Roberts Day’s Co-Founder, Mike Day, recently attended the inaugural Monocle Quality of Life conference in Lisbon. The exquisite Portuguese capital was the perfect setting to facilitate discussion on the magazine’s enduring theme: What is Quality of Life?
In typical Monocle style, the breadth of topics and opinions of 25 internationally renowned mayors, architects, museum directors, typographers and graphic designers (amongst others) were held together through the curatorial brilliance of Tyler Brûlé. Housing, the future of the ‘high street’, cultural facilities and urbanism were all discussed under six key themes.
The first theme ‘how do media brands make our cities’ in many ways set the scene for the conference. Using the resurgence of printed media in the digital age to conceptualise the question, the interplay between the physical fabric of the city and its creative output was continually emphasised. “The ‘physical’ is what anchors media”…and the city’s culture and character must influence its form.
The themes to follow became microcosms to explore this premise. How to build the perfect house, how the museum became the modern cultural powerhouse, design of office spaces and how to reinvent the high street studied ideas such as authenticity, branding, cultural identity and nationalism, building toward the ultimate discussion on here’s how to make a city.
It was here that the idea of quality of life became most apparent. The Mayors of Porto and Oslo discussed passionately and optimistically a range of micro examples and ideas. They highlighted the tapestry of individuals that make up their cities, and how they can come together to form a coherent city personality. There was a clear understanding that successful places are not just about grand urban interventions and gestures but equally about entrepreneurial citizens and small ventures to accentuate the city’s defining history, character and brand.
How then do we reinterpret these finding to increase the liveability of our urban projects? Queensland based architects Richards and Spence and the creative director of the James Street Initiative, Marie-Louise Theile shared insights on the establishment of Brisbane’s landmark urban renewal quarter. The James Street initiative now represents and promotes more than 140 retailers in a collaborative, organic and unconventional manner and co-ordinates an array of annual cultural events and art programmes.
In our opinion, the most successful new projects around the world, like James Street, understand this relationship between the physical and the social and form strategies to ensure they are adding to and reflecting the city and the people to which is belongs.
We are already looking forward to continuing this debate throughout the year and being re-inspired at Monocle’s 2016 conference.