The role of community and lifestyle in the making of a knowledge city

20 Feb 2007

Overview: Our brief is to investigate the role of community and lifestyle in the making of a globally successful knowledge city region. Our approach is essentially pragmatic. We start by broadly examining knowledge-based urban development from a number of different perspectives. The first view is historical. In this context knowledge work and knowledge workers are seen as vital parts of a new emergent mode of production reliant on the continual production of abstract knowledge.


We briefly develop this perspective to encompass the work of Richard Florida who has, notedly, claimed: "Wherever talent goes, innovation, creativity, and economic growth are sure to follow.”

Our next perspective examines concepts of knowledge and modes of its production to discover knowledge is not an unchanging object but a human activity that changes in form and content through history. The suggestion emerges that not only is the production of contemporary ‘knowledge’ organised in a specific (and new) manner but also the output of this networked production is a particular type of knowledge (i.e. techné).

The third perspective locates knowledge production and its workers in the contemporary urban context. As such, it co-ordinates the knowledge city in the increasingly global structure of cities and develops a typology of different groups of knowledge workers in their preferred urban environment(s).

We see emerging here a distinctive geography of knowledge production. It is an urban phenomenon. There is, in short, something about the nature of cities that knowledge workers find particularly attractive.

In the next, essentially anthropological, perspective we start to explore the needs and desires of the individual knowledge worker. Beyond the needs basic to any modern human household an attempt is made to deduce, from a base understanding of knowledge work as mental labour, the compensatory cultural needs of the knowledge worker when not at work - and the expression of these needs in the urban fabric.

Our final perspective consists of two case studies. In a review of the experiences of Austin, Texas and Singapore’s one-north precinct we collect empirical data on, respectively, a knowledge city that has sustained itself for over 50 years and an urban precinct newly launched into the global market for knowledge work and knowledge workers. Interwoven The Role of Community and Lifestyle in the Making of a Knowledge City Urban Research Program 8 through all perspectives, in the form of apposite citation, is that of ‘expert opinion’ gathered in a rudimentary poll of academic and industry sources. This opinion appears in text boxes while details of the survey can be found in Appendix A.

In the conclusion of the report we interpret the wide range of evidence gathered above in a policy frame. It is our hope this report will leave the reader with a clearer picture of the decisive organisational, infrastructural, aesthetic and social dimensions of a knowledge precinct.

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