“Creativity” is a buzzword in urban development today. Many governments are enacting master plans and policies to build a future city powered by industries offering creative products and services, and populated by open-minded and imaginative citizens. This idea of a “creative city” is built upon a triumvirate of ideas — creative city, creative economy and creative class — and it first emerged in the US during the global economic restructuring over a decade ago. It has since spread across the globe and become the new paradigm of what cities should be today.
CREATIVE©ITIES is a project I worked on last year which mapped out 10 cities in the Asia-Pacific that are examples of the “metacity”. The maps were created by asking local designers and artists to recommend people, places and products and projects that represented their “creative city”. Despite the different cultures and languages across cities like Seoul, Bangkok, Manila, Singapore, there existed a common creative infrastructure including bookstores, cafes as well as art and design centers. Within them were content that crossed national and cultural borders, such as products, publications and art from the region. The “creative city” then is an international space of cultural production and collaboration, but it can also be a generic urban order easily imposed upon anywhere around the world. It matches a similar itinerary I’ve often taken in my overseas trips: despite visiting different cities, I’m always traveling the same map.
Written for Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi’s Cultural Theory class at D-Crit in response to“Introduction: Metropolis, Megalopolis and Metacity” by Brian McGrath and Grahame Shane