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Public Realm & Company Value - mødet med bymiljøet! Creation Investigating the local urban environment’s role in stimulating business

Danish version published in August 2012, 2nd Edition, April 2013 English version maj 2013 Written by Gehl Architects for Realdania By (Realdania City) - a Realdania company. The report is supported by Realdania. Realdania By Jarmers Plads 2 1551 København V


Consultant: Gehl Architects - Urban Quality Consultants

Project Leader: Louise Vogel Kielgast Camilla Richter-Friis van Deurs

Senior Consultant: Per Riisom

Project Team: Ewa Westermark Simon Goddard

Translation: Anne Mette Grøndahl Kasey Kimes

External Consultant: Mikael Lindholm, Innovation Inside


Contents 3



The company in the public realm–the first impression on arrival



10 Value creation: the interaction between the employees, the company and the public realm 18 Questions for the importance of the public realm for companies 32

Means & Examples: Ideas for stimulating the public realm

48 Case: NorrkĂśping 57

A general overlook

58 Appendix 61


The company in the public realm–the first impression on arrival Often, it takes only a few seconds to get a first impression of a person. The same applies when entering a building. Is it dark or light? Do we feel welcome? Is there life and activity or does it seem abandoned? There is also the physical structure of the company; to what kind of setting do we arrive? Is it a company in contact with the surrounding public realm in regards to its physical appearance or is it without connection to its surroundings? Furthermore, is it surrounded by a sterile parking lot without trees, shadow or shelter which does not invite for an informal talk or a final reading of meeting papers on a bench? The company may not have lost anything measureable in the first encounter with the customer or business partner, but it has missed out on advantages of sympathy, energy, and active connections.

However, if it is a company opening up towards and interacting with its surroundings, the first impression may be much more positive. This provides a much greater potential for discovering the company. It is present physically–right there in the public realm and contributing to a public realm where other companies or institutions may be situated to benefit from each other. If the surroundings are not dreary parking lots but a stimulating public realm, the company may use the public space in connection with meetings with customers and walks & talks, for example. In cafÊs and parks, connections may be established with employees of other companies which may result in only casual connections, but which may also provide insight and information. In some cases, it may even result in potential business opportunities. The arrival at the company may give a good first impression and may result in a longer and more in-depth connection between the city, the company, and the company’s customers, business partners, and employees; a place to which people want to return.








The aim of this report is to create awareness

connections, and universities, etc. and ‘the small

and debate on how the public realm may

infrastructure’ of the internal physical arrange-

stimulate the value creation of companies.

ment of the company (such as the space of the office, etc.).

The subject of the report Here, the public realm means the physical surroundings within a walking distance of 5-10

The report asks more questions than it draws conclusions. It must therefore be seen more as a

minutes from the company.

beginning to the disclosure of the subject than

The stimulation of value creation may derive

report to prove how the public realm and the

from better conditions for cost-reducing common facilities, surroundings that stimulate ideas and knowledge sharing as assets in connection with the recruitment of qualified employees, and branding in connection with customers and

an ending. It is also beyond the ambition of the value creation of the companies are connected financially (profit, equity and market value). The report is among other things based on literature studies, a workshop with different

business connections.

capacities within the field and the work in Nordic

Here, companies refer mainly to knowledge-

sized Nordic cities.

based companies. To a greater extent, these

City Network which is a network of 14 medium-

companies are located in those cities which

The structure of the report

lost many industrial companies and jobs from

The report is based on the three fundamental

the 1970’s and onwards. The knowledge-based

factors: the employee, the company and

companies are typically engaged in strategy,

the public realm. The report discusses nine

consultancy, design, communication, etc. The

questions and 14 principles which aim at

knowledge-based companies may have an

illustrating how the physical environment can be

industrial aim, but the industrial production

designed in order to contribute positively to the

itself, the transport, etc. most often takes place

value creation of the companies.

outside the cities. Often, however, the functions within strategy, finance, human resources, marketing and sale may well be placed in a more central public realm. The report focuses on the public realm, an area not fully documented. The public realm may be described as a missing link between ‘the large infrastructure’ of airports, freeways, train

The target groups of the report The report addresses municipalities wishing to stimulate business development, companies considering a new location in a stimulating public realm, and property developers aware that customers are interested not only in the address itself but also in the surrounding public realm which is increasingly an important factor.









In the knowledge-based society, it is very much

A company may profitably enter into relations

the ability of the employee to create new ideas,

with the public realm outside the physical

products, and procedures which creates growth.

framework of the company or with the space

The possibility of employee contribution to

connected to the lobby or ground floor premise

the value creation of the companies is heavily

of the company. The local space may be used as a

dependent on the physical arrangement, the

resource for the development and value creation

organization, strategy and technology of the

of the company through increased relations

company. These factors are illustrated in several

with customers and by drawing attention to the

books, articles, etc. This report is based on the

company in the local surroundings.

question of whether the possibility of employee contribution to value creation also depends on

The report raises the question of whether the

the public realm–the physical space between

interaction between the company and the public

companies, housing, shops, etc. within 5-10

realm can be strengthened by:

minutes walking distance from the company.

drawing the attention of the public towards the activities of the company by creating

Perhaps the contribution of employees to the

transparent and communicative ground floor

value creation of the company could be increased

frontages with publicly accessible lobbies,

by a public realm which offers a physical

showrooms exhibiting products, etc.

structure to: •

support the creation of networks, such

integrating other functions in the buildings

as common areas and offices shared with

which attract new users–a so-called double

other companies, professional networks, or

programming–such as the location of a café

persons within related fields.

in a consultancy company.

challenge and invite employees to involve

creating the possibility of a shared location

other areas for knowledge exchange in the

with other employees or companies by

work such as libraries, public space, or other

shared offices or dining halls.

inspiring places outside the company. • •

establishing outside areas and public spaces

stimulate new thoughts and provide energy

which attract user groups other than the

by virtue of a diverse physical structure.

employees to use these as parks, squares, and sport fields.

attract and retain talented employees.




