Category: Urban Economics & Real Estate

Co-working and Co-living: 6 Unique and Sustainable Work Environments

Along with the growth of creative industry, co-working concept arises and proliferates in the recent years as a new kind of modern working place. “Co-working is a style of work that involves a shared working environment, often an office, and independent activity. Unlike in a typical office environment, those co-working are usually not employed by the same organization.” (Carsten, 2011). You… Read more →

Paul Pholeros: How to reduce poverty? Fix homes


In 1985, architect Paul Pholeros was challenged by the director of an Aboriginal-controlled health service to “stop people getting sick” in a small indigenous community in south Australia. The key insights: think beyond medicine and fix the local environment. In this sparky, interactive talk, Pholeros describes projects undertaken by Healthabitat, the organization he now runs to help reduce poverty—through practical design fixes—in Australia and beyond.

Linda Hill: How to manage for collective creativity


What’s the secret to unlocking the creativity hidden inside your daily work, and giving every great idea a chance? Harvard professor Linda Hill, co-author of “Collective Genius,” has studied some of the world’s most creative companies to come up with a set of tools and tactics to keep great ideas flowing — from everyone in the company, not just the designated “creatives.”

Where Do The Ultra Affluent Individuals Live?

People who are considered as ultra affluent individuals, called as Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWI), are people with investable assets at least US$30 million, after accounting for their shares in public and private companies, residential and passion-based investments such as art, planes and real estate (Wealth-X, UBS, Grzeskiewiecz & Kozlinski). Billionaires, as a more common terminology, are actually a special category of UHNW individuals,… Read more →

Emerging Mutualistic Relationship Between Parklets and Neighborhood Businesses

Urbanist William H. Whyte says, “There is an elemental point about good spaces: supply creates demand. A good new public space builds a new constituency. It gets people into new habits – such as alfresco lunches – and induces them to use new paths…” A Concept of Pedestrian Overspills Parklets are essentially small plots of pedestrian overspill, could be in a… Read more →

Gentrified Cities

Gentrification and City Development In city planning, gentrification is probably the most debatable topic throughout the history of modern cities, concerning the socio-economic gap and different interest between the haves and the have-nots.  For the haves and authorities who control the investment, economic agenda, political instruments in an urban setting, gentrification is a urban renewal development process that can successfully… Read more →

Low Budget Urbanity


‘Low Budget Urbanity’ is an interdisciplinary research initiative of HafenCity University Hamburg, the University of the Built Environment and Metropolitan Culture (HCU) in Germany. The interdisciplinary research network integrates researchers from the disciplines architecture, engineering, planning, geography, history and cultural anthropology at the HafenCity University Hamburg, the Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg and the Hamburg Museum.


The focus of interest lies in the question how city life changes under the premise of austerity. Urban dwellers are increasingly required to find new and creative ways to cope with the withdrawal of communal authorities from welfare provisions, the demise of public infrastructure and expensive or low-quality centralized services in European and Northern American cities. This has lead to the emergence of new urban practices and alternative forms of urban infrastructure often organised under the principle of sharing and saving. The perspective of ‘low-budget urbanity’ aims for a critical understanding of the qualities and characteristics of cities in situations of a financial and economic crisis and explores how current or historical everyday practices are transformed – and how they change or realize urbanity. (Low Budget Urbanity by HCU, 2014)


The Concept Behind Sharing and Saving

In order to ‘save a city’ that is in times of financial and economic crisis and becomes sites of austerity measures, Jamie Peck argues that the imperative to ‘cut back and save’ and ‘work your way out of debt’ results in urban policies such as structural adjustment, privatization, public-private partnerships, and welfare retrenchments (Peck, 2012; see also Peck et al., 2009). While existing institutional arrangements, collectivist, social-state based ideals and redistributive systems are diminishing, there has been a proliferation of collectively organized urban practices, according to Bialski et al. In light of these developments, urban dwellers are working creatively with urban scarcity to develop new forms of organizing the city parallel and/or in contrast to centralized, state-based infrastructure, and are forced to do so with a low budget (Low-Budget Urbanity, 2013).


Implementation of Low Budget Urbanity Principles

The implementation of its principle includes collectively organized urban survival strategies such as car sharing as opposed to car ownership; travelling using online hospitality networks (e.g. CouchSurfing) instead of hotel accommodation (Bialski, 2012; Rosen et. al., 2011); second-hand shopping, cloth swapping and ‘dumpster diving’ versus mass consumption and throwaway culture (Gregson and Crewe, 2003); or DIY-building rather than ready-made (Brodersen, 2003; Drotschmann, 2010). Other examples include urban farming and cooperative gardening (Schmelzkopf, 1995); local currency systems (Hughes, 2005); transport ticket sharing, house squatting (Neuwirth, 2005); up-cycling of sewage and trash, and other forms of re-using and re-valuing urban resources. As the city is made up of multiple forms of organizing, forming an alternative, low-budget solution often means moving away from the more centralized and top-down forms of urban organization into the decentralized, local, and more like bottom up approach (tactical).


