There’s no doubt that transportation and trade have played a key role in the development of cities. With each advance in trade development and transportation, new city forms have emerged to respond to the economic opportunities presented. With our increasingly “instant” economy shaped by 24-hr work days, overnight shipping guarantees, and global business networks, one can’t help but wonder what the next dominant urban form will be.
In his latest book “Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next”, builds on the Aerotropolis concept developed by John Kasarda to offer a compelling vision of the airport as the 21st century city-centre – where the need to keep workers, suppliers, executives, and goods in touch with the global market has driven location decisions towards the airport. Lindsey offers personal accounts of this concept, from the emergence of business parks around the FedEx superhub in Memphis and the Dulles Greenway in Virginia, to the logistical importance of the cool chain between rose farmers in Kenya and the FloraHolland auction at Schipol International Airport. Along the way he uncovers emerging competitors, past mistakes, and the plans to develop a new “Silk Road” of air routes practically overnight. Lindsey even briefly offers some comments that respond to concerns over the global food chain and “food miles”, as well as the environmental and energy impact of air travel and goods movement.
For economic developers, the book offers some important considerations on how their communities can fit into an increasingly “instant” age. The aerotropolis will not be right for all cities (although you could try to create one from scratch), but it is important to consider the link between urban form and economic development in providing the speed, agility, and connectivity needed to move people and goods through the global economy. In line with the work of Richard Florida and others on the regionalization of global competitiveness, “Aerotropolis” also offers strong support for co-operative, rather than competitive, regions. The book is a readable mix of factual and entertaining accounts, and offers an interesting choice for those focused on international trade, transportation, and land use planning.