Kochi, with its rich cultural fabric, heritage and infrastructure, has all the potential to emerge as a ‘creative city’, said eminent urban planner and author Charles Landry.
“Ideally, Kochi can lure talents and creative heads. Bringing universities, in particular, into this fabric can enhance its aspiration to be a creative city. My idea is to transform a city as a campus like the city of Denver,” said Landry, whose books are a reference index for urban planning.
Landry was addressing a seminar, titled ‘Creative city and the nomadic world’, at the Pavilion in Cabral Yard, Fort Kochi on Sunday. The seminar, part of the ‘Let’s Talk’ series, was organised by the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) in association with Doha-based cultural think tank Synergy International.
His 1994 book The creative city is considered one of the most thoroughly-researched works on urban planning. Landry talked about various aspects of a city’s transformation into a creative powerhouse. He also sought to explain various aspects of city-making through the lens of the connected lives and relations of a city’s people.
“Bringing up a child is complex. It is unpredictable. So my idea of city-making goes against the notion of simplicity, which is predictably followed by classical practices. Nowadays, city-making is based mainly on objective concerns rather than on personal experiences of place, of people, their emotional experience. From my experience, these aspects are discarded in present-day urbanisation,” Landry said.
Talking about the ‘management of fragility’ while city-making, Landry observed that there would be an underlying anger among people due to divides at various levels. “We need to give the soft elements like human emotions and their concerns higher priority over hard elements of physicality and modern infrastructure,” he added.
“A creative city is one that tries to establish an ecology, a culture, which makes people feel that this is something that adds value to what can happen. Creative city-making is an empowering ethos that creates conditions for people to think, plan and act with imagination to harness collective intelligences,” Landry said.
Terming the world ‘nomadic’ because everything is on the move, including people, economies and ideas, and due to the increasing pace of technological advancement, Landry said the present scenario is such where ‘culture is digital and digital is culture’.
Citing the instance of 30 European cities that are doing far better than other cities in the world, Landry proposed a ‘3.0 city’ concept where collaboration of ideas across borders is essential. “The 30 cities are doing better than others because of their willingness to accept ground reality and address problems without political divides and work together during crises,” he said.
“If Kochi is to emulate this model, it must combine that village feel within a cosmopolitan arena, open to the world but stay local, develop a culture of pooling resources with a sense of preservation, embrace the collaborative imperative and bring different arts together rather than operate within separate boxes,” Landry said.
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