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Cities of Opportunities

Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Culture and Innovation (Routledge 2020) 


Culture refers to not only the arts but also other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively. It similarly refers to the customs, institutions, and achievements of a social group, a people, or a nation. Innovation refers to the action or process of change, alteration, or revolution; a new method of idea creation or product that may bring about change. It is easy to assume that innovation may be juxtaposed to the preservation of culture and time-tested rituals. Yet as human settlements grew; and as streets and squares evolved through the diverse exchanges of people trading, celebrating, rallying and socially interacting, it should come as little surprise that cities and its places would become, and continue to be, centres of culture and innovation that can be inextricably linked. Culture and Innovation in cities can potentially take on different complexions if viewed through the lens of academics and practitioners drawn from different geographies, disciplines, or fields of expertise when addressing particular urban challenges. It is through this complexity of views that this book seeks to provide a broad perspective on culture and innovation in the context of global cities today; and a rich cornucopia of insights from thought leaders within their respective fields to shape the cities of tomorrow.

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Cities of Opportunities is comprised of sustainable thought-leadership essays from some of the greatest minds known to the built environment industry, covering five continents across different disciplines and sectors. Contributors to the publication include:

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H.E Dr Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi

Cabinet Member and Minister of ClimateChange and Environment  |  Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi was appointed Minister of Climate Change and Environment for the UAE in February 2016. In this role, he oversees the Ministry’s mission to spearhead the UAE’s drive to mitigate and adapt to the impact of climate change and protect the country’s ecosystems through developing and implementing effective measures and policies. He previously served as Permanent Representative of the UAE to IRENA and Director of the Department of Energy and Climate Change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. In 2015, he was awarded the first GCC Prize for Excellence in recognition of his efforts in renewable energy. His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi holds several degrees, most notably a PhD in strategy, programme and project management from SKEMA Business School.

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Emmanuel Benbihy

Producer, Cities of Love Franchise  |  Shanghai, China

Emmanuel Benbihy has 25 years of experience as a creator, strategist and film producer. He has been living in Shanghai since 2009. With the movie Paris, je t’aime, he created the ‘Cities of Love’ series, now pursuing its journey around the world (New York, Rio, Berlin, Jerusalem, LA, Shanghai, to name a few). The ‘Cities of Love’ global initiative is building the ‘communities of the people who love their cities’ through creative city-centric media platforms and initiatives. Benbihy is developing a network of non-profit enterprises whose purpose is to engage millions, lift spirits, foster creative contribution to city life and support sustainable urban development.

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Tomas Diez

Director, Fab Lab, Barcelona  |  Barcelona, Spain

Tomas Diez is a Venezuelan Urbanist specialising in digital fabrication and its implications on future cities and society. He is the co-founder and director of Fab Lab Barcelona at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) and is a founding partner of the Fab City Global Initiative. He is also the director of the Master in Design for Emergent Futures. Diez was appointed by The Guardian and Nesta as one of the top ten digital social innovators to watch in 2013, and was awarded by the Catalan ICT association as the entrepreneur of the year in 2014. His research interests relate to the use of digital fabrication tools to transform reality and how the use of new technologies can change the way people consume, produce and relate with each other in cities.

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Prof. Kayla Friedman

Course Director, IDBE, University of Cambridge  |  Cambridge, United Kingdom

Prof. Kayla Friedman is Course Director for the University of Cambridge’s Master’s in Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment (IDBE) and Senior Programme Manager at Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). As a licensed New York State Architect with ten years’ professional experience, she has explored the challenges of improving sustainability in the built environment and engaged diverse stakeholders in vision creation and implementation in the US and UK. Friedman holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge; Master’s degrees in Architecture and Urban Design from Washington University in St Louis and a BSc from the University of Virginia. She is particularly interested in how continuing education for working professionals can enrich their professional practice.

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Andrew Grant

Founding Director, Grant Associates  |  Bath, United Kingdom

Andrew Grant is a Landscape Architect whose work explores the connection between people and nature. In 2012, he was awarded the title of RSA Royal Designer for Industry in recognition of his pioneering global work in landscape architecture — such as the multi-award-winning Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. He is a Visiting Professor at the University of Sheffield, UK, an Honorary Fellow of the RIBA and a member of the National Infrastructure Commission Design Group. Based in the city of Bath, he is Chair of the Bathscape Landscape Partnership, a member of the Bath World Heritage Site Advisory Board and co-founder of the pop-up festival ‘Forest of Imagination’.

