World Cities Day 2015

So much of what humankind has achieved over the past three millennia has come out of the remarkable collaborative creations that come out of cities” Ed Glaeser

October 31st marks the second annual World Cities Day, inaugurated to address urbanisation, development and cooperation among countries to promote a sustainable future for our modern world. The theme this year is “Designed to live together”, which will be working to promote togetherness and harmony, as well embracing opportunity and innovation.

Throughout history, our greatest cities have shown innovation to address challenges. 80% of Venice is estimated to be built on the wooden structures engineered by early inhabitants; Solomon’s Temple, erected around 960 BC remains an architectural marvel today, and the Brooklyn Bridge connected the New York boroughs through the sophisticated use of suspension cables, uniting what would become one of the world’s largest cities. To mark the day, we have selected examples of cities making huge strides in the development of their economic and social welfare, be it through innovation, collaboration or commitment.

Medellin’s cable car system unifies the city, integrating neighbourhoods and opening up jobs and other opportunities for locals and visitors. Thanks to clever city planning, Medellin is now set for an urban revival. Eindhoven’s ‘hovenring’, a 1,000-ton steel deck suspended by 24 cables from a towering space needle, has been designed to allow cyclists to ‘fly’ over the traffic below, showcasing the city’s commitment to the provision of dedicated bike roads. LA’s LED street lighting system will soon be so developed that street lights can soon flash, for example, to warn motorists of an upcoming ambulance, or send wireless signals to the Bureau of Street Lighting if a light becomes broken.

Seeing opportunity in what already exists and thinking innovatively to provide solutions to the challenges that urbanisation brings are all celebrated during World Cities Day, and New York’s High Line is a perfect example of this. Retrofitting a heritage building or site can work to modernise and create new uses for what is no longer useful, whilst still retaining the original character. What was once a municipal railway has now been remodelled to introduce greenery into one of the world’s biggest cities, promoting sustainability and encouraging the integration of communities. London’s Tate Modern Gallery is housed in a former power plant, with further urban regeneration seen around the city.

New cities are emerging as entrepreneurial tech-hubs, with Santiago, Chile, launching initiatives such as Start-Up Chile, making it one of the most entrepreneur-friendly cities in the world. Shenzhen, China, once a small fishing village, has grown to become a certified megacity. With a knowledge base to rival Silicon Valley, Shenzhen provides a haven of technological serendipity to start-ups and established businesses alike. Songdo, dubbed Korea’s ‘high-tech Utopia’, is an “aerotropolis” that boasts being a short distance from South Korea’s main airport. A purpose-built ‘smart city’, Songdo is both sustainable yet technologically advanced, and hopes to lure foreign investors to South Korea.

The improvement of infrastructure is vital for a city to attract investment, tourism and worldwide recognition. Mexico City is redesigning its airport, with architects focusing on good lighting, sustainable design and efficiency, including a soaring roof designed for optimal viewing of planes circling the sky above. Singapore’s Changi Airport boasts the title of the  world’s number one airport, and is cleverly designed to become almost a destination in itself. Eleven full-time horticulturists maintain stunning indoor gardens, and the rooftop pool provides relaxation and luxury in one of the world’s busiest airports.

Closer to home, Glasgow has also seen recent advances working to drive global recognition. Home to a world-class technology and innovation centre at the University of Strathclyde, the centre works to transform the way academics, business, industry and the public sector work in partnership, and aims to find solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems. The Future City Glasgow project seeks to explore ways to harness the power of data and technology to make the city a better place to live and work.

Here at Little’s, we are also committed to the harnessing of new ideas to form the foundation of future growth strategies, with Heather Matthews, Partner and Managing Director, stating: “I am dedicated to embracing new technologies and using innovation to support future company growth”.

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