The event “How to transform Lages in a creative city?” discussed innovation, the identity of the city, the value of its potential and new ways to boost the development of the city through the territory. The relationship between innovation in urban planning and economic development go hand in hand with the so-called Blue Sky Research.
Blue Sky Research is scientific research where the applications are not immediately apparent. I was introduced to the concept in a lecture given by Serge Haroche, Nobel Prize in Physics, at the annual meeting of researchers of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation – a German institution that essentially supports this kind of academic freedom.
To exemplify, Haroche presented cards of the 1900s with illustrations of how people imagined the 2000s, and countered nowadays reality. He pondered that imagination was limited by existing technologies and then, as a physicist, he technically explained the Blue Sky researches that allowed the facilities of our day to day lives, although the application did not occur at the same time.
Despite his vigorous defense, this type of research finds resistance to its funding, after all the results are not clear and there are no guarantees of the return of the investment. At the same time, despite the uncertainties, the 55 Nobel Prizes presented by the Humboldt Foundation demonstrate the success of this academic freedom. Blue Sky is the research that most allows creativity, which is the basis of innovation.
So a city should be: provide an environment that stimulates creativity and innovation for its residents. A direct relationship between a pleasant city, with parks, clean rivers, squares and humanized centers, with the quality of life, health and even the economic development of a city can be draw, although these results are not so easily measurable.
A good example is the city of Essen, Germany. The city had to reinvent itself. Even within incentives for companies, Essen was unable to attract people and retain talents. The offer of jobs in cities recognized for their quality of life, such as Munich, was the main reason. People want more than salaries: they want a good place to live. Today the city is going through a restructuring process, including its heritage, the recovery of the river and the incentive for art.
Until recently, it was necessary to be in a big city to have access to a connected life. Today, technology allows us to work from wherever we want. And researches confirm: 40% of people want to work remotely. We can live in a more pleasant city and work online.
In this context, Lages is a city with several ingredients to become a reference: a rich history, a strategic location and a pleasant natural environment. The city should rediscover its potentials and turn them into vectors of its identity, generating a sense of belonging, quality of life and social interactions. Essential for the future is the development with the city’s unique features, considering human scale and nature as the basis for territorial planning.
Lages should have its “Blue Sky” moment in urban planning. It is necessary to have new dreams for the city. And what if the quarry turned into a lake in the future, just like an urban beach in the center of the city?
Photos: Walter Carlos Weingaertner
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