it is not the planners who are to blame but the local politicians who hide behind them.’ ‘Politicians see planners as servants, as servile staff, handling the brunt end of complaints and consultation.’ ‘Planners try to read the politician’s mind so don’t dare step out of line and so take less risks.’ ‘Planners should free themselves.’ ‘They do have a mindset – to some extent. Planners like to locate in space – they have this in common with geographers and architects. They are not comfortable unless they can see things in two-dimensional form, and they like to think longer term. In the past, say 40 years ago, they connected with social planners, with people like Norman Dennis or Michael Young.’ ‘You can date-stamp planners: first there is the 60s mindset – this was their high water mark; then in the 80s they were clamped down upon – they were seen as interventionists and intervention was a bad word. I don’t think they have quite recovered yet.’ ‘Planners feel disempowered. They were more confident some while back. They used to be about big-picture vision – now less so.’ ‘Thirty years ago they had big thoughts. Who thinks the big thoughts about cities now? Some architects, less the planners.’ ‘There has been a certain loss of status. This affects who comes into the profession, their quality is less than good enough.’ ‘Planners used to be creators of development, rather than controllers of process.’ ‘The 60s crowd had a statist attitude; planners were civil servants in all but name, but were pursuing a public agenda for the public good. Now there is a much more open situation and a recognition that the private and voluntary sectors have a role. Now the profession is very porous. They move around more between sectors.’ ‘In getting a broader approach going, planners have a slight advantage. More of them have recognized that a team approach is necessary – it is part of their role to search for consensus.’ ‘Yet planners feel they are everybody’s scapegoat, they cause delays, they take forever, they feel under siege. The word planning is tarnished. The only TV programme with them in it is Blot on the Landscape.’ ‘This

220 The Art of City-Making makes the profession attract a certain type of person – the ones that service the mud worms. At times they are people who can’t be bothered to move on.’ ‘They have some visual knowledge, but weren’t good at art, so they like to fall back on rules – they are a like civil bureaucrats.’

The surveyor ‘Surveyors – they’re straight down the line; they deal in facts not fancy, they’re realistic, they’re not interested in sensibilities.’ ‘They look at what’s there – they survey.’ ‘They basically measure things, they know how to count, how to cost. They can’t draw.’ ‘They’ve got lots of sub-heads, there are various families like quantity, building, or planning surveyors – basically they are land economists.’ ‘They understand values, they compare prices, they say, “This sold for that then, so that could sell for this now.”’ ‘They see the world through a rear-view mirror. The trend is their friend, they’re not too good at speculating.’ ‘Surveyors are concerned with values and value for money. A good building, surveyors think, must be wellcosted.’ ‘It’s always about defining things and values in a monetary sense.’ ‘Surveyors share with the economist the idea that the numeraire is really important, but they are more commercially focused.’ ‘The dominant group are now estate agents. They are knowledgeable about transactions, prices, rents, broking – [but] a smaller number are knowledgeable about buildings.’ ‘They know the price, but do not ask, “Why is it this price?” They are marketaware, they spot opportunities.’ ‘The building surveyor is more modest – they are more like technicians than transactors.’ ‘Surveyors are not thoughtful, but they’re not stupid [either]. The best will build networks to understand prices.’ ‘They have to connect to gain market knowledge, so they are quite worldly in a jovial sense.’ ‘They see themselves as good-hearted people.’ ‘Surveyors are more adaptable than some other professions, as they tend to be realists. They are materialists and pragmatists – they are not into imagining or that stuff about social values.’ ‘Surveyors are not thinking about place but the market.’ ‘“We’ve got to get the figures right,” they say. “These are the facts, right or wrong.”’ ‘Few surveyors have gone down the thoughtful route – that’s not where the money is, surveyors are quite into money.’ ‘I was recently introduced as an ‘unusual, thoughtful surveyor’, as if that were odd.’

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The engineer ‘I am not a person who says engineers are a curse on you: the most exciting structures are combinations of architects and engineers; structural engineers are nearly always creative, as are civil engineers. But traffic engineers – they have become the bogeyman – their strict adherence to codes and rules without thinking of their consequences is the problem. Think of Calatrava today or Brunel, Eiffel, Roebling, Strauss or Khan.19 ‘Ah, did you know that in the past a mild form of autism was called engineer’s disease?’ ‘As far as anyone can be blamed for the urban mess it is the highway engineer. They don’t understand how people, roads and places work.’ ‘Engineers are bound by performance measures, codes, standards, criteria, guidelines.’ ‘Their explicit codes contain an implicit culture.’ ‘The civil engineer will ask, “Will the forces operate correctly? They will as long as we have laid down the proper criteria.”’ ‘They tend to have a belief in an optimum – there is the perfectly functioning system. There cannot be a mistake. For example, the bridge has to stand.’ ‘Usually this works according to a theoretical design. Thus when they’re looking at transport they see it as a flow problem – its all about hydraulics.’ ‘They insist on huge splays or wide turning circles so there is no accident, messing up the feel of the city along the way.’ ‘The ideal is a congestion-free environment. They’re not very interested in counterposing considerations or arguments.’ ‘The code of engineers is by default designing the urban fabric. Their guidelines affect everything we see, and if there is no conscious place-making – and not many engineers are into that – we go by default patterns.’ ‘Ooh – “The highwaymen,” I call them. I’ve had trouble with them, they have a smug certainty that right is on their side, they’re on the side of God. Their arguments are always scientific – they could demonstrate through reason how things worked and the consequences when they don’t work.’ ‘They operate in a pseudo-scientific environment trying to find a way through to scientific certainty. Now when you ignore everything else, this is of course easy.’ ‘Basically they can’t handle the emotional.’ ‘You can’t have emotions coming into this. You could feel them thinking, “This is rational.”’ ‘You can’t beat them on their own ground. They always had the models or the data to back them up. In the end it was about bludgeoning them and winning over the politicians by appealing to a different side of their brain and with new kinds of arguments about what makes a good place.’ ‘Christmas lights are done by the highways people – just see the results.’

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The architect ‘They always look neat, the rimmed glasses, a controlled stylishness, tidy, sharpened pencils, ideally 2B. They’re really unhappy not being able to implement.’ ‘Architects claim they can see in three dimensions, so they think they have a monopoly on building cities.’ ‘They draw and create designs and underneath this there is the assumption that if these are thrilling then that’s fine as they judge things aesthetically – they are not very concerned about how things work.’ ‘One manifestation of architects is their desire to be different.’ ‘They like to make statements about themselves.’ ‘People often moan about architects – they say they go off on their own. Part of the problem is understanding that you need to keep up with them and make more demands.’ ‘Architects’ creativity needs to be harnessed – they need to understand the overall vision of the place, to see the bigger picture beyond just their building. We need better briefing and control.’ ‘Too often people think you need a showman, but for many jobs you need the basics – [for example] the mending of places. Thus, more architects need to be into small-scale interventions.’ ‘Architects see themselves as artists, they think the visual thing is the most powerful tool, although some are very into the technical aspects. That may be true, but many others can also draw, or a person with a fine feel for cities could ask someone to draw something on their behalf.’ ‘If drawing is seen as the main skill for building a city, this means that anyone with a social feel for how cities work has nothing to say or no power.’ ‘The slightly overblown sense that architects have of themselves is that historically they were so often the overall impresario, especially when the notion of planning permission came into being.’ ‘Whose know-how now is actually building the building? Large parts are invented by companies doing all the component bits, which you buy off the shelf. In the past the architects did more. You don’t design anymore – you choose the doors or windows, even though the architect tries to put it all together.’ ‘Architects tend to think of themselves as having a godlike power. They have the moral high ground.’ ‘They believe they understand everything, like how cities work. They have solutions to understand things, like masterplanning, innately.’ ‘How much harder is it for the community development worker with no understanding of planning and architecture to get their oar in?’ ‘They think they should be dominant – at present they are, but it is not axiomatic that they should be. You need hybrids of knowledge to make places – geographers, planners and so on.’ ‘You can see the dominance thing in terms of urban

The Complicated and the Complex 223 design – this is fought over. Architects claim only they should be doing it – it’s implicit in what they know, but in fact a battle is going on.’ ‘Architects say they are good at lateral thinking, but now they also need to learn to be finishers and to listen to others.’ ‘But I fret that my own profession is extremely narrow.’ ‘In terms of public sector architects, you feel they feel frustrated, that they ought to be in private practice. In part this is driven by the image others put on you – you are here because you aren’t good enough for the private sector. People think that a stronger personality and flair is necessary for that.’ ‘The best public architects have had to create a different narrative along the lines of “I may not have that much flair but I do know how to do functional buildings well, to budget and on time.”’ ‘Landscape architects are really a derivation of the architects, but they also have an environmental interest – they are more ecological, more modest, less showy, and more sensitive.’

The property developer ‘Cigar-chomping is the stereotype. This is true but untrue – when you work in a quasi-public realm, as we inevitably do, you can’t just chomp cigars.’ ‘The other [stereotype] is fat cat developer, brash, knock up stuff quickly. They do not pay attention. They want to make money as quickly as possible.’ ‘They do make money when it works – but many fail – property development is vulnerable.’ ‘Many people working in the public sector think they are non-elected interlopers without a mandate who want to introduce hamburger joints. They’re rapacious capitalists who would concrete over the city. And in reverse developers think planners are overly bureaucratic, hindering development, unable to make a decision… The community sector is seen [by property developers] as wanting handouts and not understanding the needs of business; they have a halo, sitting there cross-legged with a begging bowl.’ ‘The development industry has many layers. There are the traditionals – the PLCs. They make a point that they care, they genuinely want to do their best. They see themselves as having a duty to shareholders, they take trouble to build an environment that is as good and creative as possible.’ ‘But whether property developers are using property for the social good – that’s nearly incomprehensible. Whether their public spirit extends or whether they would do loss leaders that depends. They might as long as it was consistent with making a profit.’ ‘The same goes for sustainability, you have to take it seriously as part of managing risk. Developers are not trying to save the world, but take it into account

224 The Art of City-Making in order to run their business well.’ ‘Urban Catalyst or Urban Splash, they are another category who have managed to combine various goals.’ ‘They’re not doing philanthropy.’ ‘They’re clever at spotting an opportunity. Genuine care is not enough – you have to understand how you can play in these complicated markets.’ ‘There remains a strong element where property is just a financial play, a commodity. Someone I know makes a point of never looking at the property he pays for: these folks do our image no good.’ ‘The essence of property development is about supply and demand, where the product is an office or housing. You’re only successful in property if people use your building. It has to be customer-focused. Property developers are like manufacturing shopkeepers. You respond to what goes off the shelf. They’re not intrinsically interested in cities – that’s why we need to get them to appreciate cities, because in the longer run it’s to their benefit.’ ‘Developers are a derivation from a surveyor – where you really need to understand values and how to create values. Your penalty for failing to understand economic value is bankruptcy.’ ‘In a way, property development is not a profession like surveying. It’s about responding to and suiting the moment.’ ‘Whilst they are seen as money-grabbing, vulgar and exploiting, many developers see themselves as saving the world.’ ‘Some are trying to reconsider what they do, less as builders of development and more as facilitators of opportunity. This means they have to learn new skills like getting stakeholders together or consulting people.’ ‘In any case, the big developments are very complex; you have to bring together teams where the economic development people play a key role.’ ‘To make our developments work and bring people together, our community wants a good, strong, transparent and fair planning system.’

And many others… The above are thumbnail sketches of the predominant buildingfocused professions. There are many other professions of relevance, and hackneyed (and sometimes pertinent) descriptive short cuts to match: The economist ‘Economists, the cliché goes, say, “It looks as if it will work in practice, but will it work in theory?”’ ‘They have an automatic response that the market will work, even though it can create negative externalities, and although economists invented externalities, they tend

The Complicated and the Complex 225 to think disturbances should take care of themselves as the remedy is worse than the cure.’ The project manager ‘The project manager in essence derives from quantity surveying – you have to ensure the job is closely specified throughout to avoid deviations from the bill of quantity so no cost overruns occur and to ensure you’re not held up in terms of critical path management. Time is money, so specifications are everything – just think of the penalties.’ ‘They are not a creative breed, you can’t let good ideas get in the way of a tight time and budget schedule.’ The social worker ‘They’re a fire-fighting occupation.’ ‘They gaze over the abyss so much that they become depressed – they are socialized into where their clients are, they have total empathy with the group they are looking after. The environment is so powerful on them and gets in the way.’ The community developer ‘These people from community development backgrounds also hold stereotypes about other people, such as “the council is the enemy of the state” or “the private sector by definition has it in for you”, and they are very process-oriented.’ ‘It’s still very threatening for them when a non-professional comes in with a mission, say linking the arts to a social goal. “Who is this loose cannon?” they think. They’re just as much into silos as any other profession.’ The cultural developer ‘The cultural people, they are marginalized.’ ‘If you want culture in the mainstream of city development you have to understand other languages. I’d be in a far weaker position had I not been able to speak the language of education, or had not worked with the property division and got into the priorities of engineers or surveyors.’ ‘If you don’t understand where they are coming from, you get nowhere. It’s like going to France with no French.’ ‘We need more people who can translate across professions, and people with a cultural background are good at this.’ ‘Actually for most professions, you look to a bible, like for planners or engineers. There is no rule book in culture. Culture is about assessing what’s important in a place and this is different from place to place. Most rules are there

226 The Art of City-Making so you follow them – for good reason – but it squeezes out flexibility. Take the cinema complex, for example. It’s worth £2 million and we want to spend £4 million to refurbish it. To the cultural sector this is not an issue – as value is also cultural, not only financial. When we talk of culture in this way we’re seen as oddballs, and when we break rules to empower people this is a big challenge. But being a maverick has its limits. If you’re seen as a nutter, you’re not taken seriously, which is why we must mainstream.’ The civil servant ‘And then as an overlay on this you have the civil servants, who feel themselves to be good – they are risk-averse, you mustn’t rock the boat, accountability is key; they start off as being honest and right and then become distorted. They then [become] so much involved in managing risk, they stop doing the best for life as life is not risk-free.

Balancing skills Stereotypes become less and less applicable as professions learn to work across boundaries. Further, new groupings such as regeneration specialists are emerging. They are slightly broader and at their best they are multidisciplinary, multiskilled multitaskers, but they still do not sufficiently incorporate the softer insights into their practice. We still remain in a period where ‘everyone thinks they have reasons to be dominant’ and ‘everyone feels justified in their own terms to justify this’. Yet ‘silos don’t matter if people have a vision beyond their specialism and can see how their specialism fits in’. ‘If you want to know a law, you want a lawyer, you want to be absolutely sure it is safe – or if you want the sum, you want someone to add up.’ ‘The problem is they think they are in charge.’ ‘With leadership and especially strong local leaders, alliances can be built and then the architects, planners, engineers fall into place and then can deliver.’ ‘Without leadership silos cement.’ This is perhaps the reason for Shaw’s pithy remark that the ‘professions are a conspiracy against the laity’. ‘Leaders overcome the barriers.’ ‘There is nothing wrong with the skill set around, it’s about using them better.’ ‘Most professionals are good people who want to deliver.’ ‘The starting point in the leadership process should be what makes a good city rather than let’s do the roads first and everybody has to fit around it.’

The Complicated and the Complex 227 Too frequently, professions tend to return to their core assumptions. As a cost-accountant-turned-estate-agent noted, ‘I was so analytical that I analysed the potential out of the challenge, I analysed things to death.’ Furthermore, their minds are governed by the environment in which they work and influenced above all by their peer group.20 Every profession has a gestalt – a shape, form and configuration. Planners project, surveyors cost, engineers calculate, architects visualize. In addition, professions work on different scales – the architect focuses on the block, the engineer within the block and the planner at a wider geographical setting. Yet the regulatory mindset is still prominent. ‘There remains much too strong an emphasis on control. Bringing these together is manageable if you have the right culture around them.’ ‘The key issue is that the differences should be exploited rather than seen as getting in the way.’ ‘It is more about allowing people to feel relaxed about who they are and using them well. You don’t want every planner to be long term – you want the system to pick the right people for the right task.’ ‘This may be more important than saying everyone should have an MBA.’ ‘What you need is a balance of skills, professional creativity, analysis skills and the ability to finish.’ ‘The best way forward is to mix groups as long as the social, the political and the built professions understand the economic.’ ‘Each person should acquire a bit of the other.’ This is especially true for urban design, which by its nature is interdisciplinary. There is a desire to get beyond the stereotype: ‘You should get away from the blame culture and generate leadership and management within a broader and more aspirational alliance. An alliance that challenges each of us in a mature way, based on experience; too much challenge is actually infantile.’21

OPENING MINDSETS AND THE PROFESSIONS To get at the core of the problem of city-making and of our incapacity to see things in the round or to see both the trees and the forest together, we need to explore conceptually.

The professional gestalt According to gestalt psychology, people naturally organize their perceptions according to certain patterns. Perception is the process

228 The Art of City-Making of acquiring, interpreting, selecting and organizing sensory information and a pattern is a form, template or model or, more abstractly, a set of rules which can be used to make or to generate things or parts of a thing in a certain way. (Remember a rule in mathematics is something which is always true, which is why some professions project such certainty.) As each profession perceives the world in a certain way – a planner projects ahead or sees spatially, a surveyor surveys, costs and values, and an architect designs and draws – there is an underlying patterning to how they go about their work. The word gestalt refers to a way a thing has been gestellt: ‘placed’ or ‘put together’, ‘formed’, ‘shaped’. It is an organized structure. It is a configuration. Gestalt theorists follow the basic principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, the whole (a picture, a car or the engineering discipline) carries a different and altogether greater meaning than its individual components (paint, canvas, brush; tyre, paint, metal; brick, pane of glass, tensile structure element). The idea of gestalt proposes a series of laws that can be applied to how professions operate. The most important is the law of praegnanz, which says we try to experience things in as good a gestalt way as possible in our terms. In this sense, ‘good’ can mean several things, such as regular, orderly, simplistic or symmetrical. Other laws point to a certain volition in the way that we think: the law of closure – if something is missing, our mind adds it; the law of similarity – our mind groups similar things together; the law of proximity – things that are close together are seen as belonging together; the law of symmetry – symmetrical images are seen as belonging together regardless of distance; and the law of continuity – our mind continues a pattern even after it stops. The mind completes the missing pieces through extrapolation. These components of grouping and perception influence our thinking and problem-solving skills ‘by appropriate substantive organization, restructuring, and centring of the given (“insight”) in the direction of the desired solution’.22 To some extent, in layman’s terms, we see what we want to see.

Mindflow and mindset From the above we can say that every professional practice coalesces around a mindflow and a resulting default pattern in looking at the world – a mindset. Clearly other personal characteristics come into play, such as the qualities of being humorous and

The Complicated and the Complex 229 All professions have a shape, a form, a mindset, a gestalt that follows them like a shadow

Source: Charles Landry

confident, willing to listen or being pleasant. For this reason it is not possible to say ‘every engineer or doctor is like this’. It is possible, though, to argue that each profession has a tendency, proclivity or bias to look at issues in a certain way. From these ways of looking, processes, procedures, techniques and practices, specific technologies or traditions emerge and develop. Indeed it is this focus that generates the advances in each discipline that we would not want to do without. Once a set pattern has emerged this becomes reinforced. Mindflow is the mind in operation. The mind is locked into certain patterns for good reason. It uses familiar thought processes, concepts, connections and interpretations as a means of filtering and coping with the world. The environment or context determines what is seen, what is interpreted and what meaning is implied. For example, when someone asks in English, ‘What does S-I-L-K spell?’ the answer given is, ‘Silk.’ When one then asks, ‘What do cows drink?’ people will often respond, ‘Milk.’ A mindset is the order within which people structure their worlds and how they make choices, both practical and idealistic,

230 The Art of City-Making based on values, philosophy, traditions and aspirations. The mindset is our accustomed, convenient way of thinking and guide to decision-making. It not only determines how we act in our small local world, but also how we think and act on an everincreasingly encompassing stage. The mindset is the settled summary of our prejudices and priorities and the rationalizations we give them. A changed mindset is a rerationalization of a person’s behaviour; people like their behaviour to be coherent – at least to themselves. The crucial issue is how to get the urban professions to change their approach systematically – but not piece by piece. A mindshift is the process whereby the way one thinks of one’s position, function and core ideas is dramatically reassessed and changed. At its best it is based on the capacity to be open-minded enough to allow this change to occur. At times this happens through reflective observation of the world around. At others, possibly more often, it occurs through external circumstance and is forced upon individuals and groups through crisis.23 It is not only individuals, professions or collectives like companies that have a mindset, but also societies and periods of history. For example, an era shaped by certain religious or ethical values is affected by the dominant thinking; an era is also shaped by predominant views of how right and wrong is established or by scientific theories. Science is a method in the quest for truth, yet itself is a particular approach. Within each period specific scientific paradigms dominate over others. For example, the long-established idea of holism, the idea that things are connected, was until recently sidetracked and reductionism was in the ascendancy. The increased awareness of complexity has challenged this primacy, which is why in the political domain there is increased talk of joined-up, integrated and holistic thinking. Yet governments’ aim to foster joined-up thinking will only succeed if they forcefully challenge certain entrenched scientific hierarchies. The power of reductionism nevertheless lingers on as those at the height of their profession and with power were probably educated 20 or 30 years ago and so have had the reductionist mindset etched into them. We now know we need to look both at the parts and the whole together. Regretfully we always seem to be behind the times in realizing what is necessary.

The Complicated and the Complex 231

The blight of reductionism Reductionism is an approach to building descriptions of systems, such as places or cities, out of the descriptions of the subsystems that a system is composed of, such as architecture, spatial planning and social issues. But in doing so, I would argue, it ignores the relationships between the subsystems. The reductionist perspective thinks about parts in isolation. Many argue this approach is not practical, citing the notion of strong emergence, that there is more to a system than the specification of parts and their relationships. The power of reductionism is that it can appear self-evident when we look, for example, at simpler things like mathematical formulae. The sum of two and two is four in all but the most totalitarian circumstances! However, there is a danger of simplification if we extrapolate this attractive simplicity to complex ‘living organisms’ like cities. Emergence is a useful concept because it can describe the flux, flow and evolution of things like places. It asks what parts of a system like a city do together that they would not do by themselves. Collective behaviour, for instance, could not be described as anything but collective. Clearly, a wave of panic, spontaneous applause or the rise of fascism is not comprehended by looking only at individuals. Emergence is about understanding how collective properties, issues or questions arise from the properties of parts, such as a house, a shop or an office. In this view, when we think about what ‘emerges’, we are moving between different vantage points. We see the trees and the forest simultaneously. We see the way the trees and the forest are related to each other. To see in both these ways we have to be able to see details and ignore details. The trick is to know which of the many details we see in the trees are important to know when considering the forest. Conventionally, people consider either the trees or the forest. When one can shift back and forth between seeing the trees and the forest, one also sees which aspects of the trees are relevant to the description of the forest. An urban example would be to see the house and street or the street and city simultaneously. A useful example is a door key. A key has a particular structure. But describing its structure is not enough to tell someone that it can open a door. We have to know the structure of both the key and the lock, and we have to know that doors exist.

232 The Art of City-Making A final crucial point: when we look at things in isolation, we seek truth. In assessing things like places, however, the notion of approximation or ‘partial-truth’ is more appropriate, indeed is essential for the study of complex systems.24

Professions and identity How does this discussion relate to the professions? Part of the human condition is wanting to belong and feel attached to a broader whole, whether this be the tribe, group, family, community, city or profession. Professions create an identity by setting out to distinguish themselves from others to create that belonging. This can only occur by differentiation, through a set of technical skills, rules, codes and accepted behaviours. Thus tribalism asserts itself: ‘I am a planner so I am not an architect or a social worker.’ Some might argue that distinctions and differences between professions are a function of precision and efficiency, but in reality we have created professional jealousies. Once in a profession, it is safer to keep to the rules of a profession rather than blur the boundaries. Boundary-blurring threatens identity and gets all kinds of defensive system mechanisms going. Some say this is a Faustian pact, where we limit some freedom of creativity in return for being part of a ‘brotherhood’ of mutual respect and support. So even if we think some of ‘ours’ are none too good, we still support them. This process is witnessed in the relationship of traditional doctors vis-à-vis complementary medicine. The initial response to the latter’s popularity was along the lines of ‘I’m a trained doctor so I know the effect of complementary medicine is likely to be a placebo effect; the double blind trials don’t seem to work.’ This was a way of getting rid of the threat. To this the alternative practitioner responded, ‘This is not the appropriate method to check my work in any case.’ And, given the sustained interest in alternative medicine, the conventional doctors are now having to say, ‘I better find out more about this.’ Most professions want to identify something, put it in a box, give it a name, strip out the uncertainty and measure it. Life is not like that – there is a need to live with uncertainty and complexity, and the fact that many things are never completely true. This changes the professional landscape, and the traditional professional view does not fit into the new world. This is the world

The Complicated and the Complex 233 of city-making, place-making, sustainable communities and urbanism – all terms seeking to describe a broader way of doing things other than mere road-building, house-building or land-use planning. A world in which highway engineers have a specialism in keeping things moving is different from one in which there is a job called ‘making places’. In fact, when given the opportunity to work together and be part of a place- or city-making process, specialists tend to find this stimulating and more rewarding. Making cities is more exciting than making a road. In this shift, no one is criticizing the technical capacities of the professions, but rather the lack of cooperation between them and with others currently not seen as part of the city-making circuit. What matters is that professionals are excellent at what they do and willing to participate in a related exercise. Current professional arrangements can appear dysfunctional in making this happen. Others are sharper in their criticism: ‘The professional bodies are wretched, so much of what they do is seen through the narrow prism of their perspective.’ ‘They are deeply unchallenging, there is little that suggests that they are taking the new agenda on board.’ ‘Few have a bigger-picture frame within their profession.’ ‘I have stopped reading the housing and other specialist press; it is precious and self-referential.’ ‘Regeneration and Renewal is a good digest. It is not representing a professional body and thus not self-interested.’ ‘We need professions beyond self-interest.’ ‘The professions are not about solving problems of the professions, which is why so many outsiders are the innovators.’25

Performance culture Many of the encrustations referred to above are exacerbated by governments’ focus on a performance-driven culture with its focus on specific targets and outputs. In such a culture, the only safe test is a standard which works against the joined-up, integrated thinking simultaneously proposed. The moment the emphasis is too strongly on a standard, you lose the unique capacity to be adaptive. Over the longer term this can lead to a culture that gradually begins to destroy itself, because it keeps shooting for agreed standards with little ability for change. With built-in specifications, nobody can be blamed. This reinforces the sense of the professional as someone who keeps to the rules. Instead of seeing rules as a background or supportive guide for action, they become the

234 The Art of City-Making method of progressing. A performance-driven culture also diminishes the capacity to make judgements. A target such as cost per square foot has no wider reference except itself and so, for example, can say nothing about warmth or comfort. This focus increases risk aversion and reduces the possibilities of boundary-blurring and coherent joint working.

Stretching boundaries Interestingly, urban design, a discipline that binds built environment people together, has no professional institute in Britain. There is, though, the Urban Design Alliance (UDA), perhaps a threat to professional institutes’ identity, which was welcomed by government when it was set up eight years ago. It seeks to think of professionalism in a new way within a broader urban vision, although it still seen as physical place-making. It argues professions should work together more, for example in training. In Britain the Academy for Sustainable Communities addresses some of these issues and will give credits for topics such as regeneration or urbanism rather than for planning. There is also the National Planning Forum (NPF), set up by the government, with a similar objective to broaden perspectives. Both have rotating chairs – different professions take it in turn. Planners, architects and others moving between the public, private and community sectors are likely to foster the breakdown of compartmentalization. Ironically, the respect for individual disciplines is likely to increase when they open out and communicate as more people will know what they do. Being perceived as a ‘secret brotherhood’ fosters prejudice. The openness implied connects well with the literature on leadership. For example in Good to Great, Jim Collins26 argues that there are five levels of leadership. Fifth-level leaders channel their ego away from themselves towards the bigger picture of building a great company. As Harry S. Truman once observed, ‘You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.’ The equivalences here are the objectives of the UDA or NPF. Thus ‘the post-modern profession is the profession that is not purely for the professions’.27 A critical factor in city-making is values. They cannot be avoided as these are embedded consciously or subconsciously in any place-making project. For example, opening structures out to the street reflects our views of transparency; the fact that the Dutch

The Complicated and the Complex 235 do not draw their curtains at night reflects an originally Calvinist view that we have nothing to hide; by contrast the repelling, reflective glass on office buildings exudes a sense of power and lack of approachability. Britain, it is argued, is currently good at exhortations and producing good practice guidance. It is also effective in setting up alliances such as the UDA. Apart from creating useful noise, such alliances do not implement defined projects through which you can measure success and failure. They are thus not transformational. They represent advocacy. Raymond Unwin and his implementation of the garden cities is cited as a counter-example. Unwin and his followers built cities which were supposed to act as role models for future living – such as Welwyn Garden City and Letchworth. Here there was a clear statement of aspiration, values and the means of providing technical know-how. The Congress of New Urbanism (CNU)28 is given as a contemporary example. Some say its focus is narrow, but it remains an interesting example of a group coming together with a clear charter of values and principles which can be argued against. They have tried to extend their understanding of how to go forward by being value-driven and asking how to work across professions and how to challenge codes. The CNU is a movement which took as its model the Congres Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) statement, which, whatever your views, is an aspirational charter of principle and practice. Another example noted is the Urban Land Institute, which has a strong track record in providing crosssectoral learning models and training, although its background is as part of the development community. The British government wanted a similar charter for the Academy of Sustainable Communities, one which is not just about good practice or aspirations but is clear about what is expected so it is possible to hold people to account. Planning is about to be different from what it used to be – it is set to be a more holistic process. Soon the idea of planning as merely land-use planning will probably feel defunct, as will the reliance on technical code-based work. We are likely to incorporate new insights, such as psychological and cultural literacy, and new people will be brought in and consulted. We are moving from simply asking to actively involving. This paradigm shift in the worlds of planning will take time to unfold in its fullness. It will not happen in a smooth, soothing, business-as-usual way. There

236 The Art of City-Making will be arguments and resistance, battles of will and occasional rage as well as pleasant surprise. Obstacles will appear, although some in the longer run could be seen as opportunities. The shift from ‘participation in planning’ where you merely consult to ‘participatory planning’ where you involve will get us beyond the knee-jerk consultation processes so common and yet unempowering. The planning professions should see this moment as an opportunity for them. This shift emphasizes the democratic imperative. Democracy will cause problems, things will take more time, some kinds of vision might be curtailed or professionals will need to be more persuasive in leadership. But we must have it, especially locally, as the results on the ground are likely to be more sustaining if we use our creative capacities to do it in ways that tap imagination. Boundaries are stretching from many directions to break down silos. A variety of initiatives and terms express this. Each has strengths and weaknesses as it tries to capture a sense of integration and connectedness. The way it is used by the British government narrowly focuses on housing. Contrast this with Barcelona’s approach (see later) with public space. Nor is it concerned with the global competition of cities, the role of core cities in Britain and their regions, or the economic foundations of cities; a similar class of problem exists elsewhere in Europe. ‘Place-making’ seeks to move us away from focusing on sites, locations and transport as if these in isolation could create ‘a place’. The word place resonates and is emotionally laden in a positive sense. ‘A sense of place’ encapsulates a variety of factors, physical, atmospheric and activity-based. It centres itself on peoples’ perception and experience of places. It highlights quality, good design and appropriateness to purpose and the jointly shared public realm as the connective tissue within which the buildings, forecourts and streets form a pattern or mosaic. It focuses on collective skills and techniques, including cultural and social priorities, that need to work together to make a space a place. Although it has a design focus, it asks itself the question, ‘How will social or economic interactions be fostered by the design and layout?’ Rather like urban design, it seeks to orchestrate the elements into a workable whole, so highlighting a concern with the lived life of the city as distinct from its mere structures.

The Complicated and the Complex 237 ‘Urbanism’ uses an even broader canvas. It is the discipline which helps understand the dynamics, resources and potential of the city in a richer way. And urban literacy, developed by learning about urbanism, is the ability and skill to ‘read’ the city and understand how cities work. Urbanism, it is argued, can become the meta-urban discipline and urban literacy a linked generic and overarching skill. A full understanding of urbanism only occurs by looking at the city from different perspectives. By reconfiguring and tying together a number of disciplines, penetrative insights, perceptions and ways of interpreting an understanding of urban life emerge. By seeing the city through diverse eyes, potential and hidden possibilities, from business ideas to improving the mundane, are revealed. Traditionally, however, the conversation on urbanism has been led by architects and urban designers. Urbanism provides the raw materials for creating urban strategies and decisionmaking. It requires a set of lateral, critical and integrated thinking qualities as well as core competencies. These draw on the insights of cultural geography; urban economics and social affairs; urban planning; history and anthropology; design, aesthetics and architecture; ecology and cultural studies; as well as knowledge of power configurations. Each discipline contributes its unique quality, traditions and focus necessary to comprehend urban complexities. For example, cultural studies and anthropology bring an understanding and interpretation of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values and forms of knowledge which constitute the shared bases of social action. This is enriched by interrogating and decoding the world of signs (in language, narratives, film, music, and so on). The sociological focus helps reveal group dynamics and the processes of social and community development, while economics identifies the financial and commercial determinants driving urban transition processes. Cultural geography helps clarify the spatial, locational and topographical patterning of cities and design and aesthetics focuses on look and feel. Completely underestimated in the context of the city, psychology brings in emotional factors in urban development and how people feel about their environments. Finally, planning and the other built environment professions contribute the techniques and technology and sets of rules, codes and conventions to carry out the insights gained from these varied forms of knowledge.

238 The Art of City-Making

Insights and crossovers The real power of notions such as ‘sustainable communities’, ‘place-making’ and ‘urbanism’ comes from emphatically integrating disciplines and the extra insight and knowledge gained through synergy. Much of this will derive from new perceptions, such as cultural insights into economics, spatial planning insights into transport or psychological insights into geography. Alternatively, combinations might be created that could link telecoms and transport or land use with social networking strategies. This might then justifiably be called communications planning. Policy handshakes between diverse areas of expertise are central to the ‘art of citymaking’. Valuing diverse disciplines, as noted, might lead to interesting appointments in running cities – an environmentalist becoming head of transport, an economist heading up social affairs, a historian physical planning or a social development specialist cultural affairs. Over the years I have asked countless people who they respect or admire as city-makers in terms of their attitudes, qualities and characteristics. There is an astonishing alignment in terms of professional qualities now being highlighted for city-making. These can be summarized as follows: • • • • • • • • •

An ability to cross boundaries and think laterally. The ability to pick out the essence of a professional position and to see how it relates to other aspects. Practical and open to new ideas. An openness of thinking and willingness to hear other things. To be able to listen and to hear. Open to suggestion and challenge. To be able to bring out the best in others, to facilitate, to draw together arguments and attitudes. People who know their place, have walked its streets, can feel what it is like. A sense of vision combined with realism, a patience garnered from having experience, a mix of drive and focus on the nitty-gritty, a tenacity to see things through.29

These skills are not profession specific. Some architects have them; so do some planners or engineers and others outside the

The Complicated and the Complex 239 urban professions. What is noticeable is the focus on ‘openness’ and ‘others’. This chimes well with emerging notions of leadership such as those expounded in Good to Great by Jim Collins. Noticeably, the role models had broad experience starting right from the beginning. Their education was not narrow. Often they had taken baccalaureate-style exams with many subjects stretching from the natural to social sciences and languages. Those with specialist undergraduate training then expanded their repertoire, combining subjects like English with social administration and then planning, or politics with economics and then engineering. Those role models that had specialized early often got into areas like development not through the professional route but through different experiences, bringing these to the task of city-making. It is the lateral, connecting skills that people seem to admire. In looking to individuals who made breakthroughs in thinking about cities, it is noteworthy how many are not urban professionals. Brunelleschi, who devised the model for the cupola in Florence, was a goldsmith and sculptor. Christopher Wren was a scientist and then became a professor of astronomy before going into building. Ebenezer Howard was a stenographer. Lewis Mumford was a journalist, as was Jane Jacobs, and both were fantastic observers and describers of the real place and how you understand it. What this shows is that deep insight comes from a visceral sense of, emotional engagement with and love of the city. So many people already understand and apply place, sustainable communities and urbanistic thinking instinctively, being able to draw threads from different domains of their experience. There are also many counter cases, such as David Burnham, who was an architect before he became a planner. What are the conditions within which it is more possible to become a thought and action leader? There is a need to allow for a degree of romanticism and passion allied to prosaic common sense and a strong value set. Ideally leadership is rooted to place and community; it needs to be organically grown. Yet a raft of new niche developers, and some of the mainstream too, even as outsiders, have managed to bend their goals to local aspiration, so enlarging the sense of local leadership. Today we have allowed too much responsibility, creative thinking and planning to be subcontracted to consultants. The world over, municipalities have hollowed out. This creates a form of subcontracted leadership that can feel imposed. Consultants should be more like critical friends and less answer providers.

240 The Art of City-Making

BLINDSPOTS IN CITY-MAKING There are a series of blindspots in the comprehensive art of citymaking. Their effect causes people to lose insight and understanding of what makes cities work. In the longer run, this will cause economic and social damage, and negative spin-offs. We have already extensively covered the lack of sensory appreciation. The five other most important domains of missing knowledge are: • • • • •

the emotions; environmental psychology; cultural literacy; artistic thinking; and diversity.

They all require a deep understanding of people and social dynamics. Critics will complain, ‘Oh not another thing to consider. We’ve only just absorbed sustainable communities, diversity and gender issues.’ Yet these concepts are merely enlightened common sense. There are two basic approaches: first, embedding this knowledge as a consideration within existing disciplines through adapting training programmes or the help of experts and, second, specifically bringing in experts as part of a team.

The emotions Emotions drive our life. They shape our possibilities, determine our reactions to situations and our outlook on the future. Yet have you ever read a city plan that starts with the emotions or even refers to them? ‘Our aim is to make citizens happy.’ ‘We want to create a sense of joy and passion in our city, to engender a feeling of love for your place.’ ‘We want to encourage a feeling of inspiration and beauty.’ It is rare to find such sentiments in the context of urban discourse. Yet it is odd that emotions, a defining feature of human existence, are absent in discussions of city-making. Instead the prevalent, interchangeable words and concepts proliferating involve a barren, unemotional language that is performance-driven – strategy, development, policy, outcomes, framework, targets – and feels hollow and without a reference point. A challenge for city leaders is to describe the aims for their city without using any of those words.

The Complicated and the Complex 241 In 1995 Daniel Goleman published Emotional Intelligence,30 which pulled together the huge amount of work in developing areas of brain research, where extraordinary advances have been made in understanding how people function. Goleman stressed the centrality of emotions. While most people already knew this intuitively, now this notion was given experimental testimony. This book, and other writings by authors such as Jack Mayer, Peter Salovey and David Caruso, have advanced our understanding of the role of emotions in dealing with life. Emotional Intelligence focuses on two broad areas. First, human competencies like self-awareness, self-discipline, motivation, persistence, empathy and social skills are of greater consequence than IQ or technical skills in much of life. (And these forms of intelligence can be taught.) Second, there seem to be eight fundamental emotions. Five are connected to survival: fear, guilt, anger, sadness and shame. The three others – excitement, joy and love – make us bond and attach and are not about survival. A ninth crucial element is surprise – the startled emotion that can translate into either fear or excitement, depending on context. Within this emotional interplay there is a balance between safety and a sense of anchoring and exploration. Just as unfettered fear is unsustainable, so is continuous excitement. Emotions and feelings are different, although the words are used interchangeably. All feelings are a compound of the emotions – a palette of colours. The evidence suggests that these emotions are not only cross-cultural but that they apply to the whole mammalian realm. How does this connect to city-making? Just as we can test a person’s feelings system, any place-making project should start with ‘How does it feel?’ rather than ‘Does it meet a particular specification?’ The latter is not about the human condition. If one can tap into emotions, places can become more sustaining and sustainable. For example, darkness engenders fear, but stark sodium lights which seek to solve fear also make us fearful as the light sharpens the contours between dark and light. It feels cold and external. Soft light that feels welcoming is a better solution. High-rise blocks can make people feel diminished as overwhelming structures can feel outside a person’s control, thus engendering fear and again a cold and external feeling. It makes a person feel less powerful. It takes away the sense of identity with which we manage the world. Thus a high-rise block that works would tend to balance the excitement of a view or a sense of awe with comforting features. These might,

242 The Art of City-Making for example, be soft textures created through greening or planting. Interestingly, the theme park seeks to balance the emotions in a controlled way by triggering excitement while diminishing fear. Contrast a theme park with a cathedral. Even for the nonreligious, a medieval cathedral or mosque can uplift as the experience of a sense of awe and dignity balances the possible overwhelming feeling with a feeling of order and structure. On the other hand, a modern church can often feel like a social workers’ gathering place when it does not lift the person into a different state of being, belonging and wanting to feel attached. Attachment is a fundamental human cue. The brain, it appears, is hard-wired to need a dimension we can call the spiritual – some high-order symmetry. Yet we do not have the same level of evidence as to where to locate it. It is a common cross-cultural response which triggers a sense of possibility and wholeness. Much of this knowledge is intuitive. Intuition, although decried as unscientific, in fact requires a highly developed sensibility, which comes from reflecting on a range of experiences. Intuitively, people seem to know what kind of places work and they vote with their feet as these become popular. They might not be able to explain why, as their intuition is insufficiently self-conscious and thus untutored. Again, intuition has zero status in city-making, so people have to school themselves in accepting physical environments that conflict with their own instincts rather than trusting their own judgements. By neglecting the capacity for people fundamentally to trust their own judgements we infantilize them. The emotional intelligence debate also highlights the fact that competencies based on emotional intelligence play a far greater role in leadership and general performance than do intellect or technical skill, and that both individuals and organizations benefit from cultivating these capabilities. In Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman, Annie McKee and Richard E. Boyatzis outline five components: Self-awareness, the ability to recognize and understand one’s moods, emotions and drives as well as their effect on others, which leads to accurate self-assessment, and self-confidence; self-regulation, the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses or moods as well as the propensity to suspend judgement, which leads to self-control and adaptability; motivation, a passion for something, such as the city, that goes beyond money or status as well as a propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence; empathy, the capacity to understand the

The Complicated and the Complex 243 emotional make-up of others and the skill of treating people according to their emotional reactions; and social skill, the ability to manage relationships and build networks as well as find common ground and build rapport.31 At the core of the latter two is empathetic listening.

Environmental psychology Environmental psychology measures the effect of the physical and social environment on the health and well-being of individuals and communities. The discipline has a rich history stretching back over 50 years. The vast evidence it has gathered includes: • • • • • • • •

• • •

the harmful effects of ugliness – this could be a building, cheap materials, bad urban design or townscape planning; the restorative effects of beauty, even though what beauty is in a context will be subject to debate; the impact on people of a clutter of signs and information overload; the disorienting effects of confusion in the urban environment in terms of feeling safe; the influence of height on the senses, feeling overwhelmed by the townscape, especially when the pavements are too narrow; the impact of heaviness or clunkiness of buildings; The consequences of seas of endless asphalt, wide roads and turning circles or sprawl; how mental geography determines a sense of well-being; thus the effect of people feeling cut off by roads, barriers and obstacles; the effect of motorway gateways, such as ‘spaghetti junction’ in Birmingham, or looming overpasses; feelings about dirt and rubbish and the subsequent lack of care people have for their environment; and the repercussions of noise and car dominance.

Clearly both beauty and ugliness are relative terms, yet there is a surprising coalescence in agreeing their scope. It is often highlighted that more traditional designs are favoured over the modern. This is often seen as a consequence of the failure of many new housing designs in the 1960s,32 but in fact there is a complex of reasons. One is the impact of the speed of change, which leads to a pervasiveness of risk consciousness – and anything modern is risky. It

244 The Art of City-Making feeds deeper anxieties about our notion of progress and the arrogance and overconfidence of science and technology that it can solve any problem. In this context, the past and nostalgia seem like a safe, comforting place. Experimenting with new designs for living that might work better seems frightening. Depending on age, class, life position and income, concepts of aesthetics and good design vary, while what is deemed ugly tends to cut across divisions. Unsurprisingly, the net effect of beautiful, well-designed, high quality physical environments is that they feel restorative, more care is taken of them, feelings of stress and fear of crime is reduced, and social mixing increases, as does hope, motivation and confidence in the future and thus well-being. ‘Natural’ environments have similar restorative effects. By contrast, ugly environments increase crime and fear of crime and lead to stress, vandalism, untidiness, feelings of depression, isolation, loneliness, worthlessness, a lack of aspiration and a drained will. The consequence is a self-reinforcing negative cycle, the likelihood of less employment, reduced social capital and less social bonding, although community spirit can occasionally be intensely strong in places of such disadvantage. A core question to any architect is then, ‘How does your structure help build social capital?’ Similar evidence exists for other phenomena, such as how levels of noise cause people to shut off and become uncommunicative, how a lack of quality space makes people feel impoverished, how too many cars overwhelm, or how wide open asphalt or concrete can lead to depression. Within each of these, there are the thresholds of change that people can psychologically bear. People are affected by, but cope with, say, a pub changing its name three times in a few years. Anchoring either in physical space, through the community or with peers is key. Interestingly, change and variability are more accepted when decisions go with the flow and grain of a local culture, and culture thus becomes a backbone rather than a defensive shield. So working with and uncovering this ‘cultural stuff’ through consultation processes is far more central than we think. This brings us to the third large domain missing in city-making – cultural literacy.

