Active cities are competitive cities: the business of brand urbanism.

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Submission Summary
Context Cities historically have been built around commerce, enabled by waterways and ports. They functioned, and function, as nodes in ever evolving networks of people and products. This hyper-accumulation of production and people led to rather poor living conditions in industrial cities during the 19th Century, which ultimately catalyzed the implementation of sanitation infrastructures and a new awareness of urban health. Fifty years later we are seeing this awareness of healthy communities in the light of production brought to a new level. AT&T’s 1942 Bell Labs in New Jersey is arguably one of the first corporate integrated campuses in the US, with the likes of General Motors, General Electric and General Life Insurance following shortly. These early campuses came with various names – industrial park, research park or technology park – all emphasizing a connection to industry and science on the one hand, and nature on the other. Another fifty years later a new wave of corporations explicitly entering the public realm was catalyzed by the smart city movement. Tech corporates like IBM, Cisco and Accenture did not substantially evolve their workplaces in relation to cities, on the contrary, they used cities as a canvas for technology enabled integrated ‘smart’ lifestyles. Cities Today Today’s society is more urban than ever before. This urbanization advances new city-cultures which are driving different kinds of engagement between citizens and corporations. In this engagement, health and wellbeing, plays a pivotal role. The city as retail omnichannel: From fashion to food, from automotive to all kinds of tech – cities are defining product. Think of the rise of ‘anything as a service’ concepts, think of how car brands like MINI try defining the future of co-living, think of how brands like Nike increasingly drive streetwear. Here we see cities emerge as retail omnichannel, driven by new tech enabled brand experiences. The city as marketplace for talent: In the global war for talent it seems that talent has won. This implies that, maybe for the first time in history, companies are moving to people instead of the other way around. Discerning mobile talent is pursuing an increasingly urban lifestyle. They are less interested in long commutes and set high standards for holistic health – which includes sport, nutrition, rest and mindset. This new wave of engagement between citizens and corporations has led to two new notions of ‘third place’. Historically we have understood third places as places where people spend time between home and work, but today that is blending. The trend to be explored in this paper is: ‘How can brands, through their corporate urbanism and third places, contribute to active and competitive cities?’. Methodology Through a comparative study of case studies this paper is exploring best practices and learnings. Building on the authors decade of broad work experience, three guiding principles have been formulated: • Positioning: The ways in which the respective brand / corporation has promoted its third places as contributing to healthy local communities. • Programming: The urban form of third places on campus and the ways these are designed to enable a wider community to leverage on the offered amenities. • Partnerships: The developed public-private partnerships on and around campus that enrich the particular third places and leverage on the brands presence. Case studies The US and Europe offer a lot of pioneering examples of corporate campuses with a strong focus on holistic health, as mentioned before. This research proposes an international comparison of such corporate urbanism done by Amazon (Seattle), Salesforce (San Francisco), McDonalds (San Francisco), Nike (Amsterdam) and Siemens (Berlin).
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Submission Type
Research Paper
Submission Track
7: Shaping Liveable Places