The last couple of days, I was in Piraeus to lead an implementation lab. Piraeus is by far the most important port city in Greece, and it is the gateway to the islands (7m passengers per year). Like the rest of Greece, the city suffers from the economic crisis, but on top of that it has specific problems: its industrial base has eroded (not much is left of its proud shipbuilding and food industries), unemployment is high, the city is crowded, poorly designed and not attractive for the higher educated. The city badly needs improvements in terms of quality of life and economic structure.Read more
Last week I was in Manresa, a nice medium sized town in Catalonia, 60 Km from Barcelona. This industrial city is hit hard by the crisis (like all of Spain); the construction industry has collapsed, spending is down, firms have less work, and some even go bankrupt. The cities largest employer, Pirelli, closed its doors. Unemployment is reaching dramatic levels.Read more
Last week I was in Stockholm, at the annual conference of Urbact (www.urbact.org). It's always a nice opportunity to exchange ideas with other people, and to hear the newest trends.
Participative planning (involving all stakeholders, including citizens) is still a hot issue; it is generally felt that citizens should be involved in urban regeneration, but there is a large debate how to do it, and to what extent. Some cities (Berlin is one) even give budgets to community groups to realise plans, this is called participatory budgeting.Read more
I´m just back from Shenzen, the world´s fastest growing city ever. In 30 years, its population grew from 30,000 to a staggering 9,000,000. Former party chief Deng Xiao Ping is a hero in this boomtown. Thanks to his policy of opening up, Shenzen could develop so fast. The city was designated as one of three free zones in China, and this set off the tremendous growth.
I went to attend a conference with the ambitious title “2nd global knowledge cities summit’. Some of the many things that inspired me:Read more