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Charif Hamidi

Co-founder and CEO, ED 4.0  |  Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

An investment banker and strategy consultant turned social entrepreneur and educator, Charif Hamidi is the founder of Ed4.0, a research and development social enterprise in the field of education innovation. Particularly interested in technological advancement’s impact on labour markets, Hamidi is an avid researcher and often contributes to journals such as the Harvard Business Review. He is frequently invited to speak at international conferences (such as the World Economic Forum) and is a regular commentator on the topics of monetary policy, education technology and emerging markets on several media outlets. On a personal note, he is an obstacle race fan, a jazz and blues singer and a part-time standup comedian.

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Prof. Sandra Harding

Vice Chancellor and President, James Cook University | Townsville, Australia

Sandra Harding took up her appointment as Vice Chancellor and President of James Cook University Australia in January 2007. Educated at the Australian National University, The University of Queensland and North Carolina State University (US), Harding has extensive academic and leadership experience. An economic sociologist by training, her areas of enduring academic interest include work, organisation, markets and how they work. She also has a keen interest in public policy in two areas — education policy and related areas; the global Tropics, northern Australia and economic development. In addition, she has undertaken a wide variety of senior university-aligned roles as well as memberships/directorships of a variety of local, national and international boards and councils.

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Prof. Tim Heath

Chair of Architecture and Urban Design, University of Nottingham  |  Nottingham, United Kingdom

Tim Heath is a professor of architecture and urban design at the University of Nottingham, UK, where he has been an academic since 1993. He is a registered architect, qualified town planner and experienced urban designer who is actively engaged in research, teaching and practise through which he pursues his passion for cities and placemaking. He is well known internationally as the course director for the MArch in Sustainable Urban Design, author of many books and academic papers and supervisor of over 50 PhD students. Significant publications include Public Places Urban Spaces (2010), which has also been published in Mandarin, Traditional Chinese, Arabic and Korean, Revitalising Historic Urban Quarters (2013), and Heritage-Led Urban Regeneration in China (2017).

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Samvit Kanoria

Partner, McKinsey and Company  |  Doha, Qatar

Samvit Kanoria is a Partner in Mckinsey & Company’s Middle East office. He is a global convenor of McKinsey’s work in Real Estate, Cities and Urban Development. Through this work, and broader work on public sector transformation, his ambition is to help transform the life of city residents. He is passionate about helping transform development and asset management clients in both performance and digital-led end-to-end transformations. He has spoken in many global forums including MIPIM and at ArabNet. He formerly worked at Goldman Sachs, Temasek Holdings and holds a Bachelors’ (Hons) in Management Science & Engineering from Stanford University.

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Lim Teck Yin

CEO, Sport Singapore

Lim Teck Yin is the CEO of national sport promotion agency, Sport Singapore. He developed Vision 2030, the strategic direction for Sport Singapore’s work plans and organisational development. The new Masterplan’s tenet on partnering the public, private and people sectors in nation-building through sport has informed Sport Singapore’s integrated strategy across mass participation, high performance and infrastructure efforts. Lim also led and managed major national projects including the delivery of the 28th SEA Games and the 8th ASEAN Para Games in 2015. Under his leadership, Sport Singapore launched ActiveSG, the national movement for sport, which has attracted over 1.7 million members since its launch in April 2014.

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Maimunah Mohd Sharif

Under-Secretary-General And Executive Director, Un-Habitat  |  Nairobi, Kenya

Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), was previously Mayor, City council of Penang Island, Malaysia. Appointed President of the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai in 2011, she led the Council to achieve its vision of a ‘cleaner, greener, safer and healthier place to work, live, invest and play’. Sharif began her career as a Town Planner at the Municipal Council of Penang Island in 1985 and became Director of Planning and Development in 2003. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Town Planning Studies from the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology, UK, and a Master of Science in Planning Studies from Malaysia Science University.

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Prof. Hisham Mortada

Professor Of Architecture, King Abdul Aziz University  |  Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Hisham Mortada is a Full Professor of Architecture at King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He is also an adjunct professor at Freie Universitat, Berlin, Germany, and an academic advisor to academic institutions in Argentina, Italy and Ethiopia. He holds a PhD in Architecture from University of Edinburgh, UK, and Masters of Architecture from Pennsylvania State University, US. He has widely published in the areas of traditional architecture, old Muslim cities, sustainability and urban renewal. Mortada has carried out several international research and professional projects in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Americas. He has also lectured in more than 30 countries.

