Vague ramblings

Ideas and good coffee

Posted in Business, Musing by Ian Cundell on 14 March, 2013

Over the past couple of months, as part of Ramidus Consulting, I was involved in a project for the City of London Corporation, looking at the way property in the City meets the needs of its occupiers, in particular smaller occupiers. A combination of having raw data to play with and client that is very open to new thinking made the project a joy to work on. You can grab Taking Stock here, if you like – we are very proud of the report.

As ever, given the way my brain works, it is the little killer details that leave my head quietly ticking over,

processing and forming new ideas and remembering that cities are not fixed, but are crucibles of change. London’s first “Media Hub” was in the City – not just Fleet Street, but a welter of advertising agencies, for example. They were already leaving in the mid-1960s, long before Fleet Street decamped to Wapping, Canary Wharf and the rest.

But new hubs emerge and a wonderful quotation, found by my colleague Sandra Jones, has stuck in my head. It is from Elizabeth Varley, CEO of Tech Hub, which provides space and services for tech start ups:

“what businesses themselves say they want is access to affordable space and good broadband and technology support but more importantly, opportunities to network and share ideas and good coffee!” (found here)

As you will gather it is the last four words that caught me. It says everything about what cities are for, why every economy gets bigger cities as it develops. They don’t spell it out literally, of course, but those words say that cities are social places where the like minded can meet, share and grow.

It is as concise an explanation of all urban geography as any you will find. From the formation of urban villages to the birth of Canary Wharf, all can be summed up by the need for people to share “ideas and good coffee”.

Which, I think, is rather cool.

(It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that the views expressed here are not necessarily those of Ramidus Consulting or the City of London Corporation)


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