The City 1.0, The City 2.0 & The City 3.0


People complain how complex urban transformation is and how it might be possible to describe this in understandable terms. In giving talks I have discovered a very simple and useful way to characterize the different phases of urban development in the post-war period. Every shift in the means of economic wealth creation creates a new social order, a new type of city, new ways of learning and things to learn and new settings in which learning takes places. It requires different cultural capabilities.
We can call the historic city we have inherited from the past ‘The City 0.0’ and there are many variations on this. Then there follows a sequence of ‘The City 1.0’, ‘The City 2.0’ and ‘The City 3.0’. Most cities need to move decisively from a 1.0 city to a 3.0 city. Below is a thumbnail sketch of some of their features.

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The City 1.0

We can portray ‘The City 1.0’ in a stereotypical way as follows: The main symbol of this urban type is the large factory and mass production; the mental model is the city as a machine; the management and organizational style is hierarchical and top down; structures are siloed, vertical with strong departments and there is little if any partnership; the method of acquiring knowledge is by rote learning and repetition; there is a low tolerance of failure; functions, such as working, living and leisure, are separated; there is little understanding of aesthetics. There is a parallel planning version of 1.0 which focuses largely on land-uses; comprehensive development is the preferred modus operandi; and participation is low and not encouraged. Transport 1.0 is largely focused on making the city suitable for the car and pedestrians seem less important. This results in ugly road infrastructures. Culture 1.0 concentrates mainly on traditional forms; cultural institutions dominate; it is reliant on patronage either by wealthy individuals or by the public sector; audiences are quite narrow with elites being the main participants, although folk events are widely popular; culture is seen as detached from commerce.

Overall this is the rational, ordered, technically focused and segregated city. It is the hardware focused ‘urban engineering paradigm’ for city making. It reflects a mental attitude and approach to life. It had its highpoints from the 1960’s to 1980’s. Unfortunately residues of this approach still exist both in terms of how people go about their business and in terms of the institutions and physical fabric that is still built today. The latter is essentially soulless, rather ugly and lacking any inspiration. These approaches may have been very productive, efficient and relevant to their time, but not anymore.

The City 2.0

‘The City 2.0’ by contrast has other priorities and evolves from the 1990’s onwards. Its industrial emblem is the science park and high tech industry; its management ethos has flatter structures; partnership working rises in importance as does collaborative working; learning systems open out. There is greater awareness of the need to integrate disciplines. The mental model sees issues as more connected and this urban form is more aware of how the software and hardware of the city interact. Urban design becomes a higher priority. It begins to focus on the emotional feel of the city and its atmosphere.

There is also an attempt to make the city more spectacular by using new bizarre architectural forms produced by a roving band of nomadic starchitects. Gleaming glass towers proliferate, bold shapes break out of traditional patterns of the square box; skyscrapers explode onto the landscape, some with good public spaces. Vast retailing, entertainment or cultural centres try to bewitch, enchant and seduce you; citizens become more like customers and consumers.

Yet there is also a move to reflect human need and human scale. How people interact rises up the agenda. The city becomes a canvas and stage for activities. Planning 2.0 is more consultative. It sees the city in a more rounded way by linking the physical, the social and economic and the notion of transport 2.0 becomes more about mobility and connectivity. The city is less car dominated, walkability and pedestrian friendly street design with buildings close to the street become a priority; as do tree-lined streets or boulevards; or street parking and hidden parking lots. This 2.0 city seeks to reinsert mixed-use and diversity of shops, offices, apartments, and homes. It encourages too a diversity of people – of ages, income levels, cultures, and races.

Respect for ecology and the value of natural systems rise as do the use of eco-friendly technologies and energy efficiency. More local production is in evidence. There is more emphasis on distinctiveness, aesthetics, human comfort, and creating a sense of place.

Culture 2.0 shifts focus. There is a greater awareness of the power of creative economy sectors and the link between the arts and their role in the broader economy; culture becomes a competitive tool, it is used to encourage urban regeneration and revitalization; this increases the popularity of museums and galleries in the quest to change the city’s image; activating street life and promoting festivals becomes part of the cultural repertoire. At the same time community driven arts projects proliferate as part of a growing movement of engagement and inclusion.

The City 3.0

‘The City 3.0’ goes one step further, it takes on the virtues of City 2.0, and is based on harnessing the collective imagination and intelligence of citizens in making, shaping and co-creating their city. It can be called ‘soft urbanism’ as it takes into account the full sensory experience of the city. In making the city it considers the emotional impact of how people experience the built fabric and thus is strongly concerned with the public realm, human scale and aesthetics. It understands that blandness and ugliness weakens the city. Its mental model is to see the city as an organism. It is an adaptive city that through its flexibility in operating itself has more chances to become resilient and to future-proof itself. Organizationally it is more flexible; horizontal and cross-sector working become the norm. There is a recognition that in order to succeed we must sometimes fail. Thus there is a greater tolerance of risk.

