The Creative Class Group was invited toÂ collaborate and provide feedback on Frankfurt’s New Work City as a concept of a new way of working for the mobile Creative Class.Â Read our review below and let us know your thoughts.
The Creative Class, the Fourth Place and Frankfurtâs âNew Work Cityâ at The Squaire
By: The Creative Class Group
We are in the midst of a deep and fundamental transformation in the nature of capitalism.Â The economic crisis of 2008 was more than just a transient correction; it represents the critical break point in the shift from industrial to knowledge-based and creative capitalism.Â Even as leading economic indicators are beginning to trend positively, the fact remains that our economy is undergoing a Great Reset.
Five key trends illustrate how this new phase of capitalism, which is based fundamentally on ideas, is shifting the nature of economic competitiveness:
- First, economic competitiveness now turns less on access to natural resources or giant factories and much more on harnessing human creativityâfrom the R&D lab and design center to the factory floor.
- Second, place is supplanting the industrial corporation as the key economic and social organizing unit of capitalism. Density, the clustering of creative peopleâin cities, regions, and neighborhoodsâprovides a key spur to innovation and competitiveness.
- Third, the rise of a new geographic unit â the mega-region â is supplanting both the nation-state and the metropolitan areas of cities and suburbs as the natural economic unit. The worldâs 40 largest mega-regions places like Europeâs Amsterdam-Brussels-Antwerp, Americaâs New York-Washington-Boston Corridor, Asiaâs Shanghai and Beijing axis, and Indiaâs Mumbai-Poona and Bangalore-Madras corridorâproduce two-thirds of the worldâs economic output and nine in ten of its innovations, while housing less than 18 percent of its population.
- Fourth, innovation, competitiveness and rising living standards now require an increased and accelerated velocity for moving goods, people and ideas.
- Fifth, we are now seeing the rise of new environments for living and working which leverage these trends â harnessing and tapping the creativity of the largest number of workers, bringing people together in dense and flexible and arrangements, and accelerating the velocity of people and their exchanges. These experiments are in their infancy, but point the way to a more prosperous future.
In their new book, economic sociologist John Kasarda of the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and Greg Lindsay make a powerful case for the role played by âaerotropolisâ integrated innovation, production and logistic clusters that grow up around major international airports. âAirports will shape business location and urban development in the 21st century as much as highways did in the 20th century, railroads in the 19th and seaports in the 18th,â writes Kasarda. Instead of building or expanding airports on the peripheries of existing cities, aerotropolises, as their name implies, form the nuclei of whole new cities.Â These aeroptroplises,Â Kasarda explains, areÂ âpowerful engines of local economic development, attracting aviation-linked businesses of all types to their environs. These include, among others, time-sensitive manufacturing and distribution; hotel, entertainment, retail, convention, trade and exhibition complexes; and office buildings that house air-travel intensive executives and professionals.â
A thousand years ago, Frankfurtâs location on the Main River made it a center for trade; its airport and highways and railroads make it a hub for business travelers today. Frankfurt International Airport is the ninth busiest airport in the world, it serves more international destinations than any other airport; it is Germanyâs busiest and Europeâs third busiest airport and second busiest cargo airport
Dubaiâs and Bangkokâs proposed aerotropolises might be larger, but Frankfurtâs existing airport already has the trafficâsome of it travelers who are just passing through, others permanent residents of the city or region.
Located just fifteen minutes by car or train from downtown Frankfurt, is also within driving distance of a large economic region. Frankfurt has long been a creative center as well as a business district. Home of Goethe, the Rothschilds and the Frankfurt theorists, it has a unique creative history and culture all its own. Frankfurt has a great university, a critical mass of existing businesses, and, most important, abundant human capitalâwhich is to say, the millions of smart, creative, knowledgeable people who live and work in the area.
And Frankfurt is the hub of the broader âFrank-gartâÂ mega-region, spanning Frankfurt and Stuttgart, which is home to 23 million people and produces $630 billion in economic output, making it the 10th largest mega-region in the world and the fourth largest in Europe. Â Frankfurt Airportâs long-distance train station is the terminus of the Cologne-Frankfurt high-speed rail line, which links southern Germany to the Rhine-Ruhr region, the Netherlands, and Belgium at speeds of 190 miles per hour. Munich is also well-linked to the Frankfurt airport.
New Work City at The Squaire located near the Frankfurt International Airport attempts to leverage all five of these economic trends, acting on Â both the mega-region and the aerotroplis, providing greater density of interactions, a new physical and social model for work, and a mechanism for speeding the flow of people, goods and ideas. New Work City also represents a break with traditionalÂ 20th century principles for airports and aerotropolis, filled as they are with sterile lounges and generic chain coffee shops that are poor substitutes for 21st century knowledge and creative working environments, which ideally provide both a relaxed atmosphere and the amenities needed for social interactions and the infrastructure (wireless access, meeting rooms, teleconferencing capabilities) required for business.
Project leaders say, âTodayâs office workers spend less time at their desks.Â Instead, they are collaborating, learning and socializing with their peers in more open spaces, such as cafĂ©s or urban plazas.â Even with all the advantages of virtual communicationâcell phones and iphones, Blackberries, the World Wide Web, video conferencingâpersonal interaction is vitally important.
The sociologist Ray Oldenburg famously wrote about the need for third places where we can seek refuge from both âthe cabin fever of married lifeâ and the pressures of work. âThe phrase âthird places,ââ Oldenburg wrote, âderives from considering our homes to be the âfirstâ places in our lives, and our work places the âsecondââ; they are the beauty parlors and post offices and pubs that we go to when we are looking for uncomplicated social interactions. Entrepreneurs and real estate providers are increasingly recognizing the need for Â Fourth Places âurban/local infrastructures which allow us to be more productive; places where we can connect and engage and dialogue, but also where we can work. The Squaire with its New Work City concept aims to become a Fourth Place on a larger scaleâa central, easily accessible place where business people can network in a leisurely but intensively productive manner.
Despite all the predictions that technologyâfrom the telephone and the automobile to the computer and the Internetâwould lead to the death of cities, the creative economy is taking shape around them. Urban density, the clustering of people and firms, is a basic engine of economic life. Place is the factor that organically brings together the economic opportunity and talent, the jobs and the people required for creativity, innovation, and growth. To a surprising extent, citiesâand now mega-regionsâare supplanting the giant corporation of the industrial age as the central economic and social organizing unit of our time.
As incubators and engines of innovation, cities are more important today than they ever were. The worldâs aerotropolises seek to leverage the increasingly interconnected and spiky nature of global capitalism, creating spaces for work and interaction around major transportation nodes. A place like New Work City at The Squaire pushes the aerotropolis concept further adding a social as well as economic space designed to deepen the benefits of clustering and interaction to what is already a significant nexus for transport, travel, and global business.