Why is progress so slow?
In the age of the digitally interconnected cities the speed that ideas spread around is phenomenal. City-makers are bombarded with these ideas through many sources.
The internet and social media platforms such as instagram have democratised awareness of exemplary projects. The examples which community members and professionals bring to project engagements are very similar (if not the same) in towns, small regional cities, or in metro cities. It demonstrates a desire for creative, people-friendly places regardless of the scale and context of a place.
If most people want to live in a people-friendly place, then why is it so difficult to introduce urban innovations that make a city better.
a Barrier to progress
It appears that a barrier exists in transferring and executing ideas from one place to another for public spaces. The barrier seems to affect the private sector less with developers and business owners more rapidly implementing global trends and copying design languages to stay relevant to customers. The commercial logic demands that they keep up, or go out of business.
However, with public space projects involving multiple voices the familiar "that won't work here" or "this isn't [insert place name]" arguments easily dominate. It's a frustrating situation when there are many good examples of urbanism which could be transferred from place to place with little effort. The additional effort to manage these common arguments and community dynamics is a massive source of waste. The logic is different for a ‘free’ resource.
This is not to suggest that all ideas which have worked in one context will work in another. But that there are challenges with:
The transfer of city-making ideas.
How city-makers are proposing new ideas to communities for buildings and places.
How communities manage learning from failure, and the attitude to risk.
If the old ways of doing things are ineffective, then city-makers need to systematically improve how they work.
In the era of digital transformation city-makers need to master a new skillset (strategy, network power, agility) and work in different ways that overcome the challenges caused by old approaches.