The McGuinness Institute’s latest Think Piece 24: Self-aware cities, written by Nick Roberts is published today. Nick is an architect for UNStudio based in Amsterdam, having previously worked for Athfield Architects in Wellington, New Zealand. When I was on my sabbatical last year I was fortunate to spend some time with him and his lovely partner Nicola, in Amsterdam. This included having a yarn about how to create a talent-based economy and in particular how to create cities that attract talent. The conversation was so insightful, I asked him to share his thoughts in a think piece – this is it. Please enjoy.


Think Piece 24 explores how cities are becoming self-aware as a result of the rise of independently authored city-ranking reports – ‘In this instance, self-awareness is not in reference to the heightened cultivation of unique qualities, but rather an ability to acquiesce to the ideal terms laid out by these reports and rankings’. Nick explains why this leads to a number of concerns, including private companies performing the tasks of local government ‘through the promotion and prescription of their vision of the future city‘, the blending of work life with social life and overlooking the interdependence of the local economy and private corporations.

Think Piece 24: Self-aware cities forms part of our ongoing TalentNZ project by looking into the future of cities. Check out the TalentNZ website for more information.