11 June 2012

Charles Leadbeater: Why cities need to be hospitable rather than smart

Be the first to share

Guimarães (Portugal), European Capital of Culture 2012, is commissioning a number of thought leadership pieces and artistic interventions to explore the concept of “Openness” as it relates to all aspects of City development – from personal to political, infrastructure to innovation.

The first one is by Charles Leadbeater, a renowned thinker on creativity, collaboration and innovation (and author of WeThink). He provides an overview of “openness as a methodology for achieving positive change’ – seen particularly through the lens of a small city such as Guimarães.

“Cities that aspire to be truly creative, need to combine cultural creativity with a broader agenda for social creativity. Truly creative cities are as creative about transport, housing, energy and waste as they are about culture and the arts.” […]

These social challenges have traditionally been tasks for specialists – planners, architects and engineers – to re-imagine the city from on high. Most famously this gave rise to the modernist vision of the city as a machine, a lattice work of roads, factories and high rise apartment blocs. The failure of many of these schemes for planned problem solving in cities means there is a growing emphasis in many cities on more bottom up solutions, that require more distributed, social creativity, which often involves a combination of top down investment in new infrastructures – for example for energy, transport or waste– combined with changes in mass behaviour – using electricity, mass transit, household recycling. Creative cities are too large, open and unruly to be regulated in detail, top down by an all-seeing state or experts. They have to encourage collective, voluntary, self-control. A city that could be planned from the centre would also be dead. There are plenty of examples of cities around the world which are busy and rich in infrastructure and yet dead, socially and creatively, precisely because they allow little or no room for people to come together in unprogrammed ways. Successful cities allow a lot of room for adaptive mutation, encouraging their citizens to invest their ideas in the spaces they inhabit.”

Read essay

Be the first to share
1 August 2015
Nissan’s place-based design process
Megan Neese is a senior manager in the Future Lab at Nissan Motor Ltd., a cross-functional team tasked with uncovering new business opportunities for the future of automotive. In an article for EPIC, she explains how …
14 July 2015
Smart Cities will know everything about you
So, asks consultant Mike Weston, how can marketers cash in without becoming enemies of the people? Weston writes that the law will be too slow to catch up with digital innovations and that businesses in a …
19 June 2015
Nesta report and case studies on people-centred smart cities
For smart cities to reach their full potential, they need to focus on the citizens living in them, not just technology, write researchers Tom Saunders and Peter Baeck of Nesta, the UK innovation charity Traditionally, smart …
28 May 2015
The driverless car push ignores challenges of people and context
Autonomous or driverless cars are based on a technology push strategy. Beyond statements like “freeing up time”, “reducing accidents” and some simple scenarios on “remote parking” or “vehicle sharing”, there is far too little thought …
6 May 2015
How cities can design for aging baby boomers (and benefit younger residents too)
When cities make an effort to accommodate “aging in place,” they typically end up with designs that benefit younger residents too. A new report called “Ageing in Cities,” from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development …
3 December 2014
Ericsson’s new ConsumerLab report about the smart citizen
Last month, Ericsson published its latest ConsumerLab report, entitled "Smart Citizens: How the internet facilitates smart choices in city life." The study covers 9 cities worldwide-Beijing, Delhi, London, New York, Paris, Rome, São Paulo, Stockholm and …
26 October 2014
Creating user-friendlier environments
MIT News describes how Federico Casalegno of the MIT Mobile Experience Lab designs technology environments that keep human experience at the center of user experience. "The director of the MIT Mobile Experience Lab looks to innovate …
9 October 2014
New ebook details Seoul’s Sharing City project
With its official, city-wide commitment to the sharing economy, Seoul's metropolitan government has emerged as a leader in the global sharing movement. Recently, Creative Commons Korea released an ebook detailing many of the Sharing City, …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

29 September 2015
[Experientia book] Ethnography on elderly health and wellness

As we age, we increasingly depend on public services and the community for support. Well-designed public services can greatly affect the lives of the elderly and their experiences of healthcare. Experientia collaborated with DesignSingapore Council on understanding how the elderly interact with public services and how we can look towards improving their lives with design. […]

2 July 2015
Getting citizens involved in protecting fragile energy environments

A new project funded under the FP7 European Commission framework is getting citizens involved in testing new tools for reducing energy consumption during peak loads, in the hope that its pilot program will set the new state of the art for protecting locations with fragile electricity supplies. One of France’s most fragile regions The Provence-Alpes-Côte […]

5 May 2015
Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록 in Design 4 Disaster

Design 4 Disaster features an engaging illustrated safety manual for ship passengers, a personal project by Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록. After the Korean ferry accident last year, Yuluck (who is Korean) wanted to find a way to make safety manuals more interesting to read. He spent one year designing an interactive safety guide […]

16 March 2015
Better Health and Wellbeing: Giving the elderly in Singapore sparkling golden years

Invitation: sharing session, Singapore, 30 March 2015   What are the hopes and fears of the elderly in Singapore? How can designers offer solutions that support the elderly in managing their health and wellness? What can healthcare professionals do to help them keep active? What role can technology play in the elderly’s daily lives? Design consultants […]

1 January 2015
Happy Playful New Year
21 December 2014
Experientia’s Twitter feed live

Experientia has now its own Twitter feed. Four months of Putting People First posts and other links have already been uploaded. If you followed Experientia on Twitter through the feed of its CEO, Mark Vanderbeeken, make sure to now also follow the company (but don’t unfollow Mark, who will keep on tweeting away). And while […]

See all articles