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...

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...

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...

Revisualizing soft and hard infrastructures

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...

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 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...

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...

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,...

Works Cited

Adams, J. (2005) 'Hypermobility A challenge to governance', in C. Lyall and J. Tait (eds) New Modes of Governance Developing an Integrated Policy Approach to Science, Technology, Risk and the Environment, Ashgate, Aldershot Alibhai-Brown (2001) Who Do We Think We Are Imagining the New Britain, Penguin, London American Journal of Public Health (2003) 'The impact of the built environment on health An emerging field', Special issue guest-edited by Richard R. Jackson, September Amin, A. (2007)...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Peopletrafficking 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...

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...

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 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...

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...

Chapter Two The Sensory Landscape of Cities

Equilibrioception. Our 'metaphysical senses' include clairsentience, the ability to 'feel' energy and non-physical matter clairaudience, which is 'psychic hearing' and occurs when one is able to 'hear' vibrations that are outside the range of the human ear and telepathy, which is communication between minds by some means other than sensory perception. See www.powerwatch.org.uk . Gardner (1983). Lyons and Helsinki, for example, have renowned light strategies. A...

Chapter Seven Creative Cities for the World

For the general notion see, for instance, www.actsofkindness.org . Landry and Bianchini (1995) (the first version of The Creative City). Thanks to Professor Kian Woon Kwok for the karaoke comparison. Landry (2000) includes case studies of Emscher Park and Helsinki. See See www.libanmall .com main beirut.htm. See See EMAAR is a major Dubai developer responsible for initiatives such as the Burj al-Arab and increasingly operating globally. The government has a 32 per cent stake in the company and...

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...

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 All professions have a shape, a form, a mindset, a gestalt that follows them like a shadow All professions have a shape, a form, a mindset, a gestalt that follows them like a shadow confident, willing to listen or being pleasant. For this...

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...

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...

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...

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 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...

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...