Public realm EMPLOYEE



A stimulating public realm may provide the framework for meetings between people where contacts are made, information is exchanged, and ideas are materialized. In the public realm, people and the employees of companies may gain access to new knowledge and inspiration. This knowledge can be transformed into new products, processes, and customers, thereby increasing economic growth. Public realms may include parks and squares but also publicly accessible indoor ‘hybrid public realms’ such as hotel lobbies, libraries, train stations, and cafés. It must be emphasized that a stimulating public realm also includes pavement and bicycle lanes, since pedestrians and cyclists also contribute to an energetic atmosphere. The report raises the question of whether the public realm can support the value creation of companies by: •

establishing hybrid public realms which combine company types and activities with the public realm in a non-traditional way

exposing and brand the company in the public space through architecture or communication.

mixing occupation, housing and cultural institutions to create a lively and vibrant public realm.

Value creation: the interaction between the employees, the company and the public realm The purpose of the report In Denmark we have a strong tradition of evaluating how the physical appearance of public realms may stimulate ‘the good life’. Our investments in the architectural quality of buildings, squares, parks, and bicycle lanes, etc. can definitely be compared to international standards. Due to globalization, extended plans have been developed in connection to the relationship between urban development and business development. The expansion of infrastructure, universities, and completely new areas of the city, etc. must be mentioned in this connection. However, in Denmark and internationally, the extent to which the value creation of companies can be stimulated by the adjacent physical public realm is far from fully documented. This report attempts to deal with this only partially documented area. The report recognizes the many complex driving forces behind the location strategies of both private and public companies. Among other things, these driving forces may be infrastructure, labor market in the surrounding area, internal organization, branding, networking, business economics, and proximity to customers and strategic business partners. This report discusses how the quality of the public realm may also be of considerable importance to the value creation of companies and–in a broader perspective–to the business development of cities.

Public realm & value creation– a missing link? Cities have historically been the primary driving force behind value creation. However, in Denmark as well as internationally, many cities experienced problems beginning around the 1970’s. Many companies were relocated, cities lost jobs, the tax base disintegrated, and the demand for public resources grew as demographics shifted. Indebted and run-down, many cities were predicted to face a gloomy future. But a decade into the 21st century, it looks as though the cities will be making or can make a come back as the driving force in a knowledge-based economy. To companies, cities mean proximity to the knowledge that business partners, consultants, educational institutions, and research institutions possess. Cities offer the possibility to disseminate knowledge fast, which may be transformed into new products and new processes. Furthermore, cities offer solutions for transport and supporting facilities such as differentiated housing, services, and cultural experiences. It is common knowledge that large infrastructure and the presence of universities may stimulate economic growth. By now, much existing literature describes how the physical arrangement of the individual company may support value creation.


Between these two extremes, from the plan of

casual connections is not only still important but

the premises to the large infrastructure–a still

is of growing importance in a knowledge-based

only sparsely described field–exists in the public

economy. Companies will pay an increasing

realm. This publication seeks to contribute to a

sum in rent to be located where other leading

description hereof.

companies and talented employees are located. In addition to the common theory of growth as a

The report must also be understood with

consequence of the creation of company clusters,

the background that for decades–not only

which emphasizes the importance of a shared

in Denmark but also in many other highly

location of companies within the same industry,

developed countries–many business parks were

it turns out that value creation also occurs

located outside or on the outskirts of cities. Many

within the fault lines between different lines of

business parks have been productive platforms


in creating new patents, companies and jobs. There is an increase in what is called ‘urban In recent years, there has been an increased

companies’ referring to companies located

interest in whether value creation can be

in an urban context. The increasing interest

stimulated further if companies are located

of the companies to the city is an important

instead in the center of cities. The Innovation

driving force of the focus on interaction between

District in Boston can be mentioned as an

companies and the public realm.

example. This movement towards the city center is among other things due to the fact that many

Today, cities represent the most important

companies–or company departments–at the top

growth factor for economic development. It is

of the value chain no longer have an impact on

estimated that 80% of the European Union’s

their surroundings from a polluting production

GDP will be created in cities by 2030. Cities also


contribute to our mutual basis for living, not only by generating economic activity within the

It is also important to understand that in spite of

city boundary, but also by functioning to a great

the advantages of the internet and other modern

extent as the driver for economic development

means of communication the importance

in the rest of the country. See for instance the

of distance has not been eliminated. Since

dissertation by Høgni Hansen, The Urban Turn

knowledge sharing also requires confidentiality,


sympathy, and exchange of ideas, face-to-face communication in the form of formal meetings or





13 Public space is also important as an incubator

Some of the factors may be of particular

for the lifestyles of the international knowledge-

significance for the public realm’s support of

based society according to the theories of

company value creation. Several of these factors

Professor at the University of Toronto Richard

may be strengthened, not only through the

Florida about the need for transparency and

city as the overall framework, but also through

tolerance in the cities in order to attract the

the more immediate public realm such as the

creative class, presented in The Rise of the

interaction between buildings, public space,

Creative Class (2002).

urban functions, etc.

