Walking the Walk


Urban design from the front lines

Kevin Klinkenberg

Using urban design to make our lives more enjoyable and create wealth

This site is for all those interested in the making of cities and towns, and especially the lives of the humans that inhabit them. Kevin Klinkenberg is an architect and urban designer who's practiced from coast-to-coast. 

Why the new model for startups works well with urbanity

Payton Chung, in an insightful post called "The city itself acts as a platform for entrepreneurial ecosystems" writes:

A recent Economist report by Ludwig Siegele examines how the business model, and culture, of the new entrepreneurial culture radically differs from the Fordist, all-under-one-roof mode of production that immediately preceded it:

"[T]he world of startups today offers a preview of how large swathes of the economy will be organised tomorrow. The prevailing model will be platforms with small, innovative firms operating on top of them… In some ways, [entrepreneurial] ecosystems can be seen as exploded corporations. Finance departments have been replaced by venture-capital funds, legal ones by law firms, research by universities, communications by PR agencies, and so on. All are nodes in a loose-knit support network for startups that does what in-house product-development teams used to do."

This combinatorial approach to business is fundamentally well suited to dense urban fabric, which relies upon smaller increments of development — and thus intrinsically offers the choice and flexibility demanded by both contemporary consumers and the experimental businesses that serve them. In a sense, both the urban grid and the urban fabric are just platforms for business growth: an urban business district has higher costs — but compared to an insular suburban corporate campus, it’s an “exploded” ecosystem of firms that each do their own thing well, and thus maximize their own productivity. Instead of a single mediocre cafeteria, we demand — and increasingly get — more and better choices.

I don't know that combinatorial is a word, but I like where Payton is going here. He moves beyond the typical analysis of "young people like cities" to a more nuanced understanding of the forces behind today's changes. Well worth a read, and a look at the source report.

 
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