What are we really talking about when we talk about making a city more vibrant?
In a word, sex. Creating the right conditions for people to hook-up. Think about it: Sex is the very essence of a city. People meeting, mixing, mingling, making out, making stuff happen. Sharing space, exchanging ideas, getting entangled, getting busy.
It’s basic biology — the survival of the species. People are drawn to other people, and when we come together in close proximity, sparks fly — some might even ignite.
Sometimes this leads to a long-lasting love affair; other times it’s a white-hot one-night stand that rocks your world, and then you move on.
Either way, great cities are designed to encourage the flirting and foreplay that lead to great sex, because they offer:
1) Customer satisfaction
If people find human connection and happiness, they’re more apt to hang around, right?
2) Economic opportunity
If people get busy — in the business sense, I mean — the money will flow.
Sex is good for commerce, it’s good for culture. The highest achievements of humanity — the stuff that propels our civilization forward — come from human friction and collision.
Our best music and architecture, our greatest inventions and masterpieces — these aren’t born in a vacuum, like some immaculate conception. They come from people and places. They emerge in environments where exchange happens freely.
This kind of sex appeal — or magnetism, as she calls it — is important for cities. Places flourish when they attract people, resources, opportunities, and ideas, and match them to one another.
Cities are much more than the built environment of roads and real estate. Cities are about relationships, and whether people have access to opportunities. Cities are one big dating game.”
Some cities really get this — and they set the stage to turn you on and hook you up. You can feel it in their urban design, you can smell it in the air.
Markets, parks, sidewalks, streets, museums, galleries, clubs, bars, cafes — these are all great places for sparks to fly.
This is why investing in quality spaces is smart civic policy. An enticing public realm invites human interaction, which in turn produces collaboration and innovation. It’s kind of like lighting candles and playing Marvin Gaye. It helps set the mood for more.
Can you feel it? We come out of our homes and cars, we brush up against strangers in parks and bars. The core temperature is rising, powered by sexual energy.