In general, there is a limited understanding of

Consequently, there is good reason to consider

the relationship between the value creation of

the public realm an overlooked scale, ‘a missing

companies and how companies relate to the

link’, between the interior of the company and

city. However, interest is increasing. Harvard-

the overall framework of the city. If the public

professor Edward Glaeser is arguing in Triumph

realm has potential, it is important to identify

of the City (2012) that the location of companies

and fulfil it in order to make urban development

in efficient cities may strengthen the innovation

(as well as the development of public realms)

and productivity of the companies radically. The

contribute to business development.

challenge, however, is that the importance of cities is often taken for granted or only mentioned indirectly in regards to the infrastructural challenges of growth in society. Economic centers of competence such as the OECD are working with studies and consultancies where many different factors are important to the value creation of companies. In the study Growth Follow-Up: Micro-Policies for Growth and Productivity (2005) which compares the growth of 27 EU-countries, the OECD has pointed out four factors which are of importance to growth: •

human resources

knowledge building and knowledge transfer

application of IT


Urban rejuvenation through tech-company clustering in San Francisco The mid-Market neighborhood of San Francisco had a longstanding history of crime and vacancy. In 2011, San Francisco-based tech giant Twitter was met with the opportunity to relocate their headquarters to Silicon Valley as many other tech firms had done before. The city of San Francisco then decided to offer a payroll tax break to Twitter and their 800 employees to stay in the city¬ – so long as they chose a location within mid-Market. Twitter accepted this offer, but the decision was not purely financial. As co-founder Jack Dorsey explained, being in a distressed corner of the city allowed the company to open itself up “real problems” as opposed to hiding away in the “wonderland bubble” of Silicon Valley. The tax break agreement also included requirements for extensive community investment by Twitter. Knowing the positive effects of rubbing shoulders with peers, several other tech firms moved to mid-Market as well. Yammer, Dolby, and One Kings Lane (together totaling over a thousand employees) among others also moved to the area, some without tax incentive. Investors have since spent over $500 million in the neighborhood, thousands of residential units are being built or renovated, and public life is quickly reemerging.

Market Street, San Francisco, USA


Studies of the company´s relation to the city Within the framework of the Nordic City Network

during the past 15 years. In Malmö, the survey

facilitated by Gehl Architects, a number of

has also focused on a post-industrial area

interview surveys have been carried out in

situated in a previous port space. The area is

companies in four Nordic cities: Malmö and

now called Universitetsholmen and includes

Nörrköping in Sweden, Lilleström in Norway and

housing for Malmö Högskola (Malmö University).

Aalborg in Denmark. The purpose of the surveys

The area has not been fully developed but has

is to determine how companies use the city today

been transformed significantly during the past

and to what extent a connection exists between

15 years. It is situated 2 km (1,24 miles) from the

their needs and the location of the company in

center and is now connected to other parts of

the public realm.

the city with the new city metro tunnel and the station Malmö C.

The surveys include interviews with approximately 30 different companies. The

In Lilleström, the interview survey has not

interviews are carried out primarily in

focused on a single limited urban area to the

cooperation with a representative from the

same extent. Here, the whole city has been

management of the company. The companies

examined and interviews have been carried out

have been selected based on their location in

in companies located in the city center and in

a certain part of the city and with the purpose

Kjeller, a campus area with one of Norway’s most

of identifying differences among types of

important research centers situated only a few

companies. In Aalborg, the survey has its starting

kilometers outside the center. The city center of

point in the area around Budolfi Plads (Budolfi

Lilleström is particular because it has been built

Square) which is a historic site in the city center

and upgraded considerably over a period of 10-15

of Aalborg where some of the oldest buildings in

years. Due to this transformation the interviews

the city are situated. The area is situated in close

have not delved into the more specific needs

proximity to the business center of the city and is

of location and relations to the city which the

facing redevelopment in future years.

companies have. Instead, the survey focuses on the more general qualities of the city and their

In Nörrköping, the survey starting point is in a

importance to business development.

previous industrial area–Industrilandskapet (the Industrial Landscape)–which has gone

The results of the interview surveys are

through a remarkable urban transformation

summarized in the table in the appendix, pages 58-59.


Many companies in the area of Dockan in Malmรถ have open lobbies and reception desks allowing the public to use dining hall facilities and the like.







Questions concerning the importance of the public realm to companies In this chapter, we will be discussing different questions concerning the possible importance of the public realm to the companies and their value creation.

National Australia Bank Docklands, Melbourne, Australia


Nine questions



This chapter presents nine questions concerning the importance of the public realm to companies. Each question contains a short description as well as references to specific urban areas or companies where questions regarding the field of study are expressed. The questions are based partly on literature studies andMENNESKET



partly on interview surveys in four Nordic cities: Malmรถ, Norrkรถping, Lillestrรถm and Aalborg. The interview surveys are carried out during the winter 2011-12 within the framework of Nordic City Network. The questions concern whether and how the public realm can support networking, knowledge sharing and cost-cutting shared facilities, but also refer to how companies look upon their relation to the surrounding public realm more generally. MENNESKET









Questions 1. Can the public realm stimulate employees? 2. Can the public realm create good opportunities to establish collaborative relationships? 3. Can attractive public realms attract talented employees? PUBLIC SPACE URBAN LIFE PUBLIC SPACE









4. Can the public realm be an asset to customer relations? OTHER 5. Can location in theCOMPANIES public real contribute to a positive image for the company? 6. Can the public realm contribute to the economics of companies?

7. Can the public realm provide for an extended network? 8. Can the creation of meeting places in the public realm strengthen both companies and urban life? 9. Can a stimulating public realm represent a financial gain for companies e.g. the taxable value of the property?


Can the public realm benefit employees?