Learning and self-development is crucial to the City 3.0. In the City 1.0 knowledge institutions remained factories to drill in knowledge rather than communities of enquiry; they taught specific things rather than acquiring higher order skills such as learning how to learn, to create, to discover, innovate, problem solve and self-assess. These are all attributes that artists are good at. This is more likely to trigger and activate wider ranges of intelligences. This fosters the adaptability to allow the transfer of knowledge between different contexts and how to understand the essence of arguments rather than recall out of context facts. Only then can talent be sufficiently unleashed, explored and harnessed.

The City 3.0 too recognizes that encouraging entrepreneurship is key to making the city of the future work. Thus in Economy 3.0 creativity and innovation capacity rise in importance and the system fosters a start-up culture. Open innovation systems often drive development processes and there is collaborative competition. Micro-businesses and SMEs have far greater importance and the key players are very tech-savvy. These companies have greater impact when they can connect with mainstream industry to mutual advantage. This urban form is concerned with creating cultural and physical environments which provide the conditions for people to be creative. Thus its industrial emblem is the creative zone or creative quarter.

‘Third places’ become important, which are places neither at home or an office where it is possible to work on the move. This is part of the ‘here and there’ and ‘anywhere and anytime’ phenomena, which is a characteristic of our age. A creative place can be a room, a building, a street, a neighbourhood, yet a creative quarter implies more than one structure. Typically they are anchored around one the several hundred old warehouses, breweries; train or bus stations or textile factories that have been rejuvenated the world over. They resonate since they exude memory and physically their spaces are large, adaptable and flexible. This is key since part of this world is a pop-up culture where activities appear overnight and then disappear. Things are less solid and permanent.

Planning 3.0 moves away from a strict land-use focus and is more integrative as it brings together economic, cultural, physical and social concerns. Mixed use is crucial to its planning ethos. It works in partnership and finds interesting methods of participation. It recognizes that planning is increasingly concerned with mediating differences between complex issues such as fostering urban growth whilst containing the downsides of gentrification. Citizen participation in decision making is encouraged and it takes a holistic approach to identifying opportunities and to solving problems. This ranges from rethinking how policy is made to developing an appropriate regulations and incentives regime that helps fulfil aims like becoming a green city or ‘cradle to cradle’ thinking. Indeed being eco-conscious is part of a new common sense. Equally the idea of being intercultural is vital. This city 3.0 recognizes that talent attraction is as important as talent retention. Thus immigration laws are adapted to attract the best from the world.

This 3.0 city uses the available technologies to create smart applications. These are interoperable, immersive self-regulating and interactive devices that tell us how our city is going in real time. These help visualize and track the city in motion. The aim is to use the technical capacities to create a smart economy, smart mobility, a smart living environment. Making this happen requires smart grids and sensors, open participatory and open data platforms and apps for city services. These help monitor aims like being sustainable. It seeks to have a complete and integrated view of city systems such as energy, transport, health and employment by analysing, gathering citizen feedback and leveraging information across all city agencies and departments to make better decisions. The aim is to anticipate problems, such as traffic bottlenecks or excess energy use, in order to minimise the impact of disruptions to city services and operations. Transport 3.0 moves from a sole mobility focus to thinking about seamless connectivity. This is only possible with smart and rethought governance, where it is necessary to coordinate cross-departmental and cross-agency resources to respond to issues rapidly and in an integrated way.

Culture 3.0 increasingly sees people make their own culture. They are less passive consumers and challenge themselves to enhance their own expressive capacities; they often remix existing work and playfully re-create. They even delve into the source code which in turn enhances their curiosity. Culture is performed in more unusual settings – the street, a local café or a pop-up venue.
These overall trends within the City 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 clearly overlap. Many still display a 1.0 mindset in a world that increasingly operates at 3.0. Planning still has older features as do some working in transport or related disciplines. The cultural institutions of 1.0 co-exist with those people who live a 3.0 cultural lifestyle and thus they need to adapt.

Misalignment & disconnection

The major faultline usually in cities is the misalignment between an evolving 3.0 world and its economy, culture and social dynamics and the existing operating system that still has several 1.0 features. This creates tensions and misunderstanding and this disconnection needs to be overcome. There is a large grouping in most cities not merely defined by age, that can operate globally, is widely connected and networked, that understands the new business models driven by the internet where ideas sharing is more prominent, which thrives in an open innovation environment and often has a portfolio career. To operate well they require a responsive regulations and incentives regime. For instance, they need flexible office leasing or rental arrangements geared to project focused work rather than being locked into longer term contracts. Or they need sympathetic banks or subsidy schemes who appreciate the nature of emerging companies and their ways of working.

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