City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

14 Cities: Slow City

Written in



Part of the 14 Cities series:

"Sometime after becoming Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Maggie Beer declared the city the first official ‘slow city’ in the southern hemisphere, moving Adelaide in line with a growing international movement comprising several cities in Tuscany and Provence, a few in Germany and Japan, and Portland, Oregon.

Though it initially seemed to concern restaurant ordinance and generous financial help for particular kinds of food production, it eventually became clear that Mayor Beer had more radical changes in mind.

Sidewalks became ‘widewalks’, with cars largely pushed to one side in favour of the active transport of walking and biking. Delivery networks were transformed by the use of smart technology augmenting a centuries-old infrastructure of handcarts and bicycles. Driving schoolchildren to school was banned in favour of ‘human buses’ of schoolkids walking together.

Architecturally, Adelaide has begun to explore the use of wood and paper in construction, building up to nine stories with cross-laminated solid timber panels, and in low-rise with reinforced paper/cardboard structures designed by ‘designer-in-residence’ Shigeru Ban, meaning structures could be repaired, replaced and reconfigured by hand, and by residents. The city began to coalesce around walkable spaces, withdrawing from its outer edges.

However, quince paste is still the largest export commodity."

Notes: Although I like much of the 'slow movement', it could also do with a little gentle teasing from time to time. NB. Although Maggie Beer is featured here, due to her relationship with Adelaide — which seemed the right city for this — I find Stephanie Alexander far more inspiring. Meanwhile, delivery via pushbikes, 'human buses' for schoolkids, and adaptive architecture by Shigeru Ban (notwithstanding Australia's fierce climate) should all be pursued, I think.


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