Move Downtown: City Living

Improving Livability.

With the popularity of cities rising and younger generations making cities their domicile of choice, there’s continued focus on improving life in cities, making them as enjoyable and pleasant to live in as possible. Some examples:

  • Big Data has been a trend for several years now, and cities are leveraging this data, too, along with technology to improve aspects of city life. Chicago held an exhibit earlier this year put together by Smart Chicago, featuring how the city is using data and technology to improve services, provide better information, and solve problems. Google is also getting in on this area of focus, funding an organization, Sidewalk Labs, which will develop technologies to improve life in cities.
  • Planning for a continued influx of citizens into its city center, Dublin, Ireland is making proactive investments to make the city more pedestrian and biker-friendly, and simply more pleasant to wander in. Plans are underway to ban cars from certain city streets in the downtown center, making way for those on foot or bicycle and a new tramway. Other European cities are experimenting with the same.
  • Art installations in cities can not only expose people to art, but also brighten people’s mood. Take these examples:
    • As Emma Hutchings reported on PSFK, Spark Your City, an organization “dedicated to spark joy in everyday city life,” transformed London’s London Bridge into a bright, welcoming, rainbow walkway for commuters.
    • And, take this example from a park in France, featured by Christopher Jobson on Colossal, that paints flowers coming from a paint tube.
      • Check out photos here.
    • San Francisco has upped its outdoor mural art, providing more to take in with the city view. Test yourself to see if you can find them in the photo.
    • Not what you might think of art, but Singapore has improved its social housing simply by paintings buildings with bright pops of color.
  • A friendlier take on the paid helper service, such as TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, and Postmates. Lulu Dans ma Rue is the brainchild of Charles Edouard Vincent and serves as a public concierge service housed out of a kiosk in Saint-Paul, a suburb to Paris. Lulu Dans ma Rue is similar to other temporary work companies in that it recruits people to do requested tasks, but its manned street presence gives it a more personal, neighborhood feel, one that suggests we care about your life here in our city.
  • Based on a study conducted by researchers at Stanford, it’s been shown that those who live in cities can benefit their health by getting into nature. Doing so tends to soothe our nerves. So, it’s great to see that many cities are getting behind greening their environs. In Bangkok, PTT, the country’s oil and gas company, has funded the creation of a “Metro Forest,” a complete ecosystem that will be in full growth within 10 years. Vancouver, Canada has a goal to become the greenest city by 2020, which has inspired the citizenry, from community groups to businesses, to plant more gardens, providing more green to soothe city dwellers’ nerves.

Cities are only going to get better with the investments being made to make city living rich, vibrant, and easily livable. Suburbs are the locations to be concerned about; suburban blight is now more of a risk than city demise.

The Culture Forecast: Help make life in the city better than what it could be in the suburbs.



“Urban Growth,” Monocle, July/August 2015.

“Here to Help,” Monocle, July/August 2015.

Gormley, Sarah. “Bring new world,” Monocle, July/August 2015.

Hutchings, Emma. “Beat Your Commute Blues By Following the Rainbow Brick Road,” PSFK, June 25, 2015.

Jobson, Christopher. “A Tube of Orange Paint Leaks Marigolds in a Public Park in France,” Colossal, July 9, 2015.

Jordan, Rob. “90 minutes in nature really change the brain,” Futurity, July 1, 2015.

Peters, Adele. “Downtown Dublin Is Getting Rid Of Cars,” Fast Company, June 22, 2015.

Spilka, Simone. “The City of the Future, As Designed by Google’s Sidewalk Labs,” PSFK, June 11, 2015.


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