Charles Landry is probably not a name many of my readers would be familiar with – he is not a designer, rather an advocate of great cities. I myself had not heard of him until I stumbled upon his latest book at the BoDW bookstore and found that he was a keynote speaker the next day. Getting up early on a Saturday morning to listen to someone speak about urban development and “city making” may not sound exciting to some but I thought it was well worth the effort.
Landry’s work with the company Comedia that he founded in Britain in 1978 has spanned the globe and while you may not have been familiar with his name before today, I’m sure that many of us around the world have benefited from his experience.
Landry is championing the idea of the cultural city – the creative city. He put forth the question: “Rather than ask what is the value in thinking culturally, ask instead what is the cost of not thinking culturally”.
Coming from Melbourne, a city which is widely regarded as the cultural capital of Australia, and now living in Hong Kong, regarded by some as a cultural wasteland, this is a subject that is of particular interest to me. It is particularly pertinent now as Hong Kong embarks on the planning and development of the new West Kowloon Cultural District which some hope will be the panacea of Hong Kong’s issues. Personally, I think more needs to change here in people’s attitudes about education, public spaces and preserving local historical relics before a project of this size and cost will actually work in this city. But of course, that is just my humble opinion.
Landry’s latest publication, The Art of City Making. I picked up a copy at the forum and am finding it a fascinating read so far. If you are interested in urban development click the link above and get yourself a copy. More articles are available for download for a small fee from his website. If anyone out there has read any of Landry’s other books I’d love to hear what you thought of them.