Example: a hotel lobby in New York City

The public realm has great potential as a space

When looking at cities today, we see numerous

to stimulate the generation of ideas, networking,

examples of people expanding their working

and knowledge sharing. Today, many companies

space beyond just a room in an office building.

profit from new ideas conceived by their employ-

Many cafés have regular working customers sit-

ees which may be transformed into value crea-

ting with their laptops for several hours, in parks

tion for the company. Furthermore, it is possible

where WI-FI is used frequently (e.g. Bryant Park

that a stimulating public realm may contribute to

in NYC) and even hotel lobbies represent new

increased employee satisfaction, which in itself

interesting and free working spaces in the city.

may contribute to innovation and productivity.

One example is a lobby of a hotel in New York City

This will also make it easier to retain and attract

that is shared with an independent coffeeshop,

qualified employees. After the interview survey

in a large and flexible room open to hotel guests

was carried out within the framework of Nordic

and the general public. It simultaneously attracts

City Network, several participating managing

people from the street who choose to hold work-

directors estimated that their employees are

ing meetings there due to the special atmosphere

also inspired outside the company. The public

of activity and energy. These types of hybrid

realm outside the company may in several cases

rooms and public realms offer possibilities to

spur a break with habitual thinking due to the

expand the working space outside the company.

possibility of new stimuli in the form of people, surroundings and communication. The impressions from these stimulating surroundings vary from employee to employee–it may be a park, a street where it is possible to meet different people, architecture which challenges relations and encourages people to stay and interact, a café in which other guests are also working, etc. The employees also have the need to stay in places which encourage absorption and peace in the public realm, where there is space to think and work in an inspiring environment. There is the need for both active and passive public realms. This need can also be accommodated in work environments or businesses that might demand certain confidentially zones within the workspaces.

A hotel lobby in New York is open at all hours for visitors though they are not guests in the hotel. Many use the setting as meeting facilities or as a base for networking with smaller companies.


Can the public realm create good opportunities to establish collaborative relationships?

Example: The Upper Secondary School in Norrkรถping

The opportunity to establish collaborative

secondary school is also a company itself and not

relationships is widely recognized as an important location parameter for companies today, but it is often dealt with at a superior level and reduced to a question of cooperation between parties in the same industry. Publications such as Knowledge Cities. Approaches, Experiences and Perspectives., The European Creative Class and Regional Development and Institutional competitiveness in the global economy emphasize regional specialization and industrial cluster development as central factors in the creation of growth and employment. Other literature points out that much innovation also takes place in the fault lines between different lines of business. There is less focus on how collaborative relationships work in practice between neighboring companies. Mikael Lindholm, an innovation consultant at Innovation Inside, emphasizes that most companies do not fully exploit the potential in industrial cluster developments. It is difficult to create collaboration between companies as well as between companies and other types of players. There is a strong need for stimulating mechanisms and a physical environment which encourages networking. Among several of the companies where interviews were carried out, there is a belief that sharing the same public realm and being visible in the public realm will create better possibilities for partnership.

An upper secondary school prepares young people for company employment. However, the upper just a parenthesis in the surrounding environment. An example of the need for visibility is the Upper Secondary School in Norrkรถping which relocated to In-dustrilandskapet, a knowledge campus in Norrkรถping, in 2010. Previously, the Upper Secondary School was located in an old hospital a few hundred metres from Industrilandskapet, but even this short distance was an obstacle for collaborative agreements with relevant traineeships for their students. By relocating near other educational establishments such as the university, the Upper Secondary School hopes to create visibility and interest concerning their own educational establishment as a potential resource for other institutions. Simultaneously, they are aware that they must work to obtain this position. The Upper Secondary School encourages cooperation by keeping their building accessible throughout the day and offering activities to attract other persons, thereby obtaining new relationships through the public realm.

Can attractive public realms attract talented employees? By locating in active and interesting urban areas, many companies strengthen their potential to attract the employees necessary for their company. Many employees want to be part of a public realm offering pulse, intensity, urban life and interesting urban functions. Such a public realm offers the best possibilities for networking and career development. It is also easier to combine work with other purposes, such as recreation, housing, shopping, etc. This integration is found to be increasingly important due to new modes of work in which the transition between work and recreation is more fluid. Moreover, synergy occurs when different people meet in the public realm–even in meetings which may be passive. Inspiration and impulses are also obtained by experiencing others in a space without any real

Example: Progressive Media in Aalborg Progressive Media in Aalborg has–among other things–produced the educational computer game Pixeline for schoolchildren. This is an example of a company in which the quality of the chosen location is of huge importance to the employees. The company initially chose to locate in a newly established business area outside the city dominated by computer services companies, but soon realized that their employees wanted to work in the center of the city. This is due to the employees of Progressive Media feeling that they have a certain kind of identity when working in the city and thus being part of the city life. Most of the employees live in the city–‘our employees are city dwellers’–and this new location in the city center of Aalborg offers an opportunity to carry out other daily activities in connection to the working day and to spend less time on commuting.

direct contact. By entering the public realm, companies are creating an attractive workplace. Location may be part of the strategies of management in concern for employee care where a connection between the professional and private life of the employee is an important factor. In this perspective, the kind of urban area as an ideal location may vary from traditional city center areas to new parts of the city where new kinds of city centers are forming.

The employees of Progressive Media use the public space as a source of inspiration when they move the office into the street in order to be in direct contact with customers and impulses in the street. Here, the Progressive Media team is on Gammeltorv square in Aalborg.




