The Science of Sustainable Cities

ARTICLE / TALK

Centre for Liveable Cities, Urban Solutions, July 2018

Underlying the extraordinary complexity and diversity of cities is an approximate simplicity. As a city increases in size, all of its various socioeconomic metrics scale in the same way no matter where you are on the planet. Through analysing data from thousands of cities in different countries, I found that when the size of a city doubles, there is an approximate 15% increase in its socioeconomic outcomes—from income, wealth and number of patents, to crime rate and number of flu cases. This scaling law is valid across the globe, although cities have evolved independently.


To watch Geoffrey West’s 2011 TED Talk click here.

RECENT POST

In search of the real Adam Smith

ARTICLE

Jesse Norman, The Financial Times, 22 June 2018

For Smith, the crucial linking idea is that of the continuous exchange that occurs in all human interaction. This may be the exchange of goods and services in markets. But it can also be the exchange of meanings in language and in other forms of communication. And it can be the exchange of regard or esteem that in Smith’s view underlies the formation of moral and social norms in society.


To visit Jesse Norman MP’s website click here.

RECENT POST

Was Karl Marx right?

SHORT FILM

Open Future, The Economist, 4 May 2018

Although there is a lot to learn from Marx, his solution was far worse than the disease. At the same time it can’t be said that today’s capitalism, dominated by immense inequality and  financial crises has triumphed. 


For more from The Economist and their Open Future project, click here.

The New Urban Crisis

PODCAST

Andrew Tuck, Monocle, 4 May 2017

Special interview: Richard Florida

Our cities have become small little areas of concentrated wealth and advantage for the global super rich, for knowledge workers, for the members of my own creative class. It’s not just the 1%, it’s about a third of us who can make a go, but then the other two thirds, falling further and further behind and surrounding these areas of concentrated advantage much larger spans of concentrated disadvantage, and those are not only in the city, what’s so interesting about The New Urban Crisis, that’s spread out to what we used to think of as the great affluent suburbs, so it really is a new geographic divide in our society, and that divide is not only causing inequality it’s causing this terrible backlash.


To visit Richard Florida’s website click here, for an article from The Guardian about his previous thesis on The Creative Class and it’s relationship to The New Urban Crisis click here, and for a longer discussion of The New Urban Crisis with the LSE Cities Ricky Burdett click here.

Cities don’t make people poor; they attract poor people. The flow of less advantaged people into cities from Rio to Rotterdam demonstrates urban strength, not weakness.

Edward Glaeser, economist

Renew Newcastle

WEBSITE

Renew Newcastle

Since 2008, Renew Newcastle has been connecting people with vacant spaces, supporting a community of creative entrepreneurs who bring life, interest and activity into under utilised neighbourhoods. Partnering with those who share the vision of giving back to their community.

What makes a good Renew Newcastle project?

  • It adds life to the city
  • It is unique
  • It has a high degree of professionalism or a very clear idea
  • It is ongoing
  • It is ready
  • It has the support of the property owner

How long does Renew Newcastle have properties for?

Renew Newcastle’s default license agreement is based on accessing the property on a rolling 30 day basis. That means Property Owners can give 30 days notice at any time should they receive a commercial offer or need to proceed with development. This enables the property owner to provide the property without sacrificing the potential commercial returns and is one of the key reasons why properties are made available so cheaply.


To watch Marcus Wesbury’s speak about creative cities and the Renew Newcastle model click here, for his book Creating Cities click here, and for tools to create your own Renew project click here.

Bobby Kennedy on GDP: ‘measures everything except that which is worthwhile’

ARTICLE

Simon Rogers, The Guardian, 24 May 2012

UK GDP estimate figures are out today – and you can get the data here when it is announced. But, as governments struggle to measure wellbeing in other ways, it’s useful to look at what then-US Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy said about how this key dataset falls short, from 1968.


To hear Robert Kennedy make this speech in his own voice click here.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.

Henry Ford, industrialist

Cities in many ways are the greatest invention that human beings have brought to the world.

Geoffrey West, theoretical physicist

The point of cities is multiplicity of choice.

Jane Jacobs, journalist

The most important social transformations of the last 250-odd years have been born, anchored and realised in urban areas.

Aromar Revi, sustainable development expert

The Triumph of the City

BOOK

Edward L. Glaeser, Penguin Press, 2011

Cities, the dense agglomerations that dot the globe, have been engines of innovation since Plato and Socrates bickered in an Athenian marketplace. The streets of Florence gave us the Renaissance, and the streets of Birmingham gave us the Industrial Revolution. The great prosperity of contemporary London and Bangalore and Tokyo comes from their ability to produce new thinking. Wandering these cities—whether down cobblestone sidewalks or grid-cutting cross streets, around roundabouts or under freeways—is to study nothing less than human progress.


For a talk by Edward Glaeser at UC San Diego summarising this book click here. For a discussion of Glaeser’s work on eliminating barriers to innovation for food trucks by The Urbanist, Alan Davies click here.