The Complicated and the Complex 245

Cultural literacy33 Cultural literacy is the ability to read, understand, find significance in, evaluate, compare and decode the local cultures in a place. This allows one to work out what is meaningful and significant to people who live there. We understand better the life cycle of the city in motion. We understand more what we see, feel, smell and hear. We grasp better the shapes of urban landscapes and why they came about. We sense history in how the city goes about its business, who the historic names of places refer to and what their purpose was and how that resource might be used for the future of the city. We recognize how perhaps the placement of facilities like markets, often seemingly chaotic at first sight, are thought through at root. We feel the city’s economy viscerally, both through obvious signs like a steel plant and through signs of it’s going up or down – shabbiness or ‘For sale’ signs, for example. We identify the social consequences of urban economies in transition, as when ‘lower value’ uses (for example, cheap incubation units and artists’ studios) get supplanted by ‘higher value’ uses (for example, retail units). Here we are given very clear visual clues as to economic direction. We appreciate aesthetic codes, so understand the meanings of colours, the style of buildings and their presentation. Subconsciously ‘trained’ in advertising symbolism, the culturally literate intuits and interprets the manifold urban distinctions and identifiers – to whom a shop is targeted, what draws people in and what repels. Culture is who we are, the sum of our beliefs, attitudes and habits. It is seen in customary ways of behaving – making a living, eating, expressing affection, getting ahead or, in the urban context, behaving in public places. Some cultural rites have evolved over generations, such as the passegiata, the evening stroll in Italy or Spain. Each culture has codes or assumptions by which it lives, and there are expectations underlying those customary behaviours, for example what kinds of acts of intimacy or affection are deemed appropriate in public space. This may condition how we organize space or the iconography of our road signs, which, while internationalizing, still have local distinctiveness. Cultures create artefacts – things people make or have made that have meaning for them. These punctuate the city, typically monuments to past leaders or heroes in the main square or in front of a government building.34 Religious monuments to saints or gods also have pride of place,

246 The Art of City-Making especially those representing the dominant religion. In most modern cities the artefact might equally be a Henry Moore or Alexander Calder sculpture sited in front of downtown office towers, symbolizing the wealth and power of corporate capital. The meanings of artefacts change over time as new interpretations of history evolve. Cultures need economic, political, religious and social institutions to provide and enforce regular, predictable patterns of behaviour so that the culture is reinforced and replicated. In cities these are strategically placed to induce awe or respect. Think of Siena’s Piazza del Campo. From medieval times onwards in Europe the layout of a town’s civic centre or market square has been dominated by the key civic institutions, the town hall, the guild house, the cathedral and perhaps a learning institution. These represent the four powers: political, economic, religious and that of knowledge. These power concentrations are now also more spread throughout the city. Cultures pattern how they behave and relate. This becomes the social structure – how we behave in crowds, make eye contact, how much personal space we need or whether we queue for a bus or just go for it.35 Our culture shapes how we create and make our places, from the physical level – from the design of street furniture to icon buildings – to how we feel about ourselves and the place. So the scope, possibilities, style and tenor of social and economic development in a city is culturally determined. If as a culture we are more closed-minded or strongly hierarchical and focus on traditional values, it can make our culture inflexible and might make adjusting to major transformation more difficult. It might make communicating with different groups difficult. It might hold back international trade or tourism because obstacles will be created to the free flow of exchange and ideas. It might deter creating mixed partnerships to solve problems now recognized as a major way forward for communities. It might hold back developing a vibrant, empowered small business sector. By contrast, if our traditions value tolerance and openness, those adjustments to the new world may be easier. Those places that share ideas and have the capacity to absorb bring differences together more effectively. This does not mean their culture becomes subsumed – identity is still shaped by where you came from. There is, however, sufficient mutual influence and counter-influence, coalescing and mixing over time to create a special fused and dynamic identity, not one hardened into an ossified shell.

The Complicated and the Complex 247 These views about how life is managed do not happen by accident – they are a response to history and circumstance. If the culture esteems hard work and the taking of responsibility, the outcome will be different than if it assumes others will take decisions for you. If a culture has an ethos that assumes no one is to be trusted, collaboration and partnership is hard to achieve and bureaucracy likely to be extensive; by contrast, where trust is high, regulation tends to have a lighter touch. Societies that have transitioned from arbitrary rule, which may have lasted for decades or centuries, will not with ease move into liberal democracy overnight. As the democracy of democratic countries itself took substantial time to take hold. These transitions take generations to unfold in their fullness, and in the meantime corruption is usually rife before uncertainties are settled with more ordered rules and common guidelines for civility. Cities are places where varied publics can come together to co-create a civic realm – a precondition for a confident civic society to uphold rules and justice. This is where citizenship is more important than ethnic group, clan, tribe, religion, party or cadre allegiance. Cultures and societies which place such an emphasis on citizenship are likely to be more resilient, flexible and ultimately prosperous than those that are divided along lines of ‘blood’ or traditional allegiances. What we call the culture of a place, whether a village, a city, a region or a country, is the residue of what has stood the test of time. It is what is left and deemed important after the ebb and flow of argument, the fickleness of fashion and negotiation about what is valuable has passed. Culture is the response to circumstance, location, history and landscape. Thus a region of regular warfare about boundaries is one where people are more suspicious than a more settled one, port cities tend to be open-minded because of the influxes of people over time, and a place that is fortunate and strikes luck with its resources might come across as more generous. The specific circumstances of place and the problems and opportunities they present inspire a culture to find its own unique solutions, such as how to save water, how to gain sustaining food from the environment, how to ensure food remains healthy, how to build machines that work in the context and with the materials available, how to maintain machinery, how to recycle waste, how to build to protect themselves against the ravages of and changes in weather, how to heal the ill, how to appease the unknown forces in

248 The Art of City-Making the ether, how to celebrate good fortune and be sad about distress. This is what we also call local distinctiveness. It is an asset and a resource with power. It locks up within it social and economic capital. All this leaves people in a specific place with intangible things like views and opinions about their world and the worlds outside; passions about certain things and rituals; the role and importance of higher beings and the spirit; moral codes and ethical positions about what is right and wrong; value judgements about what we think is good, beautiful and desirable or ugly and bad; and attitudes about how we approach problems, conduct our affairs, organize ourselves and manage business. The values of a culture leave tangible marks: the buildings respond to weather and wealth and the spirit of their times; their quality, design, style or grandeur reflects the values and foibles of the powerful; how good the buildings of the poor are depends largely on how well they are empowered; places of power, ritual and worship reflect the role of politics and religion; places for culture like museums, libraries, theatres or galleries from more reverential times demand obedience through their appearance – they seem to say ‘come to our hallowed ground’ – whereas more modern and democratic buildings invite and entice, they are more transparent in style. This is reflected in the materials used, perhaps granite in one and glass in the other. The industrial landscape too shapes and is shaped by culture. The best factories of the industrial age project the pride of manufacture and production, the worst the exploitation of their workers. Grime and filth live often side by side with the raw beauty of gleaming machinery. Culture spreads its tentacles into every crevice of our lives: how we shop and the look of shops, markets and retail; how we spend leisure time and how the parks, boulevards and places of refuge are set out; how we move around and whether we prefer public or private transport; and, most importantly, how and where we give birth to our children and how we bury our dead. The list is endless. When we look at places culturally and are culturally literate, we see at once whether care, pride and love is present or whether there is disenchantment, disinterest or disengagement. We see, too, without needing to know the details, whether corruption or subterfuge are the order of the day. Being culturally literate means understanding the weft and wove of a place, what matters to a people and how they

The Complicated and the Complex 249 have expressed it. Without such understanding one walks blind. And this can all be learnt by paying attention, watching, learning to look closely, finding out how and why things work as they do, assessing the past to know how it shapes the present. Appreciating culture is even more crucial in periods of dramatic transformation, because it is then that the culture needs to absorb, digest and adjust. Culture, when acknowledged, gives strength in moving forward, even if it’s culture itself that has to change. It then becomes a backbone that can create the resilience that makes change and transformation easier. Confidence is key for creativity, innovation and renewal. When cultures feel threatened or weak or that another culture is superimposing itself upon them, they go into their shell. Culture then becomes a defensive shield not open to change, imagination and creativity.

Artistic thinking36 The values and attributes that dominate and are responsible for the malaise of the modern world – narrow conceptions of efficiency and rationality – are almost diametrically opposed to the values promoted by artistic creativity. The former worldview is summed up by words such as ‘goal’, ‘objective’, ‘focus’, ‘strategy’, ‘outcome’, ‘calculation’, ‘measurable’, ‘quantifiable’, ‘logical’, ‘solution’, ‘efficient’, ‘effective’, ‘economic sense’, ‘profitable’, ‘rational’ and ‘linear’. In contrast, the artistic worldview is powerful for the very reason that it’s not hostage to such a rigid vocabulary. While culture is broad, a significant core consists of the arts, and the quintessence of the arts is artistic creativity. Human beings in all societies throughout history have expressed artistic creativity. What is unique about artistic creativity? What are its distinct attributes? What human values does it embody and share with others, so that it is capable of having deep significance for individuals, communities, and even, over time, for history? Can the arts reanchor humankind, knit together what has been rent apart? At its best artistic creativity involves a journey which artists are impelled to undertake, not knowing where it will lead or if and how they will arrive; it involves truth-searching and embodies a quest for the profound and true; it has no calculated purpose, it is not goal-oriented, nor measurable in easy ways, nor fully explicable rationally – its outcome can be mysterious; it has no quick or

250 The Art of City-Making easy solutions; it denies instant gratification; it accepts ambiguity, uncertainty and paradox; it calls upon humility and endurance; it endures the tedious and repetitious so as to reach mastery; it contains loneliness and the potential for failure; it recognizes that something beyond the rational such as a soul exists; it can offer glimpses of the (non-supernatural) sacred; it gives the spirit a connection outside itself; it originates in the self but aims to create work which enters the common space of humanity; it proclaims that humans have the right to pursue freedom and urges confidence in exercising that right; it inspires others to be brave and to risk failure; it champions originality and authenticity but opposes vanity; it accepts the potential for epiphany and exaltation and for fun and delight; it generates openness to new ideas and new ways of doing; it lives in the ‘now’ – it takes place in the moment; it is transgressive and disruptive of the existing order (not as a pose or to flaunt difference but as a necessary reality); it is often uncomfortable, even frightening. Artistic creativity is expression. What is special about the artistic activities – singing, acting, writing, dancing, performing music, sculpting, painting, designing or drawing – especially in relation to developing cities? Participating in the arts uses the imaginary realm to a degree that other disciplines, such as sports or most of science, do not. Those are more rule-bound and precise. The distinction between involvement in arts and writing a computer programme, engineering or sports is that the latter are ends in themselves, they do not, or very rarely, change the way you perceive society; they tend to teach you something specific. The arts can have wider impacts by focusing on reflection and original thought; they pose challenges and want to communicate (mostly). If the goal of cities is to have self-motivated, creative places, they need engaged individuals who think. Turning imagination into reality or something tangible is a creative act, so the arts, more than most activities, are concerned with creativity, invention and innovation. Reinventing a city or nursing it through transition is a creative act, so an engagement with or through the arts helps. This engagement with the arts combines stretching oneself and focusing, feeling the senses, expressing emotion and self-reflecting. Essential to it is mastering the craft through technical skill, on top of which is layered interpretation that sums up something meaningful to the listener or viewer. The result can be to broaden horizons, to convey meaning, with immediacy and/or depth, to

The Complicated and the Complex 251 communicate iconically so you grasp things in one without needing to understand step by step, to help nurture memory, to symbolize complex ideas and emotions, to see the previously unseen, to learn, to uplift, to encapsulate previously scattered thoughts, to anchor identity and to bond people to their community or, by contrast, to stun, to shock by depicting terrible images for social, moral or thought-provoking reasons, to criticize or to create joy, to entertain, to be beautiful; and the arts can even soothe the soul and promote popular morale. More broadly, expression through the arts is a way of passing ideas and concepts on to later generations in a (somewhat) universal language. To have these effects, the arts have to be communicated. Not all art creates all these responses all of the time. The best art, though, works at a number of these levels simultaneously. Art, and especially the making of art rather than just consuming, triggers activity in the mind and agitates it (and even the body) – it arouses the senses and these form into emotion and then thought. It is not a linear process, but as it happens associations and seemingly random intuitions and connections come forth. It is more unstructured, less step-by-step than scientific or technological procedure; it looks more for intuition, it is freer flowing. It resonates at a deeper level. At their best the arts on occasion can lift you beyond the day-to-day on to a higher plane that some people call spiritual. Humans are largely driven by their sensory and emotional landscape, in spite of centuries of developing scientific knowledge and logical, analytical, abstract and technical thought. They are not rational in a scientific sense, which does not mean they are irrational, rather arational. This is why all cultures develop the arts. As the arts can speak the language of the senses and feelings, they have immense power that the ‘scientifically’ minded should understand and use as it can help them achieve their aims. There are hardly any other ways of tapping into this knowledge. Perhaps meditation or sex. Thus participating in or consuming art helps interpret reality and can provide leadership and vision. This highlights the role of the arts in tapping potential. The assumption is that everyone can in principle be more creative, involved, engaged, informed and that this is significant in creating citizenship in transition countries. The out-of-the-box, lateral thinking and use of imagination present in the arts are perhaps the most valuable things the arts can offer other disciplines such as

252 The Art of City-Making planning, engineering, social services or to the business community, especially if allied to other emphases like a focus on local distinctiveness. The arts help cities in a variety of ways. First, with their aesthetic focus they draw attention to quality and beauty. Unfortunately this is expressed in a limited way – typically a piece of public sculpture in front of an ugly or ordinary building. Yet in principle they challenge us to ask: ‘Is this beautiful?’ This should affect how urban design and architecture evolve. Second, the arts challenge us to ask questions about ourselves as a place. This should lead us to ask: ‘What kind of place do we want to be and how should we get there?’ Arts programmes can challenge decision-makers by undertaking uncomfortable projects that force leaders to debate and take a stand. For example, an arts project about or with migrants might make us look at our prejudices. Arts projects can empower people who have previously not expressed their views, so artists working with communities can in effect help consult people. For example, a community play devised with a local group can tell us much more than a typical political process. Finally, arts projects can simply create enjoyment. A useful question to ask is: ‘What is the problem and can a cultural approach help; can the arts help?’ For intergenerational communication or mixing cultures, for example, clearly the arts are more effective than many other initiatives. Seen in this light the arts can help create an open-minded culture that is more resilient and adaptable to the changes brought about by political ructions and globalization. Think of any problem or opportunity and the arts might help. What other activity can better deal with dialogue between cultures or ethnic conflicts or allow individuals to discover talents, to gain confidence, to become motivated, to change the mindset, to involve themselves in community? The lesson learnt is that perhaps it is artistic thinking that is the strongest message from the arts. Planners, engineers, business people and social workers could all benefit from seeing their worlds through the eyes of artists All of this has left out the fact that the best of our past arts ends up in museums, and so the arts also contribute to creating destinations – visitor attractions – and help foster a city’s image as well as generating an economic impact, as do the best of the contemporary arts, which are found in galleries, theatres, performance venues or bookshops. Furthermore, it ignores that increasingly it is the

The Complicated and the Complex 253 marriage between scientific and artistic creativity that is driving the development of new products and services. Only a few cities have grasped these possibilities (one being San José). 37


We cannot consider the future of cities without considering diversity. Ethnic and cultural diversity are a driver and a symptom of change. There are few parts of the world which are entirely homogeneous, while an increasing number of urban communities routinely comprise dozens of different groups in visible numbers. Major cities such as New York, London or Singapore are now ‘world cities’, microcosms of the world in all its teeming diversity. This diversity plays itself out differentially as developmental processes vary around the globe: a pride in diversity in some places; the rise of ethnic cleansing in others, such as in the Balkans or between Shias and Sunnis in Iraq. Diversity in its many forms is the primary element of a vibrant place, diversity of business, diversity of activities and diversity of built form creating visual stimulation. Most places are very diverse when you look deeply enough and the diversity of cities is perhaps the central urban question of the 21st century, as mobility increases and reactions to it too. For example, Britain has always been a far more diverse and heterogeneous nation than that imagined to comprise simply the English, Scots, Irish and Welsh: from the North Africans that patrolled Hadrian’s Wall on behalf of the Romans and the interplay of Celtic civilizations with successive waves of medieval invaders and settlers, such as the Vikings and Normans, to the deep-seated communities of Jewish and Huguenot origin, even Yemenis in the Northeast, the post-colonial immigrants such as the AfricanCaribbeans, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Chinese, and also Europeans, from Germans, Italians and Portuguese to Scandinavians, Poles and Russians, Australasians, Arabs, Nigerians, South Africans, Moroccans, Somalis, South and North Americans. London is now one of the most diverse cities that has ever existed and its diversity played a role in it getting the 2012 Olympics. Altogether, more than 300 languages are spoken by the people of London and the city has at least 50 non-indigenous communities with populations of 10,000 or more. Virtually every race, nation, culture and religion in the world can claim at least a

254 The Art of City-Making handful of Londoners. London’s Muslim population of 607,083 people is probably the most diverse anywhere in the world, besides Mecca. Only 59.8 per cent of Londoners consider themselves to be White British, while 3.2 per cent consider themselves to be of mixed race.38 New York and Toronto are equally diverse. The rest of Britain too is changing. There are foreign-born people in large and smaller British cities you may not have heard of and the same is true all over Europe, America and Australasia. There are now over 1000 French people living in Bristol and Brighton, 650 Greeks in Colchester, 600 Portuguese in Bournemouth and Poole, 800 Poles in Bradford, 1300 Somalis in Sheffield, 770 Zimbabweans in Luton, 370 Iranians in Newcastle and 400 in Stockport and 240 Malaysians in Southsea. And these figures only represent those who are foreign-born and not the much larger numbers of second generation and beyond, of people whose nationality and identity will be hyphenated. The fundamental question is whether increased interaction between ethnic cultures will produce social and economic innovations which will drive the prosperity and quality of life of our cities; whether intercultural mixing is a source of dynamism for cities. Historically the great cities of the world, from Gúangzhõu (formerly Canton) to Delhi, Constantinople/Istanbul, Rome, Amsterdam or New York, have been hubs of ethnicity where the interplay helped achieve their prosperity, innovativeness and stature, although people often lived parallel lives. The notion of cultural mixing shifts the perspective on diversity away from multiculturalism. In the multicultural city we acknowledge and ideally celebrate our differing cultures. In the intercultural city we move one step beyond and focus on what we can do together as diverse cultures in a shared space. Without undermining the achievements of multiculturalism, the charge levelled at it is that it has created a false sense of harmony, which worked for a while yet imperceptibly moved from being part of the solution to part of the problem. Particularly at the local level, the system – in Britain, for example – encouraged the creation of culturally and spatially distinct communities, even ghettoes, fronted by ‘community leaders’ and that difference became the very currency by which importance was judged and progress made. This has proved challenging for second and third generation members of such communities, who find it difficult to find a place which acknowledges or rewards their new, often hybrid senses of identity, so alienation often ensues.

The Complicated and the Complex 255 Multiculturalism spoke only for the minorities, it has been argued, hindering a two-way conversation with British culture. It is also accused of having devalued and alienated the culture of the white working class, driving them further away from the goal of tolerance and into the arms of extremists.39 This is not the way diversity is perceived everywhere. In societies in which immigration lies at the heart of national identity, such as the US, Canada and Australia, diversity has been far more widely regarded as a source of potential opportunity and advantage. The private sector evolved the idea that there was a ‘business case for diversity’ where diverse teams of people brought new skills and aptitudes, which broadened a company’s business offer and which in combination might produce new process and product innovations which would advance competitiveness.40 The idea emerged that a more heterogeneous city or nation is better equipped than homogeneous ones to weather the storms of the global economy and adapt to change. Such a charge, for example, has been levelled against Japan and Germany as they have fallen behind the economic performance of more diverse G8 member states. It is argued too that success at the level of local and regional economics will also be influenced by the extent to which cities can offer an open, tolerant and diverse milieu to attract and hold mobile wealth creators.41 Such thinking has made fewer inroads into many European countries, especially those where even ethnic cleansing emerged after the break-up of the communist bloc, such as the former Yugoslavia. In Europe there are five distinctive policy frameworks for immigration, integration and citizenship: corporate multiculturalism; civic republicanism; ethnic nationalism and the Gastarbeiter (guestworker) system; the southern Mediterranean unregulated and then restrictive regime; and the minority nation idea.42 These differences shape the sense of belonging and identity urban citizens can achieve in different countries. While change on the ground has been relatively speedy, the public discourse around diversity was slow. Since the turn of this century debate has become a bubbling ferment. It is not just a reemergence of old questions and arguments but something qualitatively different. It is no longer a question of how many foreigners a country can accept but rather what it means to be German, Norwegian, Chinese or British in a very different world.

256 The Art of City-Making Many argue that the future lies not in finding better ways of integrating outsiders into, say, British society but in fundamentally reappraising what we understand British society to be. British (or German, Italian or Finnish) culture and values cannot be reduced to a set of unchanging principles, but is an evolving and transforming entity which responds to the ongoing process of hybridization that accelerating change is bringing about. What will hold countries together is not the social glue of ‘shared values’ but the social bridge of ‘shared futures’. The intercultural city idea, without denying that there are great problems of economic disadvantage and racism, switches the focus. Instead of discussing diversity largely as a dilemma it asks: ‘What is the diversity advantage for cities which can be achieved through intercultural exchange and innovation.’ To unlock this advantage requires new skills and aptitudes on the part of professionals such as cultural literacy and competence. To assess the preparedness of a city achieving diversity advantage there need to be indicators of openness and there is an intercultural lens through which professionals can re-evaluate their work. Openness is key. It is connected to curiosity: the desire to know what lies beyond one’s spatial, cultural or intellectual boundaries and the capacity to pursue the interest. Multiculturalism was founded upon the belief in tolerance between cultures but it is not always the case that multicultural places are open places. Interculturalism, on the other hand, requires openness as a prerequisite, and while openness in itself is not the guarantee of interculturalism, it provides the setting for interculturalism to develop. Economic structures and legal systems play a fundamental role in determining the openness of a society. ‘Openness’, in the context of the intercultural city, means the degree to which differences and diversities between individuals and groups are acknowledged, respected and encouraged in law. The ideal of this city Sandercock calls ‘cosmopolis’. It requires a fundamental reappraisal of the city and how it must respond, root and branch, to the changing world.43 Cosmopolis is the new model hybrid city or the mongrel city. A place of a thousand daily encounters, interactions, negotiations, accommodations and reformulations. Within a cosmopolis interculturalism is key. The term emerged in the Netherlands and Germany in the educational field and was concerned primarily with communication between different nationalities in border regions,

The Complicated and the Complex 257 while across the Atlantic it responds to the growing needs of American government and business to sell their message and their goods overseas.44 Comedia’s take on interculturalism moves on from this. It is not a tool for communication but a process of mutual learning and joint growth.45 This implies a process of acquiring particular skills and competences which will enable one to interact functionally with anyone different from oneself, regardless of origins. It implies a different way of reading situations, signs and symbols and of communicating, which is cultural literacy. Intercultural competence in a diverse society becomes as important as basic numeracy and literacy. It allows us to re-envision our world or profession through an intercultural lens. Cities are increasingly driven by the need to innovate – economically, socially, culturally – to solve the problems that they as cities create.46 There are significant differences between the ‘community cohesion model’ and interculturalism. Foremost is the attitude towards harmony and disagreement. The aim of the former may be harmony at all costs and the avoidance of disagreement or dispute, even though this may require the imposition of a blanket set of communal values and viewpoints upon an increasingly diverse and hybridizing community. Disagreement and dispute should be embraced rather than swept under the carpet and should be accepted as a vital component of a healthy and vibrant community. Interculturalism requires rules of engagement to negotiate and actively resolve difference. By way of a concise definition of interculturalism, we have argued in the past that: The intercultural approach goes beyond equal opportunities and respect for existing cultural differences to the pluralist transformation of public space, institutions and civic culture. It does not recognize cultural boundaries as fixed but in a state of flux and remaking. An intercultural approach aims to facilitate dialogue, exchange and reciprocal understanding between people of different backgrounds.47 Interculturalism is not a monolithic creed, but a process and interactive approach. We can measure how ethnically diverse a city is. It is harder to measure how intercultural it is. There are shortcomings with exist-

258 The Art of City-Making ing data in most places. In Britain, the standard 18-class ethnic categorization used is essentially a Commonwealth classification which distinguishes Black African, Black Caribbean, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi but treats all non-British Whites as one and anybody else as ‘other’. Second, data is usually not available at a low enough level to produce reliable statistics for individual cities. So the standard data only tells us the degree to which a place is ethnically diverse or multicultural, but cannot take us much further. One measure that does go further is the index of isolation. The formula produces a statistic that can be interpreted as the ratio of two probabilities – that your neighbour is BME (‘black and minority ethic’) if you are BME yourself and that your neighbour is BME if you are white. The ratio is a measure of how isolated the two groups are from one another. The higher the ratio, the greater is the isolation. In Bristol, a BME Bristolian is 2.6 times as likely as a white Bristolian to live next door to someone who is BME. By contrast, Burnley, whose BME population is the same as Bristol’s, has an equivalent ratio of 8.7. This may be one important contributor to the latter’s relative disharmony.48 Getting beyond the physical proximity of ethnicities the Comedia research identified four principal spheres of influence, the openness of: 1 2 3 4

the institutional framework; the business environment; civil society; and public space.49

The openness of the institutional framework is determined principally by the regulatory and legislative framework within national or local government. Easy access to citizenship is an indicator, and the means of measurement would include the naturalization rate, provision of language classes to learn the new language, or access to health and social welfare for refugees. In policy areas such as education, the presence of an intercultural/multicultural citizenship curriculum is an indicator. At a city level an indicator and measure would be the existence of an intercultural strategy. The openness of the business environment refers to trade and industry, the job market and training. Indicators might be drawn

The Complicated and the Complex 259 from commitments of businesses on recruitment and training. A means of measuring this at a city level might be the ethnic composition of staff and leadership positions and cultural awareness training in major companies. In terms of employment, one might assess the percentage of jobs requiring minority languages, interpreters in hospitals or community settings or intercultural mediators, people who help ‘translate’ across cultures. Alternatively one could ask how many ethnic minority firms are winning tenders from the city. The openness of civil society is the extent to which the social fabric of a place is more or less intercultural. Nationally one could measure the incidence of mixed marriages via the census or the index of isolation mentioned above. At the city-level indicators might include the inter-ethnic and interfaith representation on health, welfare and education boards or management and community forums. The ethnic mix of top management tiers in the 20 top public, voluntary and private sector organizations could tell a story. Cross-cultural economic, social, cultural and civic networks could be measured from observation and interviews to establish whether there are any ethnically and culturally mixed business associations, social clubs, religious groups, political parties and movements. In addition it is useful to look at projects that involve different ethnic groups. Much of the openness in public attitudes is seed-bedded in schools, and aside from assessing the overall curriculum, relevant indicators could include the number of school children learning foreign languages or the percentage of overseas or minority ethnic students in universities. Looking at a city’s internal and external place marketing one could assess how it has decided to project itself into the world. The openness of public space focuses on the extent to which people feel they have the ‘freedom of the city’ or whether there are spaces or whole neighbourhoods which feel closed or even hostile to one or more groups within the city. The indicators would measure the degree of mixing in housing and neighbourhoods; safety and mobility of ethnic minorities in all areas of the city; participation in public facilities such as libraries and cultural venues in the city centre; perceptions of cultural inclusiveness in public space; and views on which city institutions or events and festivals are welcoming and which are forbidding.

260 The Art of City-Making A way of applying the intercultural logic to the city is to look at potential and assess things through an intercultural lens. Cultural literacy is the precondition to decode the varied cultures that are interwoven in a place. It is a form of cultural capital which enables us to act sensitively and effectively in a world of differences. It is crucial for survival. The intercultural lens makes it possible to take an apparently familiar issue or discipline and to look at it afresh. It is difficult for individual urban professionals to accumulate an in-depth cultural knowledge of every group represented in their city. With more intercultural dialogue, knowledge about and between cultures can occur more seamlessly on a day-to-day basis. This involves having questions in mind such as: ‘Are our expectations different?’, ‘Are my assumptions valid in this different context?’ or ‘Are people interpreting what I say differently than I think?’ From this comes the awareness that in all forms of human communication, the information is making a journey through several filters. As Hall reminds us in The Hidden Dimension, ‘People from different cultures not only speak different languages but, what is possibly more important, inhabit different sensory worlds.’50 In making a place you can take any topic and see it through an intercultural lens: public consultation and engagement, urban planning and development, how cities are attracting migrants, housing planning, business and entrepreneurship, education, the arts or sports development. Let’s briefly look at master-planning.

Master-planning Cultural preferences and priorities are etched into the mindscape of the professional urban experts who determine what the physical fabric of our cities looks like: the engineers, surveyors, masterplanners, architects, urban designers, cost accountants, project managers and developers do not make decisions that are value free and neutral. What at first sight looks like merely technique and technical processes concerned with issues – Will the building stand up? Can traffic flow through? What uses should we bring together? – is shaped by value judgements. The look, feel and structure of the places planners encourage, help design and promote reflects our assumptions about what we think is right and appropriate. This is etched into codes, rules and guidelines. It sets the physical stage upon which social and economic life plays itself out. Even the

The Complicated and the Complex 261 aesthetic priorities people choose themselves have their cultural histories. What happens then when different cultures meet and coexist in the same space? There have always been borrowings and graftings, they have been there so long we cannot see them. For centuries building styles and fashions criss-crossed Europe: there is English baroque just as there is French, or German and English gothic. Exceptions apart, the architectures of Arabia, India and China are not visible in exterior design in Europe – they have had much more influence on the interior. One only sees the mosque, the gurdwara, and Chinese gateway arches in Chinatowns. Should we learn from the great traditions of Arab and Indian architecture and their aesthetics? Should the basic building blocks of the city be the same when looked at through intercultural eyes? Think of street frontages, building heights, setbacks, pavement widths, turning circles, the number of windows and their size, how we deal with enclosure, privacy or sight lines. Think too of the materials we use, colour, light or water. At its simplest, would streets or the colour palette used be different seen interculturally? One thinks here of the vivid colours of housing in Latin America or the use of water in Moorish culture. Should we structure space to reflect different cultures as they might see and use spaces in varied ways? Or should we create open-ended spaces that others can adapt, such as the Kurds who gather around the steps in Birmingham’s Chamberlain Square? Let’s touch on a few other areas; for instance, consultation. Citizens cannot easily be ascribed to one homogeneous group. Thus consultation cannot simply be a one-off and standardized exercise but must be a continuous process of informal discussion and engagement. The orthodox, multiculturalist approach to public consultation requires that communities are defined by their ethnicity and consulted in isolation (e.g. ‘the African-Caribbean community’, ‘the Asian community’) as if ethnicity is the only factor influencing the way in which people lead their lives in the city. This limited perspective recognizes the views of the white population as the cultural norm and the views of ethnic minorities as inevitably different or aberrant – while hybrid identities and complex intercultural views are not anticipated. What would intercultural education look like? All ethnic groups, including the majority ‘white’ groups, of whatever social class, would be encouraged to feel that their background, history

262 The Art of City-Making and narrative are valued in the school context. An intercultural education would instil the following six competences in young people: 1 2 3 4 5 6

cultural competence – the ability to reflect upon one’s own culture and the culture of others; emotional and spiritual competence – the ability to be selfreflective, handle one’s own emotions, empathize with others; linguistic and communicative competence; civic competence – the ability to understand and act upon rights and responsibilities and be socially and morally responsible; creative competence; and sporting competence.

By their very nature the arts are predisposed to being intercultural. Being interested in what lies beyond the horizon or across a boundary is often what inspires people to make a career in the arts. Being awkward, rule-questioning, transgressive even, are common characteristics that emerge from the lives of artists, and, more often than not, this leads to the curiosity to want to explore cultures other than their own. It might be added that addressing conflict, fusing opposites and resolving incompatibility are all processes reported by some artists as triggers in their search for a creative breakthrough. Often working on a project-by-project basis, artists are constantly thrust into new situations with unfamiliar teams and surroundings, thrown back on their technique to survive. The secret is to ‘create third spaces, unfamiliar to both [sides], in which different groups can share a similar experience of discovery. Sometimes such spaces allow people to detach aspects of their own identity (cultural, vocational, sexual) from what they have hitherto regarded as its essential and dominating character. It is in such spaces – youth groups, drama workshops, sports teams – that some of the most imaginative and successful forms of community healing have taken place.’51 Other shared spaces do not necessarily have to be located in buildings. Melbourne’s mighty ‘Dancing in the Streets’ in Federation Square for its international arts festival in 2003 was one of the most successful ways of bringing communities together, as each taught the others their dances.

The Complicated and the Complex 263

Towards a common agenda Cities are made by people but rarely do people who know about people sit around the decision-making table. The exception is perhaps the market researcher. This might be a person with a background in anthropology, history or a social science like sociology. Understanding social dynamics, behaviours, desires and aspirations is key to how a city works. Investing in this skill can save resources down the line, given the expense of the built form. How do you shift the thinking so that an individual’s default mechanism does not lock in initially into the professionally conditioned mindset? There are a variety of ways to change behaviour and mindset: to threaten or coerce through force or regulation; to explain more strongly and convince through argument and training; to reconceptualize; to induce through payment or incentives; to generate awareness by creating and publicizing aspirational models; or even by generating a crisis. Often what leads people to change their minds is a combination of the above. The issues discussed in this section are unlikely to be shifted by coercion. They are too subtle and embedded in peoples’ minds. Incentives are being created to change the thinking by, for example, the ‘sustainable communities’ agenda, which has a touch of coercion in it since many of the big urban regeneration projects have public resources behind them. Thus, if a developer were against sustainability, they would be unlikely to be selected. Showing and publicizing best practice models is a well-trodden path and has some merit. Reconceptualizing a task can be powerful. For example, talking of city- or place-making as distinct from urban development makes a difference. There is an aspirational, holistic quality to the former and a technical hollowness to the latter. So a highway engineer is likely to respond completely differently to the place-making rather than road-making challenge. Yet the best and most complicated method is through explanation, discussion, argument and training. The problem is it takes time. The new thinking should impact on policy at three levels – the conceptual, the discipline-based and the implementational. The first is aimed at reconceptualizing how we view cities as a whole. It is concerned with reassessing the concepts and ideas that inform action and is much the most important as it determines how problems are conceived and handled at other levels. The idea of

264 The Art of City-Making

Source: Charles Landry

Too many people think of the city as simply bricks and mortar conceiving the city as an organism rather than a machine is an example. It shifts policy from concentration on physical infrastructure towards urban and social dynamics and the overall well-being and health of people, implying a systemic approach to urban problems. Absorbing the full impact of this shift can be difficult. Second, thinking about policy at discipline level involves reviewing existing policies in known fields – transport, the environment, economic development and social services – and considering the efficacy of existing models and ways of addressing problems. For example, in transport there may have been an emphasis on car transport, which might need to shift to a hybrid model combining the benefits of public and private transport. This shift might be easier to achieve as it is largely a matter of shifting priorities. Third, thinking afresh about policy implementation involves reviewing the detailed mechanisms to expedite policy, such as the financial arrangements or planning codes to encourage and direct development in certain directions. This might be how grant regimes are set up and targeted; what incentive structures, such as tax rebates or fiscal encouragements, are created; or how local plans and the priorities are highlighted. In principle this is easy to understand and to do, but not necessarily easy to implement.

The Complicated and the Complex 265

The new generalist Getting to the point where generic city-making skills are primary rather than an add-on requires the conceptual shifts highlighted and deeper reflection on why they are necessary and not optional. And crisis is a helpful mechanism to generate the urgency to reassess. Seen clearly there is a sufficient urban crisis to reconsider, reconceive and to react. There are two processes involved: new skills that are a core part of city-making and other skills or dispositions that aid effectiveness and leadership that apply to any domain. In getting across the changing landscape of planning and associated disciplines it is useful to reconceptualize the new requirements. For example, to create good cities we need good observers, explorers, galvanizers, visualizers, interpreters, contextualizers, storytellers, revealers, information-gatherers, strategists, inspirers, critics, agenda-setters, processors, facilitators, consulters, translators, analysts, problem-solvers, decision-makers, procurers, managers, makers, constructors, builders, brokers, mediators, conciliators, educators, arbitrators, implementers, evaluators, appraisers and presenters. And then, in addition, the classic disciplines associated with urban development like design, planning, valuing and engineering come into play. The terrain is large – many people will have a combination of these skills and not everyone will have all to the same degree of intensiveness. The core point is to understand the essence of what the other attributes bring. All these attributes have existed for a long time, but their relative importance has grown. The challenge is to create an idea of the ‘new generalist’ or ‘cultured person’ or ‘professional’ where it is assumed that understanding, as distinct from deep knowledge, of these other skills forms the basic knowledge. The new generalist knows how to think conceptually, spatially and visually and is attuned to their multiple intelligences. This more rounded person is not the jack of all trades or gifted amateur of older times, but broader based in their appreciation of others. Overlaid on that are general personal qualities such as openness, listening and empathy as well as the capacity to judge the timing and appropriateness to move into their near opposites of decisiveness, implementing, making, shaping and creating. The above has a substantial training implication, which the Academy for Sustainable Communities in Britain, for example, is

266 The Art of City-Making beginning to address. Yet it needs to go further. Thinking skills are beginning to be taught in some schools, often using Edward de Bono-style methods focusing on lateral thinking or, more frequently ‘cognitive acceleration’, especially in the natural sciences.52 However, there is no school programme nor barely an undergraduate programme that teaches the integrated thinking modern city-making requires. Indeed, as educationalist Tim Brighouse once said to me, ‘This would be anathema to the way schools are run.’ The implication for urban planning training is to start with a broad-based urbanism course, perhaps even three years, with components such as geography, basic architecture, culture, social dynamics, psychology and planning, then coupled with a one-year specialist qualification and on-the-job learning.


The City as a Living Work of Art

This chapter of The Art of City-Making begins to draw conclusions together and approaches the questions ‘Where next?’ and ‘What to do?’ Many of the ideas raised here were first developed in Adelaide, where I was employed as Thinker in Residence.1 Adelaide has great qualities, from wine to engineering to its lifestyle, and any passing criticisms made of the city should be put in the context of the openness which Adelaide displayed to me. The city was courageous in allowing itself to be used as an exploration ground and my observations were only possible given the free access I was given. Flaws would be found in any city under similar scrutiny. Throughout the following pages you will notice that I use the prefix ‘re-’ rather a lot. This is deliberate. It is a prefix of our age. Both intellectual and material pursuits are increasingly iterative and retrospective. Contemporary art, architecture, music and literature consciously borrow from that which has preceded them. The affluent spend more money on the past, for example, through buying antiques or researching their family trees. We are always in the throes of some revival or other, haunted by flares, mullets and adults wearing school uniforms. In such ways Western culture can be very self-reflexive. But I am also aware that the past, imagined or otherwise, can constitute an escape from the present and that ‘re-’ can be a superfluous adjunct. Why re-energize when we can energize? Let’s live, rather than relive. Nevertheless, I persist with ‘re-’ because I want to emphasize as strongly as possible the fact that tackling urban challenges requires visiting first principles again and beginning afresh. ‘Re-’ implies a process of standing back, considering again, taking time to think. It suggests doing things differently. Most of all, it is active as opposed to passive.

268 The Art of City-Making

Re-enchanting the city In imagining what the city could be, enchantment lies at the heart.2 The reimaginings of the city required are far more than physical improvement, although that matters too. Enchantment asks us to rediscover and reanimate social tissues and repair the severances between us. The desire to reconnect lurks everywhere, bursting to get out given the chance. It expresses itself best in small acts of daily and ordinary consideration. These seek to resolve any fissure between being ‘me’, the individual, and being ‘us’, the collective. This feeling of urban solidarity enchants. At its core this means letting the city enrapture, enthral and enamour us and to cast a spell, because we are surprised by an open response. Within it lies chant, a slow, repetitive, monotonous melody, persistent yet rhythmic. It builds over time, encompassing its environs. Enchanting is a metaphor for the repetitive acts of kindness which form the texture and glue from which social capital grows. This is the only form of capital that grows by frequent use, rather than depleting. It is the nervous system of the lived city. Ash Amin calls this the ‘habit of solidarity’ towards the stranger or the ‘urban solidarity of relatedness’. He redefines the good city as ‘an expanding habit of solidarity’, ‘as a practical but unsettled achievement, constantly building on experiments through which difference and multiplicity can be mobilized for common gain and against harm and want’. He focuses on the ethic of care, incorporating the principles of social justice, equality and mutuality and resists the notion of imagined socially cohesive communities.3 Differences, diversities and conflicts remain in continuous negotiation. The trajectory followed so far has taken us through a description of the sensory city and the materially unhinged and unsustainable dynamics of urban life and through a conceptual framework that seeks to simplify complexity. This should allow us to stand back and review how cities might be put back together again and reassembled differently.

Re-establishing your playing field Cities should pitch at the right aspirational level and identify a place in the urban hierarchy of their region or country or globally that reflects strong ambition and works with the grain of their cultural resources. Many cities are unrealistically ambitious and others hold back too much. An assessment of the city’s drawing power will

The City as a Living Work of Art 269 reveal the territory in which it is competing. It can then with calm urgency develop strategies to strengthen itself and capture territory in the imagination of others and for itself. The central question is: Can you get to the next level, adapt to change or be energized within existing frameworks, budgets and skill sets? Cities across the globe face complex opportunities that are distinctive to each place. For Perth in Australia it may be to invest resources sustainably for the next generation while they are going through their boom period, or for Port of Spain in Trinidad to build on the manifold skills involved in Carnival to ensure livelihoods throughout the year. Possibilities cannot be grasped by a ‘businessas-usual’ approach. The stakes are high and cannot be harnessed solely by traditional means. A shift in aspiration, courage and will is usually required. And it will not happen overnight. A closer look at cities which have succeeded, such as Curitiba, Barcelona or Copenhagen,4 shows startling differences between what they are doing now and what they did before: Copenhagen’s considered, long-term plan to create a walkable city; Curitiba’s approach to efficient bus transport; Barcelona’s capacity to remodel its new urban areas. The unfolding storm of globalization will affect the operating system of cities worldwide. We could cope with these changes at every level if they happened slowly and one by one. But they do not. They are happening at speed and simultaneously, and their deeper impacts have not emerged in their entirety. Cities can ride the wave of global trends and possibilities easily, but do they end up where they want to? To avert the dynamics that harm them, they need clarity of purpose and an ethical vision to direct dynamics so their own goals are met. Superficially cities might look and feel the same in the future. There will be places in which to live, offices and factories in which to work and places in which we can shop and have fun, but the underlying operating system – the software – will be different. Choosing when to resist or go with the flow of turbocapitalism will be pivotal for cities wishing to move forward. As Dee Hock, the founder of Visa Card, notes, ‘Change is not about reorganizing, re-engineering, reinventing, recapitalizing. It’s about reconceiving! When you reconceive something – a thought, a situation, a corporation, a product, [a city] … – you create a whole new order. Do that and creativity floods your mind.’5 Given fuller rein, the impact of change and creativity on organizational culture is far

270 The Art of City-Making more than people wish to admit or are willing to let happen. Yet change is necessary as old material factors – raw materials, market access – diminish in significance. Cities then have two crucial resources. First, they can mobilize their people – their cleverness, ingenuity, aspirations, motivations, ambition, imagination and creativity. Second, they can harness new resources by seeking different ways of collaborating and connecting better – connections between people, varying groups, different decision-making bodies, various parts of the city, the old story of the city and an emerging new one, and, crucially, their city and the wider world.