A Decentralised Model: Bringing the Awareness of Local Solidarity

Here cultures of frugality and sharing (Botsman and Rogers, 2010; Doherty and Etzioni, 2003) emerge, creating new economic forms that have long-term effects on the urban space. Their emergence poses new questions regarding the relation of these practices to capital, the state, and citizen responsibilities of citizen. For example, how do long-term self-organized projects alleviate and replace the responsibility of state-run systems in favor of the entrepreneurial urbanism (Harvey, 1989) and what are its effect in terms of gentrification processes, splintering urbanism and the loss of urban commonalities (Graham and Marvin, 2001; Harvey, 2012; Brenner et al., 2012)?

While these practices transform the urban setting, the motivations as to why people and communities deploy new forms of budget organizing are not so clear-cut. Such practices are an expression of a lack of material means and imposed abstinence (Oswalt, 2005; Bude et al., 2011), but also manifestations of conscious decisions to save money and resources. Quite simply, these practices can occur out of necessity and/or choice. What these activities have in common is that they bring on a new awareness of scarcity, low-cost and local production, they produce new forms of value, other measures of calculating, smaller cycles of exchange and coordination and collective organization under the principle of frugal living. Such saving practices engage actors in bottom-up, improvised, flexible, local organization (Pacione, 1997) that creates solidarity and new forms of urban cooperation.




Bialski, P. (2012) Becoming intimately mobile. Warsaw studies in culture and society. Warsaw: Peter Lang.

Brenner, N., P. Marcuse and M. Mayer, (2012) Cities for people, not for profit: Critical urban theory and the right to the city. London: Routledge.

Botsman, R. and R. Rogers (2010) What’s mine is yours: The rise of collaborative consumption. New York: HarperBusiness.

Brodersen, S. (2003) Do-it-yourself work in North-Western Europe. Copenhagen: Rockwool Foundation.

Bude, H., T. Medicus and A. Willisch (2011) ÜberLeben im Umbruch: Am Beispiel Wittenberge: Ansichten einer fragmentierten Gesellschaft. Hamburg: Hamburger Edition.

Doherty, D. and A. Etzioni (2003) Voluntary simplicity: Responding to consumer culture. Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield.

Drotschmann, M. (2010) ‘Baumarkt 2.0. Do-it-yourself, Youtube und die Digital Natives’, Journal of New Frontiers in Spatial Concepts, 2: 18-27.

Graham, S. and S. Marvin (2001) Splintering urbanism: Networked infrastructures, technological mobilities and the urban condition. London: New York: Routledge.

Gregson N. and L. Crewe (2003) Second-hand cultures. Oxford: Berg.

Harvey, D. (1989) ‘From managerialism to entrepreneurialism: The transformation in urban governance in late capitalism’, Geografiska Annaler, 71(1): 3-17.

Harvey, D. (2012) Rebel cities. London: Verso.

Hughes, A. (2005) ‘Geographies of exchange and circulation: Alternative trading spaces’, Progress in Human Geography, 29(4): 496-504.

Low-Budget Urbanity (2013), Low-Budget Urbanity. On Urban Tranformation in Times of Austerity, Research Initiative at HafenCity University Hamburg,, Accessed 10.5.2013.

Massey, D. (2004) ‘Geographies of responsibility’, Geografiska Annaller, 86(1): 5-18.

Neuwirth, R. (2005) Shadow cities: A billion squatters, a new urban world. New York: Routledge.

Oswalt, P. (2005) Schrumpfende Städte. Band 1: Internationale Untersuchung. Ostfildern-Ruit.

Pacione, M. (1997) ‘Local exchange trading systems as a response to the globalisation of capitalism’. Urban Studies, 34: 1179-1210.

Peck, J. (2012) ‘Austerity urbanism’, City, 16(6): 626-655.

Peck, J., N. Theodore and N. Brenner (2009) ‘Neoliberal urbanism: Models, moments, and mutations’, SAIS Review, 29(1): 49-66.

Rosen, D., P. R. Lafontaine and B. Hendrickson (2011) ‘Couchsurfing: Belonging and trust in a globally cooperative online social network’, New Media & Society, 13(6): 981-998.

Schmelzkopf, K. (1995) ‘Urban community gardens as contested space’, Geographical Review, 85(3): 364-381.

Sharff, J. (1987) ‘The underground economy of a poor neighborhood’, in L. Mullings (ed.) Cities of the United States: Studies in urban anthropology. New York: Columbia University Press.

Sheller, M. and J. Urry (2006) Mobile technologies of the city. New York: Taylor & Francis.

Venkatesh, S. A. (2006) Off the books: The underground economy of the urban poor. Chicago: Harvard University Press.


HafenCity: Europe’s Biggest Inner City Development Project


Development in European Cities

Development of European cities is mostly constrained by historical values to preserve most of its primordial urban settlement models that initiated the embryonal concept of most modern cities in the world. Given the mature development of its built-environment and economic development, especially in the western and northern part of European continent, population there is also considerably not as high as anywhere else in the world. If it is high, as in some of European mega-cities such London, Paris, Madrid, or Berlin, the natural population growth would not be as progressive as in Asia, Africa, or South America, but relatively constant instead. If there is any growth, usually it is due immigration related to economy and political factors.

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Singapore, the Most Expensive City in 2015

Based on the Worldwide Cost of Living survey done by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) this year, Singapore hits the highest index of living cost in the world again. Being conducted on 133 cities worldwide from New York and London to Tokyo and Shanghai, the research survey compares cost of living indices in different cities, involving prices of more than 160 services and products.… Read more →