Can the public realm be an asset to customer relations? Some lines of business recognized long ago that certain public realms provide necessary access to potential customers. This applies especially in retail, where theories and parameters for the best location have been developed in order to attract customers. That the public realm is an important setting in which to meet customers is now also a fact of which companies within other lines of business are aware. This development is clear in the interview surveys within the framework of Nordic City Network. Many companies are focusing on visibility and location in an urban area with urban life where they are able to meet their customers. Contact with customers is not only of direct economic importance–several companies find that with better customer relations they are able to develop and ensure a constant product development because the contact with customers provides a sort of ‘reality check’. Consequently, it is important to create a framework for more informal or personal meetings with customers and for this purpose the public realm remains an important setting.

Examples: Danske Bank in Aalborg and Great Communications in Copenhagen Attention to the establishment of good customer relations is manifested by some companies in a complex location strategy in which different customers with different needs are identified.


This may have an effect on companies and spur them choose locations in different parts of the city. Danske Bank in Aalborg is an example hereof. The company has good accessibility to the regional customers of the bank with a location outside the city center and close to the motorway, while simultaneously maintaining a location in the city center where they can meet the daily chance customers. The same thinking applies to a communications company in Copenhagen, Great Communications, which has located both in scenic surroundings north of Copenhagen and within Copenhagen where it is possible to take customers to lunch, etc. Here, the economy plays an important part in connection with the strategy. The prices per square metre in the center are more expensive than in suburban areas, but it is considered important to be located in the city despite higher expenses. Another advertising company in Copenhagen, Reputation, is actively using their location in the public realm as a forum of communication for the company. Here, it is an exhibition which is meant to create attention to the earthquake in Japan in 2011 in connection with a fundraising campaign. (Photo:

Can location in the public realm contribute to a positive image for the company? Image and branding represent important conditions for many companies in order to achieve optimal effectiveness. Branding is a prerequisite to entering a desired market and for establishing the right collaborative relationships and developing a customer base. Part of a company´s branding is related to the location of the company in a certain public realm. Companies want to be associated with certain values and qualities which may potentially be obtained by locating in and becoming part of a specific public realm. For instance, they may wish to signal that they are of a contemporary ethos and thus locate in an urban development area which observes and attracts modern trends. In the area Nordvest (north-west) in Copenhagen, low rents have attracted a diverse range of creative industries which are attracted by a growing public realm with strong branding values. For the companies, it has resulted in a ‘local pride’ of having been part of changing an area which

Companies understand that they can play an active role in the public realm and contribute to urban life on the same level as other more conventional urban functions as cultural life, social activities and retail. They recognize that the public realm’s buildings, urban spaces and urban functions represent what may be called urban resources which potentially possess an economic value.

Example: SEB Bank in Copenhagen SEB on Kalvebod Brygge in Copenhagen is an example of a company which has used the public realm strategically as a location factor. The builtup area has generated an unusually high amount of media attention and thus created an increased interest in the SEB-brand. The headquarters of SEB Bank is situated on Kalvebod Brygge in Copenhagen. The landscape covers the parking and technical facilities of the built-up area giving pedestrians and cyclists access to the green park.

suffered for many years from a bad reputation. The interaction between the company and the public realm is not unidirectional, in which only the companies benefit in creating value for their company. Today, companies want to contribute to the public realm which they are a part of, and to achieve a relationship beneficial both to themselves and to others in the area. These companies are conscious of their particular responsibility to contribute to the public realm by providing a meeting place for different players.

SEB on Kalvebod Brygge in Copenhagen is an example of a company which has used the public realm strategically as a location factor. The built-up area has generated more than 500 mentions in the media and thus created an increased interest in the SEB-brand.

27 The company’s location strategy aimed to be as prominent and visible as possible in order to gain traction in the Danish banking market. Consequently, they chose (also in the interest of commuting employees) a site near the central station and the motorway while being close to the waterfront in order to benefit from its recreational possibilities. The manager of SEB Ejendomme (SEB Properties), Peter Mering, says: “In a situation with lack of labor it is important to be located in the city close to public transport, and that the headquarters will hold 220 parking spaces. There is a bus stop just outside the building and it only takes 10 minutes to get to the airport by taxi. Everything contributes to attract and retain a highly qualified staff” (Erhvervsbladet, 13 February 2008). The company finds that their existing building stock and brand have increased in value by this visibility and by the character and qualities of the public realm: “Furthermore, the building has become well-known due to a lot of activity going on around it which has nothing to do with SEB but it is still known as ‘The SEB Building’. Moreover, the tangible value creation has taken place due to the fact that it is possible to get into a taxi in Copenhagen Airport and ask to be driven to SEB Copenhagen without mentioning a more exact address and this is of more value than money can buy”, explains Peter Mering (Bygherreforeningen (the Danish Association of Construction Clients, DACC), 18 January 2012). On Universitetsholmen in Southern Sweden, the business incubator MINC has an open dining hall which acts as a magnet in the area. It brings together many different people who work in the area, such as those from the nearby Malmö Högskola (Malmö University). The dining hall contributes to create curiosity towards the different companies in MINC just as these companies can potentially establish important relations with the university, other institutions, and companies.

Can the public realm contribute to the economics of companies? The public realm can create value for companies not only by increasing the taxable value of their properties, but also by improving conditions for shared services with other companies which reduce operating costs such as that of energy, refuse disposal, office facilities, dining halls, and maintenance. There are numerous examples of this phenomenon in many different cities and often urban areas are branded as creative niches in the city which many companies want to buy into. Especially for smaller or newly established companies, a shared location may offer less expensive facilities, telephone service, dining hall, meeting facilities, etc. For more established companies, common facilities may meet temporary needs for more room or other facilities due to an expansion or a limited project to optimize the expenditures of the company. Many larger companies have a dining hall; this facility is an obvious open place to potentially use for meetings - not only for the employees of the company but also for the public. A dining hall may be open in the evening and thus contribute in giving back to the city by creating an active public realm at different hours of day and night.