Reassessing creativity What being creative is should be redefined, as well as its emphasis. We should move away from an obsession with the creativity in entertainment, of media celebrities and fashion, although invention in these areas is often impressive. There is a creative divide. Some activities are deemed to be creative and others not, such as social work, and the latter become disenfranchised by the fashionability of creativity in narrower fields. But creative heroines and heroes can be found in any sphere, from social entrepreneurs to scientists, business people, public administrators and artists. A reassessment of creativity implies rethinking its ambit and applications. Marketing, media and technological innovations will still be significant, but creativity should also be applied to the challenges of misery, to nurturing our environment, and in political and social innovation. How democracy can be renewed, how our behaviours might change, how hierarchies can be realigned, how prisons and punishment can be reformed, what social care might look like, how young people can feel engaged, how community and mass creativity can be triggered – these are exactly the areas that require most of our cerebral endeavour and cannot be exempt from creative approaches. In a study assessing the characteristics of 20 creative projects in Helsinki, including cutting-edge digital media, homelessness campaigns, business entrepreneurs, physical regeneration, social enterprise and scientific research, I concluded that the personal characteristics of project initiators and key staff are similar across completely different disciplines.6 They share an exploratory openmindedness, deep focus, a lateral, flexible mind. The challenge is to value and link different forms of creativity together in the environ-

The City as a Living Work of Art 271 mental, political, economic, social and cultural spheres. This is the creative milieu. We should value creativity as a form of capital. Creativity is multifaceted resourcefulness. It is applied imagination using qualities such as intelligence, inventiveness and learning along the way. It is dynamic and context-driven: what is creative in one period or situation is not necessarily so in another. Crucially, creativity is a journey not a destination, a process not a status. Every creative output has a life cycle and, as time and experience of the innovation in action unfolds, it will itself need to be adapted and reinvented again. Creativity involves divergent or generative thinking and is linked to innovation, which demands a convergent, critical and analytical approach and ways of thinking that will adapt as a project develops. Being creative is an attitude of mind and a way of approaching problems that opens out possibilities. It is a frame of mind which questions rather than criticizes, which asks ‘Why is this so?’ and is not content to hear ‘It always has been like this.’ Creativity challenges not just what has already become a problem, but many things that seemingly work well. It has an element of foresight and involves a willingness to take measured risks, to stand back and not to pre-judge things. Yet precisely at the moment when the world acknowledges creativity, decisions are made that operate in the opposite direction. For example, the arts, a key area within which creativity is fostered, remain relatively undervalued in the school curriculum and by parents. The expression of creativity in an individual, an organization or a city are different, but the essential attributes and operating principles are the same. Every city should ask itself very honestly, ‘How creative am I?’ ‘What specific forms of creativity am I especially proficient in?’ ‘Where is this creativity to be found?’ It is very difficult to assess how creative a city is. There must be no self-delusion, and the desire to find out how good other cities are must be repressed. For instance, merely holding festivals does not mean a city is creative; it may mean it is good at attracting creative people from the outside to perform in the city. On the other hand, I concluded after my work there that Adelaide is perhaps very creative in fashioning warm welcomes. Festivals and events feel good in this city. Adelaide’s strengths may therefore lie in organizing and generating the setting. These attributes have great financial potential and the fact that Adelaide punches above its national

272 The Art of City-Making weight in conferencing and conventions is evidence of this capacity. Being creative implies individuals, organizations and the city as a whole set the preconditions within which it is possible for people to think, plan and act with imagination. This is what being a ‘Yes’ rather than a ‘Maybe’ or ‘No’ city is about. This means making people feel it is possible to take imaginative leaps or measured risks. When this happens there are dramatic implications for organizational culture and structure. Creativity is not the easy option. Creative organizations are unusual; they tend to break down hierarchies and find new ways of organizing; they are driven by an ethos; and they balance rigidity and flexibility. As David Perkins aptly notes, ‘Creative people work at the edge of their competency, not at the centre of it.’7 This idea can sit uncomfortably within large organizational structures, especially public organizations, whose attitudes to risk are tempered by accountability issues. Risk assessment can be a cover for avoiding action. Risk, creativity, failure and bureaucracy are uneasy bedfellows. People rarely acknowledge failure as a learning device. The more successful creatives tend to cluster in places of distinctiveness8 and so the geography of creativity is lopsided. Many areas, especially in the outer suburbs, suffer as there are not enough possibilities and stimulation is lacking. The danger is that if we focus too strongly on places that are already strong, a creative divide might develop, rather like the divide between the information rich and poor, or income rich and poor, or the poorly networked and highly networked. For this reason any overarching talent strategy should be targeted at groupings in all locations. This should include a networking strategy for the poor, because if they know only each other, they might have too few or inappropriate role models to emulate.

Revaluing hidden assets: A creativity and obstacle audit Every place has more assets than first meets the eye, hidden in the undergrowth, invisible, unacknowledged or under-acknowledged. The challenge is to dig deeper and to undertake a creativity and obstacle audit. For the first time in history, knowledge creation in itself is becoming the primary source of economic productivity. We are evolving from a world where prosperity depended on natural

The City as a Living Work of Art 273 advantage (arising from access to more plentiful and cheap natural resources and labour) to a world where prosperity depends on creative advantage, arising from being able to use and mobilize creativity to innovate in areas of specialized capability more effectively than other places. Thus in the 21st century the engine for growth is the process through which an economy creates, applies and extracts value from knowledge. The recent focus on creativity has been technocratic, leading to a focus on IT-driven innovations or business clusters. The crucial recognition of today’s creativity movement is that developing a creative economy also requires a social and organizational environment that enables creativity to occur. This means creativity needs to imbue the whole system. This is witnessed, for example, through the interest in creativity shown in many countries by a diversity of government departments, ranging from trade and industry to education and culture. Creativity then becomes a general problem-solving and opportunity-creating capacity. This means we need to be alert to creativity in social, political, organizational and cultural fields as well as in technological and economic ones. The focus should be on how it generates opportunities as well as solves problems. Creativity is therefore both general – a way of thinking, a mindset – and specific – task-oriented in relation to applications in particular fields. A creativity audit assesses creativity across a number of dimensions: • • • • •

spatial – from the city base to its regional and national surrounds; sector – private-, public- and community-oriented; industry – from advanced manufacturing to services; demography – assessing the creativity of different age groups, from the young to the elderly; and diversity and ethnicity.

The audit needs to look at creativity across the spectrum, including individuals, firms, industry sectors and clusters, networks in the city, the city itself as an amalgam of different organizational cultures, and the region. It needs to assess the relevance of creativity in the private, community and public sectors and in relation to areas like education, specific industry sectors, science and organizations in helping the prosperity and well-being of a region.

274 The Art of City-Making First, in relation to the private sector, while it should assess the creativity of the new economy, such as in the creative industries, it must also assess the creativity potential of traditional industries. Anecdotally, Gore-Tex, the traditional fabric manufacturer, was voted the most creative company in the US by the bible of the new economy, Fast Company, in its December 2004 ‘Creativity’ issue. A second area of investigation should be social entrepreneurship – often a means of empowering people in local communities to take responsibility and to develop entrepreneurship and solve social problems at the same time. Typically this might involve community-owned recycling companies, care for the elderly services provided by a co-operative or a food trading company. The third is exploring the creativity of public sector organizations in terms of delivering routine services, enabling their communities to flourish through innovation in managing the urban change process and applying imaginative problem-solving to public good objectives. Fourth is the need to assess levels of creativity in working across sectors and inter-organizational networking. This seeks to explore the extent to which value-added is created through inventive partnering and networking. The fifth focus should be boundary-busting creativity. For example, at the beginning of the 21st century a rapprochement has begun between the two great ways of exploring, understanding and knowing, science and art. This collaborative activity has generated considerable momentum and become a powerful force for change and innovation in the development of new products, processes and services. A sixth area of exploration is assessing how the conditions for creativity are created. This focuses especially on programmes in education and learning. Yet this should not be restricted to schools and institutions of higher learning but should also include professional development and informal learning. A seventh element is an audit of obstacles to creativity, as it is increasingly recognized that highlighting obstacles, which themselves become targets for creative action, is at least as important as highlighting best practices. The final area of the audit would be to look at how the physical context needs to develop to encourage creatives to stay in the region or be attracted to it. Seen in this light, every crevice in the

The City as a Living Work of Art 275 city has a hidden story or undiscovered potential that can be reused for a positive urban purpose.

Reassigning the value of unconnected resources Creative potential is often revealed when one connects things others see as unrelated. Each element might be small but brought together the whole is large. This is how the creative or cultural industries concept initially developed. The individual music, film, graphics, theatre, dance and visual arts sectors were relatively small and usually assessed in isolation, yet when the interconnections between sectors were identified and their overall scope and scale assessed, it was realized they made up roughly 4 per cent of most developed economies and in major cities like London more than 10 per cent.9 All major cities in the world have now cottoned on to their potential.10 Rather like water, electricity or IT, they are now seen as part of the physiology that makes any economy work. Apart from providing products in their own right, such as music or film, they can add symbolic value to any product or service. Encouraging these industries is one of the most powerful means of enhancing the city’s identity and distinctiveness, while simultaneously creating employment and generating social capital. In a world where every place is beginning to feel and look the same, cultural products and activities mark one place from the next. And tangible difference creates competitive advantage. Debates and insights from within cultural studies and economic theory have played a part in understanding culture’s invigorated role in society. Developing a culture is a process of meaning-making and identity-creation, and within that all products play a part because they embody symbolic value and trigger experiences. Increasingly consumers buy products not for their practical purpose or technical qualities but for the experience and meaning they hope they will engender. Thus design and aesthetics take on a completely new and more significant role as the value of styling increasingly predominates. This means that the economy is progressively a cultural one as it is determined and driven by cultural priorities. The economic transformation has required innovation to reinvent older industries, invent new products and services, and to create completely new economic sectors. Creative professional services in particular, such as design and advertising, have helped create innovative concepts and ideas for other branches of industry,

276 The Art of City-Making ranging from food and clothing to automotive and telecommunications services, which can add value to functional products. In this way they contribute to product development and the positioning of goods and services in the market by increasing their experiential register.11 Significantly, products and services arising from and geared to popular culture and the media and entertainment industries are themselves drivers of innovation. For instance advances in computer gaming find applications in areas as diverse as mining safety or healthcare. There are neglected industry sectors, such as healthcare, that can give quiet, unremarkable cities a leading edge. In fact, these more public sectors are not often regarded as industries as such and this can engender a trust often withheld from other sectors. Further, their remit is perceived to extend beyond a particular specialism and they can connect previously disconnected economic endeavours. Exploring health possibilities, for example, we can see how seemingly disparate economic activities can be brought together, such as holiday and convalescing resources, nutrition and organic food, projecting a city as a place to recharge batteries, a capacity to provide medical operations perhaps at a lower cost, or specific medical research strengths. In this way, a calm, seemingly dull city could become a hospital and recovery space. Equally, the discipline of design might map disease processes, of the heart, for example, and thus might lead to medical innovations. Interestingly, in reconceiving sectors like health, it is unlikely that such a sector would be invented by the medical profession or health ministry alone, and for it to flourish should probably not be controlled by them. More likely an outsider to the profession would see the potential. Cities with a narrow resource base and smaller size should be able to focus on smart linkages more easily, since different players are more likely to know each other. An example is Sci-Art.12 SciArt brings artists and scientists of all kinds together to work in a structured environment on projects of mutual discovery and benefit. The Sci-Art concept is based on the premise that the most fruitful developments in human thinking frequently take place at points where different lines of creativity meet. Over the years the Sci-Art competition in Britain, funded initially by GlaxoWellcome, brought together more than 2000 artists and scientists, breaking down the widespread mutual incomprehension between the disciplines; working in partnership combined insights to solve common problems and generate ideas. Powerful new concepts

The City as a Living Work of Art 277 being developed by artists and scientists working together are potentially as ground-breaking as those that launched the industrial revolution. Can ideas in themselves become tradable services? Is there a way of reconceiving the value and outcomes of events and conferencing, such as Adelaide’s Festival of Ideas, in terms of selling on conclusions or acting as an experimentation zone. This could be for trialing and testing commercial products. The goal would be to drag more out of opportunities. The change in focus suggests moving from creating value chains to creating self-reinforcing value loops.

Recycling and greening That the green agenda needs to rise up the priority list is obvious, but words and action remain kilometres apart. Statements of policy too rarely translate into imaginative incentives and innovative regulations to drive the green economy. Stringent guidelines for waste recycling, energy efficiency and green transport have been a start, but would create more impact if linked to incentives, such as central government giving a city a massive financial bonus for matching a green target. There are endless products waiting to be invented, with several markets still open; these are so diverse that most places will be able to play to their strengths, so aligning with traditional skills and talents as well as new research-based activities. These include applications as varied as pollution-monitoring devices, waste pelletization techniques, the development of new insulation materials and new environmentally targeted software, component manufacture or sub-assembly for wind and wave energy, as well as maintenance work on large renewable structures or plants. Cities should signal enthusiastically that they are in the green field – too few do at the moment. For example, the public sector owns thousands of vehicles. Think of the impact of hordes of green electric cars and perhaps even green taxis suitably moving around. The subliminal message would be strong. Many cities already have environmental initiatives and incentives. How about pulling them together into a designated area identified as an environmental zone, where clustering would make their impact stronger than spreading them out? One might even consider innovative branding devices such as clustering different subsidies, for recycling, say, or the use

278 The Art of City-Making of renewable energy, into sub-areas – by street, for example – and marketing them as ‘recycling street’ or ‘zero energy road’. Alternatively, what about more green industrial parks, modelled on Hamm, in Emscher Park in the Ruhr, where eco-business, retailing and conferencing facilities intermesh? In spite of the energetic attempts to get green issues more widely accepted, a survey of innovative eco-communities around the world revealed very disappointing results, though not for lack of trying.13 There are an alarmingly small number of projects of real scale that have been completed. The small number of successes is a sad reflection of where we are. One survey, for example, studied hundreds of eco-village or neighbourhood projects worldwide – often with impressive websites and high reputations in their networks – but discovered that most were purely at the conceptual stage. Barton and Kleiner’s survey analysed 55 projects showing a rich vein of different kinds and forms of innovative communities that bill themselves as eco-neighbourhoods and with great diversity in their scale, locations, focus and means of implementing. These included rural eco-villages, like Crystal Waters in Queensland, Australia; televillages, such as Little River near Christchurch in New Zealand; urban demonstration projects, such as Kolding in Denmark, a high density block with courtyards of 150 dwellings; urban eco-communities, such as Ithaca Eco-Village in New York State; New Urbanism developments, such as Poundbury, initiated by Prince Charles in the UK, or Waitakere in Auckland, New Zealand; and ecological townships, such as Auroville in South India or Davis in California. But over 50 per cent of these 55 projects had fewer than 300 people. A tiny proportion were really comprehensively innovative projects at the neighbourhood level. Many had a number of impressive buildings and high environmental standards within these, but very few also combined this with new sustainable economic activity or new political or social arrangements.14 And in spite of the public pro-sustainability stance of national and local government, sustainable development is in its infancy; sustainability is a term more talked about than practised. ‘It is often used with casual abandon as if mere repetition delivers green probity.’15

Recapturing centrality For the first time in history size and scale does not matter any more. Large cities no longer have the automatic advantage. Size, indeed,

The City as a Living Work of Art 279 can now be a disadvantage. The sheer ‘cityness’ becomes invasive, transactions are too cumbersome, you fight against the traffic, ease of movement is constrained, and open space is too far away. In short, quality of life is not good enough. This is why in surveys of world’s best cities places like Copenhagen, Zurich, Stockholm and Vancouver always come out top. Most have less than 2 million inhabitants. They are walkable and accessible. Even Frankfurt has less than 1 million. They are small enough to be intimate yet large enough to be cosmopolitan. Any place anywhere can become the centre of a universe, whether a tiny niche or something more substantial, as long as it is tenacious, connects adroitly and thinks long term. Even those out of the urban maelstrom. This is the big opportunity for less-known cities at a time when edge places and peripheries can become hubs and even small towns can get on the radar screen. Think of Helsinki, Geneva or Antwerp. But it can also be in the smaller or more peripheral towns and cities where people with a high level of ambition find it hard to realize their potential. The pool of risk-takers and thinking people feels too small to stimulate people to achieve more and this can lead to a leakage of talent and wealth-creating possibilities. A way to overcome leakage is to develop and promote very strong niches where localized critical mass can be attained. Within these niches, ‘thick’ labour markets can be achieved. Adelaide, for instance, achieves deep strength in the wine industry. Wine research, production (and consumption!), distribution and representative bodies agglomerate there. Only large cities can generally create across-theboard strengths, niches and the associational richness that can be heard among the din of global information overload. Within the globalized market industries do not need to be large, but they must be competitive to operate globally. A city can accrue power by capturing imaginative territory in the imagination of the world. It can become the central location for an activity, the headquarters of an important entity or be associated with an area that others aspire to. These niches can act as powerful levers. Corporations capture markets by selling products, much as colonial powers captured territories to secure trade routes or raw materials. If cities have few tangible, productive resources, they can still capture ideas and networks and get ownership of them. The choices they make and resonances they create can reflect more

280 The Art of City-Making distinctively the values a city wishes to reflect. This can have downstream benefits in terms of economics and culture and should be part of a city’s foreign diplomacy. For example, Freiburg in Germany, with a population of just over 230,000, is renowned as an innovator. Car use has remained stable over 30 years and ecohousing, recycling and the use of alternative energy sources are an everyday part of life. This has attracted a cluster of high-level environmental research institutes and networks, such as ICLEI,16 whose innovations reinforce the town’s position. The broader region, including wealthy northern Switzerland, acts as an innovation hub, rather like a Silicon Valley with a sustainability twist, with cities competing with each other on the environmental front. This alternative view of city development acts as its drawing power and is the region’s source of competitiveness. It is the region’s eco-aware, IT-savvy, anti-guzzling perspective and alternative Silicon Valley idea that resonates. Another example: I proposed the concept of Adelaide as Google,17 whose aim was to make Adelaide a strategic nodal point for various activities, thus reinforcing its presence on global radar screens and enabling it to work strategically to capture downstream economic and other impacts. The core idea was that when key words were searched on Google, links returned to Adelaide. The city has niche specialisms and holds key events in areas that may seem insignificant at first glance but which are in fact potentially powerful, such as prison reform. It is also a hub in the ‘educating cities’ network. It has some leading cluster specialists. Its wine technology research is world class. The list is extensive and possibilities are very wide. By assessing the networks in which a city can take a prime position, a city can reflect back to the world some sense of centrality. This can be achieved by a concerted effort to join in and participate in relevant international organizations, providing international presentations and making the city the focus for meetings. The aim is to capture space in the world’s imagination. This approach allows a city to cascade into niche audiences, so creating ambassadors for the city. Three thousand targeted international friends of the city are better than a generalized scattershot approach. Deepening a niche requires long-term commitment, so their worth can reveal itself. This then begins to generate associations, and for these to have power they need time to mature rather than jumping from one idea to the next. The danger is that many places copy good ideas before they have had time to settle, as

The City as a Living Work of Art 281 happened with Adelaide’s Festival of Ideas, which was more or less immediately copied by Brisbane. The fact that so few cities have developed these strategies is astonishing. It reveals a lack of understanding of how soft infrastructure works, its role in urban dynamics and what its value is. The continued knee-jerk reaction to focus on hard infrastructure blights exploring these ‘soft’ possibilities and eats up budgets.

Revisualizing soft and hard infrastructures Many assets are hidden or invisible. One such is soft infrastructure – the enabling and connective tissue that makes a creative milieu or clusters work. Soft infrastructures are the atmosphere, ambiance and milieu which the hard infrastructures enable. They are expressed in the capacity of people to connect, inter-relate and generate ideas that turn into products and services. They include too the talent of people, measured not only by educational level but also by imaginative capacity. But soft infrastructure is often neglected, as some feel it is difficult to quantify the precise economic value of a system of associative structures, networks, connections and human interactions that underpin and encourage the flow of ideas between individuals and institutions to generate the products and services for wealth creation. The network idea is an emblem of the age of the ‘new economy’. The paradox is that we know the networks make things happen, but do not value or sufficiently invest in them because they are not tangible. The tools we have, such as industrial codes for measuring such activities, do not track in a sufficiently fine-grained way how the trade in services and ideas operates or how networking might add value. The notion of infrastructure needs rethinking. The hard is the container within which the soft contents (the value-added) are created. Hard and soft are mutually interdependent. Yet the physical is usually privileged. The milieu is people and place together, a physical setting in which a critical mass of entrepreneurs, intellectuals, knowledge creators, administrators and power brokers can operate in an open-minded, collaborative context, and where faceto-face interaction creates new ideas, artefacts, products, services and institutions. The network capacity that lies at the heart of the creative milieu requires flexible individuals and organizations working with a high

282 The Art of City-Making degree of trust, self-responsibility and strong, often unwritten, principles. The success of networks is based on very traditional qualities, such as involving people or organizations you like and who like each other, having a core of active people sharing responsibility, and having a sufficient budget, so that not all activity is based on voluntary input. Most successful networks combine an informal atmosphere with focus. They feel spontaneous, creative, and stimulating to their participants and are conducted with a spirit that does not drain the lifeblood through rigid procedures. Networks that survive longest are adaptable and assume each member has valuable knowledge and a contribution to make, otherwise they fall into simple information sharing. This generates a willingness to share and to contribute to the success of the network for the greater good. At times this means submerging self-interest for the greater good, for instance the Italian clusters in the smaller towns that are part of the Third Italy, such as Carpi and Prato in textiles, Arzignano in leather, Sassuolo in ceramic tiles or Manzano in furniture. There is customized public support for a wide spectrum of business development, which involves companies in collaborative competition – joint promotion, the organization of fairs, access to information on the evolution of markets or technology, the bulk purchase of input ingredients, consultancy and training. This can generate dynamic competitiveness, which helps accumulate technical know-how. It implies manifold relationships and interaction which favours spontaneous mechanisms of specialization, incremental innovation and the creation of enterprises and in the process pushes up quality. Intermediate public structures play a vital role by encouraging a high degree of involvement of firms in common initiatives through which firms have a sense of being part of a larger system. This often leads to collaboration and the pooling of resources. The health and prosperity of the creative network largely determines the prosperity of each individual company or creative initiative and even the geographical area in which it operates. Unless the milieu thrives, the inspirational flow that comes from being part of it dries up. Pure self-interest causes the milieu to atrophy. Trust is a central feature of the way a creative milieu operates. A culture of collaborative competition is a precondition for such an environment to work. We are entering a world of potentially almost limitless connection between people, organizations and cities, where constraints of

The City as a Living Work of Art 283 time and place are evaporating. How do you make this potential connectivity effective without becoming overloaded? It involves selectively shutting off and selectively opening out. Saying ‘no’ to network opportunities as well as saying ‘yes’. Strategic intelligence is key. It is a combination of the analytic, practical and creative; an attitude of horizon scanning that helps in the creation of foresight, understanding the dynamic implications embodied in the present, seeing the whole as an organic system and seeing how parts interact and relate to each other to serve the city’s aims.18 Networking capacity occurs at various levels: between individuals or organizations, city-wide and between cities. The challenge is to translate the known, even clichéd, generic skills of personal networking to the city level. These qualities range from the qualities associated with creativity, such as curiosity, to others like ‘gift of the ‘gab’, energy, listening capacity, understanding others’ viewpoints, relationship skills, interest in others, and the ability to inspire or empathize. The networking capacity of the organizations of a creative milieu is more than the urban equivalent of an ‘elevator speech’. Typically these summarize what you do in 30 seconds or hook your listener to being interested in you, because you ask good questions and are interested in them. For organizations, the networking type and attributes depend on purpose – this determines its form, which ranges from the open to the closed. For instance, an open network might simply disseminate information. An example here would be the Active Living Network, which requires little if anything from recipients and where connections between the parts are minimal. By contrast, the London Voluntary Service Council or an inter-city EU network on best practice in public–private partnership would be more closed and should involve real engagement of participants, mutual site visits and the writing up of projects. When such networks are well run, those involved might become friends and unpredictable, often positive, spin-offs occur. For this networking to benefit a city, other dimensions come into play beyond well-communicating individuals, groups and organizations. These include not only involving firms in industry initiatives, but also promoting an area to its citizens and the outside world, creating a sense of engagement through more consultativebased planning approaches, or marketing and events strategies to enhance a sense of belonging and identity. For instance, the Northern Quarter in Manchester has a special development vision

284 The Art of City-Making which seeks to maintain its attractiveness to the alternative types who made it popular in the first place, given the pressures of gentrification. Another example is Glasgow’s Merchant City initiative. Since 2002 this has included a Merchant City festival, tied in with the European car-free day, as part of a wider marketing campaign to raise the area’s profile as the hub of Glasgow’s creative economy. The words ‘networks’ and ‘networking’ have already become a mantra, imbued largely with positive connotations as we perceive networking to be about connecting in an open way. Yet networks can have a flip side if they are too tight, closed in or self-referential, only benefiting those who are part of the group. This reduces creative capacity. This is a point that comes through in assessments of Japanese and Chinese creative potential19 and may emerge more strongly as intercultural creativities which require connections across cultural axes and networks become more relevant. A battle is raging within the inward-investment community about the relative weightings of soft or hard infrastructure. The developing consensus emerging is that both hard and soft now provide the base conditions for inward investment, whereas before only hard factors counted. Richard Florida’s work on the rise of the creative class and the urban settings that encourage creativity has given new credibility to soft infrastructure arguments.20 An indication of the shift is that more research is currently under way on soft factors. In the traditional list of 11 inward investment factors, most ‘soft’ issues are subsumed under ‘quality of life’, a relatively low-scoring factor. The eleven are: economic profile, market prospects, taxes, regulatory framework, labour climate, suppliers and know-how, utilities, incentives, quality of life, logistics and sites. Yet there is growing coverage in the local economic development and business location communities about the increasing importance of quality-of-life factors in attracting and retaining inward investment. A major review of 30 separate studies of factors which influence local economic development again identified 11 factors which were cited on a regular basis: 1 2 3 4 5 6

location; physical characteristics; infrastructure; human resources; finance and capital; knowledge and technology;

The City as a Living Work of Art 285 7 8 9 10 11

industrial structure; quality of life; institutional capacity; business culture; and community identity and image.21

It is notable that the factor cited most consistently (in 25 out of the 30) was quality of life, closely followed by human resources and infrastructure. But while it was most frequently mentioned, its weighting was lower. Our own review of the influence of culture and creativity on the location decision-making of inward investors revealed that:22 • •

‘Soft’ infrastructure considerations, such as quality of life or culture, are growing in significance. Culture is a ‘soft’ location factor, yet ‘hard’, cost-related factors still dominate the location decision process – even in today’s knowledge economy. ‘Soft’ considerations are more important for particular types of inward investment projects, where the attraction and retention of high-skilled people is important. The ‘soft’ considerations are not the central driver in location selection per se. Except, and this is crucial, when the project is a creative industries or new economy project, when it affects the decision after the ‘hard’ factors have been addressed. In a tie-breaker situation where there is little to choose between several locations, ‘soft’ considerations become a ‘must-have’ factor for locations aiming to attract and retain highly skilled personnel (when quality of life/quality of place is an issue). With the emphasis on ‘hard’ facts in the current environment, it is unlikely that a decision-maker is ever going to admit to being influenced by ‘soft’ factors such as culture, as they cannot quantify this to other decision-makers and stakeholders.

Redefining competitiveness City competitiveness is usually defined as economic at core. But the competitiveness debate is becoming more sophisticated. Increasingly, new ideas are coming into play, such as an innovative business and cultural environment. Is the city a cradle of creativity with high rates of innovation within commerce, science and/or the

286 The Art of City-Making arts? Does the city have clusters of cutting-edge niche specialisms requiring specialized networks of professionals? Has the city got a strategic virtual location through intense connectivity? Does institutional capacity exist to get beyond bunker thinking? Is the leadership willing to trade its direct power for a greater creative influence, so unleashing more leadership potential in the city? Is there good governance and management, involving transparency, trust and lack of corruption, a precondition for seamless trade to be conducted? Is there ability to work in partnerships to maximize the benefits of combining public and private sector approaches? Is there capacity to network globally and to keep abreast of the best? And, significantly, is there cultural depth and richness, which might mean heritage or the availability of contemporary artistic facilities? Is strategic thinking so embedded across key actors in the city that the idea of learning infuses every tissue of its being? Does this make the city a place where individuals and organizations are encouraged to learn about the dynamics of where they live and how it is changing? Does this in turn feed into the quality of municipal services, including transportation and, most importantly, education? These competitiveness issues are just as important as costs and productivity or a piece of technology. Increasingly significant in understanding the new competitive environment is the play of urban iconics, through which the intention of physical structures or events that project a story, an idea or ambition can be grasped all at once. Iconic communication is dense, packed and experience rich. But finding the triggers that do this is difficult. A building that does succeed is the Guggenheim in Bilbao, while Chicago’s Cloud Gate, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and the Rio Carnival are examples of public art, utilities and events that achieve iconic communication. These are more than just well known – each tells a deeper story. These iconic triggers then need orchestrating in order to generate critical mass and momentum. They involve design awareness, another competitive tool, and often eco-awareness, which might speak to higher ideals of healing the environment. In sum, what this does is help create and reinforce the resonance of the city. And resonance generates drawing power, which in turn can override underlying real economic potential. This is why some places do better than they should do, as resonance represents a form of capital. Finally, does the city have an ethical framework of action that inspires people to give more, to care more and to have more social

The City as a Living Work of Art 287 solidarity? The crucial step is to be able to define and communicate a bigger role and purpose for the city by defining a common goal based on an integrated emotional, technological, environmental, social, economic, cultural and imaginative story. It should feel like an unfolding drama where the citizens know their roles because they are gripped into engagement. It needs to tap into peoples’ sense of who they are and where they might go, hinting at their role. City goals need to be delivered through a wider skills set, beyond that of planning professionals.

Rethinking calculations of worth: The asphalt currency Translate the cost of every initiative into its asphalt equivalent. Revitalizing the atmosphere of an area might only be 300m of asphalt equivalent and a youth project 30m. Do a thought experiment. What would the comparative impact be of reinvesting 1km of road equivalent into strategically targeted network capturing? What investment would have greater economic, image and cultural impact? We are uncritical and rigid in reassessing value in terms of a money numeraire as well as the budget proportions different departments, whether education, social services or transport, receive. Their positions in the budget hierarchy remain immutable. If you take a medium-sized city, dozens of kilometres of road will be asphalted annually. And this represents a stark choice. One kilometre of a standard two-lane road in the Western world costs about £1.2 million, a kilometre of motorway £3.8 million. That is if you are lucky. More often it is higher and relatively modest roads can cost up to £2.7 million per kilometre. Consider the effectiveness of investing these resources in an alternative and what its impact would be. Public transport is the obvious choice, but the interesting speculations occur when you broaden the possibilities.

Rebalancing the scorecard: The complexities of capital The complexity of city competitiveness and reinvention means urban leaders should better understand, integrate and orchestrate the many forms of capital in their city. Not only financial capital, but also:

288 The Art of City-Making • •

• •

• •

human capital – the skills, talents and special knowledge of the people; social capital – the complex web of relationships between organizations, communities and interest groups which make up civil society; cultural capital – the sense of belonging in and understanding of the unique identity of a place expressed in tangible and intangible form, such as heritage, memories, creative activities, dreams and aspirations; also Bourdieu’s sense of the cultural capital of family background, social class and acquired education that give a person greater confidence and higher status; intellectual capital – the ideas and innovative potential of a community; creativity capital – the capacity to stand back, to connect the seemingly disconnected, to relax into ambiguity, to be original and inventive; leadership capital – the motivation, will, energy and capacity to take responsibility and lead; and environmental capital – the built and natural landscape and ecological diversity of an area.23

These forms of capital are urban assets and a lack of them urban deficits. And like all assets they need managing. Thinking of these forms of capital as the urban currencies should reveal how all dimensions of city-making are inextricably interwoven. There is a need to realign the weighting given to different activities. The social domain, for example, is then not just seen as a problem-solving arena, dealing with the consequences of unresolved dilemmas elsewhere, an add-on we have to deal with later. Instead, creating social capital assets is a self-conscious strategic activity that builds this capital from the ground upwards, as the more we develop and, importantly, use it, the more it grows. Thus in education, an arena in which social capital is developed, courses like history or even geography then become both aids and exemplars to develop it. The same prism should affect police training and that of taxi drivers, how shopkeepers are encouraged to behave, and so on. We know there is a link between high levels of social capital and low levels of crime. But which cities have strategic social capital development programmes, as opposed to a series of usually disconnected social projects? If social capital includes networking capacity, which cities are getting their citizens to network across barriers? In deprived

The City as a Living Work of Art 289 communities, the under-networked network with the equally undernetworked so creating an enclosing, isolating, downward spiral of communication and possibilities. Again, though, as with networking, we must be aware of double-edged qualities. There can be too much social capital, when it crowds people in, when tradition is too strong, when it curtails being open. What cities have an intellectual capital development programme as distinct from an education programme? We know attracting and having access to knowledge and imagination is the key to urban success. Important as formal education is, much of this talent will be nurtured in settings that have nothing to do with education. Thus our perspective on how talent is generated should go well beyond educational institutions. Furthermore, what are the language capacities of your citizens? How many speak a second or third language and use these in trade and business? Equally, what cities self-consciously try to develop their cultural capital, as distinct from building cultural facilities? Culture determines how we shape, create and make our societies. So the scope, possibilities, style and tenor of social and economic development is largely culturally determined. If our city culture is more closed-minded, strongly hierarchical and focuses on tradition, it can make adjusting to major transformation more difficult. It might limit communicating across different groups. It might hold back international trade or tourism because obstacles will be created to the free flow of exchange and ideas. It might deter creating mixed partnerships, which are now recognized as a major way forward for communities to solve problems. It might stifle developing a vibrant, empowered small business sector. By contrast, if our traditions value tolerance and openness, those adjustments to the new world may be easier. Places that share ideas and have the capacity to absorb bring differences together more effectively. By giving full weight to the various forms of capital, a new urban assessment and measurement tool emerges that combines the economic with other factors city leaders are concerned about. PricewaterhouseCoopers recently published their Cities of the Future report24 which offers a similar framework, focusing on: •

intellectual and social capital – which focuses on skills and capabilities;

290 The Art of City-Making •

• •

democratic capital – which suggests city administrations need to be accountable and transparent in their dialogue with citizens; culture and leisure capital – which proposes strong citybranding for visibility to compete for residents, business relocations, tourism and international events; environmental capital – which draws attention to urban consumption and the need to provide a clean, green and safe environment; technical capital – technology must be able to support the changing needs of citizens, from broadband to transport; and financial capital – how resources are garnered to pay for services.

Regaining confidence and a sense of self The first step in getting a city back on its feet is to regain a sense of self, and psychological factors play an important role. Change processes initially cause places to lose their self-confidence as those things that are distinctive about them and the tried and tested ways of doing things are shown not to work. This might range from industrial decline, the loss of services or the brain drain of the more gifted leaving town. Gijon in Spain took two decades to regain some confidence after the loss of its shipyards, coal industry and role as a port city; Glasgow’s re-emergence from its slow decline stretched many decades, as did that of Pittsburgh. Unless cities have that rare ‘can do’ attitude or have reestablished a new position, they will tend to suffer from a culture of constraint. This is because the public and private bureaucracies, the organizational form that changes most slowly, will be holding things back. A sense of needing to ask for permission to do things will prevail over an attitude that says ‘go for it’, which means accepting some mistakes and being aware of the distinction between competent failure (good, trying hard, learning from mistakes) and incompetent failure. Normally, unconfident places focus too intensely on the detail rather than the bigger picture. Effecting the necessary psychological change can happen through shock, seduction or vision. Shock, such as a major employer going under, can stun and deflate. Clearly, preventative approaches, such as having a vision or taking global dynamics into account, are better. A vision needs to touch people individually and viscerally. The strategies that

The City as a Living Work of Art 291 hang off this vision need to ensure a city has a 21st-century soft and hard infrastructure. The hard concerns – airports, rail, roads and IT – and the soft – the collaborations and connective tissue that makes a city work, as well as atmosphere – must both be in place, but building confidence is key. This requires a strategy of smaller, welljudged risks and the occasional imaginative leap with investment to match, so that momentum is built by achieving step-by-step successes.

Renewing leadership capacity Leadership ideas change with history. Each era requires its own specific form of leadership and a governance system to match prevailing conditions. Each city will assess whether it is in consolidation or change mode. In moments of dramatic change, transformational leadership is required rather than the skills of the coordinator or manager. Local leaders will need to move from being merely strategists to being visionaries. While strategists command and demand, visionaries excite and entice. They will need to move from being commanders of their cities, businesses, institutions or cultural bodies to being able to tell a story about the bigger picture and where their entity fits in, so moving from being institutional engineers to change agents. These leaders should provide answers for people in their city concerning their personal, work, social and moral choices. The story they tell interweaves what their own institution could be, what role others can play and how to get there.25 There are ordinary, innovative and visionary leaders. The first simply reflect the desires or needs of the group they lead. An innovative leader questions circumstances to draw out latent needs, bringing fresh insight to new areas. Visionary leaders, by contrast, harness the power of completely new ideas and get beyond the ding-dong of day-to-day debate. They retell a compelling story so that everyone feels they have a role to play, however small or large. Most importantly, leadership requires the courage to act decisively in the knowledge that some will disagree; to acknowledge that what is required goes well beyond a single political cycle; and to dare to be creative and inspirational. Lastly, great courage is required to acknowledge that the transformation and regeneration of a city takes a generation, with initiatives building on each other and harnessing across vested interests. Only a few places, like

292 The Art of City-Making Barcelona, Bilbao or Valencia, where, importantly, the autonomy of their local leaderships has played a significant role, have reinvented themselves in such a way. Existing leaders need to trade their power for creative influence, which means giving away power in order to increase influence over a wider sphere. Leadership is a civic capacity as important as hard infrastructure. It should be a renewable resource. The cultural attributes and attitudes or mindsets that have made places successful in the past, such as being an industrial production hub, are those that could constrain them in the future if, say, they need to become a services centre. Industrial and service economies work in different ways. Today communities and companies all over the world are replacing hierarchies with networks, authority with empowerment, order with flexibility, and creativity and paternalism with selfresponsibility. How many leaders does a city of a million need? 1, 10, 100, 1000, 10,000? Indeed, 10,000 still represents only 1 per cent of the population. A city of a million should have a football stadium worth of leaders, as the good and successful city is made up of thousands of acts of tenacity, solidarity and creativity. The challenge is to unlock this potential. It is not enough to demand leadership only from government. Leaders come in many forms and from unusual places: communities, business, the cultural arena, the environment people, activists of many colours. Most cities have many undiscovered leaders and those that exist often do not work across boundaries. The new reality of power is that to share power is not an abdication of responsibility but the only feasible and responsible means by which leaders can possibly achieve everything they want for their communities. By sharing power, cities can achieve far more for their citizens. Having influence over a more powerful, larger patch is better than having a lot of power in a smaller patch that has no influence. Cities need leaders at different levels and spheres, as urban success depends on the successful results of a myriad set of initiatives. As long as there is a sense of a clear unfolding urban story, based on a set of explicit principles, self-activated leaders can funnel and focus energy so complexity is reduced.

Realigning rules to work for vision There is a misalignment between ambition and rules. Too frequently, rules determine policy, strategy and vision rather than

The City as a Living Work of Art 293 vision, policy and strategy determining the rules. Many rules are incredibly petty, cluttering up the urban system and obscuring the bigger picture possibilities of any city. We have become regulators rather than facilitators. In times of dramatic change, the rules system must be reassessed. If rules only constrain, they have a corrosive effect on imagination. With a risk and opportunity policy we begin to think differently, do things differently and, ultimately, do different things. This is a ‘glass half full’ rather than ‘glass half empty’ approach. ‘Each rule-based hurdle is a response to some disaster in history,’26 and too often rules are based on worst-case rather than likely scenarios. This is entrenched by indemnity and personal liability legislation which encourage individuals to export their risk, usually to cautious public authorities. Each discipline has its rules or legislation to safeguard special interests. Consider a highway. Highway engineers have rules, as do environmental services or planning. Disability legislation, too, effects what can be done. Yet each discipline applying their rules does not make a good city. This highlights the need for rule-makers to collaborate to create the best solution possible by bending and adapting their rules with the overall goal of good city-making. Another example: Adelaide City Council wanted to be walkingand cycling-friendly. It suggested providing free bikes, an emblematic initiative that projects greenness imaginatively. It was blocked for legal reasons concerning who had responsibility for accidents and the need to provide certification that users could ride a bike. How could they if the bikes were free to be picked up anywhere? The idea had to be aborted. Many countries have ‘advanced stop lanes’ which give bikes at traffic signals an area in front of cars, making the cyclist highly visible to motorists and giving them a head start. It improves cyclist safety. The design is not covered by Australia’s ‘AusRoads Guide to Traffic Engineering Practice. Part 14 – Bicycles’. Few councils – Melbourne is an example – are willing to take the risk of implementing a design not covered by AusRoads. Similar blockages happen in encouraging pedestrian priority. Zebra crossings, thick black and white stripes adopted in many countries, give pedestrians the right to cross the road without pushing a stop button, with the onus on the motorist to stop. But current ministerial regulations prohibit their installation in South Australia in all circumstances. It shows how difficult it was for Adelaide to reflect its then slogan, ‘audacity, capacity and vivacity’.

294 The Art of City-Making This all has a corrosive effect on imagination, affecting everything we do, whether in the public, private or community sectors: the plastic gloves that need to be put on when you buy food; the sausage sizzles put on by a voluntary group to raise money that were threatened because someone got food poisoning once; the cooking students who cannot watch a famous cook at work in case they slip in the kitchen. This generates a culture of constraint, where common sense is squeezed out. Two forces are working in parallel. One is a litigious, suspicious climate that can generate a level of paranoia and leads to a loss of human interaction. The other is that, while occupational health and safety committees rightly focus on risk at work, there is no equivalent committee that looks at creative possibilities at work. As a result we focus on danger and not opportunity. Many rules are small yet cumulatively they erode initiative. Governments and cities should play a central role by thinking through imaginative regulation. Attitude and perspective are key: ‘Yes. How can we achieve this?’ rather than, ‘But there might be a problem here.’ We need to be less legalistic and more concerned with problem-solving. We need to understand that saying ‘open up rules’ does not equate to deregulation but rather to finding the right rules for the right circumstances. A lively session with several hundred public servants at an Institute of Public Administration Australia seminar threw out a cascade of interesting ideas that are easy to implement, including a disposition to strike a redundant regulation off the books each time a new one comes on; allocating, say, 0.5 or 1 per cent of budgets to known risky projects; new recruiting criteria that assess the innovative capacity of the individual; a creativity index as part of annual performance assessment; and placing an innovation item on agendas, like the one for occupational health and safety. There may even be a programme like Huddersfield’s Creative Town Initiative, where a business leader gave £750,000 to a programme – the sum was matched by the city – to come up with 2000 innovative ideas by the end of the year 2000. These could be in any field from running a crèche in a new way to developing a business idea. A semantic shift can be applied to regulation by rethinking it as a source of creating added value. Normally we think of incentives as the driver, yet adroit, creative regulation can also be a driver to sustained economic growth rather than a constraint. One again thinks here of Emscher Park, which used high environmental stan-

The City as a Living Work of Art 295 dards and ‘first mover’ advantage to drive forward the growth of its export-driven environment-healing industries. The long-term studies of how green regulations have encouraged company innovation is further evidence of the possibilities.27 By refocusing attention to resource productivity rather than labour productivity, any city could copy this approach to generate, say, hypercars – affordable, fuel efficient, ultralight, hybrid-electric vehicles – and much more.

Renaming risk management policy Precisely at the moment of change, when cities need to be inventive, the rise of a risk culture limits potential. Every risk management policy should be renamed ‘risk and opportunity policy’ to ensure both sides of risk are explored. This means moving from a climate of ‘no, because’ to one of ‘yes, if’. Allied to this move should be incentives to encourage and validate imaginative thinking. For instance embedding criteria for innovation and creative capacity as part of annual job performance assessments and as a requirement in job applications. Moving forward requires a focus on the spirit of most guidelines, rules or laws and not on the letter of the law, which usually constrains. This requires leadership from the top, from the bottom and right through the middle. Top leaders need to symbolically ‘give permission’ so that the trapped potential of others lower down the hierarchy and of the city is unleashed. There are many potential leaders waiting in the wings.