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Prof. Stephen Naylor

Chair of Academic Board, James Cook University  |  Townsville, Australia

Stephen Naylor is currently the chair of the Academic Board of James Cook University Australia. He has been an active participant in education, learning, teaching and the creative arts for 40 years. His creative arts background drove his professional practice, and more recently his research has focused upon design, spatial dialectics and the understanding of a sense of place within tropical regions. He is currently preparing for a new Routledge monograph entitled The Venice Biennale and the Asia-Pacific in the Global Art World, exploring how geopolitics, national agendas and international arts diplomacy compete for space with contemporary artists, critics, international commentators and the public audience.

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Prakash Parbhoo

Partner, McKinsey and Company  |  Johannesburg, South Africa

Prakash Parbhoo is a partner in McKinsey & Company’s Johannesburg office, having joined the firm in 2004.  He leads McKinsey’s Capital Projects and Infrastructure practice in Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa. His work focuses primarily on improving capital project outcomes through innovation in the project and construction industry. He has a passion for unlocking infrastructure development on the African continent to ensure a more sustainable urbanisation model. In 2017 Parbhoo initiated McKinsey’s Africa Capital Project Ventures team to create innovative solutions to project origination and funding on the continent. He has a Master’s degree in Engineering from the University of Cape Town.

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Evangelia Pavlaki

PhD Candidate, University of Nottingham  |  Nottingham, United Kingdom

Evangelia Pavlaki is an architect and PhD candidate in the field of urban design and placemaking. She graduated with a five-year diploma in Architectural Engineering from the Technical University of Crete and subsequently worked in an architectural practice in Athens, Greece. She then undertook the MArch in Sustainable Urban Design at the University of Nottingham, and upon graduating with a distinction she commenced her PhD research under the supervision of Prof Tim Heath. Pavlaki’s research on cities and their effect on human wellbeing and interaction through design focuses on the application of digital technology in public spaces and its implications for human experiences.

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Tim Stonor

Managing Director, Space Syntax  |  London, United Kingdom

Tim Stonor is an architect and urban planner who has devoted his career to the analysis and design of human behaviour patterns — the ways in which people move, interact and transact in buildings and urban places. He is an internationally recognised expert in the design of spatial layouts and, in particular, the role of space in the generation of social, economic and environmental value. Stonor is the Managing Director of Space Syntax, an urban planning and design company created at University College London in 1989 to develop and apply predictive design technologies. He is a Director of The Academy of Urbanism, a Visiting Professor at The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, a Harvard Loeb Fellow and Deputy Chair of the UK Design Council.

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Maria Vassilakou

Deputy Mayor and Executive City Councillor  |  Vienna, Austria

Maria Vassilakou started her political career as Secretary General of the Austrian Students’ Union. In November 1996 she became Member of the Vienna Provincial Parliament. From November 2010 until July 2019 she served as Deputy Mayor of Vienna and Executive City Councillor for Urban Planning, Traffic & Transport, Climate Protection, Energy and Public Participation. She is also the first Executive City Councillor with a migration background. She was born in Greece and migrated to Austria as a student in the mid ’80s. She studied Linguistics and Psychology at the University of Vienna (Magister degree, 1994) and acquired an MSc degree (2019) from the London School of Economics (LSE Cities Programme). In her nine years serving as Deputy Mayor she was responsible for a vast transformation agenda comprising numerous innovative projects.

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Prof. Jason Pomeroy

Founding Principal, Pomeroy Studio and Pomeroy Academy  |  Singapore

Jason Pomeroy is an award-winning architect, academic, author and TV presenter, regarded as one of the world’s thought leaders in sustainable design. He gained bachelor and master degrees from the Canterbury School of Architecture and the University of Cambridge; and his PhD from the University of Westminster. He is the founder of Singapore-based interdisciplinary design and research firm Pomeroy Studio, and sustainable education provider, Pomeroy Academy. Pomeroy has authored Pod Off Grid: Explorations in Low Energy Waterborne Communities (2016), The Skycourt and Skygarden: Greening the Urban Habitat (2014) and Idea House: Future Tropical Living Today (2011). He continues to raise cultural awareness of cities through his critically acclaimed TV series ‘Smart Cities 2.0’, ‘City Time Traveller’ and ‘City Redesign’.

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