Public realm COMPANY


Can the public realm provide for an extended network? Much literature focuses on the importance of education and research in developing and attracting knowledge-based companies. Among the literature mentioned Francisco Carillos’ Knowledge Cities. Approaches, Experiences and Perspectives (2005). Companies are increasingly dependent on knowledge and input from outside and cannot function independently of other companies and institutions. By being located in certain public realms, companies gain more immediate access to the knowledge they need. However, knowledge is not only a resource which can be obtained but also shared. According to Francisco Carillo, the public realm is like an ‘urban innovation generator’ which can sup-

Example: Silicon Roundabout in London During the past 10 years, a transformation has been carried out in the area around Old Street/ Shoreditch in Eastern London. The area is now called Silicon Roundabout/Tech City and exemplifies an industrial cluster development of computer and technology companies which cannot be described as a campus. In contrast to many other tech clusters, there are no direct links to the local universities here. Instead, a strong culture of knowledge sharing has been created - a space for self-training - which is based upon mutual support between the parties’ activity in the area. A significant driver of the area is an old transformed tea factory which offers flexible cheap office space, studios, a member organisation, restaurants and other mixed functions.

port knowledge sharing and innovation. A close integration between the traditional campuses, research areas, and business areas of the city is required. Examples of urban innovation generators are libraries, town halls, schools, museums, and other institutions which support meetings between employees and companies and which work as catalytic environments for knowledge sharing. Knowledge is thus much more than just research and institutions of higher education, which makes the challenge of creating public realms for knowledge sharing just as relevant in smaller provincial towns which may not offer a university or the like.

This map illustrates a number of technology companies located at Silicon Roundabout. Some of these companies are one-man businesses while others are departments of large established companies from Silicon Valley in California which choose this cluster as their European base. Map: Tech City


Can the creation of meeting places in the public realm strengthen both companies and urban life? Cities have traditionally been characterized by a strict division between public and private space, defined by property rights. This division has resulted in the perception of company headquarters belonging to a different sphere than the surrounding public space. This is now changing. Slowly, a shift of traditional property lines, new hybrid spaces, and meeting places is occurring. As this happens, the public space may profit much more from the life in adjacent buildings and companies may be inspired by the life of the public realm in return. These hybrid spaces are developed not the least by companies which see obvious advantages in opening themselves towards the outside world.


Example: Unilever, HafenCity Hamburg, Germany In Hamburg’s HafenCity, the company Unilever has established new headquarters which is an example of this tendency towards the creation of hybrid spaces. The whole ground floor is open and accessible to the public, created as an integrated part of the public space surrounding the building. The headquarters are strategically situated on the new waterfront and serve as a natural link between the city and the water.

The lobby of Unilever is used for public purposes, on this occasion a charity tennis match. Photo: Mark Max Henckel.

Can a stimulating public realm represent a financial gain for companies e.g. the taxable value of the property?

resist further investments in the quality of their

Whether investments in an attractive public

whether the roads instead must be prioritized to

realm may also result in an increase in value of company properties is a complex question. Among other things, this complexity derives from so-called externalities. When it appears from a case–such as around the Aarhus River (in Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city), where the urban environment was significantly improved and property value increased over 100% in two years–that the taxable value of the properties is increasing, it is rarely due to investments in the quality of the public space alone. Other factors include the general development of the property market, whether better parking conditions and better public transport are created in connection with the public realm, and that the local school provides better teaching for a number of years.

surrounding public realm while disregarding classic dilemmas such as whether customers have access to transportation to the address or be used by pedestrians and cyclists.

Example: Bryant Park in New York City The area surrounding Bryant Park in New York City is an example of how the development of an attractive and innovative public realm can bring people together in new ways. An active public space strategy has resulted not only in an increase in property values but also a considerable change in the industrial structure of the area. The area is now attracting an increasing number of creative and innovative companies which traditionally chose to be located in the Meatpacking District and similar urban areas according to the Bryant Park Association.

Such factors may be difficult to consider individually. More precise surveys depend on comprehensive sets of data beyond individual cases. Whether there are externalities or not, it may often be determined that urban areas with increasing taxable value of properties also are urban areas with relatively big investments in the public realm. While substantial surveys remain to be worked out, most experts in property markets will confirm that location is vital, and that companies will pay considerably for location. It is also rarely observed that companies

Bryant Park in Manhattan is a green breathing space which creates great value to the surrounding companies.

From questions to practice The nine questions introduced have been

In a national economic perspective, it is to a great

formulated as general areas of focus but they are

extent the small and medium-sized companies

particularly relevant to certain lines of business

which will represent growth in Denmark in

and types of companies.

the years ahead. Consequently, it is extremely relevant to understand and support special

Relevant corporate groups

needs in relation to the quality of the public

The interview surveys carried out indicate that

realm. However, this does not rule out that in

the greatest awareness of the public realm’s

larger companies a part of the organization, such

importance exists among companies working

as a finance or marketing department, would

in ideation, consultancy, culture, IT, media,

profit from a location in a stimulating public

learning, and experiences. In practice, it is these

realm. The following pages of the report present

kind of companies that benefit most from an

a number of proposals on superior topics which

urban location. Contrary to occupations such as

could be elaborated upon. In the descriptions

agriculture, retail trade, etc. these knowledge-

of the topics, a number of specific ideas and

based companies are not normally situated

examples are included.

locally. They are globally oriented and depend instead on different types of qualifications which

