We’ve landed back on our feet in Rotterdam after a full week in New York City. It was great to catch-up with friends, make new ones and to be inspired at WRLDCTY. The conference was thought-provoking and I’m happy to share five of my take-aways :
1. Keep making moments
We talk a lot about adding layers of experience on top of urban environments. But we realise this isn’t always easy for clients that typically focus on development. Making moments requires a much longer horizon and smart operational model, where you secure value creation in time. #Stickiness starts with great experiences – not in your bricks & mortar. The MUSEUM OF ICE CREAM shows how immersive that can be 🍭.
2. Beauty vs Boringness
Thomas Heaterwick spoke about the pandemic of boringness. Form too often follows function, but isn’t emotion also a function? Quality of place is imperative and I was really happy to hear the word ‘beauty’ coming back in multiple conversations. From liveable, to #loveablecities.
Speaking of beauty – I was really stuck by the look and feel of some urban landscapes in New York City like the brand-new Little Island 🌱.
3. Health is Wealth
Unsurprisingly there was a lot of focus on healthy buildings, certification and ESG investment. Healthy companies outperform SP500 by 99% and it is clear that through decerning talent, tenants are really demanding better buildings now.
In between the buildings this is all about creating communities that are prosperous, equitable and accessible. Again beyond the hard fabric of our cities this is all about creating soft programmes that are intentionally welcoming and #inclusive ❤️.
4. The Central Social District
I had the privilege of hosting a talk on ‘corporate urbanism’, exploring the future of central business districts and corporate campuses in a hybrid working, learning, and shopping reality. In our session we spoke about #brandurbanism and the ways in which corporations contribute to vibrant communities by leveraging their real estate in more meaningful ways.
live + work + play = making sure that people stay!
Andy Lantz shared some of his work on the Spotify Content Campus in downtown LA and how that functions as a podcast studio / pop-up stage / incubator for the music industry in LA. The Nike Experience Hub in the Sony Center am Potsdamer Platz is another example how live + work + play = making sure that people stay. We’re social beings after all! ⚡️
5. Optimist Forever
What I really appreciated was the positive mindset throughout the entire conference. Sure, the challenges in our cities are enormous and utter complex. But we as an industry are not powerless. New York is a great example of a city that is man-made, adjusted, changed, adjusted again. And that means we can do that again, and better.
Greg Clark concluded the conference with some inspiring thoughts on “cooperative place #leadership”. Let’s move away from the dichotomy between public and private. The reality today is that ambitions are high and funding constrained. Let’s get better at cross-sectoral collaboration and more serious about the ways in which business, institutions and citizens contribute to our future cities 💪.
It has been an absolute privilege to speak at WRLDCTY and a big thanks to the curatorial team for hosting such a timely conference. Big thanks to Chris Fair, Jennifer Dolynchuk and the entire team. Can’t wait to see how this platform evolves in the coming years!