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Mark Davy of leading placemaking agency

Futurecity sets out why culture is playing

an increasingly important role in the

creation of city quarters, and what the

property industry, planning authorities

and the arts need to do to react.

Cultural City –

A GalleryWithout Walls


uccessful places, in spite of all

their individual particularities,

have a common ‘taste’; a similar

atmosphere. At Futurecity we would

describe this as ‘seductive urbanism’,

meaning urban space as playful,

lucid, varied, beautiful, pleasurable,

rewarding and surprising. We

believe that whilst culture is the

key to unlocking former industrial

landscapes and suburban edge

city sites, it is still regarded by

developers, architects, planners

and politicians as ‘magic dust’,

something to be sprinkled on a new

development or city quarter, using

an approach that has changed little

in 30 years.

The late Sir Peter Hall talked of

‘the City as Pleasure Principle’* and

referred to 18th century Vienna, 19th

century Paris and New York in the

20th century, as cities that offered

a symphonic experience—formal,

creative, adventurous, breath-taking

and spectacular even. But in the

20th century planners and architects

adopted a more utilitarian approach,

building successively the Industrial

City, the Hygienic City, the Information

City and the Investment City. Now is

the time of the city as a blank slate

for beauty, an urban theatre for

authentic experiences. But a new

cultural language is required and the

developers of our 21st century cities

need to adapt their thinking to a

rapidly changing world.

When 20th century architect