Relevant type of urban areas

may be found several places. They are dependent

The public realm may appear differently

on networking.

depending on the kind of urban area in question. The surveys carried out so far indicate that

In the category of knowledge-based companies,

knowledge-based companies which are most

the tendency is strongest among small

interested in making use of the public realm

companies (under 50 employees) which is

typically choose to locate in the following kinds

partially due to the fact that their limited size

of urban areas: interior urban areas (city centers),

allows for a location in an urban context.

former industrial and harbor areas, and new types of industrial cluster areas. In other words,

Many larger companies will have the same

the tendency towards new kinds of interaction

needs of knowledge sharing, networking, etc. in

between company and public realm are strongest

relation to their value creation, but they may face

in these kinds of urban areas. Consequently,

challenges finding premises of the right size in a

these urban areas also represent an obvious

dense urban context.

opportunity to experiment with and develop some of the principles and ideas presented.


Means & examples

Ideas for stimulating the public realm This chapter introduces 14 proposals of means for the connection between the public realm and the company, illustrated by specific examples of possible solutions.

A space for a break in the busy financial area of Finsbury Avenue Square, London, where employees can meet without obligation at some plain pieces of public space furniture. The square is also used for exercise and events, especially in the evening, when an advanced LED-system lights up the space and makes it useful after closing hours. (Photo: Broadgate Estates)





This chapter presents a number of specific proposed means to illustrate how the public realm may support the value creation of companies. The description of these means is based on knowledge of the company needs which has been generated through previous conducted interview surveys as well as literature studies concerning the topic.




The chapter is structured in the same manner as the previous chapter based on three factors: the employee, the company and the public realm. Within each of these factors, means are presented along with a number of specific ideas and examples of how these means can be used in practice. When selecting the means, ideas, and examples, it has been important to emphasize innovative initiatives related to urban

EMPLOYEE MENNESKET development and the practice of planning regulations as


we know them today. The means have been expressed in an imperative way as requests. Again, they should rather be read as proposals for further work rather than determined principles.







Means 1.1 Strengthen the employee network 1.2 Make the innovation space of the employee visible 2.1 Make the public realm a part of company strategy PUBLIC SPACE 2.2 Strengthen symbiosis with company surroundings

2.3 Move theURBAN company out into the public space KNOWLEDGE


2.4 Structure the company as a city



COMPANIES 2.5 Open up the company URBAN LIFE


2.6 Offer common facilities and shared location 2.7 Make space for knowledge sharing


3.1 Mix functions in the public realm 3.2 Mix housing and business for entrepreneurs KNOWLEDGE

3.3 Strengthen the input of knowledge PROFESSIONAL MEETINGS



3.4 Strengthen the flexibility of public meeting places 3.5 Create junctions as strategic public spaces for development and innovation



1 The Employee EMPLOYEE



A number of different factors

The knowledge and infor-

people–not only within the

are important in order to be

mation of employees is

physical limits of the company

able to perform optimally

generated during interaction

but also beyond them. The

when employed by a com-

with other players, therefore

aim is to support connections

pany. Overall, it is important

networking is increasingly

with small or large business

to focus on the employee as

important. In the following

potential and knowledge

employees represent the ‘raw

section, means are introduced

sharing between different

material’ of the company.

which focus on ‘employee

organizational functions and/or

networking’ and how to

geographical locations in the

strengthen the structure

public realm.

and development of the professional relations between

From a focus on the organization to a focus on the employees

Companies/management networking

Employees networking






Today, many companies may be referred to as

Make the innovation space of the employee visible

network organizations. Strategically, they have

In the knowledge-based company, work is

chosen not to possess all necessary assets within

typically organized more flexibly than in former

their own organization. Instead, processes

times of work in an office or at the assembly line.

and products are developed in interaction with

Flexible working hours, home workplaces, and

others. The networks of a company may be very

increased travel activity result in employees rais-

different–formal or informal, open or closed.

ing new demands of flexibility to the company.

A survey of these different networks–both in

More companies have realized this and allow

regards to the company and the individual em-

for a certain percentage of working hours to be

ployee–may be an important first step in order to

spent on activities outside the company. Google

activate and utilize the network in a better way.

is an example of a company which prioritizes the

A factor of networks which should be identified is

self-made innovation of employees. Here, the em-

where the different parties are located in the sur-

ployees must spend 20% of their working hours

rounding urban area. This will increase visibility

on ‘a personal project’. Thereby, the company

for all parties involved which might catalyze

allows personal innovation based on a strategy

possible cooperation in the immediate public

to benefit from the value this knowledge will

realm. Such a survey may also contribute to the

ultimately provide the company. The result of

establishment of mutual physical platforms

employees’ personal projects includes products

which could strengthen relations between the

like Gmail and Google News.

Strengthen the employee network

parties of the network.

Survey of the professional networks of an employee via LinkedIn. The individual color codes indicate the surface of contacts. (Source: Peter Nørregård, chief consultant of Rambøll Management Consulting via LinkedIn maps, www.

Googleplex in Mountain View, California. The company uses the public space as working space.





2 The company COMPANY


As described earlier, a clear

The mutually shared space

The fourth public space is the

development points in the

outside a company building

hybrid spaces which create

direction of more open

can increasingly be used as a

increased synergy and interac-

companies. This doesn’t mean

resource to the development

tion between companies and

that everything happening in

and value creation of the

the public. The aim is to gen-

the company is now acces-

company. This trend can be

erate development, innovation

sible to everybody, but many

summarized as the mean of

and general value creation

companies see the relevance

‘developing and strengthening

to the companies as they

of opening up towards the

the fourth public space’.

increasingly use other players

public. When this happens,

and facilities as resources for

traditional limits erode be-

development and growth.

tween the outdoor and indoor,


private and public.



