The 21st century offers a new and wonderfully exciting option for governments keen to design new cities: ask great companies.
Time was when great architects designed some of the most beautiful cities or urban spaces. Edwin Lutyens designed the eponymous Lutyens’ Delhi. Le Corbusier designed Chandigarh. Modern Paris owes everything to Georges Haussmann, modern Barcelona to Antoni Gaudí. Regency-era London got amakeover thanks to John Nash. But all this is so 19th and 20th century.
The 21st century offers a new and wonderfully exciting option for governments keen to design new cities: ask great companies. Google, Apple, Tesla, to name three technology leaders as admired for their fine sense of aesthetics as for their business models, are perfect candidates for designing 21stcentury urban spaces.
For one, some of these companies have already built or are building vast corporate headquarters for themselves that are redefining architectural norms. So, they have both the practical experience and the design nous to conceptualise a new city. Second, these are high-performing, ambitious companies always looking for the next frontier to conquer, and the chance to design a whole city is just the ticket for a Google or an Apple.
Third, the branding they will bring with their association will be a huge asset for a new city. Fourth, these companies immensely value their reputation and their core businesses generate oceans of money, so they will design cities to burnish their name, not make some extra cash — perfect partners for governments.
Indeed, given all this, it is surprising that no government has thought of inviting Google or Apple or Tesla to design a new city, even as new cities or new urban spaces are being planned in every major country.