Reconceiving the city Reconsider what the city is. Cities in the 21st century are smartly connected cities, ones that can marshal the energy of their entire community. The legal, physical, economic and perceptual constructs of the city will differ, as will images. Most big cities are city or metropolitan regions but are governed as smaller entities, at times even as if they were only towns. This set-up can create fierce parochialisms and turf wars which make it hard to deal coherently with issues like public transport, housing or inward investment strategy. This is why there are city amalgamations worldwide. For instance Toronto moved to metro-governance in 1998 and the major British cities are defining themselves as city regions. Town thinking and city thinking are different. The balance between locality and wider areas needs

296 The Art of City-Making to be continually renegotiated; there is no iron law. Over time, cities reshuffle boundaries to maximize overview with the need for very local detail: to make decisions of international importance or to cut down a tree. The core communication challenge is to be close to the voter and to find a means by which there is enough involvement of the individual citizen, through a variety of participative means within a structure that allows the bigger picture issues to be dealt with. Yet, in the end, the decision must be a judgement on what sustains both wealth creation capacity and social harmonies. Consider a common worldwide phenomenon. Take Memphis, where independently incorporated cities in the outer suburban belt like Germantown and Bartlett leapfrog over the core and suburbs, demanding infrastructure so they connect with the city. Physically it shatters Memphis’ integrity and shape, creating wide funnels along which strip stores proliferate. Built to attract the better paid, it drains Memphis of its tax base. This is a triple whammy. Memphis has to maintain its services on a lower income base, the city loses its mix of rich and poor, and the outer suburbanites exploit the bits of Memphis they like, such as using the cultural facilities, while making little or no financial contribution to its maintenance. Only a metropolitan approach can solve this. Take Espoo as an instance of strategic planning difficulties. Espoo is a high-tech area where the original headquarters of Nokia were based and is, to all intents, part of Helsinki. When Helsinki completed its metro in 1982 it wanted to extend to Espoo. Espoo resisted, essentially for power reasons, and this created traffic problems in Helsinki. For 20 years they argued and only recently has Espoo relented. Finding the resolution, the will to operate well, is key. Bristol in Britain is an important city of 400,000 and has a metropolitan catchment area of around 600,000. When metropolitan councils first arrived in the early 1970s, the change did not touch Bristol, although it was an obvious candidate. Instead, in 1974 it became a district within an even larger region, Avon, thus reducing its status, even though it was the driver of the city region. Bristol then operated like a doughnut, with pockets of extreme disadvantage within a larger, richer conurbation. Organizationally, it took a long time to get Avon to work; but then it was taken apart again in 1997 and Bristol was boxed into too narrow boundaries as part of a network of four local authorities, Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset,

The City as a Living Work of Art 297 North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. Indeed some boundaries run right through the city of Bristol. This creates tension and bad decision-making and led to the recent tramway proposal being aborted. Birmingham is the largest city in Europe without a metro. It drives the West Midlands region of Britain – a region of about 5.5 million people. But the proud cities of Wolverhampton, Walsall, Coventry and a mass of smaller ones fear its power. If they worked together they could probably persuade central government to release resources. Perhaps more importantly, the centralized, controlling British system does not allow Birmingham to borrow resources from international financial markets to create a metro on its own. This means that Birmingham remains stuck in traffic jams; that its poorer populations are locked into specific areas; and that the city remains under-connected, disadvantaging areas like the ethnically diverse Handsworth or Sparkbrook. These would be far more vibrant hubs otherwise. The British regeneration success stories appear to happen in spite of obstacles and lack of power. The current level of centralization is holding cities back. Without revenue-raising powers, how can a city have a vision? Within Europe, Britain has one of the lowest levels of locally raised taxation.28 Contrast this with the astonishing revival of Spanish cities like Valencia, Bilbao, Barcelona, Malaga and Seville. Their local control over resources and the ability to raise their own taxes is one of the highest in Europe and is acknowledged as a driver of their vision for themselves. Metropolitan areas should be viewed as an interlocking asset where the centre feeds north, south, east and west – and they, in turn, feed the centre. When you look at the supply chains and economic dynamics, the mutual interdependences are crystal clear, as are the flows of services. It is important, too, to overcome stereotypes that affect investment potential. Stereotypes do not help good strategy. For example, one of the largest concentrations of PhD graduates in Australia work in north Adelaide, around Playford. Yet because of image issues, that area is perceived as part of the problem rather than home to some of the nation’s most dynamic knowledge-intensive industries. Taking an eagle’s eye view of most cities as a governance structure, we see a decision-making spaghetti as you overlay one jurisdiction over the next: local, regional, national or federal politics

298 The Art of City-Making and water, education and health boards. They do not align. Decisionmaking is not geared to seeing metropolitan areas as integrated wholes. But the fates of the centres matter to outer-lying areas. They are bound together like Siamese twins. Having local councils is crucial as long as there is a mechanism which ensures that the wider picture is considered. Take Adelaide again: What is Walkerville, a council with 8000 voters, to a Parisian, Burnside to a Roman or Marion to someone from Shanghai? They are just Adelaide. On the international stage Adelaide is the overarching identifier. A metropolitan governance arrangement makes sense despite the downsides. Many cities struggle with the dilemma. Dublin is too big for Ireland, so the government resists the creation of a Greater Dublin authority, but Dublin is too small for Europe to operate effectively as a major European city. Yet the city needs a boundary. Cities work well when they have boundaries, barriers and borders. Too few cities address the question ‘When will it ever end?’ and take a stand on the boundary. The assumption should be for a boundary that only on rare occasions is redefined. The justification to move ever outwards, from Istanbul to Canberra, often comes from the development industry, which claims ‘none of our children will ever be able to buy their own house’ as the cheap land has historically been on the edges. Boundaries, as distinct from endless sprawl, help define and give places stronger identity; this is why in our own surveys of the ideal city, the classic bounded cities of Italy usually come on top. It also forces cities to compact in selectively, so creating the critical mass for public transport hubs or more lively activity to occur. This in turn has a beneficial downstream effect.

Reimagining planning The word planning is confusing, because it both describes a generic attribute that applies to all activities and simultaneously has been taken over as the core term for city-making and become synonymous with it. Broadly it means to anticipate futures and problems, to explore their possible impact, to describe what is wanted and how to get there in solving problems and to select strategies from among alternative courses of action, as well as a set of steps in reaching a goal. ‘A plan is like a map. When following a plan, you can always see how much you have progressed towards your project goal and how far you are from your destination.’29

The City as a Living Work of Art 299 With the pace of urban development so fast and the attempts of ‘planners’ to create orderly development, planning has increasingly come under criticism. Planning has two core conundrums to deal with: ‘What is planning?’ and ‘What is planning for?’ The American Planning Association shows no lack of confidence and deftly says: Planning is city building… The goal of city and regional planning is to further the welfare of people and their communities by creating convenient, equitable, healthful, efficient, and attractive environments for present and future generations… It is a highly collaborative process. Through this collaborative process they help to define the community’s vision for itself… In the analytical planning process, planners consider the physical, social and economic aspects of communities and examine the connections between them.30 As to the scope of planning activity, the British government now defines planning as the creation of ‘sustainable communities’. So planning is moving away from its land-use focus towards being more about mediation and the negotiation of differences. This requires new skills. For others, it veers between being solely concerned with the physical and the planning of land uses to being a generalist activity covering an understanding of economic dynamics, the social, the environmental and, increasingly, the cultural as well as the process of engaging communities in visioning where they live. In the former case the skills base is clear and circumscribed. It sees the city as essentially an engineering artefact and helps focus on orchestrating the built environment professions. As conductor of the ‘plan’ its self-understanding is that of the leader. In the latter case its role is less clear – either it acquires higherorder understanding of a variety of disciplines to justify its leadership role or it acknowledges it is merely part of the citymaking team. Or alternatively it makes a special claim that its form of knowledge is more significant in creating cities. These status battles have raged for a long time. At points it was the architect who claimed primacy; now it is the urban design grouping who claim that their overlapping concerns, touching the ‘morphological, perceptual, social, visual, functional and temporal’,31 put it in the central role. These dimensions cover connectivity, movement patterns, street layout, sense of place and image, environmental

300 The Art of City-Making design, social use and management of space, and the functioning of the public realm.32 It should be noted that all the disciplines discussed, including urban design, are physically oriented and inspired. It is as if only organizing the space is important rather than creating a habitat. The knowledge of people who glue the city together seems incidental. My view is that city-making is the overarching activity that draws on a wide variety of disciplines, soft and hard, one of which is planning and another urban design, but only as two among many. Mostly people will need to work in interdisciplinary teams, as only occasionally is one individual able to grasp the overarching picture. It is an exercise in telling a possible story about the city and how to get there. It energizes and provides direction. It is both normative and prescriptive. It is not value free at this point, as city-making is a process of exerting power. In being normative the city-makers will have critically analysed how they reached their conclusions, why things work and why they don’t. It is not mere speculation. The skills of the storytellers need to include an understanding of the various dynamics that make cities work. It needs to be both hard-nosed and sensitive. This aspect of city-making should avoid the dull, lifeless language of traditional planning and explain why what it is suggesting could work. It will address in its action plan the classic planning dilemmas, such as ‘to plan or not to plan’, and the guidelines and levels of rigidity it proposes will be context-driven. In this scenario, who is leading the process will depend, and by no means will it always be a physical specialist. It may in one instance be a historian, in another someone knowledgeable about social dimensions and in a third a culturally literate person. There are then the mechanics of implementing and evaluating agreements, guidelines, regulations, rules or laws in fields as varied as development control and creating economic incentives. These are, however, essentially routine processes and should not be confused with the process of developing the bigger picture opportunities.

Remapping the city By reconceiving cities a different picture emerges. This needs mapping if policy priorities are to be set and the right investment undertaken. The best mappers are usually the planners. Their focus

The City as a Living Work of Art 301 is largely on land-use patterns and socio-demographic trends. Many maps exist, such as of the value contours of the city, but these do not appear to be looked at from a holistic perspective in which planners, economic strategists and the social or culturally minded interpret together what the policy implications are. So far, interpretation has been too firmly viewed within isolated disciplines. This is fine as far as it goes. Yet when other dimensions are also mapped, further insight occurs. In short, maps stimulate insight when looked at through collective eyes, and we could be more creative about the kinds of maps we develop. Maps rarely track emerging issues such as the flows of creativity, innovations, decision-making, participation, use of space and potential. Nor are maps made of industrial dynamics, showing how a place interconnects internally and with the wider world. But what can emerge from these are interdependencies, mutual reliances and often counter-intuitive conclusions. In Adelaide we undertook extensive remapping and discovered, for instance, the Playford PhD cluster. Remapping revealed an extensive decision-making spaghetti as one map was layered on to the next. The maps showing where creatives live confirmed intuition. Creatives move to areas of character and distinctiveness, but also to places in the process of transformation, where an element of edginess remains. Also there is a strong correlation between places on the heritage register and where they live, often in accommodation where they both live and work. The maps were also helpful in predicting areas of future potential or possible decline.

Redelineating urban roles The bureaucracies that run cities have two core tasks which require completely different outlooks, attitudes and skill sets. Yet often they are done by the same organization with attendant stresses. The first task is the routine delivery of services, which are largely repetitive, such as street cleaning, road maintenance, and the management of schools and transport systems. This is essentially rule-driven and mechanical. The second task is managing urban change, which is developmental. This focuses on identifying future needs, such as the soft and hard infrastructure requirements for 50 years hence. This might be as bold as shifting the city centre, as Taipei has done by building Taipei 101, the Taipei financial centre in the new Xinyi District. At the time of writing, this

302 The Art of City-Making 508m skyscraper is the world’s tallest building. Around it now cluster department stores and Eslite, one of the world’s largest bookstores, selling 3000 different magazines and newspapers. Promoted as ‘a cultural arena for the people of Taiwan’, Eslite’s eight storeys include a children’s discovery museum, seminar rooms, and a design and living floor. Managing urban change might involve investing in new education, shifting the industrial base to services, getting into a new economic sector, recabling a city or opening out new housing zones. Vehicles to push the urban change agenda forward need a value base to guide thinking and decision-making; they need to be set up democratically while being able to act entrepreneurially within accountability principles. This means giving leeway to act with the requisite public monitoring. Rotterdam Development Corporation is one model of an arm’s-length local authority entity with the leeway to act entrepreneurially and to partner with the private sector. Importantly, it has an income stream from a large number of ground rents in the city. Thus it can put resources into the pot when enticing the private sector to get involved but can also reduce risk, so encouraging innovation or more expansive or interesting follow-through. Another model is Bilbao’s Metropoli-30 (described in Chapter 7). It was set up as a driving mechanism and vision holder. It does not confuse vision-making with implementing. Its road map has led from a focus on civic infrastructure to a change in cultural values in the region. It has said to itself, ‘You only have a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the civic infrastructure, and at a minimum it should be international class, at a maximum world class.’ Metropoli-30 was particularly effective in the early years of Bilbao’s regeneration, when it helped launch the city on to the global stage. However, it is now struggling somewhat to maintain its position and, while its current theme of ‘changing the cultural values’ of the city to be more open and tolerant is immensely important, it does not have the same urgent ring as building a new physical infrastructure. Again the invisible infrastructure never seems as exciting as the visible. In parallel, the company Bilbao Ría 2000 plays a significant role within the city itself and has grown in importance. Created in 1993, it is a joint stock company with public capital – a status chosen to give its organizational ethos flexibility. At the beginning it had few financial resources and had to face the overcautiousness

The City as a Living Work of Art 303 of private investors. It received land – a crucial point – from the port and the railway company at a nominal cost in return for developing new infrastructures. This enabled it to resell parts for housing units. These first receipts were reinvested in high quality public realm works in the Abandoibarra area near the Guggenheim. As the real estate market took off after the Guggenheim effect, and while other resources were leveraged from the EU and public institutions, the initial caution of the private sector stopped and the market dynamic gained full flow. The danger now, however, is that it excludes the less wealthy. In surveying regeneration economics the following conclusions can be drawn. Public and private relations need to be in balance so mutual benefit is clear and not dominated by one party. It is naïve to think complicated developments involving public-good values and goals can be achieved by a few enlightened developers working on their own. However enlightened they are, their economics do not stack up in truly blighted areas. The private realm is more often than not interested in the shorter term and in minimizing risk. The public sector needs to help reduce that risk, but also needs the tools to do so. An income stream to help the private sector is required. The ownership of and ability to trade in land is the key lever as it enables borrowing against increased land values. But bear in mind that the window of opportunity within regeneration to capture land value is short. An income stream enables local, publicly accountable bodies to take a lead and not just be passive implementers of what a national government imposes or be completely driven by private market interests. Cities in continental Europe have a better understanding of the need to plan for their financial future and it allows them to develop more imaginative strategies than those in, say, North America, Australasia or Britain. Some of the value-added created through good public strategy should go back to the public purse. This revenue can help finance public realm initiatives. A completely private sector approach tends to privatize public space, so you to tend to end up with mall-like developments and lose the street in the process. The difference in feeling between private public space and public public space is subtle but significant. However well done, the former has a commercial edge as it is geared to consuming, which allows for some excitement but is essentially barren. The latter done well, as in Abandoibarra, can exude public values like conviviality, the

304 The Art of City-Making ability to hang around or the ability to reflect. When done badly, however, it also has an emptiness.

Reasserting principles of development The speed of deep regeneration is slow; it takes a generation. It requires value holders who can stick it out for 20 years. Regeneration is too important to be left to the vagaries of the political cycle. Typically, the trajectory of development or renewal in an area starts with a philosophy and then a story – a story of what could be. Often this is prefigured by some temporary actions, such as a market, a bizarre arts event, an old building being brought back to life or a new type of project. Often these are led by urban missionaries, two examples in Britain being Eric Reynolds, whose long track record includes Camden Lock Market, Gabriel’s Wharf and Container City in London,33 and Bill Dunster, the ecoarchitect. They in turn create settings that the pioneers occupy, examples being Dunster’s Bed-Zed Factory,34 a zero emissions development with 82 residential units in Merton, London, or Ken Yeang’s bioclimatic skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur. The next group codify, replicate and make the innovations into a formula as the mainstreaming begins. Finally, there are those who benefit from the hard work of the innovators. The challenge is to ensure they do not take all the value out of the development. The goal is to get a system that reinforces key actors taking a long-term perspective and encourages ordinary people to create the good ordinary and the great surprising. Good ordinary buildings build up like a mosaic, yet the debate about housing or public buildings tends to be dominated by architectural comment focused on loud buildings. To encourage the good ordinary requires principles. The New Urbanism charter addresses three levels: the region, metropolis, city and town; the neighbourhood, district and corridor; and the block, street and building. Within each there are nine principles. For example, at the regional level: ‘The metropolitan region is a fundamental economic unit of the contemporary world. Governmental cooperation, public policy, physical planning and economic strategies must reflect this new reality.’ At the neighbourhood level: ‘Neighbourhoods should be compact, pedestrian-friendly, and mixed-use.’ Or at the block level: ‘Individual architectural projects should be seamlessly linked to their surroundings. This issue transcends style.’ The core aims are difficult to disagree with:

The City as a Living Work of Art 305 The Congress for the New Urbanism views disinvestment in central cities, the spread of placeless sprawl, increasing separation by race and income, environmental deterioration, loss of agricultural lands and wilderness, and the erosion of society’s built heritage as one interrelated community-building challenge. We stand for the restoration of existing urban centres and towns within coherent metropolitan regions, the reconfiguration of sprawling suburbs into communities of real neighbourhoods and diverse districts, the conservation of natural environments, and the preservation of our built legacy. We recognize that physical solutions by themselves will not solve social and economic problems, but neither can economic vitality, community stability and environmental health be sustained without a coherent and supportive physical framework.35 The charter for New Urbanism is a useful mechanism. But it should be judged by its intention, aims and values, not only by what has hit the ground in its name. Many New Urbanism developments can have a cloying feel without the edge of surprise, overemphasizing, as they often do, historic references and context and giving little space for rethinking the new or making dramatic interventions.

Reconnecting difficult partners: New Urbanism and Le Corbusier While their intentions to create better cities were similar, Le Corbusier and New Urbanism seem miles apart. Their conceptions started from very different premises. For the first the image is rational and mechanical: the house as a dwelling machine, where the car is king. For the second, the image is organic, where ‘community’ is at the centre. In the US more than elsewhere, towns and cities have been pulled apart by putting the needs of the car centre-stage. Hence the appeal of New Urbanism whose tentacles are now spreading. It has a view, a manifesto and set of principles, of how life should be lived, seeking to establish a link between the physical design of cities and social aims like ‘a sense of community’ providing an alternative to automobile-oriented planning that has torn and fractured most places apart, less so those whose historic cores have remained. It is a reaction against sprawl and wants to create human-scale walka-

306 The Art of City-Making ble places. Its major principles are to create compact, walkable neighbourhoods or districts with clearly defined centres and edges with a public space, a square or a green at its heart, surrounded by public buildings, such as a library, church or community centre as well as major retail businesses. There should be a focus on diverse, mixed activities in close proximity: living, shopping, schools, workplaces and parks. Neighbourhoods and districts should encourage walking without excluding automobiles. Streets should be reclaimed with building entrances fronting the street rather than parking spaces. Streets should form an interconnected network and public transit should connect neighbourhoods to each other, and the surrounding region. Also, a wide spectrum of housing options should enable people of a broad range of incomes, ages, and family types to live within a single area. By contrast hulky, large developments featuring a single use or serving a single market segment should be avoided. Civic buildings, such as government offices, churches and libraries, should be sited in prominent locations. New Urbanists think areas with large office, light industrial, and even ‘big box’ retail buildings can be made walkable with the dominant parking lots flipped to the side and the rear so avoiding setbacks. More than 600 new developments are planned or under construction in the US, using the principles. Additionally, hundreds of small-scale new urban infill projects are restoring the urban fabric by re-establishing walkable streets and blocks. Some design fashionistas hate New Urbanism; they detest what they see as its cloying feel; its ornamentation, its dinky town imitation of a nostalgic past. Celebration, near Orlando Disney’s private 5000-acre town, built on those principles and using their designers has eclipsed Seaside as the best-known New Urbanist community. Disney has given New Urbanism both a good and bad name. While Disney has avoided the label, it is a juicy target especially given its strict rules and management. Its town hall, perhaps its least attractive building, with forbidding columns, accentuates that reputation. Celebration’s roads, apart from the ubiquitous use of Celebration, have names like Acacia, Mulberry and Hawthorn alluding to a natural, arcadian landscape. Celebration’s conventional urban design is generally of high quality; for instance all houses front the street and cars are hidden from view. It is mostly liked by those who live there. The area feels safe. As one person noted, ‘The entire focus of our lives has changed. Instead of doing everything some place other than close to home, we now can eat, do errands, cele-

The City as a Living Work of Art 307 brate special occasions and just hang out near our own home. The changes are most dramatic for our children, who now have a freedom they never had in our old neighbourhood.’ Le Corbusier equally had intentions to find better ways of living, seeking to deal efficiently with the urban housing crisis and squalor of the slums. As a founding member of the Congres Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) he realized early on how cars would change cities. Fascinated by the logical rigour of Taylorist and Fordist production strategies he applied this rational, some would say desiccated, spirit to city building and decreed that ‘the house is a machine for living in’. It was to be designed with great clarity and a focus on function using modern materials, technologies and architectural forms so providing a new solution to urban living and simultaneously raising the quality of life of poorer people. His core ideas are embodied in his scheme for a Contemporary City of Three Million Inhabitants (1922). Its centrepiece is a group of 60-storey glass-encased, steel-framed cruciform skyscrapers with offices and apartments for wealthier people. Set back in smaller towers were to live poorer people. Many buildings were on thin stilts. His notion of towers in parks as the ideal city plan became the dominant model for low- and mid-priced housing on the outskirts of major cities in Europe and elsewhere. The hub was a transportation centre with buses and trains on different levels with road intersections and even an airport on the top. Pedestrians were separated from the road, and cars were venerated. Ornamentation was sparse and buildings spartan and by law all buildings should be white. Brasilia is the prime example of its logic to full effect, yet his influence seeped throughout urban planning, still applied but increasingly criticized as creating cities enslaved to cars on wide, congested roads, banked with dull repetitive towers. Le Corbusier became a bête noir for critics who hated his insistence on a rational efficiency that to them diminished people. So do we, as Rem Koolhaas suggests, ‘fuck context’?36 Have Koolhaas’ followers been able to create spaces people love? Indeed, the question needs to be raised: Do architects like people? Some do. Take Will Alsop’s extension to the Ontario College of Design in Toronto. He rejected the solution to build an extension on a cleared site as too conventional. He suggested leaving the site open, landscaping it and linking it to the public park behind. He boldly put the extension high in the air on stilts, so doubling its space use.

308 The Art of City-Making Like an architectural installation it hovers above the existing college with its pixelated black and white cladding and coloured stilts. It completely transforms an unremarkable street. It is pragmatic and visionary, albeit seemingly devoid of contextual considerations. Some have criticized the internal spaces that students work in, but the exterior leaves a strong mark.

Reshaping behaviour Incentives and regulations condition and bend our behaviours. The same is true for norms and values, let alone laws. The market choices offered determine what we do. Technology shapes what we do and how we do it. Many of these behaviour shapers are etched into operating manuals, codes or guidelines. We are never as free as we think. The knee-jerk reaction that changing behaviour equates to social engineering is ill-considered. Thousands of ways to effect behavioural outcomes are employed to make civilization work. For example, red traffic lights tell us what to do, as do road markings or safety codes, yet we do not dismiss these measures as social engineering. Reforms in an incentive system, like congestion charging in London, change behaviour. In the case of congestion charges, it has encouraged walking and cycling and discouraged car use. It is better to encourage behaviours through incentives rather than invoking stipulatory regulations, but sometimes things are not moving fast enough. Living sustainably is one area: we guzzle far too much. Most people are not aware of the deeper implications of their consumption. This requires either more dramatic incentives, for example tax rebates on sustainable fuels, or creative regulation. Emscher Park has one of the most stringent and developed systems of environmental regulation in the European Community, and, in contrast to several other countries in the community with strict environmental laws, the regulations are also actively enforced.37 Emscher, once the mining centre of the Ruhr, used its environmental degradation as a spur to reinventing its economy. It applied very high standards which local industry had to meet, and in meeting these standards industry developed innovations. This contributed to creating the environment-healing industries cluster centred around Dortmund Technology Park, a sector within which it is estimated that 50,000 people work. By the time the rest of the world caught up with these standards, the region had already benefited from its ‘first mover’ advantage.38

The City as a Living Work of Art 309 Ironically, Emscher cities such as Dortmund, Bochum, Gelsenkirchen, Essen and Unna are twinned with their once industrial mining Yorkshire counterparts in Britain – Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford. The contrast could not be more striking. Emscher, a powerhouse of structural renewal, sought to create culture change without erasing memory. Witness the transformation of the Duisburg-Meiderich steel works. A torch-lit guided tour at night through the gargantuan installations of the former works only dimly lit by Jonathan Park’s coloured light installation bends the perception. Emscher Park has attempted to innovate, while maintaining consensus, and to adopt an ‘incrementalism with perspective’ approach to ensure that eco-thinking was deeply embedded. The 10-year IBA Emscher Park project regenerated the river system, created a chain of 22 science and technology parks, refurbished or built 6000 new properties according to high ecological and aesthetic standards, and found radical new uses for former mines.39 Its story was simple – turn a mining area into a landscape park. Conceptually, the Yorkshire region was simply not at the same level, partly because it did not have the levers to generate a vision beyond the mundane. Some British politicians understand what is at stake but have lost the moral high ground and have not delivered this level of quality. In Britain one senses that we still need to ‘convince the man at the treasury’ that there are other ways of using resources better. Their concern is with productivity and they find it difficult to think in feedback loops and spin-offs. This treasury approach stops smart thinking about investment and, with its particular form of risk aversion, makes it difficult for public bodies to behave in long-term ways. Often there seems a confusion between investing and spending. The fact that investment in social fabric has a financial payback later is forgotten. To make matters worse, the system of incentives and rewards promoted by government in Britain until recently fostered a begging bowl mentality. Grant processes encouraged those who could claim they were in the worst situations, who were thus rewarded at the expense of those who could say they had improved the most. What is required is a revolution in taxation. In relation to creative finance we can learn from the US, with its bond systems, tax increment financing, business improvement districts (BIDs) and land value tax.40 Crucially, these measures can be instigated by the city. The reason the US is able to innovate is that, as a federal structure, not everything is controlled from the centre. These

310 The Art of City-Making mechanisms essentially allow future value increases of property to justify current borrowing by public authorities to create public realm improvements, ranging from new trams to public space, which will be repaid by increased taxes in the future. And with BIDs, contributions from the private sector are repaid by higher property values or increases in turnover in shops. For instance, bond systems are underwritten by expected increases in land values once the infrastructure has been improved. They are attractive to private investors as they provide an inflation-proof form of investment. Bonds have the great appeal of being evaluated in terms of the project and the capacity of the borrower by the investor, rather than relying on the judgement of politicians. Importantly, the requirement in the US to secure prior approval for issuing a bond in a ballot secures greater accountability. These institutional mechanisms remind us that while what the individual can do is worthy and important, it is limited compared to institutional change and systemic creativity. While the US has been financially innovative in its urban development model, however, it is flawed in other ways: sprawl continues, cars dominate, and segregation and inequalities are endemic. It is more a warning than an inspiration. Many countries, including Britain, that look to the States perhaps could do worse than to look to continental European countries such as Holland, Germany and Spain, or to places like Hong Kong.

Reconsidering the learning city There are many slogans that now declare the aspirations of cities: ‘the good city’, ‘the knowledge city’, ‘the intelligent city’. For me, the notion of the learning city has most meaning. A creative, learning city is more than a city of education. A learning city is a clever city that reflects upon itself, learns from failure and is strategic; the city is a learning field. The dumb city, on the other hand, repeats past mistakes. Learning resources are everywhere, from the obvious, like schools, to the less obvious, like the urban streetscape, or the surprising, like prisons or malls. As the educating cities network notes: The city is, therefore, educative per se: there is no question that urban planning, culture, schools, sport, environmental and health, economic and budget

The City as a Living Work of Art 311 issues, and matters related to transport and traffic, safety and services, and the media include and generate forms of citizen education. The city is educative when it imprints this intention on the way it presents itself to its citizens, aware that its proposals have attitude-related consequences and generate new values, knowledge and skills.41 Most large cities produce a surplus of graduates as they suck in talent from surrounding regions. So by definition they are ‘education cities’. This is fine as far it goes. However, a more worthwhile and exciting prospect is to be a learning city – a city that encourages people to be educated. What does this mean? We know learning and education need to move centre-stage to secure our future well-being. Only if learning is placed at the centre of our daily experience can individuals continue to develop their skills and capacities; can organizations and institutions harness the potential of their workforce; can people or cities be self-reflective and so respond flexibly and imaginatively to opportunities, difficulties and emerging needs; can the diversity and differences between communities become a source of enrichment, understanding and potential. The challenge for policy-makers is to promote the conditions in which a learning city or community can unfold. This goes well beyond learning in the classroom. It is a place where the idea of learning infuses every tissue of its being and is projected imaginatively; a place where individuals and organizations are encouraged to learn about the dynamics of where they live and how it is changing; a place which on that basis changes the way it learns, whether through schools or any other institution that can help foster understanding and knowledge; a place in which all its members are encouraged to learn; and, finally, and perhaps most importantly, a place that can learn to change the conditions of its learning democratically. A true learning city develops by learning from its experiences and those of others. It is a place that understands itself and reflects upon that understanding – it is a reflexive city. Thus the key characteristic of the learning city is its ability to develop successfully in a rapidly changing socio-economic environment. Where the dumb city flounders by trying to repeat past success, the learning city is creative in its understanding of its own situation and wider relationships, developing new solutions to new problems. The essential point here is that any city can be a learning city. It is not a factor of size, geography, resources, economic infrastructure or

312 The Art of City-Making even educational investment. The learning city merely requires strategy, creativity, imagination and intelligence. It looks at its potential resources in a far more comprehensive way. It sees competitive edge in the seemingly insignificant. It turns weakness into strength. It makes something out of nothing. How is this promoted? Leaving aside the wealth of educational opportunities one would expect from a learning city, there is a need to find ways of using the city itself as a learning field. Urban learning resources are everywhere, from the obvious to the less obvious to the surprising. Pre-school groups, schools, colleges, universities, adult learning centres, libraries, television and the internet are obvious. Businesses, community centres, arts centres, museums and attractions, health centres, post offices, citizens’ advice bureaux, the urban streetscape, nature reserves, the outdoors and bookshops are less obvious. Old peoples’ homes, homeless shelters, refuges, prisons, shopping malls, hospitals, churches, trains, stations, football stadia, service stations, restaurants, hotels, cafés, nightclubs and local parks are surprising. The challenge is to create more self-conscious communication devices that allow the city fabric to become a learning experience. Learning messages must confront the clutter of advertising. This might mean that, on occasion, the football stadium uses its screens to explain how the screen itself works, the train station becomes a kind of classroom on transport or communications, or public signs explain the origins of street names: Why is Brixton’s Electric Avenue so called? Who lived in Bloomsbury? Anywhere, anyhow, can become a site of learning. Indicators to measure an educated or learning city are different. The former includes government school inspection records, school student attainment, proportion of students enrolled in higher education, impact of research produced by the university sector and the proportion of the workforce receiving training. Evaluating the learning city notion requires a different order of indicators: the number and reach of formal cross-sectoral partnerships, the proportion of major businesses and institutions which use non-hierarchical management processes or the number of mentoring schemes supported by business, the vitality of local democracy as expressed in voting patterns or responses to consultation processes or the numbers of people involved in local campaigns, and voluntary groups dedicated to bringing about change and improvement.42

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Reigniting the passion for learning Advances in knowledge about how effective learning works should drive educational policy, strategy and institution-building; such advances cannot be guided by views that are etched into current institutional practices that come from a former era. Learning needs to focus on and be seen through the eyes of those wishing to learn. This implies a major conceptual shift in how schools work, what they look like, the role of teachers, who should be regarded as a teacher and what the curriculum should offer. Students should acquire higher-order skills such as learning how to learn, create, discover, innovate, problem-solve and self-assess. This would trigger and activate wider ranges of intelligences. It would foster openness, exploration and adaptability and allow the transfer of knowledge between different contexts as students learnt how to understand the essence of arguments rather than recall out-ofcontext facts. Creative learning environments have characteristics including exuding trust; freedom of action; variety – where you can transfer knowledge across contexts and disciplines; a balance between the skills people have; challenge – a context where ideas are bounced back and forth with continual feedback and evaluation; direct relevance to the outside world; and an organizational leadership culture that is open-minded and boundary-crossing.43 Meaningful learning is reflective, constructive and selfregulated. It is more effective to present kids with problems, challenging them to devise their own solutions. By putting the young person at the centre, passion can be reignited, the passion required for citizenship. This is especially so if learning plans and learning agendas in school and outside school are co-created and cofinanced with a variety of outside stakeholders. There are many educationalists thinking afresh, but their views have not reached critical mass. There are many teachers with good ideas and nearly every school has extremely interesting projects, but too often these are the ‘naughty stuff on the side’. Teachers say it is simply too hard to work against ‘the system’. This system looms everywhere and is difficult to pin down – a rule here, a habit of doing things there. When teachers push innovative approaches, they hit a wall of legislation and resistance from concerned parents. Those things now seen as obstacles often emerged initially for good reason, such as duty of care, safety issues or accountability frame-

314 The Art of City-Making works. But now those same issues are creating constriction, restraint and even an element of infantilization, taking away responsibility from and underestimating the capacity for people to find their own ways to solutions. A climate should be encouraged that ‘gives permission’ to work around obstacles. The failures we often discuss are more often not to do with the pupils but the way they are taught and how their success is measured. Education cannot solve the problems of education on its own. After all, school occupies only 5 to 7 hours a day, even though we sometimes behave as if it were 24. People could still be learning in the other 19 hours. Some of the most effective learning outcomes happen outside school. We know many miss this opportunity and do things we prefer they would not. The role of cultural institutions, from botanical gardens and zoos to museums, libraries and galleries, should increase as their style of learning is seen as particularly effective in new learning theory. The same is true for participation in the arts. Evidence shows that astonishing results in overall performance can are achieved with increased participation.44 Young people say their disinterest is triggered by the lack of connection schools make with real life or young enthusiasms.45 This overall refocus could be the circuit breaker in the system that unleashes passion. To shift the agenda to learning how we learn will be difficult given the weight of history, institutional inertia, union rules and surrounding bureaucracies more used to a controlling mode rather than an enabling mode. Reinventing teachers means their self-conception should change from being knowledge experts to facilitators and enablers of learning. It means communicating to parents that the way they learnt in the past is not necessarily the way we should learn in the future. It is often parents, with their desire to give their kids the best, who reinforce unhelpful patterns, assuming often that how they learnt was right. When teachers are brought up in an environment of constraint they provide a role model for pupils of passivity and powerlessness – an unfortunate set of attitudes for young people to endure in their rites of passage – which affects those kids for life. Passion is the key. When passion is tapped in learners and teachers there is a way forward, and then schools can be reconceived as centres of curiosity and imagination and communities of enquiry rather than factories to drill in knowledge.

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Revaluing and reinvesting in people and home-grown talent It is a cliché to talk of valuing people. Cities need to find ways of identifying, harnessing, nurturing, sustaining, attracting and promoting talent – wherever it is. The talent of its people are the city’s main asset. Capitalizing and harnessing the creative potential of local people has to be the defining core of any city’s reinvigoration. Their applied creativity generates the wealth and solutions that will drive the city on. Every department, whether public or private, should have a talent strategy. Every person can express their talent better. At one extreme a long-term unemployed person can become employable. Someone coasting in their job can become enterprising, so doing their job better. That person over time may become entrepreneurial and set up a business. Ideally they then become creatively entrepreneurial and develop innovations or become leadership figures. Every city and region wants to attract more gifted and ambitious people. Some call this ‘the war for talent’. Singapore’s talent strategy to attract outsiders stands as an example of what many cities, regions and countries are trying to do.46 New Zealand47 and Memphis48 are two other examples; they also have a strong agenda to develop their domestic knowledge base. In essence they buy talent, perhaps a leading researcher and his or her team, or encourage a company to relocate. Singapore has also developed a notion of the creative city, whereby they seek to foster an environment where people want to come. They note that: The future will nonetheless be very different from the past. In the knowledge age, our success will depend on our ability to absorb, process and synthesize knowledge through constant value innovation. Creativity will move into the centre of our economic life because it is a critical component of a nation’s ability to remain competitive. Economic prosperity for advanced, developed nations will depend not so much on the ability to make things, but more on the ability to generate ideas that can then be sold to the world. This means that originality and entrepreneurship will be increasingly prized.49

316 The Art of City-Making Cities can attract outside talent to refresh their inner gills – and they have to – but most of all they need to achieve endogenous growth. I have no problem with migration, but simply want to refocus on tapping home grown talent as a parallel strategy. In my experience, in any city you investigate, there are many projects to tap hidden talent, but they tend to be one-off, short-term and uncoordinated. In Adelaide, for instance, we calculated that, of its population of just over a million, perhaps 250,000 – a quarter – were underachieving. This is likely to be similar elsewhere. Some are desperately leading a life that drains both them and their city. Others may have merely missed out, and yet others don’t quite reach the next step of aspiration or are just waiting for the right challenge to achieve more. If just 1 per cent of these people became transformed, they would represent the equivalent of 2500 qualified migrants in the Adelaide case; in London it would be 20,000. And if 1 per cent, why not 2 or 3? If all of us achieved 5 per cent more than we do already, this would equate to a hugely enlarged talent pool. Think of any large city or ghetto, from the US and Brazil to South Africa. The stark fact is that millions of younger people have basically dropped out or not recognized what they can offer. It reminds us of wasted talent. Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class asks, ‘What do talented people look for in a place?’ According to conventional economic theory, workers settle in those cities that offer the highest paying jobs in their fields. However, Florida argues that people in the ‘creative class’, given their mobility and international demand for their talent, base their choices on wider considerations. They choose cities for their tolerant environments and diverse populations as well as good jobs. They want the critical mass of job opportunities in their field but look for places that suit their lifestyle interests, with attributes well beyond the standard ‘quality-of-life’ amenities. They seek an environment open to differences – places where newcomers are accepted quickly into all sorts of social and economic arrangements. They want interesting kinds of music, food, venues, art galleries, performance spaces and theatres. A vibrant, varied nightlife, indigenous street culture, a teeming blend of cafés, sidewalk musicians, small galleries, bistros and so on.50 What is true in attracting external talent also holds for inspiring and keeping local talent – they also want environments

The City as a Living Work of Art 317 conducive to inspiration. There is a danger that if importing of talent is not combined with a home-grown talent strategy, disaffection and disenchantment could grow. Importing and overlaying ambitious newcomers into a setting where existing inhabitants have low expectations and aspirations can cause tension, as differences in achievement can create a ‘have’ and ‘have not’ divide. To tap talent might mean being unconventional, reimagining, say, schools as different kinds of places, as centres of curiosity and imagination that are co-conceived in an equal partnership by kids, their parents, the teaching profession and architects. With these broader links to the community, a different spirit could emerge. It might mean reconceiving what a school is – less a factory for learning and more interwoven with daily urban life. It could mean that a travel agent might have a role in the geography class, a well-being centre acting as the biology class, or that kids teach asylum seekers language skills. This means rethinking who our teachers are and what the role of traditional teachers should become. Not everyone is equally talented, but everyone can tap into and express their talent more than they do. Some people, especially those with low expectations, often do not know they have talent simply because, for a variety of reasons, it has not been discovered. A talent strategy seeks to address this problem. A useful device is to divide the talent-generating process into 6 components in terms of helping policy-making and defining projects. Each has different requirements and targets: 1 2

3 4 5


projects to help people become curious and interested – this is a precondition without which talent cannot be discovered; initiatives to help people become work ready or employable; clearly the role of cultural initiatives or arts programmes can help and has so far been underplayed; programmes to help people become enterprising – the enterprise education agenda; schemes to help people be entrepreneurial, such as by setting up a business; projects to help people to ‘self-actualize’, from which unexpected potential may emerge and where cultural institutions or sports can again play a key role; and creatively entrepreneurial initiatives that might lead to innovations and inventions.

318 The Art of City-Making Importantly, the talent agenda is not a strategy for education, although education should play a central role. It is integrated and should also involve an assessment of how economic or arts development and the programmes and activities of cultural institutions foster talent and how social affairs can connect to the agenda. The focus should not only be on statutory provision, but should also involve the activities of the private sector and voluntary bodies. The talent agenda is not only about youth, but also adults and members of the third age. These processes will rekindle enterprise and the entrepreneurial – these are positive words, but we tend to regard what they mean in a narrow way, assuming too often they only apply to business people. There is a need to improve the image of being an entrepreneur, getting schools to bring in outsiders to teach these skills, getting the public sector itself to appreciate the virtues of entrepreneurial thinking, both in its own domain and elsewhere, and developing a range of affirmative devices, from competitions to prizes. Being entrepreneurial goes beyond being a business entrepreneur and applies equally to those working in social, cultural, administrative and political fields. It is a mindset driven by the ability to focus on creating opportunities and overcoming obstacles. Each city needs to remind itself of its enterprising history, for founding a city is a supreme act of entrepreneurship.

Repairing health through the built environment Following their combined efforts to improve living conditions in the overcrowded and disease-ridden cities of the 19th century, the disciplines of public health and urban planning went their own ways. Only recently, after many decades, have they come together again, with growing concerns about inactivity and subsequent obesity and other chronic diseases, from hypertension to diabetes. The US leads the race to be fat. It has the highest percentage of overweight people (64.5 per cent), of whom 30.5 per cent are obese; Mexico has 62.3 per cent overweight and 24 per cent obese, Britain (61 per cent overweight, 21 per cent obese) and Australia (58.4 per cent overweight) following close behind. Mainland European countries hover around the high thirties. The lowest percentages are recorded in Japan (25.8 per cent) and Korea (30.6 per cent); obesity is probably also lower in Chad or Eritrea, but the figures aren’t

The City as a Living Work of Art 319 available.51 Being obese means that someone of 1.77 metres weighs over 95kg. In September 2003 the two leading American public health journals, The American Journal of Public Health and The American Journal of Health Promotion, had special issues on the effects of the built environment on health, and how the design of cities can foster health-inducing behaviour. Their argument can be summarized thus: car-dominated, sprawling and pedestrianunfriendly cities make you fat and unhealthy. And ‘it is time to shift to communities intentionally designed to facilitate physical and mental health’. The situation is stark. In the US only 2.9 per cent of trips are made by walking, down from 10.3 per cent in 1960. Walking and cycling now accounts for 6.3 per cent of trips. In continental Europe, by contrast, figures range from 35 per cent to 45 per cent. And this is impacting on life expectancy. A battery of evidence from around the world is suggesting that cities that encourage incidental walking and cycling have higher levels of health. The relationship between built form and weight is clear – those areas with more sprawl and fewer sidewalks, thus encouraging greater car use, have higher levels of obesity. Additionally, those of greater isolation have higher levels of depression. The results point ideally to forms of settlement that are more dense and compact, where facilities from public transport to shopping are nearby. The challenge for all professions concerned with the city, from the social worker to the architect, is to look at the city through the prism of health. The topic is too important to be left only to health specialists. This should involve outcome swaps. This means a planner, regeneration expert or economic development professional should ask, ‘How do my plans help citizens become healthy?’

Reversing decline Cities rise and fall and rarely stay on top for a very long time. Excepted, perhaps, are national capitals such as London, Paris or Madrid, as they tend to accrue political, economic and cultural power. But there are many counter-examples. Berlin lost its status and may catch up again. Kyoto lost out when Tokyo took over as capital. Rome had 1.5 million people in the first century AD; 300 years later, the population had fallen to 30,000, before resurging to 3 million in the 1970s. British cities like Liverpool, Sheffield and

320 The Art of City-Making Glasgow have seen their relative positions decline, not forgetting hundreds of smaller ones, from Burnley and Rochdale to Blackburn. Whole streets can still be bought in some northern English towns for under £100,000. If there were no subsidies for these places, there would be mayhem. Shored up by welfare payments, decline is managed. In parts, life is quite pleasant, but the young, gifted and talented are leaving. Side by side there are areas of affluence – some of them even the richest parishes in Britain – and poverty. A new class of quite well-paid urban therapists and regeneration experts keeps them afloat. Statistically there are more social workers, more housing experts and more economic development specialists than elsewhere. This welfare industry makes life bearable for those who find it difficult to succeed economically. They try to manage decline gracefully. Consider, too, East Germany, where most big cities have shrunk, let alone the smaller ones. Or Detroit. Or production hubs in Russia like Ivanovo. Or the mining towns in Australia like Broken Hill or Whyalla. Cities rise up and achieve moments of glory and then fade into insignificance. Their resources run out – see Burra in South Australia; they are now in the wrong place – see Liverpool or Calcutta. For some, war contrives to make them lose power, as happened to Berlin and Vienna. Some miss strategic opportunities, some are badly managed and led. Some, such as Venice or Florence, manage to exploit the residues of their past glories by becoming tourist destinations, but their real dynamic has long gone. Decline mostly takes time and happens almost imperceptibly. Each small movement of decline in itself does not seem to matter, but collectively the movements constitute something dramatic. Decline is often out of the control of cities but at times it is exacerbated by a tendency to operate within a comfort zone. This generates inertia, and then changing existing procedures and attitudes is like raising the Titanic. At times, the decline is not visible, and can be masked by comfortable lifestyles. Good weather, good food and wine can be blinding and the nostalgia of all good things past takes over. The shrinking cities project has monitored such decline.52 Significantly, it is assessing the opportunities that decline may provide. Suddenly the growth paradigm is thrown out of the window. Decline may be bliss, with a premium on space, telecommuting a possibility, and far more room for experimentation and creating models for the future, such as eco-towns.

