Fatal attraction

Most of my blogs are about attraction. What makes a city attractive, what makes a project attractive. What can we – working in cities and projects – do to accomplish that attraction?

The mental map is a method to make us see the differences. Our mental map is the two dimensional result of the world as we experience it. Activities and events (like the Harbour Safari) help us to see areas and buildings in another way and understand their potential. They helps us realise what else in this world is possible. This is why we travel, to meet other people and to see what else can happen. I want to share these experiences with you. Experiences about projects. What’s going on in these projects, what’s the program, who is taking care of it? Experiences about cities. Experiences about events and people.

When people seek my advice their basic question is always the same: we want to do something, how can we make that successful.  In city transformation or in regeneration of industrial sites: how can we make our projects better. And I started to think that the answers to these questions has to be the same as the answer to that other bigger question: how can we create successful and attractive neighbourhoods or even better successful and attractive cities.

In his book “The rational optimist” the British biologist Matt Ridley says that there is only one thing that makes us people different form all other species living in this world: we want to meet not only to mate but also to create. The exchange of ideas and consequently the exchange of goods is what creates progress. For me this means that progress is about meeting other people in order to find the best ones to create. The place where we do this are the markets. Every economy has it’s favourite markets. The attractive city is the city where these markets function best. The attractive project is the projects that delivers that market. It’s the place where you can meet the other in a safe way. It’s the place in the environment that creates trust. It’s the place where you want to go back. It’s the nicely coloured never to forget place on your mental map.

It all starts with one very important notion: is your city (or your neighbourhood or your environment) open or closed. In other words, do you want to be inclusive and involve “everyone” or do you want to be exclusive and only want to involve “someone”. In a closed environment – a gated community – it may seem to be easier to keep the danger outside. In an open environment everybody is welcome but there is always the risk that the stranger will eventually destroy everything. It’s all about trust.

One thought on “Fatal attraction

  1. I just read your blog “Fatal attraction” and the following you have written has striked me very hard: “It’s the place where you want to go back. It’s the nicely coloured never to forget place on your mental map.” I liked that very much. For me it is Paris in my life – I always return – in books. literature, art, ideas about the city… one never knows beforehand which place will be the color of ones life. It shows best in retrospect. Maybe I should add a bit of nostalgia to this line of thinking… I see Paris as an open city – a place that really works.


    “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” ― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

    “Cities have sexes: London is a man, Paris a woman, and New York a well-adjusted transsexual.” ― Angela Carter

    Places are like friends. Good places are really good friends.

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