What Makes a City Thrive | The B1M

What Makes a City Thrive | The B1M

Throughout the ages, cities have formed the
heart of our societies. Originally developing in highly fertile regions as centres of trade, the cities of today are home to more than half of our planet’s population and play a
more fundamental role in shaping our progress than ever before. Transcending the ages, our cities must continually flex, adapt and evolve if they are to remain the productive and thriving
centres that billions of us call home. From access to housing and transportation, to the availability of jobs and education, this is what it takes for a city to truly thrive in
our ever-changing world. For thousands of years it was geography that
dictated where cities developed. The earliest cities grew as defensive settlements along
trade routes, on sites that offered reliable access to water and fertile land. Babylon and Memphis, now a part of Cairo in Egypt, thrived thanks to the abundance of
fertile land around the Euphrates and Nile rivers. Being at the centre of the Mediterranean
allowed Rome to dominate the region through trade and military strength, while Paris took
advantage of its position on the Seine and its access to both the Atlantic and central
France to become the dominant city in the region. While our cities have long been centres
of regional influence, it was the Industrial Revolution that expanded the sphere of influence
a city could have. As technology began to develop millions began moving to urban areas
attracted by the opportunities these centres offered. To understand more, we spoke to Mark Versey and Lynn Smith of Aviva Investors, managers of large-scale real estate and infrastructure investment projects. Well, the Industrial Revolution was all about automation factories getting much more machines,
use of chemicals, and so what it meant is factories needed to be in places that had
good hubs of transport. The cities that thrived then were London, Amsterdam – that had that
access by boat which enabled the factories to be positioned right in those cities. The impact was quite extreme. Suddenly you had a huge influx of people and they needed to be accommodated, so suddenly a city had to grow, develop. So, there was a huge strain
on everything the city had. Hospitals were in higher demand, transport was in higher
demand, but fundamentally housing. And the other thing that helped is the
export market – by being in those locations you could export all around the world. So,
textiles was the big boom particularly in those markets. It became very difficult and the cities themselves had to change. Suddenly, planning became a
big thrust of what a city was, and they had to start planning out streets. Paris is a
really good example of that, where they developed the arrondissements and actually had a network
spanning out from the Arc de Triomphe in a sort of series of circles and concentric circles.
Suddenly, town planning became really, really crucial and if you didn’t actually plan your
city, your city didn’t work – it failed fundamentally. As industry took hold around the world, a
city’s ability to move materials and the many products they created, became key to their
success. Detroit and Pittsburgh in the United States
boomed during this period and throughout the 20th century. Access to railroads and the
Great Lakes allowed raw materials to flow into the city and products manufactured
by their automotive and steel industries could reach markets far beyond their home state. Cities have to continually adapt to the changing demand in the economy. What happened in Detroit is all the skilled labour actually moved out of Detroit. The increased automation of the
manufacturing process changed the whole way that automobiles were built. Cars started
getting imported and Detroit is now an area of huge unused buildings. But now things in cities are changing rapidly again. Today, instead of iron ore being the commodity you
need, it’s now talented people. With the connected world that we live in today, talented people
can live wherever they want. What cities need to do now is attract people who want to live there, to work there, to play there and to learn there. The talent that people have to
come up with new ideas, innovation, particularly in the fields of science, is what businesses
are looking for today. Automation, that’s happening in all the processes, means that
the lowly skilled workers can be replaced by machines. So, what you’re really looking
for now is that higher education talent. By adapting and reinventing themselves to
attract new industries, urban centres of all sizes can transform themselves into thriving centres of innovation and secure their success into the future. When San Francisco opened up to new industries, the city and wider Bay Area completely transformed. Today, it is recognised as one of the world’s leading technology hubs. Needing to diversify its economy in
response to a manufacturing crash in the 1990s, large parcels of former industrial land in
Melbourne were developed into mixed use precincts, leading to a boom in inner city residential
and commercial space, and giving the city a competitive edge over its rivals in attracting new and expanding industries. Dublin saw its outlook change when the government began offering tax credits and incentives to large corporations, allowing the likes of Google, Facebook, eBay and PayPal to establish their European headquarters in the Irish capital. If you can create a hub for an industry in a city then you’ll attract a lot of talent
that work in that industry, to come work there. In Cambridge right now we have created a hub
around the station which is becoming a big IT hub globally. We’ve got Microsoft there,
Apple there and lots of other businesses are increasingly coming to work in that area.
So it’s really becoming known for that IT expansion. Obviously, you’ve got a fantastic university there and that gives ability to attract that talent straight out
of university, retain it in the city. Cambridge is also great as a great cultural spot. So, people have great lives there, it’s cheaper to live there. Schools, hospitals, so it’s
kind of got everything. Staff retention is a huge cost to any business
and keeping them happy and investing in their welfare and their wellbeing leads to lower
staff turnover. So, you have to offer them job expansion,
creativity, so you have to continually evolve and expand. Thinking ahead and encourage people
to progress their career in one area. So the cities of the future are not necessarily the largest cities anymore. It really is about the infrastructure, the connectivity they
have, as well as that access to talented resource. That’s the most important feature now. It’s a really difficult question – how cities can keep themselves sustainable. We’ve got all kinds of examples of where that hasn’t happened. So, we need to look to the future.
What are the trends that are out there? I think as long as you’re where there’s good universities, the talent is flowing, you’ve got an opportunity to be successful. But if
you don’t keep attracting the right type of industries to come in then anything can happen,
and that’s the great example of Detroit obviously. Future proofing is obviously, I mean, it’s
key. But we need to look within our buildings as well as what’s happening in the wider infrastructure
in a city. London has reinvented itself many times over
the years, through the first industrial revolution, the second and now you’ve got a thriving city
in London which is a massive service industry for the entire world. So, London is probably
the best example of a global city that’s managed to reinvent itself through the ages. The main
asset London has is the access to talented resource, a huge diverse range of people who
live in London now, it attracts people from all over the world coming to work particularly
in the city, but also all of the service industries that are located and headquartered in London. Cities generate most of the tax revenue in every country. So, you have to have cities performing at their best. That’s where most of the people work. So, what you need to have
is successful industries which then produce the tax revenue to support the whole economy
and the whole country. So, the city is the vital organ of the entire country. The best bit about my job is actually when you see people coming in and you see people enjoying it. You look at something like Kings Cross, and you know, I’ve watched that development for 25 years and the first time I visited there it was very sterile, not a lot of people.
And now you go along, you’ve got kids playing in fountains, there is yoga going on on the
steps of the canal. It’s very vibrant and there’s people enjoying the public realm and
then you have the corporate occupiers mingling throughout, and the whole thing just works. And for me that’s what makes me get out of bed in the morning. The impact we can have on society is the most exciting thing. When we look at some of the
schemes we’ve invested in so, a £300 million development in Manchester; we’re changing
something iconic which is the Granada Studios where Coronation Street was filmed in the
UK, and we’re now making that a multi-use office, residential, leisure centre, which
is where people really want to live, work, play and learn all in one building and that
is a great example of a city of the future. The role cities play in our everyday lives
and the economic and cultural influence they now exert, means they are more important than
at any other time in human history. And as our world continues to evolve, only cities that harness the powers of talent, clusters and scale will thrive. To learn more about what makes a city thrive, download the Aviva Investors white paper at the link below. If you enjoyed this video and would like to
get more from the definitive video channel for construction, subscribe to The B1M.


