Debate 10 - E-Commerce: its impact on the design of the city

Thursday, June 22nd, 2000 | Debates

E-commerce is having a profound effect, but what is it?

This debate focused on the impact of the city, and in particular, the City. It focused on the impact on the city as a product and a place, rather than the construction of buildings in the city as a process. The debate looked for insight into a range of questions, such as:

  • Is e.commerce just another new business, which, like its predecessors, needs space for its employees, a supportive and vibrant business community, accessible homes, relevant education, and an effective transport system?
  • Is it just the latest vehicle for investment capital to capture the minds of traditional city institutions?
  • Or does e-commerce threaten, in some way, the structure, density, vibrancy, social cohesion, or life-force of the city?
  • If spatial, the criterion of proximity is less important, does that in turn threaten the investment value of property in the city centre?
  • Do markets based on e-trade need a place in space or just a place in virtual space?

The discussion took the form of invited speakers each presenting short summaries of papers that were circulated. Chris Colbourne, a former director of the Education Department at the RIBA, an architect and a director of a Property Company, Masterworks, chaired the event.

The speakers were:

Paper 1: E-Commerce and the design of the City - The impact on the City as a product and a place

Judith Mayhew, Chair Policy & Resources in the Corporation of London and a lawyer with Clifford Chance

Paper 2: E.Com and the design of the City

Alexander Reid, Director General of the RIBA and an expert on the impact of telecom and IT on our cities and communities

Paper 3: E.Com and the design of the City

Charles Leadbeater, Independent writer, author of Living on Thin Air - the New Economy has been Labour Editor and Industrial Editor of the Financial Times. He is a member of the government’s competitive Council and an adviser to Tony Blair’s Downing Street Policy Unit.

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