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Remeasuring assets Daniel Yankelovich, the renowned American pollster, helpfully reminds us: The first step is to measure whatever can be easily measured. This is OK as far as it goes. The second step is to disregard that which can’t be measured or give it an arbitrary value. This is artificial and misleading. The third step is to presume what can’t be measured isn’t really important. This is blindness. The fourth step is to say that what can’t be easily measured really doesn’t exist. This is suicide!53 On some basics like value-added created per employee or the number of unemployed, a city may be lagging. These basic comparisons are useful, but there is a bigger story. The rethinking process requires places to remeasure themselves according to their self-defined strengths. For example, when I assessed indicators in Adelaide, I found that predominant measures of success and failure underplay its strengths or often push the city into the wrong priorities. With indicators such as GDP growth, we see relative decline. However, while these need to be taken seriously, they do not tell the whole story. A traffic jam in Los Angeles increases GDP, as does the resulting pollution that causes ill health. Crime rates jack up sales of security devices. GDP signals can thus guide us into wrong policy and investment. Or consider the value of time gained by living in Adelaide, ‘the 20 minute city’, as compared to a Sydney. What are the benefits of proximity? How much time is saved, perhaps an hour a day by 100,000 people? I calculated this at around 250 million working days a year. What is this worth? Perhaps some £25 billion. If people and their capacity to contribute to a city’s future are the key, why do we not measure the costs of not investing in people? For example, the lifetime cost of an unemployed person is roughly AUD1 million, while the lifetime benefit of a plumber is perhaps AUD1.8 million or that of an accountant roughly AUD4 million. The taxes paid might amount to from AUD600,000 to AUD1.4 million, the cost of an educational programme is perhaps AUD100,000. The cost of only asphalting 1km of an existing twolane highway is AUD1 million. What ultimately contributes more to GDP? A newly laid kilometre of road or 10 transformed people

322 The Art of City-Making contributing to the local economy whose lifetime taxes would more than pay for the road in any case? Benchmarking, when it emerged two decades ago as a means of fostering improvement in business and elsewhere, had positive impacts. Cities took to the idea with vigour, constantly comparing themselves with others, copying what worked and pushing best practices. This is fine, but increasing negative impacts are emerging. Most importantly, it can stop creativity and innovation as, by definition, benchmarking is a strategy of following, not an exercise in leading. Often it avoids defining strategy appropriate to local needs and can distract from identifying unique local resources. If nurturing and attracting talent is central to most cities’ futures and we are worried about the brain drain, are we tracking leakage of talent? This might be done by tracking not only graduates that leave, but also mid-career professionals, or through peer-group assessment within fields such as the arts. In turn, are we tracking the talent coming in? The indicator of indicators may be the ‘talent churn’, because we know there is a correlation between talent and generating wealth, solving problems of social cohesion, or coming up with inventions and innovations. Even if creativity seems too complex to measure, there is a wealth of proxy indicators both quantitative and qualitative. These include those – cited by Richard Florida54 – that, while contentious, draw on a body of data to develop a number of indices which he then uses to develop correlation matrices and rankings of cities. These include: • • • • • •

the creative class index – the percentage of creative workers in the labour force; the high-tech index – the size of software, electronics and engineering sectors; the innovation index – the number of patents per capita; the talent index – the percentage of college-educated people in the population; the gay index – the concentration of gay couples in the population (a proxy or lead indicator for diversity); and the bohemian index – the concentration of artistically creative people (artists, writers and performers) in the population.

These are a good beginning, yet they do not highlight (nor do they claim to) the fine detail. This needs to be elaborated more specifically, including measuring international connectivity or density of

The City as a Living Work of Art 323 communications assessed by telephone calls and internet uptake, or levels of organizational networking. In the end, international peergroup assessments of various fields are the most dependable. More comprehensively, creativity might be assessed through a biannual creativity audit to assess the city’s creativity potential. Such an audit provides a confidence-building foundational stone, as literally hundreds, if not thousands, of people emerge as the real drivers of an invigorated place. It is likely that they will represent clusters of achievement and potential. It is likely, too, that some do not know each other and operate in silos.

Re-presenting and repositioning Arrival to and departure from a city matters. First and last impressions configure overall impressions and negative experiences impact more than positive ones. Airports, stations and entry roads are vital in telling the urban story. They communicate how the city sees and values itself. Philadelphia, a city with a strong identity, memorably welcomes you after arriving at its airport with a major rubbish disposal site. Singapore was one of the first cities to grasp and follow through every aspect of the experience of arrival. Friendly assistants help you to your taxi and a lush, green, tree-lined corridor with boulevarded streets make the ride into the city centre calm, so taking away the insecurities any traveller feels on arrival. Shanghai’s elevated maglev (magnetic elevation) train, the world’s only commercial maglev, connects the international airport to near the city’s financial centre in Pudong district, a run of 30km. Passing similar tree-lined approaches, it creates a similar calming effect. Both send out messages such as ‘we care for you’, ‘we are well organized’, ‘you are safe’, ‘we are modern’. Even though neither city is renowned for its sustainability agenda, the arrival experience also says ‘we are green’. Hong Kong airport is also in this top league, with a public transport system that is a delight and with porters for your luggage. Noticeably, it is easier to achieve complicated goals, such as a 10km entrance to the city, when an enlightened public sector is in the lead and in essence can overcome resistances along the way. Here the Nordic cities work too. Oslo airport is an intelligent building – alternative-energy-powered shutters open and close according to the weather. You feel the eco-awareness through the design too; there is practically no visual clutter and commercial aspects are

324 The Art of City-Making downplayed. Civic values, such as consideration, safety and respect, imbue the atmosphere. Getting into the city is seamless. Contrast this with the Washington Dulles airport experience and the messages it sends out: no metro system to the centre, just a herd of taxis waiting for arrivals. This is sad because Washington’s metro is renowned as one of the best in North America. Train stations send out the messages too. Euralille in Lille projects modernity and the future – open heaters compensate for the cold chill that sweeps through it and that was perhaps a design fault. The grime of Bucharest, the chaos of Odessa or the human mass in Kolkata elicit other feelings. Adelaide is the only city in the world where two of the world’s great railways stop – the Indian Pacific and the Ghan. This symbolic resonance is immense. Unfortunately they arrive at a shunting yard in Keswick. Adelaide is now changing that. Getting these arrival termini right is key. This makes the Bilbao comment above on ‘once in a generation opportunities’ pertinent. Get this wrong, as, for example, Terminal Four at Heathrow, and we have to live with a bad building for a generation or more. Importantly, this is the opportunity to send out visible iconic triggers and not merely advertising hoardings. There is a huge opportunity to make statements that show visitors what is different about the city. The key themes should be embodied and reflected from the terminal or station or motorway entrances onwards to tell an unfolding story that links with the story in other parts of the city. But using the city as a communications device to drive vision and aspiration remains under-explored and goes well beyond arrival and departure. The panoply of visual clues and activities promoted, from urban design, public art and signage to the temporary and whimsical, is there to be further explored. For instance, green buildings should be known to be green, perhaps employing a temporary sign that reminds people that the building next door uses, say, double the energy and costs more. Cities often downplay their possibilities and self-perception is often the cause. The following may appear trivial, but has downstream effects on self-perception. In Adelaide we proposed that instead of thinking of itself as the ‘smallest of the big’ (Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney all being bigger) and losing out against them, why not think of itself as the ‘biggest of the small’? We advised Helsinki that, instead of worrying about being on the

The City as a Living Work of Art 325 periphery and ‘on the edge’, it might think of itself as ‘at the cutting edge’. One sounds dull, the other more interesting. This changes the narrative a place tells about itself and can generate confidence. These switches have real life impacts. The media is key to urban reinvention. Most city media disappoint. They are geared to complaining rather than helping to create. Cities are often projected as clichés, with little sense of their depth or richness. There is much about problems, but little about achievement and aspiration. You hear above all about fears, crime, vandalism and disorder (important though these are). You hear about the effects but little about addressing causes. Places where courts are based always have a disadvantage. In Adelaide there are courts in the district of Elizabeth which deal with cases from a wider area than that of the district itself. Yet reports of these cases in the media refer solely to Elizabeth, so weakening the image of this area dramatically. How about dropping the references to the physical location of courts? Just as it is good for any larger city to have alternative hubs where different lifestyles express themselves, so the media landscape for a mature city should be one of diversity. In contrast to Adelaide, which had one dominant paper, Melbourne’s or Sydney’s media provides a richer, more sophisticated story that reflects broader views. Without more media competition, the story of a place like Adelaide will be a narrow one. Most urban turnaround stories work in part because they have this diversity of media or – especially when they are small – a supportive local media that encourages the city to move forward. The British town of Huddersfield got lift-off as the ‘creative town’ only when the local press firmly helped create an environment in which citizens felt they could become part of the solution. Obviously in a ‘hyper-mediated’ age, urban politics increasingly responds to media messages. And this can also have a corrosive effect on politics as it begins to play more to the media than to the other big picture issues concerning the future. The media claim they are only responding to views rather than creating views, but these are large arguments about the role of the fourth estate. Only a few cities, perhaps 30 in the world, have enough drawing power and recognition across a range of domains. Most people will know which these are. The list starts with places like New York, Tokyo, Shanghai and London. The mass of others need to increase their reputation and positioning in niche areas to sustain

326 The Art of City-Making wealth creation over time. The strong niches a city decides to highlight are important, because if they inspire citizens they will want to stay and contribute, and outsiders will be enticed to come. Building a reputation is not merely a marketing exercise but a process of creating rich associations around these niche areas. In projecting itself as having desirable attributes, such as creativity, dynamism or greenness, a city should not brand itself as ‘Creative Anywhere’ or give itself a similar accolade. It should simply demonstrate through imaginative action that it is creative and let others say of it ‘you are creative.’ As ever, there is the danger of sloganeering or vainly and desperately attempting to be famous for something. Yet positioning is about creating the conditions whereby the wealth-creating capacity of a place can be sustained over time. For the mass of smaller cities, which can mean any of those not at the top of the urban hierarchy, the switch being attempted is to move them from being places to leave to being destinations to come to. This means increasing drawing power to various audiences. Foremost, this is targeted at the city’s own citizens by providing an environment where they want to stay. In this way they become stronger ambassadors for their city.

Retelling the story Every city has many stories. Every story a city tells itself anchors its sense of self and possibilities. Stories describe where a city has come from, how it sees itself now, where it might go, its personality and its perspective on life. Take Adelaide’s stories: • • •

• •

The land and its peoples before European settlement. The city of free settlers and no convicts, and thus respect for the law. The city of ideals and perfect planning, exemplified by the world-famous Light plan for the city. This engenders pride and a certain high-mindedness, as well as a feeling of order and definition. The city of stone and substance, reflecting a deeply embedded solidity and long-term legacy. The city of churches, highlighting its loftiness, spirituality and otherworldliness. Yet this image on closer examination may not be that pure, because the Bible and booze always went closely

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• •

together. Indeed, the number of churches may reflect a certain fractiousness rather than unity of purpose. The city of bold, state-led intervention, as exemplified by the creation of the new town of Elizabeth and the attraction of the car industry into the state. Perhaps it felt controlling and somewhat restrictive. The city of the arts: a way of saying Adelaide is open, experimental, vibrant and creative. This connects to the Adelaide Festival. The city that overextends and loses judgement, that is overambitious and bites off more than it can chew. The State Bank collapse or failure of the Multifunction Polis (MFP), a visionary Japanese idea for the future of the city. The boring city that is overcautious, avoids risk and that ‘talks the talk’ well but does not feel it can deliver. Niche stories, such as Adelaide as the Detroit or Athens of the South. Perhaps a marriage between the two is what Adelaide really is. Then there is the murder capital label and, on a more positive note, the city within which women can flourish and where possible utopias can happen.

Seen in this sequence – and the stories do follow chronologically – we can see why one followed the other. For example, the opening out in the 1970s under Premier Don Dunstan, with his interest in the arts, and the closing in after the State Bank saga and the ensuing reputation for inaction. Its goal now is to write a new chapter as the ‘city of creative imagination’. It seeks to build on the vision that ‘you can make it here, you can achieve your dreams and we will help you’. The signal is ‘you have permission to get on with it’. Permission to have insight, to imagine, to improvise, to invest and to implement. This is the operating system of the new story. Take Memphis as another example. Named after the ancient Egyptian capital on the Nile, its stories include being the birthplace of the blues and musical invention. Another predominantly 1950s story is that Memphis is the quietest, cleanest and safest city in the States. Then the Elvis Presley movement adds to its musical richness. Martin Luther King’s assassination is a story that blighted the city for 35 years, but one that also highlights a concern with civil rights. Fed Ex, the massive logistics company, is reshaping the story again. Most interestingly, the University of Memphis is repeatedly

328 The Art of City-Making being referred to as the ‘University of Second Chances’.55 This certainly sends out the message, ‘You can make here. You can fulfil your dreams, and we will help you.’ And this is an adroit narrative for the city as a whole, given its high entrepreneurial start-up rate (and given that most entrepreneurs fail at least once), the population mix (many on low incomes who desperately need second chances to finally succeed) and plain old human frailty. If a city takes on board the idea of second chances and inserts it into its genetic code, this changes behaviour. Imagine a place that is positive about second chances, where the assumption is that you will not be blamed for a failure or missing an opportunity. Retelling the urban story is not about eradicating the past, but about building on it and using the elements of past stories to help us move forward. In so doing we should examine honestly the myths that sustain us and give us our identity. There is nothing wrong with myths as long as we challenge them regularly. We also must invent, and then live out in our daily lives, new stories about ourselves. If the watchwords are to be ‘the place that encourages imagination and being creative’, what that means needs to be physically seen as well as allowing people to improvise. Rules and regulations should facilitate and enable development rather than control it. My conclusion is that while industrial structure, business development, natural resources and location are vital, what is even more important is the culture of the place, its psychology and its history. This shapes the attitudes of its people and its sense of self, the story it tells itself and the myths about itself that it clings on to. This is the genetic code of the city. While there is a certain path dependency, this dependency can change because, whereas an individual is locked into their attributes, in a city the people constantly change. New generations come in unencumbered by the past, new outsiders with fresh views arrive, and leadership with new priorities can emerge. Leadership is central to the urban change agenda, and leadership is more than just administering or managing. How will we know these processes of imagination, improvisation and implementation are happening? This will require communicating strategically and putting some things on the ground that may, at first sight, seem superficial and irrelevant to the purists. Yet their psychological power can be great. If you want to signal that your city, Adelaide, for example, is ecologically savvy, putting vineyards around an airport terminal communicates green inten-

The City as a Living Work of Art 329 tion (and wine) without wordy explanations, as would greening blank walls, where foliage could hang majestically down from city roofs like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Green buildings could have imaginative signage explaining how much energy is saved and how much more the neighbouring building costs to run. Having a long-term plan to solar panel a city would have immense power to communicate ambition, as would plans to waterproof the city. It involves being a bit subversive or surprising and working at a subliminal level to get a message across, while at the same time doing the hard work of deeper greening.

Knitting the threads together To drive a city forward there need to be a few powerful ideas around which disparate communities of interest can gather and coalesce. These should capture the imagination by tapping into deeply felt desires and widely acknowledged assets, or even problems, but only if solutions are also proffered. They need to be simply, but not simplistically, expressed in order to communicate well. The results need to be communicated not as a clutter of facts, but as visible achievements that can be seen and felt in the way the city goes about its business and in its urban landscape. That is why we need to integrate attitudinal change with activities, programmes and initiatives as well as physical manifestations such as in urban design and infrastructure. Together these have a psychological impact. To do this well requires whole of government approaches and not scatter-gun initiatives. Resources to achieve transformation will not magic themselves out of nowhere. They will be harnessed by doing things better largely within the same resource base. Much of this does not cost money, or at least very little. But this can happen only by rethinking through what capital, collaboration, connections and communications are available. An under-explored form of capital is confidence. When we tap this energy, motivation and will follow. If we focus only on one without attention to the others, the city is managing itself badly. Leading a city is about managing all its forms of capital together. Additional resources come from collaboration because, if people and organizations follow jointly agreed ends, more value can be created and greater impact achieved without wasting time

330 The Art of City-Making and resources by contradicting each other. This is why the need to think through new governance arrangements for the city and to see it as an interconnected asset is highlighted. Connections, linkages and networks are a key resource. They are the software system of the city, society and economy. Getting people and sectors to talk together and finding ways to broker that talking does not cost much and can have great impact in terms of understanding, strategic decision-making, the generation of projects and, ultimately, wealth creation. Yet nobody takes this on as their role. Connections are not valued because the focus is on tangible deliverables. But they are the invisible assets that make the networking-driven economy work. And this should be the joint responsibility of both business and various levels of government. There should be two foci for connections, both internally and to the outside world. This is what we have called ‘capturing territory’. Communicating with strategic intent and sophistication through iconic triggers generates resources because, when done well, it engenders response, energy and will. While every city needs to be imaginative, some need to be doubly so. They must self-create through inventiveness, but to begin the process they must overcome the culture of constraint. This means a subtle shift in mindset, which is the order within which people structure their worlds and how they make choices, both practical and idealistic, based on values, philosophy, traditions and aspirations. Mindset is our accustomed, convenient way of thinking and our guide to decision-making. Mindset is the settled summary of our prejudices and priorities and the rationalizations we give them. A changed mindset is a rerationalization of a person’s behaviour, because people like their behaviour to be coherent, at least to themselves. The crucial issue is how people at every level can change their approach systematically, not piece by piece. The challenge is to find a story or narrative and linked structure that forces a change in perception. The notion of the metropolis as an interconnected asset and the idea of ‘learning to be a city’ and revaluing hidden assets could do the trick. Strong ideas or themes have a significant impact on how things are conceived, the role of discipline, and collaboration and implementation. For example, conceiving a place as a metropolis, or shifting the policy on education to centre around the child rather than the professional, or changing the name of risk policy.

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What is a creative idea? What is a good, catalytic idea that can drive a process, that becomes the roadmap to move forward? A great idea needs to be simple but complex in its potential. A good idea is instantly understandable, resonates and communicates iconically – you grasp it in one. A good idea needs to have layers, depth and be able to be interpreted and expressed creatively in many ways and involve many people who each feel they have something to offer. A good idea connects and suggests linkages. It is dynamic. It breathes and implies multiple possibilities. With a good idea creativity and practicality come together. A good idea solves economic problems as well as others. It has to embody issues beyond the economic. If it is just economic it can become mechanistic. Ideally it should touch the identity of a place and so feel culturally relevant. Indeed it should support, build on and create it. In this way it should speak to deeper values and ambitions. It is significantly powerful and can be implemented in many ways. Let’s look at some ideas. Many cities around the world say they are going to become the ‘education city’. This idea is narrow; it implies and feels as if it is only the education sector that is involved. It excludes everyone else. ‘A talent strategy for …’ idea would be better: it is easy to understand; clearly many people would need to be engaged; and they can see their involvement from the arts to education to business providing professional development. It can be layered to focus on identifying, harnessing, attracting, sustaining or exploiting talent. Or it can focus on the stages of talent from getting people to be curious, enterprising, entrepreneurial or innovative. Its weakness it that it could apply anywhere. To say, as Memphis is beginning to say, that it is ‘the city of second chances’ is quite strong. It projects a positive ethos; openness, the willingness to listen, tolerance. It recognizes that the city is disadvantaged without over-egging the pudding. It acknowledges business start-up records are not too good. It opens out to the future and ideally in a decade the slogan will be less relevant, because enough second chancers will have succeeded. To say that Adelaide would ‘waterproof the city’ was a strong idea of theirs, but it has not yet happened. It had an implied economic agenda and spoke powerfully to green issues. The same is true if any other city were to claim it would become the world’s first ‘zero emissions city’ or ‘solar city’, and really mean it. It would provide a mass of business opportuni-

332 The Art of City-Making ties and put that city on the global radar screen. It would seem interestingly counter-intuitive for a known mining centre or industrial centre to do it as the gut instinct is to see those kinds of city as macho. Another example of broadening an idea or ‘making more out of less’ is if someone wanted to light a set of buildings or a bridge. Such a lighting scheme, with associated activities and linked publicity, would have to be about more than just lighting some buildings – perhaps it should be about enlightening a place, and Perth being enlightened. In short, lighting a building needs to work harder.

A final coda: Reconsidering jargon Language is important – it is intrinsically linked to thinking and behaviour. A survey by the Centre for Local Economic Strategy (CLES), a British association for city development, quizzed 38 voluntary agencies in Oxford on their understanding of commonly used urban regeneration terms like capacity-building, community empowerment, project outcomes, strategic objective, synergy, joined-up thinking and exit strategy.56 In almost 90 per cent of cases, more respondents had heard of a term than understood it. This indicates a high frequency of overused but misunderstood phraseology. The worst were ‘capacity-building’, ‘synergy’ and ‘community empowerment’. As many of the activists did not understand the jargon, they did not know what many urban regeneration projects were seeking to achieve. Jargon detaches and disengages us from the core of what we are trying to do. Local people talk of taking their kids ‘on holiday’, professionals give them ‘a residential experience’; ‘having a good time’ is now ‘learning new skills’. Other jargon often reflects an atmosphere of political correctness. For instance, in Britain, multiculturalism has come under criticism for segregating communities and not encouraging crossovers between cultures. However, anything to do with race is seen as a minefield, as it presents so many opportunities to put your foot in your mouth and trip yourself up because you do not understand the cultural nuances of the latest words and dare not use them. This can especially be the case for council officers in planning or engineering services rather than in social and community development. They therefore stay away from these important issues, reinforcing the problems that need addressing.

The City as a Living Work of Art 333 Or how about ‘the Council’s commitment to delivering a comprehensive parks service is key to developing a sustainable parks service with a broad remit to deliver a full range of parks related services’? Or ‘the final report recognizes that local government is key to the current and future success of cultural provision and development and suggests that local authorities should take the lead in establishing and servicing Cultural Planning Partnerships to achieve outcomes within the policy framework’?57 Jargon can mask a lack of content and substance. The private sector is no better: ‘Clear Channel Spectacolor’s thrilling outdoor signage will add significant value to our property. This project will bring the excitement and energy that are the hallmarks of Times Square to this region. With this extraordinary volume of signage, the equivalent of three entire buildings in Times Square, this is a high-profile project that will allow us to embed clients into a truly unique marketing environment in a burgeoning marketplace.’ Insipid hogwash. Any professional field coins a technical language that justifies its existence and operations and gives the impression of specialization and exclusivity. But such language can act as a smokescreen to hide the fact that nothing is there or that something very insubstantial is. If you translated some jargon into plain English, it would come out as mundane truisms. It is often tautological or plain banal. Clearly ‘when you have new problems and want to conceptualize them, you create new language … but was it worth getting rid of poverty in favour of social exclusion, when no-one really understood what it was … and why get rid of social justice?’58


Creative Cities for the World

Ethics and creativity To be a ‘creative city for the world’ or to be ‘creative for your city’ highlights how a city can (or should) project a value base or an ethical foundation in encouraging its citizens, businesses and public institutions to act. By acting in this manner the way a city operates and the results it achieves act as role models to inspire others. Creativity in itself is not necessarily a good, especially when it limits itself to mere self-expression. Linking creativity to bigger picture aims, however, gives it special power and resonance. These values might range from a concern with greater equity or care in all its guises to balancing policy goals such as increasing the quality of life for all citizens, being globally competitive or linking economic, social and environmental agendas. Thousands of cities claim to be concerned about sustainable development; how many have radically applied such policies and gone against our inherent laziness or the interests of the car lobbies and others? The strength to go against the grain today must now be counted as an act of creative endeavour. Creativity for the world or for your city gives something back; it is a creativity that generates civic values and civility. Every city, for instance, has special public spaces, often given in perpetuity by philanthropists. These are a gift to a community. Alternatively public spaces in disrepair have been reconquered by citizen groups for the city. One of the best examples is the transformation of Bryant Park in New York from a fearful ‘no-go zone’, nicknamed ‘Needle Park’, dominated by drug dealers, prostitutes and the

336 The Art of City-Making homeless in the 1970s, to an urban haven with a Parisian feel by the 1980s. Initiated by a group of prominent New Yorkers, the park is now managed by the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation. Restored and redesigned, a coordinated programme of activities and facilities made it a spectacular success, immediately attracting locals and visitors. Since the summer of 2002 the park has had a free wireless internet network, sponsored by Google. You see people of all ages beavering away at their work or their novels. Overall this feels like a gift from ‘somewhere’ to the city and its citizens, rather like a random act of kindness.1 These acts of civility encourage social capital. Creativity for the world or your city can mean many other things, ranging from encouraging social entrepreneurship to providing ladders of opportunity to start-up companies or rethinking education, like the Katha example described earlier. When you think of great creative cities, Paris, New York, Amsterdam and London spring to mind, but, of course, there are thousands of other places that have degrees of creativity. You usually think of the city as a composite whole, with many images racing around, rather than an individual building or a part. Paris may have the Eiffel Tower and New York the Empire State Building, but they do not encapsulate the city. To be creative means being alive with possibility and not ossifying and resting on the laurels of former greatness or a single building. Paris and London achieve being both old and somewhat young. Through their imperial pasts they have extracted wealth and resources from their former dominions. Their museums – the Louvre or the British Museum – exemplify this. Abundant with treasures taken in from the world they exude power and help reinforce that power today as an element of their global pull. Political power linked to economic power often force-feeds creativity as these cities became poles of attractiveness for the ambitious, the talented or those wanting or needing to be near the centres of power. They have drawn in the peoples from their former colonies and now well beyond too. And those people in turn are now part of what makes London and Paris alive. Paris was for much of the 20th century regarded by many as the artistically creative centre of the world. Anyone who wanted to make a name for themselves had to have been there, from Picasso to Stravinsky. It attracted not only the makers but also the buyers, auctioneers and collectors. Overall

Creative Cities for the World 337 they created a milieu of both challenge and support. Yet today Paris, in spite of its glories and its attempts to foster the modern, is chided for its somewhat dirigiste, top–down, somewhat closed approach. London by contrast was for decades seen as the stuffy, unimaginative counterpart until it burst open in the 1960s in a number of fields, from irreverent comedy, to fashion and music. It has retained a reputation since then, attracting the young the world over. Its degree-level art education of world renown, for instance, is regarded as being a foundation. It is far less rigid and formulaic than its continental or American counterparts. This support for flexibility and focus on self-reliance both challenges and underpins creativity. It has resulted in comments such as those of Giorgio Armani, who is showcasing his 2007 collection in London rather than Milan or Paris: ‘London is in many ways the world’s most cosmopolitan and influential city, as it has become a crossroads for so many cultural references, including contemporary art, architecture, the performing arts, literature, food, music, film and fashion.’ Clearly, for London to regard itself as creative it needs to fire on more cylinders than this. Its congestion charge will in time be seen as brave and imaginative. New York must be mentioned as one of the creative cities of the last 150 years. Inevitably, as the traditional port of entry for European immigrations, and later many others, it represented the new horizon and attracted the ambitious or those wanting to make a fresh start the world over. The tough competitiveness and need to survive generated an intense energy and, as the cliché notes, a ‘do or die’ attitude that ultimately expressed itself in New York’s dominance in myriad fields, from finance to the media and even hip-hop, generated in the Bronx, which builds both on African roots and the contemporary possibilities of technology. Even the beggars have inventive scams to draw the money out of you. It expressed itself too in New York’s urban fabric, with Manhattan standing as the modern city icon par excellence. The AIDS crisis dampened possibilities, with the fear of crime and an edginess that was too stark playing their part too, but the subsequent turnaround in its safety record is admired, and this in turn attracted more financiers and business people, who helped increase the tax base in order to pay for public services that make New York feel safer and cleaner. This is a virtuous cycle. Yet the average financier, developer or business person, while good at what they do, is not renowned for their creativity. There is a fine balance between needing to focus on the

338 The Art of City-Making quality of life agenda, including safety, good housing or being a family-friendly city, and creativity. Some say too that since 9/11 New York feels a different place – it has shown its resilience and has come back. Yet in a place with so much agglomerated power it is difficult to conclude the big debates, such as the memorial for the 9/11 victims, with the array of vested interests – neighbourhood groups, politicians, developers and landowners. So the site as of summer 2006 lies there like an open wound. People are allergic or addicted, perhaps in equal measure, to these great creative places. These hubs of intensity and invention can feel too much. The quality of life – traffic jams, pollution, dirt, wealth and squalor living side by side – can overwhelm. Yet the notion of creativity for the city begins to bridge that gap.

Civic creativity In all great cities public-spirited generosity to the city is evident. Yet the question now for acknowledged creative cities such as New York, Paris, London and many others is whether they are creative enough or could they be more creative. There are many smaller cities coming up and challenging the formerly great centres, from Hong Kong to Singapore, from Vancouver to Zurich, from San Francisco to Melbourne and smaller still. And let’s not forget the newly fashionable cities like Shanghai, where there is immense energy (although is it really creative, given the constraints citizens operate under?). When businesses can be run from anywhere, they should make no assumption that their position is indelible. Just remember that of the great cities from 1000 years ago only Canton/Guangzhou is again in the primary league. Furthermore, is their imagination focused on a ‘just for me’ creativity or is it contributing to making the city a better place. I call this type of creativity civic creativity. The concept puts two words together that do not seem to fit. Creativity that seems to be loose and potentially wild and civic that comes across as curtailed and contained. There is a tension between them. The ability to generate civic creativity is where the public sector learns to be more entrepreneurial and the private sector more socially responsible in pursuing joint aims and the willingness to share power, with a goal of having greater influence over an enlarged more successful whole. Anywhere you go, from a tiny place in the far north like Longyearbyen in Svalbard to a giant metropolis like Tokyo, you

Creative Cities for the World 339 will find creative individuals and organizations bucking the trend, exploring the boundaries of what they know, inventing useful and less useful things. Some use their energy and imagination to keep the system going as it is and to reinforce existing trends. This might be an advertising agency devising ways, at times very stimulating but often dull, of trying to seduce us to buy while making it appear they are not doing so. This requires creativity of a sort, but is it creativity for the world? The garishness can excite, the technological wizardry can create wonder, and the irony can amuse. But to what larger purpose? To make you consume more or feel you are more unique and distinctive than you perhaps really are and therefore need that special brand. The city itself is increasingly seen as a branded retail experience that integrates the brands into an urban superbrandscape that becomes the ‘must-see’ destination. Or so many would hope. In this process retail/leisure developers become the true city-makers. The city of creativity has different qualities. It goes with and against the branded experience. It subverts the readily accepted. It tests convention. It seeks to be its own author of experience rather than have ‘experience’ imposed in a pre-absorbed way. Experiences are too often contained within a preordained template or theme that leaves little space for one’s own imagination. Instead, the city of creativity wants to shape its own spaces. It relaxes into ambiguity, uncertainty and unpredictability. It is ready to adapt. Not all creatives display these qualities in their lives, but the more creative city has an overall atmosphere that projects vistas of chance encounter, possibility, can-do, surprise, the unexpected, the challenging and the clash of the ugly and the beautiful. The more creative city also attends to the quintessentially ordinary (though increasingly extraordinary): affordable housing and ranges of housing choices at different prices; convenience stores selling basic products like bread and tea near to the urban core; flourishing neighbourhoods with strong identities; fast and frequent public transport; and gathering places and walkability. To make these possibilities come true requires civic creativity, because it involves using the regulations and incentives regime to bend the market logic to bigger goals. The vast number of small shops in Paris only exist because they have been encouraged through various regulations over time. We may care for our cities, but that care is often misplaced. And given a world of growing complexity we can often forget the

340 The Art of City-Making basics. We suffer from a collective amnesia when it comes to urban lore. Thus we deem ordinary, traditional applications of citymaking, like creating a good public space or restructuring public transport, as creative, when in fact we are merely revisiting first principles. The willingness to insist on the basics of good citymaking we increasingly must call civic creativity too. Creative people come in different shapes and forms, but too frequently we conflate stylishness and creativity. Though many are undeniably imaginative, we overemphasize media creatives and artists. And while, say, the socially creative may indeed be very unstylish, they may understand social bonding in important new ways and be invaluable to some city-making contexts. Techno creatives and engineers may have a laser-sharp focus on some obscure electronic problem or building dilemma. The same is true for the researchers in organizations, such as chemists, biologists or software engineers, beavering away quietly, unseen and usually unknown, with a concentrated focus on some minutiae or other. Disparagingly, many are written off as ‘nerds’: single-minded enthusiasts or people excessively interested in subjects or activities that are regarded as too technical or scientific. The creatives can be architects – some of whose dizzying buildings can shock you into awe – or built environment professionals, painters, musicians, business entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, generators of public experiences and even bureaucrats. These groups have differing characteristics, although some core qualities cluster, such as a relative degree of openness, tenacity and focus. Many may be smart in their subject but socially quite dull and limited. Indeed many work in the corporate world, with its many restrictions, formulae and group mindsets that may be effective in a narrow, econometric sense but are not necessarily creative. Creative urbanity, good conversation and wit are not inevitable partners of the research or corporate mind. Many of the so-called creatives in fact possibly want urban settings that are familiar, that have a contained edginess or a degree of reassuring predictability, and have lifestyles that are defined by the brands they associate with rather than what they create themselves. They breach boundaries in limited ways. So does this curbed boundary-breaking in one place make up a creative city? Probably not. The creative city needs the spark of the alternative; the sense of place, of non-branded space; the imagination of the ‘what could be’ displayed in action; younger and older people challenging conventions in behaviour, attitudes and even dress.

Creative Cities for the World 341 I have said already that the creative city is more like a free jazz session than a structured symphony.2 Jazz is a democratic form – everyone can be in charge at some point, yet when done well the individual performances seamlessly fit together. The creative city needs tens of thousands of creative acts to fit into a mosaic-like whole. There is not one conductor guiding everything from above, although leadership, hopefully widespread, sends out signals of the principles and values that are deemed right. Too often cities resemble karaoke, quite enjoyable yet scripted.3 You read the text from the screen and feel as if you are a creative performer, but in reality you are an imitator. The following sections look at urban creativity in a few select cities; hopefully the examples and dilemmas they pose will stand for the many others claiming they are exemplars of imagination. Readers can make up their own minds as to whether they are creative at all and what other cities they would have put in their place. I start with lengthier discussions of Dubai (an extreme of sorts), Singapore, the more familiar territory of the Spanish cities Barcelona and Bilbao, and Curitiba in Brazil. This gives a spread of attempts at urban creativity. There are other strongly creative places like Amsterdam, Vancouver, Yokohama, Freiburg and others, which will be briefly surveyed.4 When reading this through I hope there is sufficient food for thought for you to decide what is creative and what is not.

Is Dubai creative? Having encouraged open-mindedness on your part, I must acknowledge that when it comes to Dubai, my own views aren’t particularly charitable and it shows. By way of a justification for this polemic, while Dubai’s modern history has a lot in it to be admired – determination and boldness, for example – I wish to provide a cautionary account of how great productive endeavour and transformation does not always equate to creativity. Remember that its productive endeavours contribute to the world’s largest ecological footprint. Dubai has blasted itself on to the world map. It has followed what it considers ‘best practice’ with a Dubai twist. Courageous, strategic, a place of visions, determined, motivated and focused are words one might use, but creative? That is doubtful. Clearly devel-

342 The Art of City-Making oping ‘The Palm’, a palm tree-shaped set of islands off the Dubai coast, is a bold endeavour, as is creating ‘The World’, a set of manmade islands representing every nation on the globe, or the Dubai Waterfront, part of an attempt to increase Dubai’s shoreline from 60km to 800km in length. Dubai has scoured the world for best practices and has learnt the lessons of US business schools by heart and gone beyond those lessons. Dubai provides lessons in ambition, boldness, branding, hype, centralized resourcing, potential ecological disaster, human unsustainability and implosion. The city state is one of seven that make up the United Arab Emirates and is governed by the ruling Maktoum family, so it has no need to consider the vagaries of democratic ‘time wasting’. It can take decisions, stick to them and not worry about dissent. ‘Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum wanted to put Dubai on the map with something really sensational’ and to transform Dubai into a knowledge-based society and economy.5 The vision of Dubai to diversify away from oil, which now represents only 7 per cent of its income, was clear-sighted. Dubai was always a trading entrepôt and recognized early that the world was turning eastwards and that it could become a global hub between Europe and the East – a hub both logistically and, more importantly, in the knowledge- and media-based industries. The Middle East sends out mixed messages. To many it is a zone of instability and religious zealotry, seemingly detached from the West. However, the Gulf is a sub-region that lures the West and projects calmness, certainty and safety. As the world’s key oil producer, the region needs a transparent financial centre and transactional hub. Thirty years ago that centre was Beirut. Famed for its cosmopolitan outlook, atmosphere and diversity, it attracted bankers and tourists from the Middle East and Europe. Yet Lebanon’s 16year civil war from 1975 to 1991 destroyed both physical and networking infrastructures. Dubai had a short window of opportunity to step into the vacuum and usurp the role of Beirut, which has a far better climate, much more dramatic setting and much heritage to boot. As its advertising notes, ‘Beirut is simply a melting place combining culture, history, commerce and modern life.’6 As the civil war subsided and urban regeneration initiatives like Solidaire were completed, entrepreneurs were scrambling to re-establish Beirut as the transparent hub of the Middle East. And this is where Dubai had to move fast and launched its ambitious physical programme.

Creative Cities for the World 343 The elements of Dubai’s launch on to the world stage are increasingly well known and trumpeted in travel brochures and inflight magazines. Developing the Emirates airline, with Dubai airport as its hub, is the core precondition of the overall strategy. The Jebel Ali airport currently under construction seeks to handle some 120 million passengers per annum by 2025, making it the world’s largest airport and overtaking Atlanta, currently the world’s busiest airport, which handled 88.4 million passengers in 2005. The Dubai Metro project due for completion in 2009 is another element. The Festival of Shopping started in 1996; it ‘has changed the preconceived concept of summer in the UAE and the region from sluggish to an exciting season of fun and entertainment for all under the directives of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai’.7 The land reclamation projects such as The Palm, The World archipelago and the Dubai Waterfront are the largest manmade offshore structures in the world, housing villas, hotels, shops and holiday resorts. The last on its own will consist of 440km2 of water and land developments, an area seven times the size of Manhattan. Dubai Logistics City is the world’s first integrated logistics and multi-modal transport platform under a single customs-bonded and free-zone area. Spread over 25km2 it is the first phase of the huge World Central project, which will eventually combine all required transport modes with a logistics zone with ample space for warehousing and other logistics services. Nature helps here: a flat unremarkable landscape assists efficiency. The list continues. The Burj al-Arab is the world’s tallest hotel. Dubai’s Media City, built by the Dubai government to boost the UAE’s media foothold. Dubai Internet City. Dubai Knowledge Village, Dubaitech. All are attempts to build clusters of expertise by getting companies to relocate. These are free economic zones which allow companies a number of ownership, taxation and customs-related benefits such as 100 per cent foreign ownership and zero tax on sales, profits and personal income guaranteed by law for a period of 50 years. The goal was to become the logical place to do business in the Middle East, providing investors with an advanced business infrastructure and comprehensive platform to create value. Everything in Dubai has to be the biggest. The Burj Dubai is intended to be the world’s tallest building with the world’s fastest elevator, at 18m/s (40 mph) overtaking Taipei’s 101 office tower at

344 The Art of City-Making 16.83m/s (37.5 mph). Part of the complex is co-branded with Armani to reinforce the fashion statement… and Dubai Mall is about to be the world’s largest mall. ‘The Earth has a new centre,’ claims one of its slogans.8 Dubailand is a central plank in attracting 15 million visitors by 2010 and 40 million by 2015 – a dramatic rise from the projected 6 million in 2006. It is a vast entertainment complex growing out of the desert and claimed to be ‘a destination of extraordinary vision’ with ‘an endless mix of day and night activities’ that would appeal to ‘the world’s widest tourism segments, across genders, age groups, world regions and activity preference’.9 It is twice the size of Disneyworld and its ‘Great Dubai Wheel’ will be the world’s largest observation wheel. This Gulf version of Las Vegas and Orlando will have six themed areas: a themed leisure and vacation world, an attractions and experience world, a retail and entertainment world, a sports city, an eco-tourism world, and a downtown. It will include replicas of the Eiffel Tower (70 feet taller than the original) and the Taj Mahal (one-and-a-half times bigger than the original). Aqua Dubai will boast 60 water features. This taps into the increased tendency for people to be more attracted to the simulated than to the real thing – reality appears to be too much to cope with. The residential developments mirror the imaginary worlds, being created as a collection of idyllic communities: The Lakes, The Meadows, The Springs, Emirate Hills. One development is The Villa, described as: a totally unique concept which offers you the opportunity to design your ultimate Spanish home… You can combine a relaxed and serene lifestyle with the Spanish countryside experience… Just imagine the view from your terrace stretching over a lush green landscape and glistening water features reflective of the Mediterranean letting you experience the beauty and tranquillity of Spanish living… Wherever you decide to build your unique villa – The Haciendas, The Ponderosa, The Aldea – you can rest assured you are becoming part of a unique community. Furthermore you can live next door to Julio Iglesias! ‘Julio felt that The Villa will help spread Spanish culture in the region, and we hope that it will.’10 Other developments allude to the virtues of Tuscany … in Dubai, that is.

Creative Cities for the World 345 Yet ‘Dubai is ready for the ultimate lifestyle’ and encourages you, the globalized corporate worker, ‘to be part of a vibrant community of like-minded people who share the same hunger for success’. Lest anyone doubts the intentions, an indication of that chilling striving for success can be detected in Dubai developer EMAAR’s annual report of 2004: Competition is a companion of success… The possibility and probability of others replicating EMAAR’s success is a foregone conclusion… Competition has intensified and short-term advantages are no longer sufficient to ensure the survival of our company. In the ferocious war for profits, winning requires relentless strategic execution, which focuses on turning merely competitive advantages into decisive advantages that will neutralize, marginalize and even punish rivals… The challenge is not what we know, but how fast we can learn, such as to change our focus from the speed of expansion to the speed of our response to customer service. We need capabilities to become different as well as better. Branding is an important way of ensuring that the extra value that has been created is perceived by customers. Impossible is a word we live with and defy every day at EMAAR and actualize into the word possible… We constantly strive for perfection. Compromise is not a word in our vocabulary… We believe that our greatest achievement is not the tallest towers or largest malls we create, but the close-knit communities we develop… We searched the world and put together the very best in their fields.11 If this is the best the world can offer it is interesting they end up with a controlled theme park. Let’s look at the flip side. Where will this lead to in 20 years’ time? Of Dubai’s population of just over 1 million, only 18 per cent are locals, with 65 per cent Asians, mostly low-paid workers from India and Pakistan who keep the country going, 13 per cent ex-pat Arabs and 4 per cent ex-pat Europeans. Dubai leads global cities in the proportion of foreign- to native-born population. Many Asians have lived in the city for more than a generation but have no citizenship rights. Indeed the ‘Dubai-style underclass of disenfranchised immigrants’12 will do the UAE no good. Seventy-

346 The Art of City-Making one per cent of the population are men. Unsurprisingly there are hordes of prostitutes coming from Eastern Europe Tourists could spend weeks in Dubai without ever meeting a native of the city. You will be served and driven around by immigrants and the physical fabric is being built primarily by immigrants, with massive imports of low-wage workers from South Asia and the Philippines. Press reports in 2006 indicate that skilled carpenters earn £4.34 (US$7.60) a day and labourers £2.84 (US$4.00) and trade unions are forbidden in the United Arab Emirates. This has sparked rioting at the Burj Araq site in 2006 and at the new airport site, where five workers were recently killed in an accident. Indeed rioting is spreading to the whole region, from Qatar and Oman to Kuwait. Millions of foreign workers have flooded Gulf nations, outweighing indigenous populations. Most of these workers are forced to give up their passports upon entering Dubai and elsewhere, making it very difficult to return home. Reports suggest workers ‘typically live eight to a room, sending home a portion of their salary to their families, whom they don’t see for years at a time’.13 Others report that their salaries have been withheld to pay back loans, making them little more than indentured servants. There’s a good chance they live in Sonapur, a collection of run-down, dirty tenements housing more than 150,000 workers. Therein lies another story beyond Dubai’s shimmering skyscrapers. As Dubai has wittingly transposed Spain on to its land, Sonapur is an unwitting importation of a rather less glamorous, subcontinental urban life. And a story that is growing concerns rumours that the whole edifice is in part financed by money-laundering. Consider too that the UAE’s ‘ecological footprint’ is the worst of all countries in the world. Using data from 2001, the UAE has the biggest ecological footprint, at 9.9 global hectares per person, which means that five-and-a-half planets would be needed to sustain a UAE lifestyle applied globally. If Dubai were isolated from the UAE and 2006 data were used, its lifestyle is likely to require ten planets’ equivalent.14 This ecological overshoot can go unnoticed since there seem to be no apparent shortages. Water flows from taps, food appears in supermarkets, garbage disappears from streets, restaurants are overflowing with delicacies and new products materialize all around us as we are induced into buying more and still more. Yet consumption does not mean there are no limits. The limits are simply masked by not seeing the wider picture.