  1. Legend has it that if you're early, B1M will give you a heart!

    I love your channel. Keep it up! 😊

    And what's the full form of B1M?

  2. Can't get enough of this channel, thankyou so much for the videos B1M. Your videos inspire me to enter the construction industry

  3. It’s amazing to think that all of the major cities started from one person saying, “hey, let’s put our business right here along this trail” or “this spot next to the river”. Then another business put there business next to it, and so on. Then another road was needed to access nearby businesses and houses. Now cities grow by one business coming in and attracting workers. Another similar business comes in and attracts even more workers. Then related industries come in and bring workers. 10, 50, 100, 1500 years later, we end up with growing diverse cities.

  4. The problem with London's dominance is that the rest of the UK is often forgotten. You don't see a lot of vast regeneration and infrastructure projects in the North, do you?

  5. Your videos are always at the top of my queue, B1M. I look forward to your eventual 1M subscriber milestone. 😉

  6. 3/4 million subscribers already and at the rate you’re growing it won’t take long until you reach a cool million! Keep up the great work you do for us.

  7. So interesting, it'll be nice to watch how cities develop themselves in the next few decades. Especially in terms of livability I think there is a lot of potential for cities to evolve.

  8. I wish you would show other cities other than NY or London, they are great but what about places like Berlin, Munich, LA and Chicago. Or even other UK cites like Glasgow, Edinburgh or Liverpool. I really enjoyed all the cities in this video you covered a lot. But full videos devoted to some more unique cities would be cool

  9. Thank you for this video now I understand why cities are so flexible to give tax breaks to major corporations they are trying to convince young talented people in!

  10. These videos are proof of the quality and seriousness of this channel. I am also passionate about cities and urban planning, so this channel is the most interesting for me to find on YouTube. Keep going B1M!

  11. GEOGRAPHY LESSON STARTER EXTRAORDINAIRE!! Ta people of the B1M. Honestly, let’s write an online text book lol

  12. london, expensive and salaries not competitive. the cost of living in these cities needs to come down or they will loose pop in the future.

  13. I wish they would have taken 10 seconds to talk about Detroit's comeback, after using it as an unfortunate example, since they have reinvented themselves as well. It has very much turned into somewhat of a tech town now with the headquarters of Quicken Loans & Stock X, as well as offices for Google, Microsoft, IBM, etc. all being located in Downtown Detroit

  14. Londons Smart heads invested years of their lifetime to develop a city and to attract people from other countries….All fun and games till they exit the EU 🙂

  15. Manchester shoutout! Maybe a video on the developments in Manchester and how it’s outstripping other regional and European cities!

  16. I'm still left wondering about the human impact (not the human talent resource) on a city's success. How do you keep a city with people from a huge variety of backgrounds part of a community, and what are some great examples in which construction has helped bring that about?

  17. I learn a lot whenever I watch the B1M channel. Talents are truly the lifeline of the most successful cites around the world

  18. Great video yet again.

    The remaining question is: are these projects economically viable? They are seemingly developed on the assumption that there will be or that there already is sufficient demand for such services and housing. However, this might not really be the case in G7 nations that is. How much of this is speculation?

  19. I take exception with the talking head from Aviva. His assessment of Detroit would lead you to believe that its demise is the result of a natural technological evolution. Not a chance! Detroit fell prey to the auto industry's greed and desire to out manoeuvre the union. Robotics have not replaced all of the auto manufacturing jobs. Those jobs have gone to countries that are friendlier to corporations than they are labour. Not to mention nations with more relaxed environment legislation. Sorry B1M, but I feel you've strayed from your core values on this one. Allowing sponsors to wax poetic is unfortunate.

  20. I love B1M, it's my favorite chanel! You should do a Video on Kigali Rwanda, lots of construction and development happening, especially the Mass Design architects they are from Boston initially, but they do amazing work in the country using local materials and know-how to build beautiful sustainable buildings, check out the Butaro cancer Hospital you won't regret it I promise!

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