Urban Age Debates | Cities in the 2020s: How are cities responding to profound global change?
By Urban Age
Urban Age Debates | Cities in the 2020s: How are cities responding to profound global change?Feb 01, 2022
Rationalising Shopping: Are new patterns of consumption an opportunity for reinventing urbanity?
Urban retail is being reinvented. Even before the pandemic, e‑commerce was challenging recreational shopping in cities, ethical concerns about cheap labour were becoming more prominent and the climate and ecological emergency was prompting questions about hyper consumerism, the accumulation of more stuff and ‘discard culture’. In the wake of the global pandemic, new lifestyles and consumption habits are emerging which will accelerate changes in the shopping and retail sector with profound implications for cities and their spaces of mass consumption.
Concrete changes are already evident: we are witnessing the displacement of physical retail spending and other multiple structural changes in the sector such as the demand for grocery deliveries and direct wholesale delivery increases; the introduction of efficient e-commerce platforms and prompt fulfilment being developed; and product diversification pushed forward.
As non-essential bricks and mortar retail stores had no other option than to close and move their business online over the course of multiple government lockdowns, vast numbers of consumers, turned to online shopping, and many customers are choosing not to go back once shops reopen.
With online retail giant Amazon emerging as one of the winners of COVID-19 we should be realistic about the future of shopping districts in our cities by ask if these new patterns of consumption are changing our cities forever, and whether they could be a catalyst for positive change.
This final Urban Age Debate aims to address fundamental questions of sustainable urban consumption, local economic development, entrepreneurship and placemaking in bringing together leading experts and thinkers in urban retail, design, and sustainable development to discuss the future of retail.
Changing Cultures: how are cultural institutions reframing their relationships with audiences, the community and the city?
Over the past three decades investment in cultural infrastructure – new performing arts centres, museum extensions and whole cultural districts – has become a familiar tool in urban strategies, place-making and branding around the world. Moreover, cultural organizations both large and small have sought to define themselves as much as community anchors, generators of social capital, promoters of social cohesion, as they have as hubs of artistic innovation or conservation.
But the context in which cultural organisations are operating today is changing rapidly, and this will in turn, affect how they contribute to the quality and texture of urban life going forward. The longer-term effects of Covid 19 and growing pressures of climate change, combined with new tech-enabled possibilities of remote working, are changing the way we live, work, socialise, and travel, stimulating a new interest in more localised lives centred around resurgent town centres and neighbourhoods.
Supported by knowledge partner Global Cultural Districts Network, this Urban Age Debate brings together emerging and established policy makers, academics, and culture leaders to rethink collaboration between the city, community, and culture today and over the next decades.
Localising Transport: Towards the 15-minute city or the one-hour metropolis?
For urban transport, the early 2020s are going to be an inflection point hard to overestimate: digital connectivity will increasingly substitute physical access, public transport finance will require new business models, and fiscal recovery packages have the potential to either entrench transport-intense urban development or accelerate progress towards urban patterns based on density and mixed use.
Will we witness a shift towards 15-minute walkable urban districts utilising digital connectivity for wider metropolitan accessibility or the persistence of a physically connected one-hour metropolitan region?
Supported by SAP SE and Knowledge Partner Teralytics, this Urban Age Debate brings together prominent leaders in mobility and economics who have made profound impacts on the shape of cities, to discuss the future of urban transportation and accessibility over the next decade.
- Edward Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard University
- Sir Peter Hendy, Chair of Network Rail
- Yolisa Kani, Chief Business Development Officer (CBDO) of Transnet
- Isabel Dedring, Global Transport Leader and Group Board Member at Arup
- Philipp Rode, Executive Director of LSE Cities and Associate Professorial Research Fellow at LSE
Humanising the City: Can the design of urban space promote cohesion and healthier lifestyles?
Throughout 2020, the shape of the city – its buildings and open spaces – has taken centre stage in our experience of everyday life. Living in lockdown has confronted urban dwellers around the world with the limits of confined domestic environments yet reminded us of the benefits of a well-designed and accessible public realm.
Living together has been challenged as a concept and as a reality. How we spend time at home, on the street, and in the city over the next decade is being re-framed. How we re-calibrate urban centres where people can live, work and transact is open to debate.
This Urban Age Debate brings together prominent city-shapers and commentators who are committed to making cities more liveable, more democratic and more complex. Using images of recent projects in Mexico City, Mumbai, New York, Moscow and London, architects and urbanists explore the deep connections between the design of public space and social inclusion as cities strive to become more humane, domestic, and home to diverse communities.
- Elizabeth Diller, architect and partner at Diller Scofido + Renfro (DS+R)
- Rozana Montiel, founder and director of Rozana Montiel | Estudio de Arquitectura
- Amanda Levete, principal, AL_A
- Suketu Mehta, writer, critic and urbanist
- Ricky Burdett, Professor of Urban Studies at the London School of Economics, Director of LSE Cities, and co-founder of the Urban Age.
- Anna Herrhausen, Executive Director of the Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft and head of Deutsche Bank’s Art, Culture and Sports department.
Socialising Remote Work: Will changing patterns in knowledge work reduce or amplify the human need to meet in cities?
Cities have traditionally been the sites of economic agglomeration, reaping the benefits of a high concentration of economic activity, spurred by collaboration and innovation. However, the effect of COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns have forced offices to close, city centres to empty, with many knowledge workers operating from the safety of their homes.
While some trends indicate a return to office-based work patterns (which will be accelerated by access to a vaccine), some commentators welcome the greater personal flexibility and access to the global talent pool afforded by virtual technologies. The debate interrogates the impacts of the dramatic shift in working conditions, how sites of knowledge work have adapted, and how cities can maintain their economic and cultural vibrancy without negatively impacting on productivity, connectivity and personal freedom.
Chaired by Camilla Cavendish, and featuring:
- Richard Florida, urbanist, author and academic
- Ayesha Khanna, Artificial intelligence strategist
- Janina Kugel, business executive