Livable Cities Rankings: Quality of Life Has Its Price

Vilnius ( Renard Teipelke

I am sure combined rankings exist. Rankings where cities are evaluated and scored for both their quality of living and their cost of living. But generally, the leading rankings of “livable cities” do not concern themselves much with cost factors. One indirect reason might be that it is probably the jetsetting expat who is most interested in such rankings and s/he is most often remunerated well enough to not care too much about the average price of a sandwich or a cab ride or a doctor’s visit. The first two might fall under business travel expenditures anyhow and the last item is covered by expats’ global health insurance.

But accounts of a city’s livability (which in itself is a highly contested matter, see here and here) is actually most relevant to a city’s residents, as they are the ones who are living there “full time”. Therefore, a livability ranking needs to be combined with a cost of living perspective, if a certain ranking’s methodology does not already include related factors. In short: A truly livable city does not only provide the natural, social, and economic features that make it worthwhile and enjoyable to live in; it does also offer the financial conditions for its (current/future) residents to afford these features. Continue reading

Posted in opinions, research | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The intangible value of Piraeus

pireusWhy COSCO wants all of Piraeus, not only the containers

By Costis Hadjimichalis[1]

What exactly did the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF)[2] and the Greek government sell to COSCO at the shockingly low amount of 280.5 million Euro at once and additional 90 millions in five years? We know that the sale was a commitment of previous governments, but ultimately how were these 370.5 millions calculated? “What you see in a harbour,” says Tony Teragkosa, president of the port of Valencia in Spain, “is only 10% of what makes it powerful and famous. The other 90% is its hidden, intangible value.” The reputation and most of the intangible characteristics that give value to Piraeus are known. But it is worth briefly recalling the most important ones in order to understand why the Chinese want all of Piraeus (since they already have the containers on which they specialize) and why they paid “a little more” in order to acquire its intangible value, too. Continue reading

Posted in opinions, research, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From the “Bridge of Spies” to the Smart City: a Berlin narrative


The Reichstag building. By Jürgen Matern (Own work (JMatern_071104_8454-8458_WC.jpg)) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

by Ares Kalandides [1]

Reading the multiple stories that have been praising Berlin with its youth culture and creative scene as the rising star among European cities, it is easy to forget how recent this development actually is. The 2015 Spielberg film “Bridge of Spies” reminds us of what Berlin was mostly about until the fall of the Wall in 1989: World War II (and the Nazis) and the Cold War (and the spies). These two images are still deeply woven into the city’s fabric, although today they’ve become a kind of spectacle for thrill-seeking tourists. (There is a third one, but I’ll come to that later). In this short article I’m offering a personal account of how this passage from one narrative – the dark one – to the other – the playful one – took place. Of course memories cannot always be trusted. Although I was in Berlin on and off since the mid 1980s and permanently since the fall of the Wall, I’m sure my mind has put order and continuity into a much more chaotic and heterogeneous development[2]. Continue reading

Posted in opinions | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Challenge of Hosting Different Visitors

Metro Manila Makati (Reger, 2014)By Renard Teipelke

I was walking through the streets of Ha Noi, when a shoe polisher insisted on cleaning my ‘apparently’ dirty shoes. I happened to be in the capital city of Viet Nam for ‘business matters’ – not as a tourist. However, since I did not manage to make the stereotypical appearance of a ‘business man’, I could not avoid the multiple attempts of various service providers to buy whatever they had to offer.

A very different experience in Metro Manila: I was showing friends the few touristic highlights of the capital city of the Philippines, but everything appeared to be focused in on business people, not tourists. My friends rather were under the impression of walking through a highly functional hub of a global economy network, instead of experiencing a city with various offers to tourists. Continue reading

Posted in miscellaneous, opinions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Review: WEF’s Top Ten Urban Innovations

Top 10 Emerging Urban Innovations (WEF, Oct'15)

By Renard Teipelke

The Global Agenda Council on the Future of Cities (World Economic Forum) published a short overview report on the “Top Ten Urban Innovations” last month (October 2015). Let’s see what these innovations are and let’s pose one question for each innovation:

Continue reading

Posted in journals, research | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Doing Things Differently: Often Said, Rarely Done

Doing Things Differently (robindickinson, Nov'09)

By Renard Teipelke

How often have you experienced it? You are part of a team that sits around a table, in the background ideally a flipchart or whiteboard. Everyone is full of ideas about the new project. There is excitement in the room. And – for sure – there is this dedicated feeling and attitude that in this project we are going to do things differently. Something that we or others have never tried before. Something that will surprise the client and spark the interest of future users. Brainstorming fills up the meeting room and the flipcharts and whiteboards become the battle plans/dream works of the future.

Continue reading

Posted in opinions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Very Telling Footpath Story

2015_10_02_Apartment (Fort Bonifacio) (9) PP Best Of

By Renard Teipelke

This is a short story about a single view and multiple perspectives. The view is shown in the first photo of this blog article: There are three lawns. They are surrounded by a US-American style checkerboard street system of (vertical) avenues and (horizontal) streets. The area is characterized by office and residential high-rise buildings. There are a couple of stores in flatter buildings to the left. And above the lawns, there are big construction sites, where new high-rise buildings are emerging.

Recently, I walked together with a friend over the lawn, coming from the upper-left side, where the flat buildings are, to the high-rise from which the photos have been taken. My friend remarked: “Why is the footpath not going diagonally from the one edge of the lawn to the other edge?” So why is there no direct straight line from the stores in the upper-left corner to the street intersection at the lower-right corner of the left lawn?

Continue reading

Posted in stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Private Cities: When Ikea and Co. Develop Your City

When supermarkets build and brand cities. Copyrights: diamond geezer

When supermarkets build and brand cities. Copyrights: diamond geezer

by Valentin Schipfer

Concrete gold is back. Since the financial crisis in 2008 real-estate has become one of the most popular types of investment. No matter whether you are an international developer or a speculator, most cities welcome you with open arms – and the bigger you are, the better. Read more on how leading brands are taking the reins in city development. Continue reading

Posted in miscellaneous, opinions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


CMsnjixU8AERY1cby Alan Grabinsky*

An architectural rendering is not a neutral artifact: as an image it always wants something, and its production, distribution and circulation are conditioned by the social context. Renderings that have circulated of the “Cultural Corridor Chapultepec” [Mexico City] are imbued with specific conceptions about what city life is, ideas about what could and should be an “ideal” public space.

The first rendering showed an upscale neighborhood: modern buildings, signage of sushi and gourmet shops – you can imagine people around living in lofts. In another one, people walk at a distance of two meters from each other, in groups of two or three: young people and families, holding hands or lying on the grass. No litter, no noise, no informality.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Collaboration as a driver for regional development: Learnings from the transnational COBRA project (II)

cobra-guben_fotos_by_sebastian-marggraf-58 (1)

Photos: Sebastian Marggraf

by Markus Kather and Tobias Sieblitz

In the first part of this blog series we discussed the beginnings of a project that is aimed at establishing collaborative labour opportunities in rural regions – in our case the project COBRA in the German state of Brandenburg. Now, it´s about the next steps of such an endeavour: What exactly do the project partners want to achieve and how do they want to go about this? How do we pick places where the collaboration happens? How do we deal with the rough and unfinished outcomes? And finally: what happens after the project is finished, how do we achieve sustainability?

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment