Since the 1990’s the global economy has been undergoing rapid change and unprecedented growth thanks to the impact of the internet, nanotechnologies and the dot com boom. (New Economy, N.D) The central driver of this global change has been knowledge and the way in which it has come to be produced, mobilised and internationally commercialised.
A key strategy employed by numerous developed countries around the world has been the creation of urban centres which attract and retain so-called knowledge workers. In these environments, workers become part of a ecosystem which seeks to cleverly integrate work life with social life and lay the foundation for information exchange and development. To do this effectively, a wide range of urban design tactics have been deployed to specific ends.
What urban design techniques are important in making these precincts successful?
The connection between intangible concepts such as knowledge and the hard physical parameters of an urban place are made real through the deliberate creation of knowledge precincts which “set out to circulate people, products and ideas quickly and efficiently. Yigitcanlar (2008) has observed that knowledge precincts need to consider the three main functions of knowledge - generation, transmission and commercialisation
Knowledge precincts are created to cater to the specific needs of ‘knowledge workers’ therefore the urban fabric of these hubs feature a number of characteristics that are said to assist in attracting and retaining such individuals. “Generally knowledge workers choose regions, cities, workplaces and suburbs which exhibit a diverse mix of people, uses and cultural and recreational experiences. The quality of the built environment is integral to these lifestyle choices” (Queensland Government, 2009). Knowledge workers “choose to interact and work in a variety of ways which can be described in four spectrums of interaction: planned to unplanned, formal to informal, internal to external and virtual to physical” (Queensland Government, 2009).
The urban environments that shape and contain knowledge hubs around the world are being asked to essentially achieve four key objectives:
What urban design principles achieve these objectives?
Image Credit: Drawing by Shraddha Gurjar
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Yigitcanlar, Tan and Velibeyoglu, Koray and Martinez-Fernandez, Cristina (2008) Rising knowledge cities: the role of urban knowledge precincts. Journal of Knowledge Management, 12(5). pp. 8-20.
Yigitcanlar, T., and Martinez-Fernandez, C. (2007). Making space and place for knowledge production: knowledge precinct developments in Australia, In the proceedings of the State of Australian Cities 2007 National Conference, 28-30 Nov 2007, University of South Australia and Flinders University. Adelaide, Australia, pp. 831-840.