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Conference paper
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Abstract: While it has long been understood that creative industries cluster within particular neighbourhoods in most cities, there has been little research on the particular urban characteristics and morphologies of those neighbourhoods. To what degree and in what ways do factors such as building types, public/private interfaces, density, mix, walkability and network permeability make a difference to the process of creative clustering? Why do creative clusters emerge within some specific urban morphologies and not others? This paper is based on a series of in-depth interviews with cultural producers in a range of fields including included design, new media, visual and performing arts, working in key creative clusters in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. It explores the ways these cultural producers experience and understand the urban dimensions of creative clustering. Within a framework of assemblage thinking we argue for a set of synergies that we summarize as MANA: mix, adaptation, networks and ambivalence. This is not a list nor a formula but a multiplicity of intersecting factors. 'Mix' involves the productive effect of juxtaposed differences – a mix of social, formal and functional mixes. 'Adaptation' is the capacity for both forms and functions to change incrementally and continuously. 'Networks' involve a capacity for connectivity at multiple scales from the walkable neighbourhood to the larger metropolis. 'Ambivalence' is a sense of a being driven in contradictory directions at once – a both/and condition, a double-logic where the formalities of urban governance co-exist with informalities of creativity and innovation. The creative cluster is a socio-spatial assemblage wherein these conditions work together and properties referred to as 'buzz', 'atmosphere' and 'character' are emergent effects of these synergies.

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