Shoreditch & Hoxton Aug'14 (Renard Teipelke) 2On the Creative Question – Nine Theses*

By Geert Lovink, Sebastian Olma and Ned Rossiter

‘Culture attracts the worst impulses of the moneyed, it has no honor, it begs to be suburbanized and corrupted’. ― Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars’. ― Oscar Wilde

1. Goodbye to Creative Industries

A creepy discourse on creativity has captured cultural and economic policy. Creativity invokes a certain pharmacological numbness among its spruikers – a special sub-species entirely unaware of how far removed their version of creativity is from radical invention and social transformation. Their claims around the science of economy are little more than a shoddy con. While ‘creativity’ is increasingly seen as a main driver of economic development, the permanent reference to creative classes, creative cities, creative industries, creative innovations and so on has rendered the notion all but meaningless. Degraded to a commercial and political marketing tool, the semantic content of creativity has been reduced to an insipid spread of happy homogeneity – including the right amount of TED-styled fringe misfits and subcultures – that can be bureaucratically regulated and ‘valorized’. To this rhetoric corresponds a catalogue of ‘sectors’ and ‘clusters’ labelled as creative industries: a radically disciplined and ordered subdomain of the economy, a domesticated creative commons where ‘innovators’ and ‘creatives’ harmoniously co-mingle and develop their auto-predictive ‘disruptions’ of self-quantification, sharing and gamification. Conflict is anathema to the delicate sensibilities of personas trading in creative consultancy.

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Lessons Learned on How Singapore Got It Right

2014_11_19_Singapur-Trip - Marina Bay (18) PP Best Of

By Renard Teipelke

After I visited the city-state Singapore in November 2014, I wanted to write a blog article about my impressions from extensively walking and experiencing the city. I am not residing there, but at least I took what others consider an extremely long ten days to learn about how the city developed over the past century (check out the Singapore City Gallery). Before I came to Singapore, I only heard very good or very bad comments, ranging from ‘sustainable urbanism par excellence’ to ‘non-democratic techno-regime’. Equipped with a strong practitioner’s interest and a critical geography background, I ended up being puzzled by how much Singapore got right. I could simply not believe in how far this city-state has actually realized/implemented all those recommendations on resource-efficient, equitable, sustainable, livable, creative, effective, smart, x-y-z (…) urban development. While concepts for good or ‘the best’ urban development are always debated, very often they aim at improving life in a particular city to some degree, i.e. technocratic ideals of hyper-smart cities will probably end up in an Orwellian state; however, a somewhat smarter city can improve quality of life for its residents and visitors in comparison to technology-poor cities. Continue reading

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by Ares Kalandides

Sidewalk cafés are generally a delight. They liven up public space, they become meeting places and places of exchange – indeed, they seem the quintessence of urbanity.  Nevertheless, the anarchic invasion of public spaces by tables and chairs can be the exact opposite: they may be taking much needed space from pedestrians, reducing pavements into narrow strips where a person on foot (let alone a wheel-chair or a pram)  can hardly pass through. How do we reconcile the two, then?  Lisbon may be showing the way. Continue reading

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Folie01by Ares Kalandides

On May 7th, 2015, I had the opportunity to open the Berlin-Sydney online dialogue with a short presentation, followed by a Q&A session about urban development in Berlin. The event was coordinated between the Committee for Sydney on the one hand, Berlin’s Senate Chancellery (The Mayor’s Office) and Berlin Partners on the other. Here is the abstract of my short presentation:

“Berlin today is considered one of the most vibrant cities in Europe. With a lively cultural and creative scene, a vibrant business start-up activity, and high quality of life – Berlin attracts people from the whole world, who want to participate in this energy.

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By Pedro Felipe (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

A TransMilenio bus in Av. Caracas in Bogotá. Photo by Pedro Felipe (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

By Ares Kalandides

In an interview for the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo – the Brazilian architect and urban planner Jaime Lerner, three times mayor of Curitiba and former governor of the State of Parana, Brazil – talked about cities and public transportation. Lerner, to whom UN granted the Maximum Environmental Award,  suggested that Bogotá should not build an underground (Metro) because as a means of transportation it “is a thing of the past.”

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Dubai-Design-District-Creative-Community-Foster-Partners_dezeen_bnby Ares Kalandides

“Norman Foster’s architecture firm will deliver the second phase of the Dubai Design District, also known as D3, which is a new creative quarter being built from scratch in the United Arab Emirates city.” How many clichés can you serve at the same time? The creative city? Iconic buildings through “brand” architects? There is something terribly wrong with this idea. And the attempt at “participation” does not make things much better:

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Pick of Day: UN-Habitat Launches “Urban Data” Web Portal

UN-Habitat Urban Data (UNH, Apr'15)

By Renard Teipelke

During its 25th Governing Council, UN-Habitat launched its “Urban Data” web portal. It provides extensive data sets and indicators of 220 countries and 741 cities across the globe. Managed under the Global Urban Observatory, these various types of urban data provide a very rich, open, and free source of information. Continue reading

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Rio, bikes and imagery

picture 1

by Daniel Wagner

“Biscoito Globo $1 Real!” was once the most shouted phrase in Rio de Janeiro’s beaches some time ago. Through the hands of thousands of individual sellers walking up and down the beaches, this low-profile biscuit with time became part of the imagery of the city. It is now sold in souvenir shops for tourists, its picture on T-shirts and bags, its brand became kind of mixed with the brand of the city itself. Since the 1940’s, Rio has steadily built this image of a relaxed, beautiful, bathed by the ocean, under a warm sun big city type. This image became the main city brand and helped shape carioca’s lives and personality. Also it did a huge push on the tourism industry going as far as help to bringing the Football World Cup and the Olympic Games to the city only two years apart. Continue reading

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Optimism in Crisis: Necessary? Useful? Honest?

Vientiane, Lao PDR (Teipelke, 2014)By Renard Teipelke

The defining features in Caracas, Detroit, and Metro Manila are different. But no matter if it concerns crime, bankruptcy, or disaster risks, the defining features are strongly related to urban crises. While some cities enjoy a status quo from which urban development can evolve in a relatively smooth and prosperous way, a majority of cities is struggling with a setting which leaves little space for hope that the near feature will bring significant improvements. Working in (mostly secondary) cities in Southeast Asia, I am asking myself how much one can or has to approach urban development from an optimistic perspective? Continue reading

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São Paulo, bikes, buses and prosecution

Picture 1by Daniel Wagner*

“In the end, the agenda is the stupidity of the automobile. 500 new cars are sold in São Paulo every day. So a lot of things should be done in the direction of discouraging individual means of transportation and encouraging public transportation. However, there is already a general conscious that the automobile became a well-known stupidity. The world is at war over oil, yet you burn oil to ride a 700 kgs piece of junk with a 70 kgs asshole inside it. Something is very wrong.” Paulo Mendes da Rocha, architect and urban planner, 2006 Pritzker laureate

“We are not in Amsterdam!” Shouted a woman driving a car. “Where will my rich clients park their cars?” Questioned a salesperson of a fancy beauty salon. Outraged arguments against São Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad – from the Worker’s Party (PT) – reached a peak when a known neo-con journalist started to call the mayor the “Maniac of bikes” and compared his policies to improve bicycle use in the city with a terrorist attack: “a version of ISIS on two wheels” was written when bicycle lanes started to sprout throughout the streets of this 22 million people metropolis. Continue reading

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