Creative Cities for the World 347 Behind the UAE, Kuwait, the US and Australia are the major footprint makers. One can see why when Dubai’s new US$275 million Ski Dome is a ‘monument to ecological folly’ and has perfect conditions every day, in a city where temperatures can reach can reach 50°C. The Ski Dubai centre expends thousands of watts on keeping its indoor climate at -1.4°C all year round. More than 6000 tonnes of snow cover an area the size of three football fields and 30 tonnes of fresh supplies will be added nightly to maintain a depth of 70cm.15 Equally the Burj al-Arab’s self-characterization as a ‘7-star’ hotel is considered by travel professionals to be hyperbole and an attempt to outdo a number of other hotels which claim ‘6-star’ status. All major travel guides and hotel rating systems have a 5star maximum. What has been achieved? Dubai, a trading port and backwater pearl-diving village until the late 1950s, has found innovative new ways of reinventing its role as middleman. Leadership has been clever in using every trick in the urban revitalizer’s book, from tax incentives, the 2002 decree allowing foreigners to buy homes and apartments to branding. For instance, firststeps@DIC is a facility within Dubai Internet City that allows companies to lease shortterm office space while exploring business and market opportunities. Dubai attracted the International Cricket Council to recreate their headquarters in Dubai, parting from Lords in London, the emblematic home of cricket which had hosted the ICC for 95 years. Some initiatives, such as creating 800km of new waterfront, can be considered inspiring in logistical terms, albeit devastating to the environment. Crucially Dubai has understood the inherent insecurity and conservatism of the corporate executives they are trying to attract and their desire for safety and certainty, with a contained sense of buzz – the familiar in the apparently unfamiliar. Yet in the terms in which I define creativity in the Art of CityMaking, namely creativity for the world with an ethical foundation that harnesses widespread talent, Dubai is not creative. Given its leaders’ proven track record of boldness and willingness to be inventive and visionary, Dubai’s financial resources, the unequalled power of its rulers, the free sunshine beaming down on them, why did Dubai not try to become the most ecologically sustainable city in the world, rather than the least? Why did it not become a model of what city-making could be like in the use of innovative new

348 The Art of City-Making energy-saving materials, building techniques and new eco-design? Why did they not follow the lead of eco-skyscraper builders like Ken Yeung to reduce air-conditioning needs and to create natural ventilation? Why does constructing a city mean treating the workforce as if they were second-class citizens? Why does Dubai think that striving for 15 million visitors has to be central to its positioning? Could they not have soft-pedalled on that and still achieved the objective of being a hub? How come that by consulting the ‘best experts in the world in their field’ Dubai ends up with extensive theme park experiences and residential quarters that barely have anything to do with Arabia and hardly reflect or build upon the historic inventiveness of Arabs at all? Perhaps Dubai is being advised by experts with little sense of larger, globally sustaining values, notions of local distinctiveness and what it means to establish creative environments, where difference means innovation, not rarefied gated communities. Why has Dubai fallen for the fake experience rather than the real? How come it was not confident or courageous enough to seduce the corporate class it is attracting to its hub with something bordering on the authentic where locals and incomers could co-create a new Dubai identity not merely based on brand names? Indeed some locals privately wonder how long Maktoum’s miracle can continue – and whether his unique society would survive a major political or economic shock. This shock could come from many places – from religious, reactionary zeal, democratic pressures unleashed by needing to maintain openness to the world or ecological disaster to a global downturn in tourism. Let us not forget that an age of creativity requires conversation, debate, consensus, disagreement and inevitable dissent that is leavened by democratic processes where all people, women and men, have a chance to participate fully. Is dissent allowed in Dubai? Can women be equal in Dubai? Only then can one begin to discuss the comprehensive creativity of a place.

Imitating the Dubai approach Dubai has inspired others to follow who will build on its experience and take it further. Qatar is one, where the Pearl-Qatar will be a secure, family oriented environment. It will be like no other destination in the Middle East. Modelled on the best of the Mediterranean, it will be

Creative Cities for the World 349 the Arabian Riviera (Riviera Arabia) and will offer a lifestyle reminiscent of France and Italy in the heart of the Arabian Gulf. The Pearl-Qatar will have 40 kilometres of reclaimed coastline and 20 kilometres of pristine beaches. Porto Arabia is a continental marina with a heart which beats to the rhythm of Arabia … It captures the vibrant sophistication of the Riviera. Colourful, refined and conducive to the highest standards of living, Piazza Arabia, the ‘dynamic hub’ of Porto Arabia, is an exciting retail, dining and cultural experience of incredible sophistication. Nowhere is the Riviera more aptly captured than in this Arabian Piazza – a blend of cosmopolitan chic and refined good taste – a place to meet and watch the world go by or to browse some of the world’s most revered brands.16 The City of Silk in Kuwait will, it is hoped, be located on the northern shore of Kuwait Bay. It will take 25 years to complete and will house 700,000 people and cost US$85 billion. The city will have four main districts. The Financial District, with its centrepiece tower, the 1001m-high Mubarak Tower, ‘inspired by the 1001 nights story and the desert plant life. The tower will be composed of 7 vertical villages which will consist of hotels, offices, residences and entertainment facilities’. The Entertainment District will contain resorts, hotels and entertainment villages. The Cultural District will be located on a peninsula with a centre for research on ancient artefacts, a historical museum and an arts centre. The Environmental District will be located at the heart of the city as part of the Bird Reserve for birds migrating from Africa to Central Asia. It will include an Environmental Research Centre and an extended network of universities and a health resort. The entire city will be surrounded by an emerald belt which will contain ponds, lakes and parks which will ensure that no one is more than a couple of steps away from the emerald belt.17 The Dubai model is self-replicating. Dubai’s EMAAR is building King Abdullah Economic City (!) near Jeddah along the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia, which at US$26 billion is considered relatively small scale. It is divided into six zones, with huge skyscrapers, including a seaport, a resort zone, an industrial zone for manufacturing and logistics, an education zone, a financial island and a residential area.

350 The Art of City-Making Can the city boom continue? One is reminded of the Japanese mega-projects in the 1980s, such as Osaka’s Minatu-ku, which attempted to lodge Japan on to the global map. Yet projects can fail, although when swept along their success can seem inevitable.

Is Singapore creative? Singapore has a reputation for cleanliness, clockwork efficiency and a well-behaved citizenry. Your baggage has arrived on the airport belt before you have cleared immigration. The route into the city was the first in the world to be completely tree-lined and boulevarded and it exudes a contagious calmness. Shanghai has followed the example. These constitute positive first and last impressions. Things work: the metro is on time, wireless internet connections are nearly ubiquitous, electronic sensors in cars seamlessly monitor when you enter the charging zone or car parks and the city is clean and safe. The West sneers at its apparent conservatism: haircuts for long-haired male arrivals, the ban on chewing gum. You still hear much about fines for jaywalking, littering and spitting. But the day-to-day reality is that you don’t feel a heavyhanded government presence. Often the same people that sneer hanker after the sense of security Singapore offers. Yet there are dilemmas for a city brought up and built up with a culture of nation-building, national security and social discipline, even though Singapore is so far the ‘most extraordinary case of economic development in the history of the world, which launched itself by a deliberate strategy out of abject post-colonial poverty into firstworld affluence within one generation’. That in itself is an act of creation, intellect, determination, strategy and focus. ‘Singapore, so far, has experienced no real crisis, no fundamental break in its remarkable economic progress … the government, conscious that this is a city-state completely dependent on its global trading function, has sought to keep ahead of the action, moving the economy out of basic manufacturing into high-technology production and finally into advanced services.’18 Yet how will Singapore cope moving into the creative age? Singapore, like Dubai or Hong Kong, is an exceptional case. A country-island-city-nation-state, a port-city and regional hub, it has no hinterland or, rather, ‘the world is its hinterland’. There is a relative absence of an overarching ancestral culture and traditions. It has a dominant one-party government that is interventionist and a strong emphasis on political stability and economic development.19

Creative Cities for the World 351

Historical background We have reached a stage in our economic and national development when we should devote greater attention and resources to culture and the arts in Singapore. Culture and the arts add to the vitality of a nation and enhance the quality of life. So responded PM Goh Chok Tong – then first Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence – to the Report of the Advisory Council on Culture and the Arts in April 1989. That report was widely regarded as a watershed in the development of the arts, heritage and cultural scene in Singapore. Its main thrust affirmed that ‘culture and the arts mould the way of life, the customs and the psyche of a people’ as they ‘give the nation a unique character, broaden our mind and deepen our sensitivities, improve the general quality of life, strengthen the social bond and contribute to our tourist and entertainment sectors’.20 In the Singapore way this vision of a culturally vibrant society ‘whose people are well-informed, creative, sensitive and gracious’ was to be achieved by 1999. Note here the tone, in contrast to Dubai: the word ‘gracious’ appears, whereas in Dubai ‘decisive advantages … will neutralize, marginalize and even punish rivals’. It highlighted that Singapore’s multicultural heritage, whose ‘excellence in multi-lingual and multi-cultural art forms should be promoted’ made it unique. Indeed, as the world has switched emphasis to the East, its Chinese–English bilingualism may become its key advantage. In moving away from advanced manufacturing, Singapore identified international gatherings and linked performance and exhibition spaces as key to projecting an image of world-class style and attractiveness. The most visible accomplishments since 1989 have been the Singapore Art Museum (1996), which is now about to move, the Asian Civilizations Museum (1997), the Singapore Film Commission (1998) and the Esplanade (2002) – a multipurpose performance centre. The Esplanade is seen as the ‘star in the firmament’ and was intended to be an icon comparable to the Sydney Opera House. The reality is that it probably has regional rather than global drawing power. After 30 years of planning and 6 years of construction, it seeks to ‘entertain, engage, educate, and inspire’. Only five concert

352 The Art of City-Making halls in the world possess its state-of-the-art acoustic features. The Esplanade’s two outer shells resemble durians, a prickly fruit loved by Singaporeans. In the evening, ‘its two “lanterns of light” sparkle upon Singapore’s marina. It houses Singapore’s first performing arts library and an arts-centric shopping centre’. It claims to ‘herald the entrance of a cultural renaissance’.21 This phase of cultural development focused on traditional cultural institutions and approaches without linking them to the underlying economic and social dynamics that could project Singapore as a creative, innovative city. Containers on their own do not guarantee creative content, especially if they are institutionally focused and without links to the informal sectors where much creativity starts. Furthermore, big structures swallow resources at an exorbitant rate. One could ask: How about 50 more small projects instead of one big structure? Which would generate more creativity potential?

The Renaissance City project22 By 1999 many commentators argued that the emphasis should shift from ‘hardware’ to ‘software’ or what they called ‘heartware’. A potentially enhanced role for culture and the arts in the future development of Singapore’s society and economy was foreseen. Various government agencies had already mapped out plans to ensure that the strategic concerns of Singapore in areas such as education, urban planning and technology were being addressed. But there was not a holistic, comprehensive re-examination in Singapore of how the arts and cultural scene would fit in. The Renaissance City project sought to fill that gap. It began by undertaking an audit of facilities, activities and arts groups and assessed audience profiles. It noted a general burgeoning of activity. Whereas Singapore was generally written off as a sterile cultural desert, the New York Times on 25 July 1999 described the Singapore arts scene as having gone ‘from invisible to explosive’. Time Magazine’s cover story for the week of 19 July 1999 featured the loosening up of Singapore – ‘Singapore Lightens Up’. It noted Singapore was getting creative and even ‘funky’, with its society transformed ‘in ways that until recently seemed impossible’. Today, in-flight magazines extol the virtues of Singapore’s ‘bohemian edge’.23 The city state began a vigorous benchmarking process, targeting world cities – London, New York, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong

Creative Cities for the World 353 Kong, Barcelona, Austin and Melbourne. This process highlighted the ‘war for talent’, the notion of ‘buzz’ and vibrancy in creating the intangible value of fashionability that needs to be backed up by real substance. This might be the presence of world-class institutes of higher learning and research laboratories, productivity and industry if the goal is to get beyond hype. The benchmarking indicators used tended to define talent in narrower and more quantitative terms, such as numbers of arts organizations or ‘creative class’ professionals, rather than including social innovation and creativity in terms of organizational culture. It noted instead that London had double the amount and New York three times as many arts facilities, activities, performances and expenditure. ‘While we are in the top league of cities in terms of economic indicators, we are not in terms of culture.’ Culture was seen as the next step and competitive tool in urban growth. Drawing on thinkers around the world, the Renaissance City report concluded: In the knowledge age, our success will depend on our ability to absorb, process and synthesize knowledge through constant value innovation. Creativity will move into the centre of our economic life… Prosperity for advanced, developed nations will depend on creativity, … more on the ability to generate ideas that can then be sold to the world. This means that originality and entrepreneurship will be increasingly prized. Singapore had recognized this encroaching reality relatively early. The 1991 Strategic Economic Plan singled out the need to nurture creativity and innovation in Singapore’s education system as a key strategy to realize its vision. Yet the link to developing the city’s cultural capital only happened at the end of that decade. As Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted in 1996, ‘Creativity cannot be confined to a small elite group of Singaporeans… In today’s rapidly changing world, the whole workforce needs problemsolving skills, so that every worker can continuously add value through his efforts.’ Later the Renaissance City Report noted: We will need this culture of creativity to permeate the lives of every Singaporean… This will have to take place in our schools and in our everyday living envi-

354 The Art of City-Making ronment… We have to be wary that we do not merely equate creativity with a narrow form of problemsolving. The arts, especially where there is an emphasis on students producing their own work as well as appreciating the work of others, can be a dynamic means of facilitating creative abilities. Such an approach would encourage virtuous circles of ‘arts development and business formation loops’ that improve both the economic and artistic environment. Business-friendly administration and facilities are necessary but not sole guarantees of attracting talent. For this, a cultural ‘buzz’ is also needed: ‘By calling for a Renaissance Singapore, this is not an attempt to replicate the conditions of post-medieval Europe. Rather, it is the spirit of creativity, innovation, multi-disciplinary learning, socio-economic and cultural vibrancy that we are trying to capture.’ The vision was a projection of the type of Singapore person, society and nation that Singapore could aspire to. This is a society where people are at ease with their identity and one which encourages experimentation and innovation, whether it be in culture and the arts or in technology, the sciences and education.

From rhetoric to reality The Renaissance City concept was theoretically strong and many subscribed to its intentions. The Renaissance City strategy implied a completely different way of operating, but this has not yet occurred. The historical mindset that worked so well for the past has not adjusted. The notion of a creative city implies a level of openness that potentially threatens Singapore’s traditions of more top–down action. Nevertheless, this issue is at least being openly discussed. As an instance of how Singapore’s traditions are etched into its mindset, the deputy prime minister, in approving the initiative to set up creative quarters, stated precisely where these might go. The local artistic community is especially critical of the emphasis on importing world stars to perform in Singapore without a parallel focus on developing indigenous cultural creativity. They believe their scope for action remains contained. It now appears that the idea of a ‘creative culture’ and ‘creative capital’ is being taken seriously, even to the extent of examining fundamental issues such as censorship laws. Yet the cultural community remains worried that creative capital will be driven by a purely economically driven model. Their focus is on how the

Creative Cities for the World 355 cultural ecology of Singapore can develop more deeply – an approach that takes time rather than the ‘sledgehammer approach’ that solely addresses hard infrastructure. Notions of ‘soft infrastructure’ are being taken more seriously. Singapore has applied the recognized repertoire of culture and renewal – icon structures, global branding and the talent agenda – and its effective focus is within the Asia-Pacific region. It continues to scan world trends, seeking to be a global nodal point, and currently aims not to slip behind Shanghai, whose global resonance grows daily, and stay on a par with Hong Kong, which is aiming to be the events capital of Asia. It is aware too of Seoul’s ambitions to create a digital media city and the intentions of Dubai. Singapore has always been strong on developing physical infrastructure. In seeking to reach the next level of strategic global positioning, its latest initiative is ‘One-North’, a more than US$1 billion investment. This project seeks to learn the global lessons of how to establish a creative milieu by combining hard and soft components and applying this to a series of clusters in a park-like environment. Coordinated by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, this 200-hectare zone has two focal points: Biopolis and Fusionopolis/Media Hub. In addition there is an incubator zone called Phase Z.Ro, which focuses on eight clusters: electronics, chemicals, engineering, infocoms, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices and healthcare services – all with shared research facilities where upwards of 10,000 people will work. A strong residential component is interwoven and from the more assertive new developments a long meander, or short car journey, takes you past 42 older, smaller buildings and heritage sites. The area, 20 minutes from the centre, is well connected by the metro and other public transport. Green spaces, mature trees and winding roads have been preserved to allow ‘pause for thought and quiet contemplation in the midst of technology and commerce’. The aim is to give contrast, character and a sense of continuity. Between the high-rise office spaces sit hotels, conference facilities, corporate retreat areas and dining and entertainment facilities. They call this a ‘DoBe (livework) and play lifestyle and … an exceptional place for exceptional people to live and work, relax and learn. Where you can inspire and be inspired to push the boundaries of knowledge and turn ideas into groundbreaking innovations’. It is conceived as a place where imagination turns into action:

356 The Art of City-Making Imagine an environment bounded only by imagination itself. Where you can live, work and be inspired by leading scientists, researchers and technopreneurs from around the world. Where groundbreaking ideas are born from a stroll in the park and conventions challenged over coffee at a sidewalk cafe. Where anything is possible. Welcome to One-North – a vibrant place and a lifestyle choice for the most creative minds of the new economy.24 Biopolis aims to be a centre for biomedical sciences in Asia and the world, combining public and private research institutes and commercial lettings, such as the Bioinformatics and Genome Institutes or GlaxoSmithKline, Molecular Acupuncture Ltd or John Hopkins’ Division of Biomedical Sciences. It includes the world’s first facility for large-scale production of stem cells. It lies close to the National University of Singapore, National University Hospital and the Singapore Science Parks. The names of the buildings indicate the interests with their ancient Greek associations – Nanos, Proteos, Genome, Helios, Matrix and Centros. It also has an arts programme, which bills itself as ‘soft art meets hard sciences’. Fusionopolis, by contrast, aims at an ‘uptown’ vibrancy: Embark on a pilgrimage of learning and discovery at the Fusionopolis@one-north… Fusionopolis will be a vibrant and exciting place for infocom and media industries to come together, bringing talents, expertise and organizations to create innovations and breakthroughs that are in a class of their own.25 Here there are institutes for micro electronics, high performance computing, a data storage institute and digital media research centres. This is part of an attempt to transform Singapore into a global media city and exchange and financing nodal point with the help of a Media Development Agency. Phase Z.Ro, the cheaply priced incubator and company startup zone, with 60 office areas, has a far more zany feel. Bright yellow Lego-like container constructions are clustered around a gathering space. Contrasted to the corporate structures of Biopolis around it, Z.Ro has an imperfect, human feel, where you the tenant feel you can shape its future. An interesting growing signage collec-

Creative Cities for the World 357 tion of past tenants stands tall like a piece of public art. Sadly, though, the space will disappear. Land prices in Singapore are far too valuable for structures like Z.Ro to proliferate, though these buildings’ more handmade, organic feel will be missed as somewhat lifeless corporate structures take their place. Yet a unique design palate could be instigated at this juncture which combines the need to build high with opportunities to individualize and continually transform living and working spaces and which also projects an eco-design concern. Key to Singapore’s success is the talent attraction strategy whereby bright younger individuals and established experts are lured through scholarships and financial inducements as well as a conducive regulatory and business environment and hopefully a ‘buzz’. For instance, scholarships are available to more than 500 of Singapore’s best and brightest to fund their PhDs at top US and European universities. The investment can run to SGD600,000 (£210,000) per person in return for a guarantee of six years’ service to public institutions. Others schemes exist to attract foreigners to Singapore: We foster and nurture world-class scientific talent … and aspiring scientists who dare to race with the world’s best towards the very limits of modern science. Together with scientists we will build up our intellectual capital and our scientific capabilities. That will boost the economic competitiveness of Singapore.26 They see this as happening in ‘real space’ – the physical location and resources of One-North; ‘virtual space’ – the communities of interest linked through state-of-the-art connectivity; and ‘imaginative space’ – ‘the limitless possibilities and opportunities of the human imagination and endeavour’.

Dilemmas for Singapore The strengths of Singapore are known: strong supporting factors such as good IT and telecommunications infrastructure, being a multicultural society with a bilingual policy, having a cosmopolitan and well-educated population, a well-developed arts and cultural infrastructure, its closeness to the huge Asian market and its new focus on ‘translational’ research which stimulates collaboration across disciplines. Its problem areas are its small local market, high costs of land, the relative weakness of soft infrastructure invest-

358 The Art of City-Making ment and the perception that Singapore is a highly regulated place which is not very tolerant of divergent views. The latter may have an effect on attracting certain types of talent. Let’s use attitudes towards gays as a weathervane for Singapore’s tolerance dilemma. For four years from 2001, Singapore consented to a more liberal policy towards gay lifestyles, stirred by research, such as that of Richard Florida, showing that cities with an active gay community had more creative and productive societies. The attractions of the ‘pink dollar’ should also not be underestimated. The annual public gay Nation Party held on Nation Day on 8 August was emblematic of that change. The events were sponsored by Fortune 100 companies like Motorola and Subaru. Yet the gay community was shocked when in early December 2004 the licence to hold an event called Snowball 04 was rejected: Observations at a previous Ball … showed that patrons of the same gender were seen openly kissing and intimately touching each other. Some of the revellers were cross-dressed, for example, males wearing skirts. Patrons were also seen using the toilets of the opposite sex. The behaviour of these patrons suggested that most of them were probably gays/lesbians and this was thus an event almost exclusively for gays/lesbians… Several letters of complaint were received from some patrons about the openly gay acts at the Ball… The police recognize that there are some Singaporeans with gay tendencies. While police do not discriminate against them … the police also recognize that Singapore is still, by and large, a conservative and traditional society. Hence, the police cannot approve any application for an event which goes against the moral values of a large majority of Singaporeans. In April 2005, the licensing division faxed a rejection of the application to hold Nation 05 – the Nation Party had become Asia’s most acclaimed gay and lesbian party – citing the event to be ‘contrary to public interest’.27 Some associate the decision by Britain’s Warwick University to abandon plans for a Singapore campus with worries about academic freedom and Singapore’s stance against the gay community.

Creative Cities for the World 359 Singapore’s loss has been Thailand’s gain., an event organizer, transplanted the annual Nation Party, now stylishly renamed Nation.V, to Phuket, Thailand. ‘Singapore has a way to go in maturing as a society, where Thailand has a long history culturally of accepting gay lifestyles,’ noted Stuart Koe, who runs Some are concerned that the issue might set back efforts by the city state to attract top Western universities in its quest to become a ‘global schoolhouse’ and ideas of Singapore becoming the ‘Boston of the East’, with a cluster of top universities like Harvard and MIT and a regional hub for higher education. The government wants education services to account for 5 per cent of gross domestic product, up from 3.6 per cent, within the next decade. Further evidence of relaxation was extended licensing hours, allowing bar-top dancing, the setting up of a Crazy Horse from Paris and creating the Clark Quay development where tacky, sexist outfits like 1NiteStand Bar or Hooters go about their business unquestioned and especially attract the ex-pat crowd. Another dimension of the easy money over substance debate was the decision to develop two ‘integrated resorts’ in Marina South and Sentosa, which combine casinos within a leisure resort. Aimed at attracting tourists, especially from China, and increasing tax revenues, there are, however, restrictions. The Singapore leadership acknowledged the downsides and promised there would be safeguards to limit the social impact of casino gambling, such as restrictions on admitting the local population into the casinos. For example, family members of a patron may block them from entering and gambling. The very high entrance fee of SGD100 per entry or SGD2000 every year are prohibitive. A system of exclusions includes not being allowed to extend credit to the local population. As the large US casino and retail developers hover over Singapore, they promise: the creation of an experientially compelling entertainment destination at Singapore’s Marina Bay … a unique opportunity to extend our popular media brands and assets into a whole different realm… The development presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to create multiple flagship stores housing the world’s top luxury fashion brands within one unified shopping and entertainment environment.29

360 The Art of City-Making In the process, other ‘cultural brands’ like the Centre Pompidou are being brought into play to project an element of class. Does an integrated resort contribute to the creativity potential of Singapore? The pre-digested brand experiences proposed offer little if anything to Singaporeans to shape and create things authored by them rather than a foreign corporation. Do integrated resorts (IRs) attract the creatives? Probably not. Indeed they might repel them. The IR concept may indeed decrease the city state’s creativity potential as the creative cutting edge looks elsewhere for places to explore and discover. In fact it would have probably been creative for Singapore to have said ‘no’ to IRs, as it would have been for Hong Kong to have said ‘no’ to Disneyland or Osaka to have rejected Universal Studios. The latter both increasingly disappointed with the results and effects. Singapore stands at a cusp. Does it want to be a ‘tourist city’, a ‘fantasy city’ or a ‘creative city’? While not completely mutually exclusive, they are stark choices as the trajectories for each development path are different. Singapore’s strengths embody its weaknesses. The advanced industrial model it excels in implies instrumental rationality, linear and convergent thinking. It aims at replicability and clear process. This makes the city state good at urban hardware, metros, buildings and the technology to match. It is better at creating the containers rather than the contents, the hardware rather than the software. And it is more than competent at replicating already existing innovations. However, the trick is to continually explore new possibilities rather than reproduce that which has been done before. Such divergent exploration will, of course, be held in check by physical, logistic capabilities. It will either be possible to replicate new ideas and projects or not. But the virtue of a creative idea can only be measured if it is realized. The creative mind is open or closed as appropriate to context. Uncertainty in this context is positive but is stifled in a risk-averse culture. Singapore therefore oscillates between constraint and creativity. It is more relaxed to operate in comfort zones and with more control than in unknown territory. It has a desire to plan creativity as against creating the conditions within which creativity can occur. It accepts its multifarious diversity, yet does it also engage with difference? Its wish to pre-empt the consequences of risk and focus on security and predictability can curtail its possibilities. Perhaps there is a sense of angst, even a fear of insight, which makes being a ‘happy robot’ more appealing. The city’s pragmatism may lead to

Creative Cities for the World 361 a narrow economic calculus, such as in the IR debate, so losing out on the broader accounting Singapore’s values and ideals imply.

Are Barcelona and Bilbao creative? Barcelona Spanish cities like Barcelona, Bilbao, Malaga, Seville and Valencia have perhaps more to teach us about creative physical urban reinvention than cities in any other country in Europe or elsewhere. The pent-up energy contained during the Franco dictatorship period burst forth from the 1980s onwards as cities and regions sought to reassert their identity and presence and become part of the heart of Europe again rather than pariahs at the edge. Barcelona and Bilbao have inspired each other. For these two in particular, a distinctive approach that was culturally their own was a matter of pride. Being port cities helped – traditionally the necessary openness of ports fosters ideas exchange and mutual influence, although often ports can be open to the world and closed to their hinterland. As part of Catalonia or the Basque country, its major cities can bring together diverging interests in the wider area and unite them for larger, regional goals. Yet it does not guarantee a strategic, imaginative response. History helps understand creativity potential and can help provide the backbone, energy and motivation. But history can hold a city back if it rests on its laurels and focuses on the past. The break from the Franco era, under which Spanish society had been extremely conservative, in 1975 led to a transition period, the completion of which was marked with the victory of the socialist Partido Socialista Obrero Español in October 1982. The liberation from Franco and transition to democracy began a liberalization of values, of ideas and of potential. Significantly, being regions that wanted to assert their identity against the dominace of Castilia was key. Being unique and distinctive was a survival issue. In the context of re-found freedoms, the recognition of globalization’s power and the need to restructure their economies, reshaping the city to 21st-century needs became urgent. There was much to catch up on. Franco had despised Barcelona and Catalonia, so there was a massive backlog of required investments. In both cases this was done with strategic verve and long-term thinking. Both Barcelona and Bilbao had history to fall back on. Most obviously in terms of city-making, design was significant.

362 The Art of City-Making Why is Barcelona considered part of the creative pantheon? Let’s remember that to discuss Barcelona globally in terms of style 30 years ago would have seemed very odd. The city landscape for foreigners was more dominated by images such as those from Jean Genet’s A Thief’s Journal, which describes how he scraped a living as a rent boy and thief in the streets of Barrio Chino in the 1920s and 1930s, living side by side with prostitutes, transvestites, pimps, drug dealers, gypsies and thieves. Few tourists would have considered visiting this once rather run-down industrial centre. A seismic change indeed. In Barcelona I want to highlight three elements: design, public space and its link to place-making and cultural management. It has been to Barcelona’s advantage that the aesthetic experience of daily life is now wanted by everyone in every sphere of life, and that capitalism needs this design experience to sell its ongoing dreams of a better life. Some say we live in the age of design and style. Few places are design centres and even fewer exude a sense of difference and therefore the seemingly authentic. Barcelona is one. In Barcelona and Catalonia design is not a recent fad. Design has deeply etched roots growing from the needs of the industrial revolution applied to products and services and the cultural influences stemming from Barcelona’s port status. From that it is a short step to architectural design. Antoni Gaudi, who invented an original architectural palette, stands as the best known example. Others include Domenech i Montaner and Josep Puig. The important fact is that the city has been able to reassert its design standing today to the extent that the city itself is synonymous with design, as in ‘Barcelona design’ (Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chair being the most well known). All this reinforces Barcelona’s resonance. Catalan distinctiveness is key. As an instance, the 1992 Olympics mascot symbol was a sheepdog called Cobi, whose design aesthetic was far removed from Mickey Mouse imagery. Equally, the opening ceremony set a different benchmark for the public spectacle, beginning with the lighting of the Olympic Flame with a flaming arrow fired by paralympic archer Antonio Rebollo. The spectacle included a staging of the mythical birth of Barcelona from the sea, complete with ocean battles between sea monsters and humans. These approaches have since been copied by other major openings. The difference between Barcelona as a design capital and others such as Milan and Montreal is that the former more strongly seeks to create its identity as a designed work of art, from its architec-

Creative Cities for the World 363 ture, street furniture and interior design to shops, bars and restaurants. Barcelona has become a cultural icon in itself – one of the few places where the city is a living work of art as distinct from a dead one. This is what many feel about cities such as Venice and Florence, in spite of their beauty. An essentially ‘dead city’ is one where the past overwhelms the present, and the present merely serves to maintain the past for groups like tourists. They may bask in their beauty and inspire, but not much more. In the ‘living city’ current creativity is the dominant feature. The convergence of the design ecosystem, starting from the presence of designers across the disciplines of environmental, product, interior, graphic, digital and fashion design, strengthens the city’s echo. It includes public and private research centres, design in schools and tertiary institutions, events and festivals, awards, museums and associations. It stretches across transport design – Volvo and Volkswagen have a strong design presence – to household goods and urban design. Yet worries are on the horizon. Some say the city is too concerned with design: ‘Everything has to be specially designed, even the notepaper or the invites to an event. They can’t leave anything un-designed and ordinary – perhaps Valencia is the place to watch.’30 Barcelona’s urban design standing nevertheless has strong historical roots to draw on. The Eixample by Cerda, an example of ‘ideal urban planning’, although not universally liked by everyone because of its rigour and monotony, still provides a frame for Barcelona’s urban life on which its diversity can play itself out. Many people agree that Barcelona has one of the best street lives of any larger city. This is not a coincidence. Catalonian (and Mediterranean) culture and the climate all play a part. Yet although a city is rarely made by individuals on their own, two personalities also shaped our current view of the city strongly. The first was Pasqual Maragall, mayor from 1982 to 1997, who helped kickstart Barcelona’s international re-emergence. The Olympics came in 1992 (to Madrid’s great annoyance), putting Barcelona on the international map. The preparation for the games from 1984 onwards and the resources they brought to bear became a tool to reshape his city. The strategy was in essence urban physical transformation driven by big events. The city was reconnected with its waterfront by submerging a highway; new beaches and neighbourhoods were created, as were a series of pocket parks. Oriol Bohigas was a second important figure. From 1980 to 1984 he was responsible

364 The Art of City-Making for urban services and was a leading spirit in caring for and reconquering the city for its citizens. As he noted, ‘I had my first meeting with Barcelona’s first democratic mayor. We decided that we had to invent the democratic urbanity in Barcelona.’ They agreed: ‘The public space, whether open or built-up, is really the city’ and is based on the conviction that ‘citizenship is closely related to participation in the public space and the rhythms of the city.’ They felt quality of life depends on attaining four conditions: density, collective life, identity and communication.31 The priority was therefore to reconstruct the city starting from public space rather than, say, housing, roads or office projects. Thus Bohigas launched a phased programme of new pocket parks and small plazas, concentrating on derelict spaces and the hidden historic areas of the city. Artists were seen as an essential component of the new design teams charged with assessing and developing the city’s public spaces in consultation with residents. These new spaces used modern art in day-to-day neighbourhood contexts as well as the old core quarters such as Raval, where the Museum of Modern Art of Barcelona (MACBA) is based. The latter was contentious. It partly ‘cleansed’ the area of its more shady drug peddling and criminal fringe and some called this ‘sanitizing’, an equivalent perhaps of what happened to 42nd Street in New York, where the corporates moved in and ‘low life’ moved out. Yet always expect the unexpected. In front of MACBA, within the dense surrounds of Raval, there has been a new takeover of the public space by skateboarders. This day-long daily show, watched by many, is perhaps one of the best urban sport spectacles of its type. The Spanish tradition of placas provided an important cultural context for a long-term plan, which developed organically into a master plan for the whole city, rather than there being a master plan in advance: From the point of view of planning this was important, because we were absolutely against the idea of master plans. The master plan is a way of factoring in the globalization of the city but without considering the individual identities of each quarter. For that reason we decided not to do a master plan for Barcelona but to complete small architectural projects and to understand that the master plan was just the culmination of all of these small solutions.32

Creative Cities for the World 365 This is principled, strategic incrementalism, in other words incrementalism with a clear goal. Creating spaces of communication and gathering in order to foster conviviality and to stage performances was key, as was attempting to find an equilibrium between the natural and built environment. The goal, said Bohigas, was to create the conditions for an ‘element of randomness: the capacity to find something without searching for it’. ‘Such random information is not possible in a technological system where everything is logically defined.’ ‘With information technology we search but in the city we find.’ Note here the comparison with Dubai or Singapore. ‘To be a citizen of Barcelona is to walk its streets, to be part of the ebb and flow of public life.’33 Not only has public space been reinvented, but so have public events such as La Merce, whose origins date back to 1218 and is based on a vision of the virgin Mary dressed in white, surrounded by brilliant lights and celestial spirits. Yet as Jordi Pablo noted in 1984: At the end of the 70s, as a consequence of the substantial changes in public life, a profound renovation of the Festa Major of Barcelona was initiated. The city tried to construct a different model of festival, one that maintained an equilibrium between tradition and a strong sense of modernity, between activities available to only a few and a modern sense of the use of the public spaces of the city, between a high quality programme of spectacles and the possibility of free participation in nearly all the activities.34 La Merce became a celebration of living afresh, with citizens of Barcelona pouring into the streets for a mass of participatory events. La Merce is a new conception of what a festa is, how it can become part of the urban fabric as well as retain traditional Catalan elements: The parade and dance of giant papier mâché figures from within Barcelona and the surrounds, a competition of castellers, groups of people building human castles, a parade of stilt walkers, and the correfoc (literally ‘running fire’), a mass gathering in which groups of young people dressed as devils parade

366 The Art of City-Making through the streets carrying various papier mâché beasts and firing off fireworks over the heads of the massed crowd.35 To make these conditions work themselves through, another element is required: recognition of the primacy of culture and deep pride in one’s own locality, with the cultural thinking and management skills to match. The Institute of Culture, the city’s cultural division, is more influential than equivalent departments in other cities where, in the hierarchy of power, the finance and engineering divisions tend to have the highest status. It is a public–private partnership which provides more flexibility. Its goal is to increase the influence of culture on development strategies in the city and to make culture a key element for social cohesion. This means that any major development will tend to be assessed through a cultural prism. Mirroring this interest, Barcelona has, unusually, over a dozen cultural planning courses, such as that started in 1989 by the University of Barcelona or that of the Pompeu Fabra University. Barcelona’s 20-year trajectory from the early 1980s was paced and purposeful. It was focused on a combination of urban design and big events, such as the Olympics or the Universal Forum of Cultures in 2004. The Forum was perhaps one step too far. The new logic of driving urban development the world over through the private sector that emerged in the early 1990s had exclusionary effects with few social benefits apart from the parks and open space. The Forum’s goal was to launch a new kind of Olympics of Culture, sponsored by UNESCO and based on discussions and intercultural exchange, and at the same time enhance the quality of life of La Catalana and La Mina, two of the most marginalized areas of Barcelona’s metropolitan core. However, the Forum’s aims lacked clarity and resonance and as a consequence the visitor numbers were widely overestimated. More importantly, the redevelopment of the city east towards the Besós river became a property speculator’s dream. How the initial local communities benefited is less clear. This leaves the two main buildings of the Forum’s legacy – the jagged, unforgiving Forum Building designed by Herzog de Meuron is not the city’s best and the Barcelona International Congress Centre by Josep Lluis Mateo is, well, just a congress centre. Time will tell how the reclaimed land and new beaches will play themselves out. Yet now the thought that lingers is a sense of gentrification.

Creative Cities for the World 367 Barcelona has ‘a thinking brain’ on the future of the city called the Metropolitan Strategic Plan of Barcelona, founded in 1988, which is important in seeking to highlight future priorities. Barcelona monitors itself in five so-called ‘strategic blocks’. These are a knowledge block; an innovation and creativity block; a territorial and mobility block; a sustainability and quality-of-life block; and a social cohesion block. In scanning the city’s comparative prospects, a report by Xavier Vives36 pointed out that by traditional innovation criteria Barcelona is not in the top league in Europe, which is led by Helsinki, Stockholm, Munich and Stuttgart. These criteria include patents per 100,000 citizens and levels of R&D expenditure. This was a shock to a city which has a self-understanding that it is innovative and creative. In fact, though, traditional innovation indicators may be bad for creativity, because patenting can foreclose creative possibilities which open-source applications encourage. The innovation and creativity block includes assessing the dynamics of company creation in strategic sectors; what is happening to different classes of business; technology transfer between universities, society and companies; the amount of European hightech patents applied for; and levels of use of information and communication technologies. In keeping abreast of strategic urban development, Barcelona has now focused on the quinary sector. (See below for a description of primary to quinary sectors based on distance from natural resources.) Quinary activities emphasize the creation, rearrangement and interpretation of new and old ideas and information, innovation of methods in knowledge gathering and data interpretation, as well as the reconceptualization of thinking at different levels. At its core lies creativity. Some regard it as encompassing research, culture, health and education. The overall effect of Barcelona’s transformation speaks in surveys and statistics. Since 1990, Cushman & Wakefield’s European City Monitor has annually assessed the most desirable and highly rated European cities for basing a business in through interviews with 500 top companies.37 Barcelona is the most improved city in their rating, moving from 11th in 1990 to 5th in 2005 it is closing the gap on the leaders. Given that London, Paris, Brussels and Frankfurt are the top four, the competition is clear. It is ahead of cities such as Berlin, Madrid and Amsterdam.38 It comes out on top in the ‘overall quality of life for employees’ category, even though it is the leader in ‘access to markets’, which is the top priority for business. It is the most

368 The Art of City-Making improved city for the third year running; business leaders expect Barcelona to be in third position in five years’ time; and it is the third most familiar city, though still some way behind London and Paris. Barcelona has solidified its position as a major regional economic power, strategically close to the French border and the European heartlands. The economy of Barcelona, with only 4 per cent of the Spanish population, contributes 14.29 per cent of the country’s GDP. Its key industries include manufacture, textiles, electronics and tourism. In 2003 Catalonia received 14,540,000 visitors from a total of over 50 million throughout Spain and since the Olympics there has been an almost 100 per cent increase in hotel capacity, number of tourists and number of overnight stays. Cheap air travel has made Barcelona one of Europe’s most popular short break destinations, popular as it is for romantic weekends and hen and stag parties. Whether these add anything to the city’s creativity potential, however, is an open question. Indeed growing tourist numbers are seen by many as the greatest threat to the city’s quality of life and future prospects, as any person who goes to the iconic Gaudi sites or new public beaches can see for themselves. What do they give back apart from a bit of money? What do they take from the city? The city’s challenge is to reduce tourists – imaginatively.

Bilbao Like Barcelona, Bilbao draws on its sense of history and a selfunderstanding of having a unique and unusual culture to give it strength and motivation. Added to which it is entrepreneurial. It fears the danger of being trampled upon. It is thus fiercely independent. Just in case we forget, it reminds us of its famous people: Elkano, who completed the first circumnavigation of the globe after Magellan was killed in the Philippines, Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuits, Maurice Ravel, whose mother was Basque, the cyclist Miguel Indurain, the golfer José María Olazabal, the tennisplayers Jean Borotra and Nathalie Tauziat, the politician Dolores Ibarruri, and many more. The city provides three useful lessons in creativity: long-term thinking and staying strategically principled and tactically flexible; standards of design; and the need to shift values towards openness. From strategy to implementation: A historical trajectory Bilbao has become an international focus for lessons in urban regeneration largely because of the ‘Guggenheim effect’. Yet the

Creative Cities for the World 369 Guggenheim is merely one initiative in a much longer-term process of Bilbao’s renewal, whose history is far longer. I highlight this trajectory to show that at its core the changes in the city are concerned with changing mindsets, developing leadership, governance and entrepreneurial capacity, aspiration, will and motivation, a consequence of which is the focus on very long-term, strategic thinking and high quality design. In turn this has enabled projects such as the Guggenheim to happen. The regeneration did not start with the Guggenheim, although a large cultural facility was always part of the game plan. Lying somewhat forlorn at the western edge of Europe, out on the Atlantic coast when the action was happening further east in Europe and in Asia, Bilbao and the Basque region had already recognized in the early 1980s the restructuring of the world economy and its potentially damaging effects on the local economy. They predicted that this would affect its traditional port and steelmaking industries, with vast areas along the river Nervion redundant and in need of renewal. Bilbao then began to scan developments of relevance to its situation, especially good practice examples, from around the world. These included Pittsburgh (which famously had reinvented itself after the decline of its coal industry), the Ruhr area in Germany, Glasgow, Newcastle and a wide variety of cities in the Ibero-American regions. In particular, Bilbao wished to learn how renewal could be effectively implemented and noted especially how a driving visioning mechanism was required to turn aspiration into reality. The public–private partnership model initiated from the 1940s onwards through the Allegheny Conference for Community Development in Pittsburgh provided key lessons. Indeed, Bilbao is twinned with Pittsburgh. Inspiration also came from the International Bauaustellung (IBA) model whose history of ten-year initiatives goes back 100 years, including Emscher Park (1990–1999), Berlin (1980–1987) and further back to Darmstadt (1901–1914). This led in 1989 to the Perspectiva del 2005, a strategic plan for the city whose objective was to develop Bilbao as a world-class metropolitan centre and to make the city ready for the new economy. The process of developing the plan and its subsequent implementation was assisted by a series of ‘critical friends’ and advisers of renown, including Phillip Kotler, one of the inventors of the concept of city-marketing; Charles Handy, management scholar and social philosopher; James Baughman, the corporate director of

370 The Art of City-Making General Electric; Gary S. Becker, the economics Nobel Prize winner; David Bendaniel, from the Johnson Graduate School of Management; and the architects I. M. Pei and Cesar Pelli. Of special importance to the city was the work of Anderson Consulting, which highlighted the ‘urbanistic chaos’ of the city. To meet its challenge Bilbao sought over time to develop ‘a social architecture of innovation based on people and strengthening their capacity to identify new opportunities, and to have vision and ideals. To create an environment that attracts people who love ideas. To turn dreams into reality’.39 A guideline for Bilbao notes epigrammatically: ‘We only have the chance once in a lifetime to create anew the civic fabric. At a minimum it should represent international class, at its best world-class.’ Taking this seriously established a design quality benchmark. Driving the vision: Metropoli-30 Like Barcelona, Bilbao wanted a thinking brain for the city and in 1991 Metropoli-30 was set up as a driving mechanism and vision holder as well as a means of institutionalizing the strategic conversation about the city. The figure implies thinking 30 years ahead. Five values currently lie at its heart: innovation – to move ahead of change; professionalism – to do things right and at a high quality level; identity – to answer the question of who we are; community – to share a long-term vision; and openness – to be open to difference, not only to distinctiveness.40 Principally, this association drives the Strategic Plan for the Revitalization of Metropolitan Bilbao, whose latest version is ‘Bilbao 2010: The Strategy’. Its core focus concerns developing leaders and professionals, providing the infrastructure and support activities for high-value business activities and ensuring ‘the city is a vital space, an inhabited space … a liveable place’.41 It does not confuse vision-making with implementation. The latter is left to Bilbao Ría 2000, the key agency for physical renewal. Metropoli-30’s remit covers municipalities in the metropolitan area. It has a membership of 128 paid-up stakeholders, ranging from public bodies, leading industry and university figures to major community bodies. Its role is to push aspiration and to think ahead, to enhance the metropolitan areas’ leadership capacity and ability to think strategically, to connect the metropolitan region with the best specialists in their fields and to promote a new vision for metropolitan Bilbao. It organizes courses, on strategic manage-

Creative Cities for the World 371 ment of cities, for example, and its latest initiative is ‘City and Values’ concerned with 21st-century values of urbanity. Early on, Metropoli-30 was involved in a series of staging posts connected to the overall vision, such as setting up the 1993 Basque Council for Technology and getting the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work and the European Software Institute to base themselves in the city. Other roles include improving the external and internal image of the region and carrying out research related to both metropolitan Bilbao and other metropolises that are cutting-edge and from which Bilbao can learn. This requires an intense networking strategy. It is, for example, a founding member of the Benchmarking Clearinghouse Association and an active participant of the World Future Society. Overriding everything, the association fosters cooperation between the public and private sectors with the aim of finding joint solutions to problems of mutual interest that affect metropolitan Bilbao. From civic infrastructure to a change in cultural values The strategic plans can be seen as having had three primary foci. The first is concerned with physical infrastructure development, so creating the physical preconditions to move forward; the second more on issues of attractiveness and broad quality of life concerns; and the third – the current phase – on changing cultural values of the metropolitan area. Within the initial plan, key aspects of the civic infrastructure were addressed: a metro system, designed by Norman Foster, opened in 1995; a new airport, designed by Santiago Calatrava, in 1999; the Abando passenger interchange, designed by James Stirling and being carried out by Michael Wilford; a major internationally oriented cultural facility that turned out to be the Guggenheim Frank Gehry, opened in 1997; a new tram system; the enlargement of the port; the Zubi Zuri pedestrian bridge by Calatrava; the Euskalduna Music and Congress Centre by Federico Soriano and Dolores Palacios; the extension to the Fine Arts Museum; the Alhondiga building refurbishment into cultural and sports facilities to create a new social space for the city; and the Bilbao International Exhibition Centre. Implementation involved attracting world-renowned architectural stars who could help create ‘a new centrality’ for Bilbao, which was initially seen as establishing Bilbao as El Nuevo Porto Atlantico de Europa. However, the emergence of the East and

372 The Art of City-Making European enlargement now figures strongly in their thinking in attempting to redefine what Bilbao’s new centrality in a future Europe could be. The levers to create this centrality include high quality design standards, iconic architecture, cultural facilities, advanced eco-friendly design and sustainability, attracting the headquarters of European-level organizations and developing global events. In parallel there is a focus on projects that help mature the soft infrastructure of the metropolitan region, and key terms used include enhancing the capacity for ‘multiple creativity’; developing the spirit of entrepreneurship, with post-graduate studies in entrepreneurship focused on the needs of the region 30 years hence, for example; developing leadership cadres in the region; increasing aspiration and desire, as with the idea of having a Nobel Prize winner from Bilbao; and, appropriately, renewing the region’s cultural values in tune with what a future metropolis requires, such as the need for a cosmopolitan outlook, flexibility but also an ethos that marries wealth creation and social equality. The focus on cultural values of openness embraces the broader notion of culture as an expression and combination of shared values, shared ambition and shared vision based on common assumptions, norms and habits of mind – ‘the way we do things around here’. The aim of these combined hard and soft initiatives is to involve an ever-widening circle in seeing the development of the metropolis as a ‘common social project’ and to increase the dynamism of the region within a recognition of the new rules of urban competition, focusing on cultural richness, network dynamics and reinvigorated concepts of the idea of leadership. The mission for the coming decade is to identify and attract people who are willing to lead and to help their ideas get expressed and transformed into projects and real innovative experiences, so spinning off into Bilbao’s social and economic wealth while respecting the city’s ‘values, history and idiosyncrasy’.42 Seemingly trite slogans, such as ‘Bring your dreams to Bilbao. We can make them come true’, seek to reinforce this message. The World Forum on Values and City Development, held in May 2006 and to be regularly held henceforth, is a vehicle to project these aims. Some commentators feel that Metropoli-30’s highpoint was in the early stages of its existence, when it framed the conversation about Bilbao’s future, and that now those lessons have been absorbed. However, the issues Metropoli-30 is now dealing with,

Creative Cities for the World 373 concerned with the software of the city, such as changing the values of citizens and leaders, are far more subtle. It’s less easy to get excited about having to change yourself and to get overall momentum behind such ideas than about building interesting physical projects. This leaves aside the question of whether Metropoli-30 is being effective or not. The fact is that not many urban regeneration mechanisms are focused on value change. From thinking to doing Metropoli-30 thinks and Bilbao Ría 2000 acts. The latter is an entrepreneurial public-spirited public–private partnership created with an endowment of port land it was given cheaply. Since then it has required hardly any public funds as it has traded land and generated sales to developers in the gentrifying Abandoibarra area near the Guggenheim. These capital gains have been invested in extensive city projects where social needs are greatest, such as the Southern Connection, Bilbao La Vieja and the Barakaldo Urban project. Its work has included the Abandoibarra renewal, the former industrial city and port, now the symbol and centre of new Bilbao; Ametzola, formerly three goods railway stations, which is now a residential area with a modern park; the renewal of Bilbao La Vieja, the old town; and Urban-Galindo in Barakaldo, an ambitious urban plan to recover the waterfront for use by local people and psychologically linking it to the heart of Bilbao. Broader impacts Has this investment in structure, iconics and big events paid off? The overall investment over the last 15 years has been in the order of 4.2 billion euros. Its effectiveness is measured in a variety of ways. Metropoli-30 annually assesses a series of benchmarks, such as the quality of human resources, including education, training and labour market dynamics, the internationalization of the economy in terms of commerce, transport connections, tourism, trade fairs, levels of internet usage, economic growth indicators, environmental quality (there are now fish in the river Nervion), personal quality of life, the sense of safety, cultural facilities, energy consumption, and so on. Foreign direct inward investment data has been hard to come by. Anecdotally this increased, especially in the ETA ceasefire period (the ETA issue was key in terms of business relocation). The level of new business start-ups increased substantially in the decade

374 The Art of City-Making from 1991 onwards, from roughly 1700 to 2850 per annum. The largest percentage increases were in services (20.4 per cent) followed by construction (15.4 per cent). Property price levels have increased a great deal – indeed Bilbao is the city with the most expensive prices per square metre in Spain, followed by Barcelona and Madrid. This is a double-edged sword. The most expensive areas, Ensanche and Abandoibarra, are close to the Guggenheim Museum. Yet the price of new housing in the periphery is rising even faster than in Bilbao, especially in Getxo on the coast. The prices on the outskirts are also rising sharply with the extension of the metro system there. While Bilbao is not in the top 30 European cities for business location, it hovers around 35, in the company of Turin, Valencia, Rotterdam and Birmingham. This is an achievement in itself when you consider the central location of the others. The Guggenheim effect Many urban specialists now say they are bored of hearing about Bilbao, but the reality is that getting the Guggenheim was Bilbao’s master stroke, added to which a special building added lustre. Many cities, such as Valencia, have tried to follow Bilbao’s pattern of development, but very few have succeeded in sustaining the levels of quality and bending the gentrification process triggered by public investments to the city’s advantage. A brief reminder. Salzburg had previously been in discussion for the Guggenheim but the bold design by Hans Hollein for a subterranean museum carved directly into the rock of the Monchsberg was too much for the city fathers. Once Spain was identified as the location for the European hub there was a competition between Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Badajoz, Bilbao and the northern coastal resort of Santander, which was an early favourite until the well-funded Basque redevelopment consortium won out. Since then, the Guggenheim effect has become an urban renovator’s cliché, but in truth it can rarely be repeated, in spite of the icon-building mania that has subsequently ensued. While the Guggenheim sheen might be fading as it becomes positively promiscuous, pursuing relationships with governments, cities and corporations around the world, there is only one Bilbao. Metropoli-30 claimed that it was able to attract the museum because the preconditions – open-mindedness, ambition and willingness to take financial risks – had been set in the decade before the

Creative Cities for the World 375 actual decision was made. As they noted, ‘Luck goes to those who make it.’43 An international design competition was held with a three-strong shortlist of architects – Izozaki, Buro Himmelblau and Frank Gehry – which Gehry won in 1991. The Guggenheim opened in 1997 and is owned by Bilbao. It cost approximately US$100 million, with an additional US$20 million paid to the Guggenheim for the use of the name for a 20-year period. Within this contract, Guggenheim makes its exhibitions and stock of art available to Bilbao. This direct investment by the Basque authorities repaid itself via increased tax revenues after three years and the current contributions by the region to the museum are covered by the yearly increases in tax revenue averaging, around 28 million euros per annum. By 2005 the Basque treasury had benefited from the Guggenheim by over 200 million euros and 4500 jobs in the hospitality industries. Estimates of visitor numbers were originally 500,000, but in the first year visitors numbered 1.2 million. This began to decline after 11 September 2001 and is currently running at 900,000 per annum, with the proportion of foreigners increasingly annually (59 per cent in 2003). The impact on other cultural facilities has been substantial – for example, the Museum of Fine Art has doubled its attendance.44 The arrival of the Guggenheim effectively developed the local tourism industry, although business tourism was already well developed given the economic strength of the region. Eighty-two per cent of visitors state that they specifically visited Bilbao only because of the museum. There is an estimated additional bed occupancy of approaching 1 million, with global hotel and shop brands clustering into the city. The building of the Guggenheim was not uncontentious, however. The idea to build an icon structure in the face of the high unemployment levels of the early 1990s caused alarm in a number of quarters, with some feeling it would be better to build new factories rather than pursue an internationalization strategy involving city-marketing and cultural facilities. The artistic community were initially the most vociferous opponents, as they believed the Guggenheim offered little to the local artistic community. Indeed a number of arts programmes were initially cut and there was a fear of its impact on existing facilities. Local sculptor Jorge Oteiza, who had nurtured the project of an arts centre in another site in the heart of Bilbao, became the leader of a lobby opposing this museum, which was seen by many local artists and intellectuals as ‘an instrument of cultural colonialism’.45

376 The Art of City-Making While some segments remain suspicious, a larger section has become more enthusiastic, given the now increased investment in traditional cultural facilities, such as the extension of the Museum of Fine Arts as well as other amenities, such as the auditorium and conference centre. As a consequence it appears there has also been a burgeoning of artist-run and grass-roots movements, with outlets such as the alternative theatre and dance centre, La Fundici, the Mediaz association and the Urazurrutia centre.

Creativity when culture matters Barcelona and Bilbao (and Montreal46) believe their threatened identity was a spur to cultural creativity and originality. But another primary reason for their success has been budgetary control and local autonomy to perceive and trust the long-term vision without having to dilute it through external negotiation with national government. This can be contrasted to the relative lack of budgetary authority British cities have. Imagine what they might have achieved if they had not been treated like infants by the British government. For instance, the Basque region keeps 90 per cent of regionally generated taxes and pays 6.2 per cent towards the state budget for external affairs and defence. The Barcelona and Bilbao models have also been taken up by Valencia, Seville and Malaga. While Madrid, as the nation’s capital, increasingly draws talent, skills and headquarters to it, there is a strong countervailing force. For instance, in the music industry Barcelona was historically the centre, but with the re-emergence of Spain after Franco, many key players felt they had to relocate to Madrid as the global players such as AOL/Time/Warner had based themselves in the national political capital. However, each of the main regional cities, like Barcelona and Valencia, is now seeking to reinforce its strengths internationally in an attempt to bypass Madrid, for instance as centres of design. The battles of relative urban power continue, with Madrid trying to accrue as much power and resources as possible. This is also the case in other federal countries, like Germany, where cities such as Munich, Hamburg and Frankfurt try to create a counterforce to the newly re-emerging Berlin.

Urban acupuncture and Curitiba’s creativity Brazil’s Curitiba, a city of 1.7 million, has tripled in population over the last 35 years. It is a byword for urban creativity and eco-

Creative Cities for the World 377 urbanity. Curitiba, with Freiburg in Germany, is a forerunner in its concern for ecological urban development. Curitiba’s public transport and park system and creative ways of turning weaknesses into strengths are its trademarks. Emblematic is its Open University of the Environment, the first of its kind in the world, set up in 1992 and located in a reclaimed quarry. It carries out projects relating to a sustainable economy, conservation of the ecosystem and environmental education. Deep in a native forest covering 37,000m2, its researchers are influencing the growth of the city, whose economy is based on trade, services and processing industries. In the mid-1960s a group of activist architecture and design students began making the case to improve the city’s quality of life; this prompted a revolution in Curitiba’s development. City officials recognized the possibilities, which led to a master plan. A key element was that mobility and land use could not be disassociated from each other. Therefore counteracting random sprawl through directing development along transport corridors was central. Jaime Lerner was one of the students and was later appointed mayor three times between 1971 and 1992, when he twice became elected governor of Parana, the region within which Curitiba falls. Lerner was responsible for creating and setting up an urban think tank, the Institute of Urban Planning and Research of Curitiba (IPPUC) in 1965, one of the plan’s recommendations. Like in Barcelona and Bilbao, this was a forward-looking thinking brain for the city. Nearly 40 years later Lerner wrote Urban Acupuncture to describe his approach to the revitalization of cities, which depends on the relative agility of local policy-makers and counter-intuitive thinking.47 Urban acupuncture involves identifying pinpointed interventions that by being accomplished quickly can be catalytic by releasing energy and creating a positive ripple effect. Lerner notes: Keep in mind that the city is a scenario for encounters. Gregarious by definition, the city is the centre around which relationship codes are created. The great ideological conflict in today’s world is globalization versus solidarity. It is necessary to ‘globalize solidarity,’ in Mario Soares’ words. The city is also the last solidarity retreat. The city is not the problem, it is the solution.48

378 The Art of City-Making The aim of city-making and acupuncture is to create this solidarity. Usually this is achieved by acts of what Lerner calls ‘urban kindness’, which act like acupuncture. Examples can be either small and seemingly trivial or large. They can be the acts of individuals, the municipality or a business. For instance, after finishing his daily work, a Curitiba dentist used to go to his office’s window and play the trumpet for anyone walking past. It can be the planting by the city of the first tranche of what later became a million trees in less than two decades. In the beginning it was a true gesture of urban kindness. To ensure that all the seedlings planted in the streets would be watered regularly, Curitiba asked people to help. The local authorities rolled out a campaign: ‘The City provides the shade and you the fresh water.’ And they water them. It can be Lerner’s innovative recycling programme, where the city exchanged recycled materials collected by citizens, especially the poor, for food and bus tickets. Street children were given free food, but in order to get it they had to take a class to learn something. Similarly he got industry, shops and institutions to ‘adopt’ a few orphaned or abandoned street children, providing them with a daily meal and small wage for doing simple maintenance gardening or office tasks. Much of this might sound chaotic, and some insiders critize it, but the process builds social capital. The fast acupuncture approaches had a purpose: ‘preventing the inertia of complexity sellers, of pettiness and of politics from stifling critical opportunities and public projects’.49 The first pedestrian street in Brazil was created in 1972 over a weekend to avoid any opposition by merchants. Once it was successful they clamoured for more. Children involved in mural-drawing sessions have been a feature of Saturday mornings on the mall ever since. In 2002 the Oscar Niemeyer Museum was finished in five months. The complexities are easy to imagine, but there was an opportunity to recycle an old building designed by Oscar Niemeyer, a bold project from the 1960s, that had been used to house state government agencies. ‘Refurbishing a bureaucratic space to be used as a space dedicated to creativity, identity, art, design, architecture, and cities was important. But once again, it had to be done fast.’50 Smart incentives act as acupuncture, fostering effective business–government partnerships. In this way positive action is reinforced by civic practice. For example, developers and builders receive a tax break when their projects include green areas. The historic preservation of a commercial district near the downtown

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URBAN ACUPUNCTURE AND SOCIAL CAPITAL In Calgary, if you ride a bike without a bell you get fined CAD57. It costs CAD100 to administer the fine and if you are caught it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. You are cross and hate the municipality (and probably the next person you meet). The city’s director of bylaws thought there must a better way. He decided to buy 100 bells and 10 screwdrivers for his patrollers at a cost of CAD500. Now when someone is found without a bell, the patroller cautions them and tells them how lucky they are since they have a bell and a screwdriver and will give them a present. The net effect is they ride with a glow and are probably pleasant to the next person they meet. That kindness reverberates. It is how social capital is created and, counter-intuitively, the more you use it the more it grows.

was achieved by transferring development rights. The abandonment of heritage buildings had been a problem as developers wanted their deterioration and eventual demolition. Under the regulations, you can build in the rear or in another part of the city if you restore the old building in front. Tax discounts were also given for restoration. Owners are therefore compensated and historic structures are preserved. In designated areas of the city, businesses can ‘buy’ up to two extra floors beyond the normal, legal limit and can pay in cash or land, the receipts of which the city uses for low-income housing. Land-use legislation encourages highdensity growth along the arterials, and a ‘social fare’ mass transit fare system was employed with the fare the same for close-in residents and lower-income users living on the periphery. On a larger scale, Curitiba’s bus system is so frequent that, as Lerner says, ‘you never need a timetable’. It has articulated buses that can carry up to 300 people and trademark clear tubes for boarding, where people pay before entry and get on and off so speedily that it is like a metro. It is efficient, affordable, and solvent. Eighty cities around the world are using similar rapid bus transit systems, which can be constructed 20 to 100 times more cheaply than light rail or subway systems. In the end long-term urban kindness pays back. It engenders social capital. The city government has demonstrated its commitment to the constant maintenance of green, pedestrian and landscaped areas, and now citizens, who once took the flowers and

380 The Art of City-Making committed vandalism, have become responsible partners, protective of these public spaces. Several guiding principles govern decision-making at city and community levels. Priority is given to people and public transport, design should keep nature in mind and technology should be appropriate to the situation. Three components guide Curitiba’s regional planning: the idea, the viability and the operation. Planning, execution, and administration are handled separately by Curitiba’s government. The three interface constantly, with weekly meetings among the mayor and key players in each area of responsibility, who define and set weekly targets. The ethos of city managers is that good systems and incentives are better than good plans. Awareness of environmental sustainability and each individual’s quality of life is part of the education of every person in Curitiba. All school students participate in environmental surveys. Forty-seven school libraries have been brought outside schools to allow public access. They each have a lighthouse tower and guardhouse based on the ancient Library of Alexandria. Seventy-five per cent of commuters take the bus, although Curitiba has the second highest per capita car ownership in Brazil. This has resulted in one of the lowest air pollution levels in Brazil. Because of the integrated transportation system, Curitibanos spend only 10 per cent of their income on transport. During a period of startling population growth, Curitiba expanded its green space more than a hundredfold – from 0.5m2 of serviced green space per person to 52m2 per person – 21 million m2 in total. Free green-coloured buses and bicycle paths fully integrate these public spaces into their local and larger communities. Curitiba shows that cities do not necessarily require expensive mechanical garbage separation facilities. Residents recycle twothirds of their garbage in a programme that costs no more than the old landfill. The ‘Garbage that is not Garbage’ and ‘Garbage Purchase’ programmes involve kerbside pick-up and disposal of recyclables sorted by households and, in less accessible areas, the exchange of food and transit tickets for garbage collected by lowincome residents. The ‘All Clean’ programme temporarily hires retired or unemployed persons, who concentrate on areas where litter has accumulated. Trash is separated into only two categories, organic and inorganic, picked up by two different types of trucks. Poor residents in areas unreachable by truck bring their waste to neighbourhood centres, where they exchange it for bus tickets or

Creative Cities for the World 381 eggs and milk bought from outlying farms. Trash is separated at a plant built of recycled materials, sorted by workers who are handicapped, recent immigrants and alcoholics. Recovered materials are sold to local industries. Styrofoam is shredded and used as stuffing for quilts. Since its 1989 start-up, the recyclable waste programme has separated 419,000 tonnes – enough to fill 1200 twenty-storey buildings. Inorganic waste (plastic, glass, paper, aluminium) totals 13 per cent of garbage collected.51

… and there are many more creative places both today and from yesterday. Let us remind ourselves of one from the past. Ragusa, now Dubrovnik, in Croatia was a classic example of a creative, knowledge-based city.52 Perhaps in its historical context it was a creative city for the world. For instance Ragusa’s slogan was ‘oblivi privatorum, publica curate’ (forget the private issues and tend to the public ones). The government of the Ragusa Republic was liberal and early showed its concern for justice and humanitarian principles. With no resources apart from a fleet it had to live on its wits, be a broker, a diplomat and intermediary. It traded knowledge and had a sophisticated network of spies; it based its ethos on dialogue rather than conflict. ‘Always sit down with your worst enemy’ they still say in Dubrovnik or ‘keep your friends close and your enemies even closer’. It had no army of its own. As early as 1272 the Republic had its own statute and codified Roman practice with local customs. The statute included town planning guidelines. It was very inventive regarding laws and institutions: a medical service was introduced in 1301; the first pharmacy (still working) was opened in 1317; a refuge for old people was opened in 1347; the first quarantine hospital (Lazarete) was opened in 1377; slave trading was abolished in 1418; an orphanage was opened in 1432; the water supply system (20km of it) was constructed in 1436. From its establishment in the first half of the seventh century Ragusa has been under the protection of the Byzantine Empire, Venice, the Hungarian–Croatian Kingdom and the Ottoman Empire. But it always managed to negotiate its relative independence and made itself useful to others with far greater power, who in turn protected Ragusa from invasion. As a free state it reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries. But a crisis of shipping and a catastrophic earthquake in 1667 killed over 5000 citizens and levelled

382 The Art of City-Making most public buildings. It ruined the well-being of the Republic and, while it fought back, it never reached the same heights and the final straw was when Napoleon conquered the city in 1806. Although all effective power was concentrated in the hands of the nobility, Ragusa was governed in a radical way. The head of the state was the Duke or Rector, elected for a term of office for one month and eligible for re-election after two years. Every noble took their seat in the Grand Council. The Senate was a consultative body and consisted of 45 invited members (over 40 years of age). The rectors lived and worked in the Rector’s Palace but their families remained living in their own homes. The pride in Dubrovnik, an urban gem, is pervasive and citizens today speak of it as if it were a person etched into their inner being and not as a detached thing. When asked where they come from, in Zagreb, say, they simply say from ‘the city’. And what has become of this jewel today that until recently had a fine balance of trade and visitors? It is overwhelmed by tourists with little chance of maintaining its identity; at times over 2000–3000 tourists are flushed from cruise liners into this very small city. They take a two-hour walk, leave practically nothing behind and move on. As Vido Bodanovic, the mayor of Dubrovnik from 1998 to 2001 noted: ‘Tourism is essentially a form of prostitution.’ Some visitors attracted by its beauty buy houses, which they rarely go to, and as a consequence the permanent population in the city has declined from 10,000 to 5000 over the last decade, and there are more souvenirs than you want to see. Amsterdam is another city of creative power that has had to reinvent its primary purposes again and again in acts of imagination. Interestingly, Amsterdam City Hall is billing the city as a creative city par excellence and supporting conferences such as ‘Creativity and the City’ and ‘Creative Capital’.53 It is a cruel irony of sorts that Amsterdam, historically a centre of creativity, has to proclaim its creativity in a mundane way to be heard among the hubbub of other cities now branding themselves as creative. A helpful guide, Amsterdam Index 2006: A shortcut to creative Amsterdam,54 provides a contemporary overview. Like a personal guide, the index ‘gives tips and escorts you to the city’s special places and invites you to get to know the people who make up this innovative capital’. The question always lurking ‘is not whether Amsterdam will become a creative city or not, but above all whom that city is aimed

Creative Cities for the World 383 at: a creative city for the highly educated and prosperous upper class or a creative city for all the city’s inhabitants’.55 A port and hub for centuries, its openness has attracted outsiders, many of them edgy. The multilingual capacities of the Dutch reinforce its accessibility. Let’s consider the old, the new and the alternative as three elements. Many are beguiled by Amsterdam’s dense urban fabric and the canals dissecting the city. Some find its ‘olde worlde’ beauty too cutesy. Yet it is precisely the planning restrictions in the older, intimate core that allow small, often fashionably designed outlets to survive and intense interaction and stimulation to occur, as witnessed in areas like Nine Streets. There is a relief at not seeing a McDonald’s, Burger King or Subway. Can the city recreate this sense of place that triggers imaginative responses in its new development areas like the Zuidas (South Axis) area, a Dutch version of La Defense in Paris, Potsdamer Platz in Berlin or Canary Wharf in London? This business hub, with its increased residential buildings, currently has a global style, like many places that attract bankers and accountants. Will its aim to insert a repertoire of city-making – cultural activity, greening and public squares – create a feeling of compelling and urgent vitality? They say, ‘Culture plays an important role all over Zuidas. One area in particular, the Museum Quarter, is almost entirely dedicated to culture.’56 Can one area be dedicated to culture? Although amusing, will naming areas Gershwin, Mahler 4 or Vivaldi create vitality? Zuidplein at the bottom of the World Trade Centre (how many are there of these in the world?) has street life at lunchtime, but is this creative? Some of the architecture, like Meyer en van Shooten’s Ing House, has a playfulness seen from a distance, but how lively is it at street level? Amsterdam’s underground breeding ground of inventiveness was inextricably linked to its squatter movement, as activists and artists occupied abandoned structures and buildings. With names like Silo or Vrieshuis Amerika, these often acted as experimentation zones. Crucially, in contrast to most cities in the world, Amsterdam recognized the importance of these alternatives. In 1999 it set up the Breeding Places Fund, whose aim is to provide affordable small-scale infrastructure for artists and cultural entrepreneurs in response to dramatic changes in the cultural landscape of Amsterdam. Amsterdam’s popularity and gentrification had threatened the city’s cultural ecology, but since then, around 1000

384 The Art of City-Making spaces have been provided in 35 projects, ranging from the dramatic old shipyard, NDSM, to Plantage Doklaan and Elektronstraat. Other spaces include the Westergasfabriek, a modern park and a cultural complex etched out of an old gas landscape, which balances well the need for innovation with economic sustainability and has been one of the more successful examples of balancing innovation and economic sustainability.57 As an example to remind ourselves of the fragility of these places, however, take the OT301, an artist studio and performance complex: At the end of the month, the lease runs out for the OT301, and looming in the air are potentially big rent hikes, smells of third-party investors and questions over the subculture’s future… So take a quick walk through the OT – it may not be there much longer.58 There are many other cities which have recaptured their public space, such as Copenhagen, Portland, Vancouver and Melbourne. Each has a dimension of creativity to offer. Many of these are well documented in Jan Gehl and Lars Gemzøe’s New City Spaces.59 The authors describe Copenhagen’s ten-step programme to humanize the city: convert key main streets into pedestrian thoroughfares; reduce traffic and parking gradually; turn parking lots into public squares; keep scale dense and low; honour the human scale; populate the core; encourage student living; adapt the cityscape to changing seasons; promote cycling as a major mode of transportation; and make free bicycles available. Then there is Vancouver, one of the North American cities cited as most liveable. Greater Vancouver has gained an international reputation for various innovative planning initiatives over the years. A healthy economy, employment opportunities, rapid population increases and the desirability of a West Coast lifestyle have contributed to the region’s urban design, the architectural character of its neighbourhoods and its general prosperity. The limited land base of the region, surrounded by mountains, the US border and the sea, increased development pressure and created challenges for both the public and private sectors. Successful planning initiatives include the rejection of extensive freeway systems, the redevelopment of the south shore of False Creek and the transformation of former industrial lands into town houses and apartments in the

Creative Cities for the World 385 mid-1970s and the creation of eight regional town centres, such as Metrotown in Burnaby, Lonsdale in North Vancouver and Haney Town Centre in Maple Ridge. These town centres provide a focal point for higher-density residential neighbourhoods combined with business and commercial opportunities easily accessible via the regional transit system. They serve as an alternative to the familiar suburban commute into downtown Vancouver and as an effective way to accommodate urban growth and decentralize employment opportunities within the region.60 The emphasis on neighbourhood planning began in the 1970s with the creation of citizens’ planning committees. Different approaches were needed in each neighbourhood. Vancouver led the way with plans involving citizens, resulting in specific policies for a diversity of communities – Strathcona, the West End, Grandview and Shaughnessy, for example. The emphasis from the outset was on a two-way planning process with community participation. John Punter argues61 that since the early 1970s Vancouver has devised and implemented a distinctive, clear-sighted approach to its urban planning and design which has provided a frame within which the city could build itself out, focusing on making the urban core mixed-use – residential, offices and shopping. This gives the city its vitality. It was based upon discretionary zoning, cooperative megaproject schemes, development levies, managed neighbourhood change and building intensification. The success of these strategies has created Vancouver’s outstanding reputation in international planning circles.

THE MANAGEMENT OF FRAGILITY: CREATIVITY AND THE CITY Creative ecology The aim, for me, of creative city-making is to think of your city as if it were a living work of art where citizens can involve and engage themselves in the creation of a transformed place. This will require different creativities: the creativity of the engineer, the social worker, the planner, the business person, the events organizer, the architect, the housing specialist, IT specialists, psychologists, historians, anthropologists, natural scientists, environmentalists, artists of all kinds and, most importantly, ordinary people living their lives

386 The Art of City-Making as citizens. This is comprehensive creativeness. It involves differing forms, not only the thrusting creativity of discovering a new technical invention, but also the soft creativity of making interaction in the city flow. To make creativity’s diversity work involves the management of fragility. Every period of history requires its own form of creativity. Today’s will be different from yesterday’s and tomorrow’s. Now we need to focus our creativity on being creative for the world. To do this we need to work across disciplines in an interconnected whole so we can see issues and solutions in the round. We need to think both horizontally and vertically, to see strategy and detail, the parts and whole and the woods and the trees simultaneously. We need to care for our world. For instance, rather than focusing on sustainable development we should think of restorative development: how our cities can help restore the environment, how can they give something back to it. A few housing developments already give electricity back to the grid. Creativity is not the answer to all our urban problems but it creates the preconditions upon which it is possible to open out opportunities to find solutions. Urban creativity requires an ethical framework to drive the city forward, and not in a prescriptive sense. At its core this ethic is about something life-giving, sustaining, opening out rather than curtailing. This requires us to focus on soft creativity, which is the ability to nurture our cities and their cultural ecology.

The creative rash Creativity is like a rash; it is all-pervasive. Everyone is in the creativity game. Creativity is a mantra of our age, whether we are referring to creative individuals, companies, cities, countries or even creative streets, buildings and projects. At my last count 60 cities worldwide claimed to be creative cities. Twenty were in Britain, from Creative Manchester, Bristol, Plymouth and Norwich to, of course, Creative London. And ditto Canada: Toronto, with its Culture Plan for the Creative City; Vancouver and its Creative City Task Force; London, Ontario’s similar task force; and Ottawa’s plan to be a creative city. In the US there is Creative Cincinnati, Creative Tampa Bay and the welter of creative regions such as Creative New England. Partners for Liveable Communities in Washington DC launched a Creative

Creative Cities for the World 387 Cities Initiative in 2001. In Australia we find the Brisbane Creative City strategy and there is Creative Auckland. Osaka set up a Graduate School for Creative Cities in 2003 and launched the Japanese Creative Cities Network in 2005. Even the somewhat lumbering UNESCO, through its Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity, launched its Creative Cities Network in 2004, anointing Edinburgh as the first for its literary creativity. On closer examination most of the strategies and plans are in fact concerned with strengthening the arts and cultural fabric, such as support for the arts and artists and the institutional infrastructure to match. In addition they focus on fostering the creative industries, comprising those that ‘have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property’.62

An idea or a movement Today we can even talk of a Creative City Movement,63 but back in the late 1980s, when most of the constituent ideas were being developed, the key terms discussed were culture, the arts, cultural planning, cultural resources and the cultural industries. Creativity as a broad-based attribute only came into common, as distinct from specialist, currency in the mid-1990s. Earlier Australia’s Creative Nation, instigated in 1992 by Prime Minister Paul Keating, spelt out the country’s cultural policy with a focus on creativity. In the UK, by contrast, the first short version of the Creative City published in 1995 had little resonance beyond niche audiences.64 Instead it was the publication of Ken Robinson’s national commission on creativity, education and the economy for the UK Government, All Our Future: Creativity, Culture and Education, that a couple of years after its publication in 1999 put creativity more firmly on to the political agenda.65 Later some of the phraseology changed, but what people referred to was usually a narrowly focused creativity, essentially the cultural industries, which became the creative industries and the creative economy. The notion of the creative class then emerged in 2002. The publication of Richard Florida’s book, The rise of the Creative Class, gave the ‘movement’ a dramatic lift with the danger of hyping the concept out of favour.66 Why do cities want to be creative? Where did the obsession with ‘creativity’ come from? A central point is that creativity was

388 The Art of City-Making always present in cities, it is just that we called it by another name: ingenuity, skill or inventiveness. Venice did not emerge in its time through a business-as-usual approach, nor did Constantinople or Dubrovnik. It became a link between the Latin and Slavonic civilizations and a powerful merchant republic. It maintained its independence by successively becoming a protectorate and by brokering knowledge, acting as a haven and refuge and inventing services. It required intense cleverness and astute positioning. Perhaps, today, Singapore is striving to be an equivalent. Further, from the late 1980s onwards a recognition that the world was changing dramatically was increasingly widespread. Industries in the developed world already had to restructure from the mid-1970s onwards. The movement took time to unfold in full, but its momentum moved apace with the shift in global terms of trade now apparent. Its effects were eased in the West by the internet-based ‘new economy’, with the move from a focus on brawn to brain and a recognition that added value is generated by ideas turned into innovations, inventions and copyrights. Yet these processes left many countries and cities flailing as they searched for new answers to create a purpose and role for themselves, while cities were physically locked into their past. This led to soul searching and many concluded that the old way of doing things did not work sufficiently well. Education did not seem to prepare students for the demands of the ‘new’ world. Organization, management and leadership, with a control ethos and hierarchical focus, did not provide the flexibility, adaptability and resilience to cope in the emerging competitive environment. Cities’ atmosphere, look and feel were seen as coming from the industrialized factory age where quality of design was viewed as an add-on rather than as the core of what makes a city attractive and competitive. Coping with these changes required a reassessment of cities’ resources and potential and a process of necessary reinvention on all fronts. This required an act of imagination and creation. Cities felt ‘creativity’ could provide answers to their problems and opportunities and would get them out of being locked into their past, either because of physical infrastructure or because of their mindset. These adjustments require changes in attitudes and in how organizations are run. Yet while many organizations claim to have changed through ‘de-layering’, ‘decentralizing’ or ‘decoupling’, in reality they have remained the same. Nevertheless, different people for different reasons felt creativity had something in it for them – it

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SYNCHRONICITY AND ORIGINS The first detailed study of the ‘creative city’ concept was called ‘Glasgow: The creative city and its cultural economy’, which I wrote in 1990. This was followed in 1994 by a meeting in Glasgow of representatives from five German and five British cities (Cologne, Dresden, Unna, Essen, Karlsruhe and Bristol, Glasgow, Huddersfield, Leicester and Milton Keynes) to explore urban creativity, resulting in The Creative City in Britain and Germany,67 followed up by a short version of The Creative City in 1995 and a far longer one called The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators in 2000, which popularized the concept. Unknown to the author at the time, in fact the first mention of the ‘creative city’ as a concept was in a seminar of that title organized by the Australia Council, the City of Melbourne, the Ministry of Planning and Environment of Victoria and many other partners, held between the 5 and 7 September 1988. Its focus was on how arts and cultural concerns could be better integrated into the planning process for city development. While several speakers were arts practitioners, the spread was broader, including planners and architects. Yet a keynote speech by David Yencken, former Secretary for Planning and Environment for Victoria, spelt out a broader agenda, stating that while we give firm attention to the efficiency of cities and some focus on equity, we should stress that the city is more. ‘It should be emotionally satisfying and stimulate creativity amongst its citizens.’68 The city can trigger this, given its complexity and variety, especially when seen as an interconnected whole and viewed holistically. This ecological perspective is reflected in Yencken’s later appointment as chairman of the Australian Conservation Foundation. This prefigured some of the key themes of The Creative City and how cities can make the most of their possibilities. The latter noted, ‘Creative planning is based on the idea of cultural resources and the holistic notion that every problem is merely an opportunity in disguise; every weakness has a potential strength and that even the seemingly “invisible” can be made into something positive – that is something can be made out of nothing. These phrases might sound like trite sloganeering, but when fullheartedly believed can be powerful planning and ideas generating tools.’69

seemed like the answer. First, the educational system, with its then more rigid curriculum and tendency to rote-like learning, did not sufficiently prepare young people, who were being asked to learn more subjects and perhaps understood them less. Critics instead

390 The Art of City-Making argued that students should acquire higher-order skills, such as learning how to learn, create, discover, innovate, problem-solve and self-assess. This would trigger and activate wider ranges of intelligences, foster openness, exploration and adaptability, and allow the transfer of knowledge between different contexts as students would learn how to understand the essence of arguments rather than recall out of context facts. Secondly, harnessing motivation, talent and skills increasingly could not happen in top–down organizational structures. Interesting people, often mavericks, were increasingly not willing to work within traditional structures. This led to new forms of managing and governance, with titles such as ‘matrix management’ and ‘stakeholder democracy’, whose purpose was to unleash creativity and bring greater fulfilment. The drive for innovations required working environments where people wanted to share and collaborate to mutual advantage. This was necessary outside the workplace and increasingly the notion of the creative milieu, a physical urban setting where people feel encouraged to engage, communicate and share, came into play. Often these milieus were centred on redundant warehouses which had been turned into incubators for new companies.

Creativity: Components Creativity and resilience An overarching goal of being creative is to generate urban resilience and build overall urban capacity. It is not about being fanciful. Resilience is the capacity to absorb change, ruptures and shocks and to be supple enough to adjust. Resilience is strong adaptability. It means a city has the right attributes of inventiveness and openness to bounce back if its industrial base has been eroded or a new competitor, say India or China, has taken its markets. This requires the city to evolve a spirit of expectation, of being alert to change and of not assuming given advantages are timeless. This helps the city avoid being downcast, a psychological frame of mind not attuned to understanding and then grappling with change. Urban shocks can leave cities depressed just as they can individuals. Lifting a city out of this state is difficult as it needs to nurture itself back its self-confidence. One area to develop resilience is the learning infrastructure, which should be fashioned to combine the teaching of focused disciplines, such as engineering or crime prevention, with the ability to see the core of disciplines and then across and beyond

Creative Cities for the World 391 them. The capacity of a company to think from a conceptual and not a product point of view opens out possibilities. For instance, Camper shoes developed the hotel Casa Camper in Barcelona because, as they note, they are into comfort, not shoes. The comfort platform gives Camper a far wider range of possibilities to invent products well beyond shoes (clearly having a brand name helps). The most innovative companies then align their skills with others without wishing to control the complete chain. The same should apply to cities when assessing their production possibilities. Like Camper, they may ask themselves, ‘What is the essence of what we know?’ rather than focusing on the particular application they have, which could be mining or textiles. For instance, mining could be seen less as a mineral extraction sector and more as an opportunity to develop software for accessing hard to reach places.

Fear of creativity Quite rightly people argue, ‘Why should people want to be creative, as being so involves adjustment and change?’ It is painful. Better to leave things as they are. The desire to be open and inventive depends on what we do. For the artist exploration is a raison d’être, for many scientists too. For the traffic engineer continuity and predictability are at a premium, as they are for the property developer. Ideally even certainty. The lawyer thrives within a plethora of rules to be nit-picked to achieve clarity. Planners can project a future only with clear guidelines; they would prefer less instability. In fact most people and professions prefer order. Individually, though, we may wish to explore, to find ourselves and to make our life more interesting. We may want stimulation. Being creative is not the sine qua non of life. The reason it is so widely discussed is our period of transition and lack of settledness. Too many problems are not being solved. Until a new settlement emerges, where for instance individual values and economic purposes are aligned, things will remain up for grabs. Then the capacity to create, recreate and reimagine will remain at a premium. Seen thus, creativity is in essence the capacity to stand back and reassess.

Driven by competitiveness Creativity has risen because people have realized that the sources of competitiveness now happen on a different plane and they need to learn afresh how to compete beyond merely low cost and high

392 The Art of City-Making productivity. It includes a city’s cultural depth and richness, which might mean heritage or the availability of contemporary artistic facilities; the capacity to network globally and to keep abreast of the best; the ability to create imaginative partnerships so that the impact of projects can generate the equation 1 + 1 = 3; seeing design awareness and quality not just as an add-on but an intrinsic part of development; understanding how urban imagery works through the media; the need for eco-awareness to tap into peoples’ aspirational desires; developing language capacity to ease communication; and unblocking obstacles to interaction, whether this be concerned with bureaucracy or by creating gathering and meeting places.

Creativity and the quinary domain Economies are divided into sectors depending on distance from the natural environment. The first extracts resources, the second manufactures finished goods, the third, or tertiary, provides services, often using those produced goods, and the fourth, or quaternary, consists of intellectual activities associated with government, culture, scientific research, education and information technology. Some consider the fifth, or quinary, sector as a branch of the fourth, including the highest levels of decision-making in a society or economy. This sector would include the top executives or strategic officials in such fields as government, science, universities, business, the non-profit world, healthcare, culture and the media. Others disaggregate the service sector, especially business services which are information-oriented, into quaternary activities and refer to activities involving the collection, recoding, arranging, storage, retrieval, exchange and dissemination of information. Quinary activities emphasize the creation, rearrangement and interpretation of new and old ideas and information as well as innovation of methods in the knowing, gathering and interpretation of data. They are thus concerned with the reconceptualization of thinking, concepts, products and services at different levels. This is the strategic realm of the creative city thinking.

Quality of life, competitiveness and creativity Creativity, it is said, thrives on messiness, a touch of disorder or even an element of chaos. The unfinished waiting to be finished. But too much untidiness does not attract all types. Not the lawyers, the bankers, the property developers, most media types or their fami-

Creative Cities for the World 393 lies. It is these people who in many contexts can drive the urban transformation agenda and create the confidence and positive investment climate. They are not renowned for their creativity and its uncertainties. In fact they probably want nearly the opposite. Messiness is also uncomfortable for many others: ordinary hospital workers, teachers and shopkeepers, to name a few. They want ‘liveability’ or ‘quality of life’, two catchphrases of the moment. That agenda focuses on safety, cleanliness and good transport. Within the new competitiveness paradigm both the creativity and liveability agendas need to be aligned. And they can be. Thinking about unusual crime reduction schemes is an example, as is creating urban hubs that act as havens, like Bryant Park in New York, or coming up with the idea of the mid-level escalators as a form of public transport in Hong Kong. Overall urban competitiveness cannot survive today only on refurbished warehouses with their creative economy types and office parks in idealized green settings. It needs the public spaces in between, the good transport links and a sense of relative safety – only with a slight touch of edginess.

Creating open conditions The goal of cities which try to be creative is to create conditions which are open enough so that urban decision-makers can rethink potential, for example turning waste into a commercial resource; revalue hidden assets, for example discovering historic traditions that can be turned into a new product; reconceive and remeasure assets, for example understanding that developing social capital also generates wealth; reignite passion for the city by, for example, developing programmes so people can learn to love their city; rekindle the desire for learning and entrepreneurship by, for example, creating learning modules much more in tune with young peoples’ desires; reinvest in your talent by not only importing outside talent but by fostering local talent; reassess what creativity for your city actually is by being honest about your obstacles and looking at your cultural resources afresh; realign rules and incentives to your new vision, rather than seeing your vision as being determined by existing rules; and reconfigure, reposition and represent where your city stands by knitting the threads together to retell your urban story, galvanizing citizens to act. To elaborate on learning, it might mean reconfiguring curricula to teach higherorder skills, like learning to learn and to think, rather than more topics, or alternatively to think across disciplines beyond the silos

394 The Art of City-Making rather than learning facts. The resilience to survive requires new educational curricula. The Australian curriculum is an example of moving in this direction.

