Future Cities Roundtable

Written by Laura Kolly on 27 March 2015

Twenty experts in urban development, city planning, finance, investment, and technology gathered to discuss how best to plan, integrate, and future proof city solutions. It was held during the international MIPIM property and investment fair held annually in Cannes, France. Surprisingly, citizen power featured strongly.

New research

Our knowledge partner, BRE provided insights from their new report ‘Future Cities’ and experience was shared from hosts ARUP and supporting partner the Future Cities Catapult. Download the report here

Helen Pineo of BRE explained their approach to use and develop their research on data to understand how the built environment and physical assets can be a source of solutions to challenges – rather than a cause of challenges. She shared how their work is looking at cities through the lenses of health, smart, resilient, and liveability.

"Digital is everywhere."

Volker Buscher, ARUP spoke of the implications for the changing role of the city Mayor and their need to understand how digital is changing everything. 

Endrik Mänd, City of Tallinn talked about how they are responding to digital opportunities and the pace of change through 'value-based planning’ and 'self-governance'. Bob van der Zande, City of Amsterdam shared how they share information on developments across the city.

Dan Mollgren, City of Helsinki shared Helsinki’s ambitious plans to densify the city and provoked an energetic discussion on the opportunities and challenges for densification with comments from Stewart Murray, Greater London Authority and William Jackson, Cushman & Wakefield.

Citizen Power

Natalie Voland, Quo Vadis (Montreal) stated that awareness of the built environment is growing and people are demanding more from their buildings. In her experience they now have higher expectations of what should be provided in their communities. She felt that policies to handle this were needed to tap into the creative power and passion of people. Natalie’s experience was that ‘Future Cities’ thinking is not filtering down to local officials.

The group discussed the merits and challenges of strong city leadership compared with bottom-up citizen led development. “Which is better? The democratic or dictator approach?” asked one participant. 

Thresholds and Investor Trends

Considering multiple city interventions provoked discussion on a number of other topics including whether planning is helping or hindering. David Green, Perkins+Will made a strong case for the use of 'thresholds' to enable a more flexible and adaptable response to urban evolution. Rosemary Feenan, Jones Lang LaSalle shared how investors are paying attention to 'intangibles' such as the strength and efficiency of city leadership when they are assessing investment opportunities.

Brian Kilkelly thanked all the participants for the vibrant and wide ranging discussion. He felt that this discussion showed the diversity of approaches to planning and city development in the light of rapid and complex urban changes:

  • improving management oversight (Amsterdam) 
  • creating forums for planning and infrastructure coordination (London)
  • using ‘thresholds’ to complement or replace rigid planning policies (Perkins+Will)
  • strong city leadership (ARUP)
  • empowering citizen involvement (Tallinn)

A full summary of the roundtable discussion is available now - download here

Categories: Governance