The creative milieu Given that people now have more choice and mobility about where they want to be, the physical setting, ambience and atmosphere is of upmost importance. This is the stage, the container or platform within which activity takes place and develops. It generates the milieu or environment. The milieu mixes hard and soft infrastructure. The hard consists of roads, buildings and physical things, the soft the interactions between people, the intangible feelings people have about the place. A creative milieu can be a room, an office, a building, a set of buildings, a refurbished warehouse, a campus, a street, an area, a neighbourhood or occasionally a city. These places can equally be completely uncreative. What makes a milieu creative is that it gives the user the sense that they can shape, create and make the place they are in, that they are an active participant rather than a passive consumer, and that they are an agent of change rather than a victim. These environments are open, but they do have unspoken rules of engagement. They are not wild for the sake of wildness, so that things dissolve in chaos, but they accept the need to be stretched. Things are being tried out and there are experiments. It might mean someone hidden away in an office is experimenting with new software and in the public realm it might mean a new type of restaurant either in terms of food or decor and style. It is likely to mean that the products and services of the local area are sold and used there. There is likely to be a focus on being ‘authentic’, though what this means will always differ depending on context. A cautionary proviso: such an environment will also attract outsiders who may only consume and give nothing back. They borrow the landscape, chew it, digest it and spit it out. We should be mindful that tourists can drain the identity of places if their numbers overwhelm the locals.

Mass creativity An extension of the creative milieu notion is how you encourage groups of people to be imaginative en masse. Open-source amendments to software is a version of this in a more restricted area. What is a city variety? Perhaps it does not need to be so dramatic;

Creative Cities for the World 395 if thousands of people were ‘creative’ perhaps it could be too much. Incremental creativity might be the answer, whereby the open mindset is legitimated by leadership groupings or the media. For instance the change of Copenhagen from a car-dominated city to a walking and cycling city must in its initial stages have involved 1000s of cyclists going against the grain of then current thinking. The same is true for recycling schemes. It is the atmosphere that creates the context for innumerable smaller things to occur which in themselves display only a tiny speck of creativity.

Democracy and creativity Creativity relies on openness and its political counterpart is democracy – that is when it actually works. Yet creativity is also the capacity to squeeze through imagination whatever the circumstances; so creativity will also exist in places such as Beijing or Dubai that are undemocratic. Yet it will be circumscribed. A boom town booms. The sheer hype, buzz and activity gives the allure of creativity, but speediness, a building boom and hysteria are no guarantee that it is actually happening. In both the above cities entrepreneurs are seizing opportunities and making money, but again that does not ensure imaginative solutions or products are being created. Inevitably there will be responses reflecting on the feverish development, especially from within the artistic field or environmentalists, and with our global gaze we will take these more seriously. But will they stand the test of time? And, more importantly, in Dubai we have no idea what women could contribute to making the city state a better place. In Shanghai we do not know what could happen if there was far more open debate about the city’s development. Yet they get things done. Quickly. Impressively. It makes democracies feel slow paced, ponderous and lacking in verve. So there is not a simple relationship that says democracy = creativity. Yet equally we know that squeezing liberty too tight leaves little room for imaginative manoeuvre. Totalitarian places are not creative milieux.

The hard and the soft To make a milieu happen requires infrastructures beyond the hardware – the buildings, roads and sewerage systems. Soft infrastructure includes the mental, the attitudes of mind, and even spiritual infrastructure, the aspirational core. It is the informal and

396 The Art of City-Making formal intellectual infrastructure. The soft also includes the atmosphere which is allowed to exist by giving vent to the emotional realm of experiences and which is more visceral. We need to remember that essentially no city plans start with words like ‘happy’ or ‘beauty’. There are technically driven and conceived. No wonder there is little interest from the broader public. The soft milieu needs to allow space for the maverick, the boundary breaker, as this person is often is one that looks at a problem or opportunity in a new light. The environment also fosters linkages within itself and with the outside world, as otherwise it does not sufficiently learn from the best of what others are doing. Collectively these attributes create a culture of entrepreneurship. But creative places are not comfortable places.70 Those pushing at the edges continuously bump into vested interests, whether those be in their own organizations or outside in the wider city, as the new collides with the old. In these moments the purposes of good city-making get lost in power struggles at both micro and macro levels. It can be extraordinary petty things that kill off good ideas: a person in charge who doesn’t like an intelligent upstart and wants to protect their sphere of power or influence or a regulation that makes no sense in the current context, but which someone insists upon. One only needs to remember cities in transition, from Florence way back and Berlin in the Weimar Republic to Shanghai today, to appreciate that being creative involves power struggles. Creative places have a creative rub, they often live in a tense but dynamic equilibrium.

Diversity as a driver of creativity Just as biodiversity guarantees the well-being and resilience of the natural environment, so cultural diversity strengthens the city. Creative places seem to need an influx of outsiders to bring in new ideas, products and services to challenge existing arrangements and bring together new combinations where insiders and outsiders meet. But there is a level at which a city can absorb the new – if it is too much it can overwhelm. What constitutes too much depends on circumstance. The history of successful cities in the past, from Constantinople and Hangchow to Florence, suggests the capacity to absorb and bring together different cultures was a contributing factor to that success. This did not mean that cultures were subsumed – identity was still shaped by where you came from. There was, however, sufficient mutual influence and counter-

Creative Cities for the World 397 influence, coalescing and mixing over time to create a special, fused identity as older and newer citizens changed. The same is true today in the large multicultural cities of London (which bills itself as ‘the world in one city’), New York, Sydney and Toronto. The creative challenge, as noted, is to move from the multicultural city, where we acknowledge and ideally celebrate our differing cultures, towards the intercultural city. Here we move one step beyond and focus on what we can do together as diverse cultures in a shared space. The latter probably leads to greater well-being and prosperity. Planners and urban designers play a critical role in building city culture and creating conditions for creativity. Their decisions can have a profound impact on the way we lead our lives and express our collective and individual cultural values. Diversity in public space is key, as Jane Jacobs reminds us.71 Jacobs identifies four significant conditions: diversity of activities, a fine grain of urban form, diversity of building stock and the all-important critical mass of people. To which we should add a fifth, the length of history of a building, where the diversity of experiences is etched into the patina of the fabric. This intricate web of diversity is rather like environmental diversity. As with ecological conditions, if a city or district becomes too homogeneous, it becomes vulnerable. If, for instance, one form of activity or business is dominant, and it no longer works in the new environment, the entire area may be at risk. Therefore, very new mega developments rarely encourage inventiveness. Cities often get carried away with the physical form of public places, placing great responsibility on the urban designer to transform a place through new paving, elegant street furniture and improved lighting. The reality is that many places are dead or decaying for reasons other than poor public realm design, such as failing business or traffic domination. Too often, major city or dockland redevelopments focus on iconic buildings as a drawcard but fail to build in the finer grain of diversity and urban life.72 Diversity in its many forms is the primary element of a vibrant place – a diversity of business, a diversity of activities and a diversity of built form creating visual stimulation. Think of street markets. The most successful are those with a great diversity of products – every stall has a different range and somewhere there is treasure to be found. They also provide the setting for intercultural interaction as people from many cultures go about their business.

398 The Art of City-Making The task of contemporary planners, architects and urban designers is to help build rich textures that draw from the past but are living expressions of contemporary life. Yet it is not always city planners and designers who have primary influence over the look and feel of the built environment. Increasingly it is those that frame regulations and standards who affect the way a city infrastructure is delivered. In addition, a large proportion of public realm infrastructure is created not by the city but by private sector developers. This presents a challenge to city officials, who must establish a clear vision for the city and evolve strong planning criteria to influence the work of others. Modernity has brought with it professional classifications and boundaries between professions and responsibility. Ideally a built environment professional should be deeply engaged with his or her local culture, given the dramatic impact their professional practice has. They should be culturally literate. There is a need to gain knowledge prior to the formulation of a brief for master-planning from as many different sources as possible: a mosaic of knowledge gathered from people of different ages, cultures and associations with place.

Creativity is culturally and contextually determined The capacity to be creative is culturally determined. If the culture of a city, region or country is autocratic or corrupt, it is difficult for ideas to emerge, potential to be harnessed and the free flow of possibilities to be turned into inventions. Rigid hierarchy also makes creativity more difficult as creativity relies on tolerance, listening and a strong degree of equality. Clearly, though, creativity can also happen in controlled situations. For example, the invention of weapons and advances in aerospace in wartime happened in secret, tightly controlled environments and even today new developments in computing in Silicon Valley occur in enclosed campuses within which there is a free flow of ideas among colleagues. The same is true for scientific discoveries, especially when intellectual copyright is at stake. Even here, though, there is openness in the confined setting in order to harness individuals’ imagination. However, many innovations are concerned with services, trading and presentation and these require the free flow of movement up and down hierarchies and across disciplines and institutions. A culture which is democratic and where questioning is cherished favours the development of imagination.

Creative Cities for the World 399 Creativity means different things in different cultures. For instance, within certain cultures good imitation is deemed to be the apex of creativity. The imagination is then steered to producing with perfection. And again perfection is also a relative term. To the Japanese eye, a lack of symmetry is what creates perfection. For the West, symmetry is associated with harmony and has a high value. In Western culture there is also an obsession with the new. As global culture is swept up with a similar obsession, so the Western perception of creativity tends to dominate, especially given that the overriding capitalist economy itself is driven by the need for continuous innovation. The challenge is to create a working definition of creativity that addresses both tradition and the future as well as a quality of nurturing the existing and pushes the boundaries into the new. In Japan, for instance, one would need to ask, ‘What is Japanese creativity?’ What is the same as in other Asian places, Europe or the Americas? What is specific and unique about it and what is different? The same would be true for Norway, Chile or indeed any country. The answer should be beyond trivial concerns such as differences in cuisine, clothes or heritage. Does Japanese, Chilean and Norwegian creativity work on different principles? Are these then visible in the urban landscape? Creativity is context-driven. What was creative in a period long past is not creative now, although it may still be necessary, such as the public health advances in the 19th century. What is creative in Britain may not be creative for Malaysia and, in turn, what is deemed creative in Malaysia may appear ordinary in Britain.

Creative property development Property prices are central to developing a creativity strategy. Young innovators and start-up companies need low prices to get going. The constant search for low rents or property values is what drives the movement of people around a city. Artists in particular need larger spaces to work that now equally attract creative industry sector workers. Inevitably this pushes them to explore older factories whose future is not yet determined yet which afford generous working space. However, over the last 25 years it is precisely these places that are attracting non-artists in search of a hip lifestyle. Whether they like it or not, these creative types act as the vanguard of gentrification, making areas ‘safe’ for others who are less adventurous to follow. Practically all of

400 The Art of City-Making these buildings have been reused in the more central areas of the major cities. The equivalent industrial buildings today are shortlife industrial sheds. As I mentioned earlier, it is difficult to imagine trendsetters in 20 years’ time searching out a shed lifestyle. These processes of gentrification are a double-edged sword, pushing up prices, which makes upscale development possible, yet also pushing out those who gave a place an interesting flavour in the first place. Artists then move to discover new areas. Perhaps the outer urban estates unloved by most will be their next target?

Individual creativity and urban creativity We understand what creativity can mean in the context of individuals, for example the capacity to think across boundaries, to roam across disciplines, ideas and concepts, to grasp the essence of an issue, and to connect the seemingly unconnected; or in the context of teams or organizations, which is the capacity to draw out individuals’ diverse talents, open out the barriers between individuals, reduce obstacles and procedures so as to allow many people to contribute, and meld potential into a cohesive whole. But to think through and implement a creative city agenda is of a different order of magnitude as it involves conjoining the interests and power of different groups, who may be diametrically opposed and whose goals may contradict each other. It involves certain qualities: the capacity to bring interest groups around the table within a commonly agreed agenda, to learn to work in partnership between different sectors that share mutual respect, and, most importantly, to develop civic creativity.

Creativity and the past So if the overall culture of a city is central to establishing creative potential, what about cultural heritage? The triggers for creativity can be contradictory. For example, heritage can inspire because of past achievements, it can give energy because deep thought has gone into its creation, it can save time because much has already been thought through, it can trigger the desire to emulate, and it can give insight and generate pride because it has withstood the test of time – it is still there. But, equally, heritage and tradition can put a weight on peoples’ shoulders, it can constrain and contain, it can overwhelm, it can force the mind to go along familiar patterns and furrows of thinking and so make people less open and less flexible.

Creative Cities for the World 401 Which side of the coin overrides the situation depends on circumstance. If the new generation perceives its role as only safeguarding a past to which it had no input, it might mean heritage and tradition is drowning a vibrant emerging identity. Heritage works best when we perceive ourselves to be part of its continual creation. This is why museums and galleries that encourage the audience to ask new questions and do more than just let the viewer admire are often more successful. They engage their audiences in an act of cocreation and co-interpretation of the past. Contrast this with the failure of those who just present things as a given, immutable canon. When heritage and its interpretation are allowed to ossify, the past and the present disengage from one another. Culture inevitably involves a past, as a place’s culture is the residue deemed to be important after the ebb and flow of argument, fashion and negotiation about what is valuable has passed. Culture when acknowledged – and this might also mean the ability to reject it – gives strength in moving forward. It becomes a backbone that can create the resilience that makes change and transformation easier. Confidence is key for creativity. When cultures feel threatened or weak or when other cultures are superimposing themselves upon them, they go into their shell. Culture then becomes a defensive shield not open to change, imagination and creativity.

Cultural institutions, anchoring and creativity Museums, galleries and libraries can provide confidence, often giving the city its identity. Indeed, when you ask people to identify a city, it is often a cultural facility or icons they refer to. At their best these tell us who we are, where we have come from and where we might be going. In so doing they show us the routes that reconnect us to our roots. They do this through storytelling, with stories that fit us, our community, our city, our country, our cultures and even our worlds into a bigger human and natural history, showing us connections, bridges and threads that can enrich our understanding. Museums and galleries confront us with some things that are familiar and comforting while at other times challenge us to look afresh, to see the world in a new way or to experience things that require imagination to grasp. Some museums also allow us to contribute our personal stories in an act of co-creation. By triggering imagination, museums entice us to explore, so providing opportunities for testing out, for chance

402 The Art of City-Making encounter, for discovery and for inventing things afresh. At their core, museums and galleries are involved in an exchange of ideas where we as the visitors come to grips with displays. In effect we converse either with ourselves or more publicly about what our culture is, or what those of others are, so we think about what we value and what our values are. There are thousands of examples, such as Madame de Pompadour – Images of Mistress exhibition at the National Gallery in London or the Bodyworks exhibition, which uses human body parts presented in a non-museum space. By placing us, the visitors, at the crossroads of what has gone before, with what could be and what others have thought, museums, libraries and galleries become platforms for dialogue, discourse and debate, revealing the multilayered textures that make up any society. In these processes of creating, questioning and anchoring identity, of imagining and reimagining and of discovery, the object or artefact, ideally real, is the catalyst. In fact the cultural institutions communicate with every fibre of their being – not only their artefacts, but also their setting and the way they project to the outside world. What they feel like and look like sends out innumerable messages and their values are especially etched into their physical fabric as well as into their programming. Thus our older museums often speak more to a former age – an age of deference where the expert told the inexpert what to know and how to know it and where you – the humble citizen – were to be elevated by the museum experience. And the physical elevations themselves spoke in a more grandiose style, often going back to a classical age with their Corinthian columns, reflecting a different kind of confidence and attitude. Yet good contemporary design has often helped museums to combine old structure with new ways of engaging an audience. Today we attempt to live in a more transparent and democratic age. Consequently, more buildings reflect a greater lightness of touch in the materials they use – glass, lightweight steel or tented structures – or in the way audiences are invited in. Again the best of the old and the new can communicate iconically so that we grasp the totality of what a cultural institution is about in an instant. When we take an eagle’s eye view, we see there is a special museumness about museums or a librariness about libraries. They are:

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places of anchorage, which is why so often in a world that speeds ahead of us we see museums as refuges or places of reflection; places of connection, so enabling understanding of our pasts and possible futures; places of possibility, letting us scour the resources of the past and memories to stimulate us to twist them to the contemporary condition; places of inspiration, to remind us of the visions, ideals and aspirations we have made for ourselves and continue to make; and places of learning.

And when these things come together we know more about ourselves, our surroundings, what things work or don’t work and how things could be made better.

Arts and sciences, and the creativity of cities Most of the literature on creativity concerns the arts and sciences. The question is whether there is anything special about the categories of arts, such as singing, acting, writing, dancing, performing music and drawing, in relation to the development of the city. Equally, what is special about biology, chemistry, physics? Science and technology are immensely important. For example, our awareness of climate change, ecological balance, pollution and the ways to overcome these problems would not be possible without science. Importantly a lively city needs both old arts and new arts. Juxtaposing the two creates dialogue, argument and at times even conflict. The negotiation as to what is significant is the process of making a dynamic culture. A static urban culture just focuses on what has been achieved in the past. This has happened to many beautiful places, like Florence, whose beauty has become a prison. The arts help cities with their aesthetic focus and then challenge us to ask questions about ourselves as a city and our hopes, fears and prejudices. And arts create enjoyment. Artists can be interpreters of reality, leaders and visionaries. Perhaps most of all it is the outside-the-box, lateral thinking and use of imagination present in the arts that is the most valuable thing they can offer other disciplines like planning, engineering and social services, especially if allied to other emphases, such as a focus on local distinctiveness.

404 The Art of City-Making On closer examination, most city strategies and plans that call themselves ‘creative’ are in fact only concerned with strengthening the arts and cultural fabric, important as these are. In addition they focus on fostering the creative industries, such as advertising, architecture, art, crafts, design, designer fashion, television, radio, film and video, interactive leisure software, music, the performing arts, publishing, and software creation. This is fine as far as it goes. However, this is not what the ‘creative city’ agenda should be exclusively concerned with – it is merely an important aspect. Indeed it would be great if artistic thinking fused itself into how traffic engineers, planners and others thought about their city. Clearly artistic creativity has its own special form, as has already been noted. Creativity is legitimized in the arts and assumed to be a core attribute of what being an artist is about, and the artistic community has been astute in putting itself at the centre of that debate. Think of all the books on creativity. A large proportion over the last decades have focused on artistic creativity (and this includes much of what is covered within the creative industries) and neglect most other forms, such as social, public sector or bureaucratic creativity. There is also a wealth of work on business creativity. There is little work on the creativity of solving urban problems or urban development or on the creative approaches to thinking about science and technology.

The creative city idea is all-embracing This is a pity, as the creative city concept is all-embracing. It is a clarion call to encourage open-mindedness and imagination from whatever source. It implies, too, a regard for tolerance, a precondition for cities to foster inventiveness. Its assumption and philosophy is that there is always more potential in a city than we imagine at first. It posits that conditions should be created in places for people to think, plan and act with imagination. This implies a massive opening out process and has a dramatic impact on a city’s organizational culture. The style and ethos of such a place is one where a ‘yes’ rather than a ‘no’ attitude is likely to prevail, so giving people the sense that there is opportunity. It is possible to put the highway underground. It is possible to fund an innovation incubator out of public funds. It is possible to develop a passionate participatory culture.

Creative Cities for the World 405 The creative city idea claims that if conditions are right, ordinary people can make the extraordinary happen, given the chance. Here a glance at the inventiveness of social workers, business people, scientists, social entrepreneurs or public servants in solving problems highlights the potential – and many of these activities are deemed to be dull. I focus on this type of inventiveness because it is perhaps more significant than the creativity we usually focus on, such as new music, graphics or fashion trends. These other creatives harness opportunities and address seemingly intractable urban problems like homelessness, traffic jams, pollution and enhancing the visual environment. The principle that underlies so much creativity is giving power to those affected by what you do.

Creativity, authorship and local distinctiveness Underlying much of the creative city debate is local distinctiveness, as most creativity is a response to local circumstance. The creativity debate itself emerged against the backdrop of reinvigorated globalization and the tendency towards homogeneity. This takes the emphasis away from a continual concern with the new. It asks instead what is unique, special or different about a place. Who is the author of a city’s experience? A corporation headquartered far away that has decided a theme will work in your city, because you have the right demographics? ‘Authentic’ remains a difficult term, yet whatever its definitional vagaries it is more about controlling the creation of your experiences than the reverse. These, then, are some of the main resources a city can use to project its identity and to position itself in the wider world. These resources might include an idea we have that reworks a tradition, it could be an old industrial sector, such as textile or ceramics, that can be reinvented anew. It might include a tradition of learning expressed in a university, or a type of technology which themselves might be the basis of a new creative industry.

Enemies of the creative city Being creative is a fragile affair. It requires seemingly contradictory conditions such as stimulation and calm. Great cities can provide opportunities for the breadth of human emotion. Vitality and vibrancy help creativity, but only up to a point. Too much can end up as noise and whirr and there is no chance for focus and reflection. Information overload is another problem for being a creative

406 The Art of City-Making city; a fragmented clutter of out-of-context facts leads to confusion rather than clarity of thought and the hyper-mediated world does not help, with its usual blast of unconnected information where one rarely comprehends a story in its completeness. Compare the visual landscape of cities today with 30 years ago. Physical space, airwaves, sport, cultural events and performances: all are on the advertiser’s easel. Ad-creep is everywhere. It is hard to think of any area of urban space which isn’t in some way sponsored, branded or otherwise earmarked for corporate use. These are also some of the superficial ways in which society ‘values’ creativity – as style, as fashion, as edgy, as controversial for its own sake: attributes without substance. Speed is another problem. Being continuously fast works against reflection and things simply become a blur. The capacity to reflect is central to imagining and innovation.

Is creativity positive? The word ‘creativity’ is imbued almost exclusively with positive connotations. But should this be so? The creative impulse can be negative. It can produce weapons that kill as well as medicines that cure. The purpose and goal of creativity is as important as the process of being creative. Importantly, too, both the trivial and the profound are equally called creative. An imitative, formulaic design might be called creative, just because it appears funky, as can a deep new insight about human personality. Creative as a word, a concept, as a desirable state or aspiration has taken over from the word ‘cultured’. ‘Cultured’ appears to have an old-fashioned ring and backward look. This need not be so. The best cultured people seek to understand the present and are focused on the future too. Being creative has a forward ring and it appears to be about the new and inventive, about being on the pace – it seems to be glamorous. And business too is tripping over itself to attract creativity in the ‘war for talent’. Companies frequently claim how creative they are. With so much creativity cities should be exciting, but this is not what we see in most streets, downtowns or neighbourhoods. Too often there is a blandness and sameness masquerading as difference and excitement: 30,000 McDonald’s with their 50 million customers daily,73 5000 Wal-Marts with a total occupied retail space of over 50km2, a third of the size of Amsterdam,74 ad nauseum.

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Creativity defined Creativity is applied imagination using intelligence and all kinds of mental attributes along the way in order to foster continuous learning. This implies a more open attitude to failure and distinguishing between competent and incompetent failure. In the first, when someone tries hard to succeed but fails, there is substantial learning going on which creates the foundations for possible success in the future. It is ‘thinking at the edge of one’s competence, rather than the centre of it’. In complex urban problems, solutions are often discovered at the boundaries of what we know and when each specialist discipline works at its boundaries. The reason is that the shaft-like focus of a narrow discipline tends to reveal less and less and give less insight as we become clearer that things are inextricably interconnected. This is not to put down the specialist, but it asks them to operate in a different way. The creative city idea is an ongoing process and way of going about things, not an end result. It is dynamic, not static, and it is concerned with the mindset predominant in a city. It suggests that a culture of creativity should be embedded into the texture of how the city operates, that is into its community members, its organizations and its power structures. Legitimizing the use of imagination in the way the city operates generates an ideas bank of possibilities. This process of allowing divergent thinking to occur within the worlds of specialists and those who find this approach more natural generates multiple options, choices and a pool of ideas. It needs aligning to convergent thinking, which narrows down possibilities from which innovations emerge once they have gone through the reality checker.

Where are the creative places? Many places considered creative, like New York, London, Hong Kong and Sydney, are port cities. They remain hubs even in the age of air transit as they have maintained their status as communication nodal points. Today many cities we consider interesting are city states like Hong Kong and Singapore. Perhaps being a small nation allows a place to generate more impact, as it is not concerned with a vast hinterland. But what about landlocked cities around the world that feature as innovative hubs, like Munich,

408 The Art of City-Making Berlin, Austin, Madrid and Curitiba? Soon, however, those cities which can make the most of their airport hubs will become the exchange centres of the 21st century. Within cities we often think of city centres as cores of creativity, yet increasingly the reality is different. The city core may simply be a lifeless institutional zone. Instead it may be an inner city living area, a light industrial rim, a science park or a village within a city that has reputation for inventiveness. Think of New York’s Greenwich Village, once a very creative place, or Schwabing in Munich.

Suburban creativity? Can the suburbs be creative? Suburbs are normally seen as dull, deflating and boring. The environment does not stimulate inventiveness, it is said, but instead suits families bringing up children. However, while the suburban physical setting may be focused on comfort and convenience rather than being inspiring, reactions to it often spark inventiveness. One example is the number of pop stars that were born in very ordinary places. John Lennon lived with his Aunt Mimi for almost 20 years at ‘Mendips’, 251 Menlove Avenue, Liverpool, Mick Jagger in Dartford and Bruce Springsteen in Freehold, New Jersey. Punk’s origin as an outgrowth of suburbia is well documented. Indeed the film Suburbia in which Penelope Spheeris explored the world of alienated suburban teenagers, is regarded as the ‘punk rock movie’.

Comprehensive creativity Very few places are comprehensively creative, but every city can be more creative than it is. Those with a global reputation over a long time period, say 150 or 200 years, and where the sheer weight of creatives dominates the urban scene in a sustained way, can be counted on the fingers of one hand. They may include, currently, New York, London, Amsterdam and Tokyo. Over the next decades they may be joined by others such as Mumbai, Shanghai and Buenos Aires. At a slightly lower level there are places strong in niches that can be sustained over periods of, say, 50 to 100 years. For example Milan and fashion, Los Angeles and the media industry, Stockholm and public infrastructure, and Zurich and banking. All these places are attractors and to sustain their creative power they need economic, technological, cultural and even political status and pull. It is the combination of these factors that drives their

Creative Cities for the World 409 drawing power, acting as a reinforcing agent to bring in talent and to generate talent endogenously. To sustain their positions they need to attract or develop leading research institutes, often built on the back of existing universities or cutting-edge companies. They need, too, today, a public sector setting and organizations that think long term, are focused on the key drivers of future wealth creation, and can assess honestly and strategically their city’s relative positioning and potential assets in a broad-minded way. Today a city’s creativity is usually judged by its arts and cultural sector scene, such as music or film, or that of its alternative scene, rather than its creative capacities in science, engineering or technology and other spheres where reputations take a longer time to evolve. These rely on infrastructure in education, research and business and their results appear less glamorous. The cultural scene appears in its media incarnation as exciting, yet it is fickle and is subject to fads and fashions, even though a substantial museum and educational infrastructure helps in generating future innovative capacity. For example, the tens of thousands of textile samples in the Victorian and Albert museum in London have for decades provided inspiration to young designers. The faddish nature of the media plays a significant role as to which cities we believe to be creative, and cities move in and out of the news at a dizzying speed. At one moment Mumbai is the creative hub, the next it is Taipei that is suddenly creative, followed by Seoul or Buenos Aires or Accra and now Moscow. In Europe Barcelona was the city for a long moment, then Prague and Budapest, then Helsinki and Ljubljana. This is the fashion roundabout and obscures a deeper assessment of the true nature of potential in any given city.

Bursts of creativity Looking back through history, cities have creative bursts, possibly only for a short period, whose resonance remains in the public imagination. Take San Francisco. Its long drawn out creativity since the 1906 earthquake reached a certain apex in the summer of love of 1967, whose embodiment was found in Haight Ashbury. Long enjoying a bohemian reputation, the city became a magnet for counter-cultures in the second half of the 20th century. During the 1950s, City Lights was an important publisher of beat generation literature. San Francisco was the centre of hippie and other alternative culture. The ‘San Francisco sound’ emerged as an influential force in rock music, associated with acts such as Jefferson Airplane

410 The Art of City-Making and the Grateful Dead. They blurred the boundaries between folk, rock and jazz and enhanced rock’s lyrical content. During the 1980s and 1990s San Francisco became a major focal point in the North American – and international – punk, thrash metal and rave scenes. Already known as a gay mecca at the beginning of the 20th century, this was reinforced during World War II, when thousands of gay male soldiers spent time in the city. The late 1960s brought a new wave of more radical lesbians and gays to the city, attracted by its reputation as a radical, left-wing centre. These were the prime movers of gay liberation and they made the Castro neighbourhood the gay mecca of the world. But in the 1980s the AIDS virus wreaked havoc on the gay male community. In the 1990s San Francisco was also a centre of the boom and growth of the internet. These movements shaped the world and pushed at the edge, creating innovations in lifestyles, products and services along the way. Yet much of the creativity disappeared as the crash hollowed out much of the industry that had grown up in SoMa (South of the Market). Many of those funky, ex-industrial warehouses are turning from hubs of invention to upscale apartments. In effect, the internet pioneers made the area safe for the next wave of gentrifiers. Haight Ashbury lives awkwardly with its memories and is now merely a souvenir shadow. The hippie shops sit oddly in an increasingly middle-class, gentrified area. The remaining old and occasional new hippies look bereft of purpose. Castro inevitably declined, its self-confidence dented. Ghiardelli Square, considered the first successful adaptive reuse of an industrial building in 1964, is now a tourist mecca with little creative energy. True, new areas emerged, such as SoMa, but the new media epicentre has shifted elsewhere, to Los Angeles and beyond. Without economic, political or cultural centrality which retains endogenous talent and attracts external talent, it is difficult to maintain a global position of creative power. In spite of everything, the city has immense drawing power and creative initiatives and projects still abound, although there is a danger of tourism taking from the city rather than giving any creative force back. So the city increasingly resonates in its beauty, its memories and its past.

Ebb and flow The San Francisco story is repeated a thousandfold elsewhere. The creative impulses ebb and flow and depend on fortunate coinci-

Creative Cities for the World 411 dences of circumstance where creative individuals, an open institutional setting and various power brokers are in good alignment. Individual acts of creativity naturally occur without propitious situations, but for creativity to build upon itself and become self-reinforcing it needs a milieu where people, resources and encouragement can come together. Usually cities are open in parts and closed in others, which change over time, but it is rarer for all aspects of openness to come together so that the city feels full of possibility. There is always a lead and lag situation. At one moment the university may turn its back on its city, while the municipality is opening out, or else the business sector is neutral and little concerned about the strategic future of the city. In another phase the roles may be reversed. On occasion, too, a set of individuals may burst through, setting the tone for the city, reaching far beyond their area of expertise, as did the zany group Leningrad Cowboys for Helsinki. The joke from the outset was that they were ‘the worst rock ‘n’ roll band in the world’ who, with their striking unicorn hairstyles and long pointed shoes, offered a naff Eastern European interpretation of Western rock ‘n’ roll. Playing on the irony of Finland’s past Russian connection, they performed with the Red Army Choir in the famous Total Balalaika Show in Helsinki’s Senate Square in 1993 in a breakthrough concert in front of 70,000 people, sponsored by Nokia, so linking to the city’s technological innovativeness. They later extended their activities to films, restaurants and megastores. Their initial joke, while increasingly unfunny as they themselves recognized, was self-effacing yet confident, so projecting a sense that Helsinki could just be what it wanted to be.

Power and creativity When political, economic and cultural power agglomerates in one place, it can act as an incapacitator and a means of reducing potential for certain kinds of creativity. This is because power battles can drown out the ability to innovate, as can high property prices, which make it difficult for people to get on to the first ladder of opportunity. The existing mainstream will be powerful in whatever sphere and will tend to encourage a creativity it can nurture and control and that feels tried and tested. The media is also, perhaps, too attentive, endangering the fragile equilibrium of innovation. On the other hand, in such power centres some of the newest ideas will be found in the largest museums, galleries, shopping centres, entertainment centres, universities and company headquarters,

412 The Art of City-Making because the power brokers and the ambitious will feel it is their right to have them there. These in turn attract the most aspiring, successful and wealthy people, thereby sucking in the talent from surrounding areas and draining the identity and potential of those places. Crucially, capital cities have the greatest capacity to insert themselves into global arenas, most obviously initially through political structures like embassies, trade missions and other representative structures. When allied to the city’s economic and foreign policy it is a potent mix. Once launched, the agglomeration of resources, talent and power accelerates and reaches a critical mass, which makes it difficult for other cities to break in, especially in smaller countries, where the core city might have 25 per cent of the population. Once a tipping point is reached whereby a city gets its dominant position, this tends to escalate. Seoul, for example, has just over 20 per cent of South Korea’s population and to a large extent determines the global identity of the nation. This makes it doubly difficult for Busan, Daegu, Inchon and Gwangju, let alone Jeonju or Pyeongtaek, to insert themselves into international circuits and gain recognition. Nationally and regionally they may be significant, but if international recognition is important, something unique yet internationally recognized or a strong niche area is vital.

Away from the spotlight Yet being away from the spotlight can have its advantages. Indeed, as Peter Hall points out,75 many historically innovative cities, such as Los Angeles (at least initially), Memphis and Glasgow, nurtured their talents and experiments away from the central hub. The first contemporary art galleries in the sense we understand them today were in Lodz in Poland and later Hannover in Germany, rather than in Warsaw or Berlin. Smaller cities can try out things a central city may find unimportant. Furthermore, the core city will find it difficult to operate in every sphere. The difficulty for the smaller, upstart city is inserting itself into international circuits and meeting the aspirations for their creatives once initial success has been achieved. The point is that every city can be more creative than it currently is and the task for the city wanting to be creative is to identify, nurture, harness, promote, attract and sustain talent and to mobilize ideas, resources and organizations.

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Qualities of creative places Creative places are able to overcome many obstacles as resilience is one of their key qualities. They know where they are going and have a vision that in broad terms is agreed by key players. They take measured risks and push boundaries. They acknowledge that a creative place needs many leaders. There may be a few superleaders, but their essential role is to pave the way for others to achieve things and to trade their power for influence. Creative cities, in my definition, should have an ethical purpose that guides and directs the mass of energies present in most places. These ethical goals might be to both generate wealth and reduce inequalities, to grow economically but to focus on sustainability, or to focus on local distinctiveness. The ethical code is more likely to be based on secular principles which guarantee freedom of enquiry and tolerance and where the state and religion are separated. Fundamentalism does not help develop the imagination because everything has already been imagined. This implies bending the market to public good objectives. Places can develop creative initiatives without such a framework, but I would not call places like that ‘creative cities’. For example, Silicon Valley has intense creativity in a series of narrow engineering-based fields and this has transformed how the world works; however, the physical environment they have created out of Silicon Valley is quite unappealing and soulless, which is why nearby San Francisco is so important as a playground to stimulate the senses.

Soft creativity Soft creativity is perhaps the next wave to think about. It is the tai chi of creativity. It bends like the reed and moves with the wind and is not rigid like the rod. It understands the flow of human personality, psychology and nature. It is an imagination that works with culture’s and nature’s resources and not against them. It does not see technology as the knee-jerk solution to any intractable problem. It is a mindset that holds back at first, listens, reflects and examines. It tries to find solutions that go with the grain of a local culture and its attitudes. For instance, if there are unique local transport schemes such as the dolmus in Turkey, a cross between a taxi and a bus operating on fixed routes, you would not superimpose another system on this national institution. Equally, if there is a tradition of care for the elderly such as that in Mediterranean countries, the city would support it and make it easier to work within existing habits rather than subcontract care to private companies.

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Indicators of creativity We live in an age of measurement, yet being creative is often about bending rules, doing things differently or rethinking possibilities. It has strong unpredictability. Therefore it is better to assess the characteristics and preconditions that allow places in principle to be creative. These are necessary, if not sufficient indicators. It may be a chimera to look for the sufficient conditions. The central features of creative places are their openness and their vitality, which leads to their viability. Vitality is measured by assessing a range of factors across the economic, social, cultural and environmental spheres. These include critical mass, diversity, accessibility, security, identity and distinctiveness, innovativeness, linkage and synergy, competitiveness, and organizational capacity.76 The openness indicators were reviewed in Chapter 5, including assessments of the institutional framework, the business environment, civil society and public space.77

The creative commons and open source We need to be watchful of merging indicators of innovativeness and creativity. Creativity is an input to innovation and makes innovations more likely to happen. Creativity is a divergent, exploratory, opening out process and innovation results from a process of closing down and narrowing in, considering, making things work in reality. Importantly, though, innovations need the tenacity and spark of the initial creative work. A place cannot be innovative without first being creative. Traditional indicators of innovative strength may in fact hinder creativity.78 These include the percentage of patent registrations developed in a city – insisting on copyrights and intellectual property or registering too many minor patents, for example in a technological field, can reduce options and possibilities for others. This is why the ‘creative commons’ and open-source movements79 argue there should be flexible copyright licences for creative works or access to source codes in software to allow for multiple developments. This would enable communities of people or interests to flexibly develop ideas or products that in a proprietary world are guarded. Creative commons licences allow copyright holders to grant some of their rights to the public while retaining others. The intent is to avoid the problems current copyright laws create for sharing information. The idea behind ‘open source’ is that when programmers can read, redistribute and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves, because people improve it, adapt it and

Creative Cities for the World 415 fix bugs. This develops software much faster than the conventional closed models and methods, in which only a few programmers can see the source. Countries that show more evidence of innovation are richer and grow faster. Companies that show more evidence of innovation post better financial performance results and have higher share prices. But: In a knowledge-based economy, the primary competition is competition to innovate first, not competition to cut prices as standard economics posits. Because sole ownership of an innovation bestows monopoly power, the economic laws of perfect competition do not govern innovators. Their monopolies reward their investment in innovation. But unlike monopolies in standard economic theory, innovation-based monopolies are temporary, for they last only until another innovator makes yesterday’s innovation obsolete. Intellectual property rights prolong innovators’ monopolies.80 In the past economists have assumed that intellectual property rights encourage more innovation by increasing economic rewards; now there is the view that they slow things down. So high patent counts do not necessarily mean a high level of innovation.

Where next? The creative city has now become a catch-all phrase in danger of losing its bite and obliterating the reasons why the idea emerged in the first place. Cities tend to restrict its meaning. Overuse, hype and the tendency for cities to adopt the term without thinking through its real consequences could mean that the notion becomes hollowed out, chewed up and thrown out until the next big slogan comes along. The creative city notion is about a journey of becoming, not a fixed state of affairs. When taken seriously it is a challenge to existing organizational structures, power configurations and habitual ways of doing things. The creativity of the creative city is about lateral and horizontal thinking, the capacity to see parts and the whole simultaneously. Below I describe a possible agenda for getting the creative show on the road. I supply this section with some trepidation, since much

416 The Art of City-Making of this book has talked about breaking away from bureaucratic procedure and challenging outdated modes of thinking. Nevertheless, regard the following as a proposal upon which you can ponder and, wholly or partially, accept or reject.

Possible first steps To get a creative platform going requires a group of influential partners in the city to recognize its importance. A preliminary audit with those partners would discover that a number of creative initiatives, institutions and individuals already operate in the region. Clarify what creativity means for the city by: • coming to a consensus on what creativity is; • summarizing its importance to the main city players; and • identifying some role models from other places to act as inspiration. Undertake a creativity and obstacles audit to: • describe the nature and extent of creative activity within public, private and not-for-profit entities in the city region; this might be established companies, research organizations, specific courses within an educational establishment or an initiative undertaken by an individual; • identify potential sources of future creative action; • assess honestly the obstacles to developing creativity in the region; and • spell out the shift from natural advantage (arising from access to more plentiful and cheap natural resources and labour) to a world where prosperity depends on creative advantage, arising from being able to use and mobilize creativity and extract value from knowledge. The recent focus on creativity has been on the arts and the technocratic, leading to a focus on IT-driven innovations and business clusters. The crucial recognition of today’s movement is that evolving a creative economy also requires a social and organizational creativity that enables imagination to occur and which should imbue the whole system. As such, creativity then becomes a general problem-solving and opportunity-creating capacity. Its essence is a multifaceted resourcefulness. Creativity is both generic – a way of

Creative Cities for the World 417 thinking, a mindset – and specific and task-oriented in relation to applications in particular fields. A creativity audit would assess creativity across a number of dimensions: • • • • •

spatially from the local outwards; sector style, from private and public to community-oriented; industrial sectors, from advanced manufacturing to services; demographically, assessing the creativity of different age groups from the young to the elderly; and diversity and ethnicity.

An audit would need to look at creativity across the spectrum, from the individual, the firm, industry sectors and clusters to networks in the city, the city itself as an amalgam of different organizational cultures and the region. It needs to assess the relevance of creativity in the private, community and public sectors and in relation to areas like education, specific industry sectors, science and organizations in helping the prosperity and well-being of a region. The results of the audit will then help: •

• • •

Identify organizations and individuals to become creativity ambassadors and to work with these and other identified entities on projects. Develop synergies between interesting projects from completely different areas. For instance, a homeless people’s project and a digital media initiative might find much in common by sharing their learning about creativity. Create spaces, places and venues that in terms of image projection signal the region’s ambition and stimulate creativity. Build an environment where being creative is seen as desirable and something to aspire to. Provide opportunities to experiment and explore new ideas as well as to access appropriate resources, whether encouragement, mentoring, training or finance. Assess how changes in teaching approaches can occur and provide dedicated training courses, development programmes and mentoring on creative thinking targeted at people across the age range. These should cover the spectrum, to include creativity not only in business, but also in administration and social economy activities.

418 The Art of City-Making •

Develop support programmes for creativity in people and organizations involving toolkits to support learning and development, bearing in mind the need to avoid formulaic training and to allow for flexibility and openness. Assess how ladders of opportunity to incubate ideas in specific sectors can be created so that ideas can become development opportunities. Identify niches where the city can make a significant impact. The audit will provide indications of strategic opportunities. These should be followed up by assessing how a creative twist can add additional value to both new and traditional sectors of the economy. Identify start-up resources to fund activities within the creativity platform as well as help lobby existing investors and funders to apply creativity criteria to their investments. Establish criteria for investing. These should be for projects that demonstrate impact and the capacity to push boundaries of technology, technique, procedure, process, implementation mechanism, problem redefinition, target audience, behavioural impact and professional context as well as create a new endproduct.

Once the audit has been digested and a programme set up, an evaluation framework should be built which: •

Establishes an agreed base-line starting point so as to be able to assess the dynamics of creativity of the city and to track its movement. Develops a solid evaluation architecture and supporting methodology to assess success and failure by quantitative and qualitative methods. This is likely to develop new measures, such as talent tracking and talent churn and monitoring creative products and services, creative people in the region, creative processes that are being adopted, and how creative environments within organizations or the region are being developed. Publishes an annual creativity report on the city that is not based on boosterism – that is, hype without substance – and links this to a series of public events to discuss its conclusions.

Orchestrating momentum, developing critical mass and communicating the city’s creative aims:

Creative Cities for the World 419 •

The creativity platform is itself an orchestration device. To this should be added a communications platform to speak both to the city itself and to the wider world as a centre of imagination. Identify devices such as exhibitions, showcasing and travelling roadshows to foster discussion about creativity and celebrate achievements. Develop a key series of different events involving the creativity theme – some high profile and concerned with strategies of influence, others appealing to smaller audiences or a more general public. This is important for mutual learning and critical comment. Build up and mobilize networks of creative people to become ambassadors for the creativity platform and the city.

A paced and purposeful, timetabled project plan will involve an overall visioning project that should have a mix of easy, short-term, low-cost projects and more difficult and expensive long-term ones. This makes it easier to create achievable staging posts along the way and to establish early winners that build confidence and momentum as well as generating the energy to do more difficult tasks. A creativity audit will reveal a number of projects that already exist but which are not yet well communicated. This means it is already possible at the outset to project a city as creatively active by promoting the interesting examples to show the initiative has already started. The ultimate aim is to retell the story of the city so that residents and outsiders feel they can relate to it and want to be part of it. The overall aim of the first year is to develop collective understanding of the creativity agenda by promoting the results of the creativity audit and working with key individuals and organizations who emerged as models and partners within it; initiating promotional activity related to the importance of creativity and the probable need to change educational programmes; identifying coaches, mentors and courses to begin training initiatives; and, towards the end of the first year, to create a high-profile launch event that imaginatively shows creative achievements. In the end the creativity agenda needs to be created bottom–up and top–down together. The steps in involving people in the agenda need to move from a core group to a wider stakeholders’ group totalling over 100 people who will largely be identified through the creativity audit.

420 The Art of City-Making From there the dynamic should then cascade out, involve and inspire perhaps a 1000, and from then on even much further out. To start such a project requires dedicated creativity platform coordination responsible for driving the agenda forward, coordinating the research and instigating programmes, organizing communications and networking.

Fine judgement and the formula But being a creative city does not involve picking a formula off the shelf. It is not a science that can be learnt from a textbook. It is an art. Art in its broadest sense connotes a sense of doing something well, having ability and pursuing a skill by study and practice. There are some core principles that apply across cultures and to most situations for creative city-making: a willingness to listen and learn; the capacity to be open-minded; encouraging enquiry; reducing ego; concern more with influence than power; grasping the essence of different disciplines; thinking across disciplines; imagining the implications of the present for the long term; and understanding the dynamics of change at both trivial and deeper levels. The art of creative city-making involves fine judgement based on experience and the ability to know when to push for innovation and when to hold back. City-makers are artists of the highest order because they have a gra