The company may in some circumstances obtain impulses from the public realm and in potentially benefit from inviting the surroundings inside.








Make the public realm a part of company strategy

Strengthen symbiosis with company surroundings

The importance of the public realm to the value

Many companies are ‘invisible’ in the streets

creation of companies is only recognized to a

since they are situated behind introverted and

limited extent among managing directors. As a

non-communicative frontages. They may be

part of their corporate strategy, Sveriges Televi-

situated physically in an urban context but they

sion (Swedish Television, see under Cases) has a

are not present in the public space. This may be

specific section concerning location and how the

difficult to change since not all companies can be

company may make use of their location to allow

situated on the ground floor with good visibility

for value creation. Such awareness may contrib-

and contact to the users. Closed and unwelcom-

ute to a new important negotiation space for the

ing office buildings do not contribute to living

employees of the company in order for them to

public realms. Instead, they create a feeling

experience development together with other

that only people with a specific purpose have

people in the surrounding public realm. Such a

‘permission’ to go about the public space. On the

corporate strategy should include considerations

other hand, open, interesting and transparent

of how to make the public realm a resource for

frontages–especially with mixed functions on

employees in their day-to-day work as part of

the ground floor–may contribute to invite people

new relations and new ideas.

other than employees of the company to the area.

The IT consultancy company Abakion, which is situated on Østerbro in Copenhagen, has a work policy which includes public spaces in the company strategy. In 2011, Abakion was chosen as the third best workplace in Denmark by the international organization Great Places to Work which compares companies in 46 countries.

In Southbank, a regenerated district along the Thames in London, cultural institutions from museums, to theaters and libraries are all open to the public and integrated with other commercial functions such as such as restaurants. The concentration of activities has attracted more and more office and residential development to the neighborhood that also open up shared meeting spaces for employees/residents to interact with the public.


Move the company into the public realm

Structure the company as a city

Many small entrepreneurial businesses are in-

In order to strengthen possibilities of employees

visible in the urban landscape and thus represent

to share knowledge and collaborate, many

an untapped resource due to their great potential

companies work with new physical arrange-

value to other companies and any potential

ments. In recent years, many theories have been

users of the company’s products or services. In

developed about the most suitable interior office

addition, it is a problem for the entrepreneurial

design. Here, inspiration may be found in the

businesses themselves due to their dependence

city’s organization of streets and squares. The

on inclusion in informal networks consisting of

important thing is that employees leave their

business partners and their need for easy access

usual working routine and meet in new ways to

to potential customers. Not all companies are

exchange ideas–which may happen both inside

suitable for a location on the ground floor close

and outside the company.

to a street and many smaller creative companies are located in backyard premises. Backyards could become a much bigger part of the public space network. The backyard may work as a meeting place - not only for the employees of the company but also as a meeting space between the employees of the company, neighbours, potential customers, business partners, as well as the chance passerby. Thus, such semi-private public spaces may contribute to diversity and interaction.

Being located on the fourth floor, Gehl Architects is not part of the urban landscape but has received permission to arrange a temporary meeting space in the backyard in the summer. The employees benefit from this meeting space and it contributes to create activity in a backyard otherwise dominated by parking. Moreover, the initiative provides the opportunity for increased interaction with the other companies which adjoin the backyard and other chance passerbys–including the customers of Estate Coffee.

The office of Snöhetta in Oslo is an example of a new way to arrange a company with inspiration from the city. In this case, it is the agora where the employees can meet and make presentations and debate different subjects. Photo: Marte Johansen.

41 Open up the company In line with many companies’ increasing use of

a visitors’ center which must act as a connection

the city’s facilities, such as cafés and restaurants,

between basic school, upper secondary school

a tendency towards increased company trans-

and university, and strengthen the interaction

parency is emerging. These tendencies can be

between these in order to make more young

further strengthened by open lobbies with the

people consider scientific studies. The center is

purpose of inviting the surrounding world inside,

meant to attract new potential users to the area

thereby bringing the public into the company

in order to brand ‘the company’.

buildings. Conversely, this may contribute to bringing exposure of the company’s professional

The brewery Carlsberg is a company which has

work into the public space. In this way, new inter-

used this strategy for several years. Its visitors

esting hybrid spaces are created where transi-

center had 150,000 visitors in 2011. In future

tions between the outside and inside and private

years, it will be expanded to a new Brand &

and public are blurred and ground is prepared

Experience Center. The idea of the open company

for interesting connections between professional

has subsequently been transferred to the new

space and public space.

urban area Our City (on the previous Carlsberg property in Valby, Copenhagen) which includes

Of course, some companies still need a certain

an information center with exhibitions about the

degree of secrecy in order to secure working

future urban area as well as a number of tempo-

procedures and keep business secrets. Of course,

rary public spaces to attract new users to the old

some companies still need a degree of confi-

industrial estate.

dentiality, but this can be maintained without limiting the possibilities for public interaction in other areas of the company building or grounds. Another possibility of opening up the company is to establish experience centers, museums, or research centers in connection with the company in order to strengthen the knowledge of the brand, invite the public inside, and create new knowledge for the company. The future construction of office and laboratory buildings of the University of Copenhagen, called the Niels Bohr Science Park, will include

The creation of temporary urban areas on the Carlsberg property in Copenhagen is just one of the strategies which the company uses in order to create interaction with the surrounding city and to attract the public to the area of the company. Many smaller creative businesses have located in the area and use the temporary spaces for meetings etc.

Offer shared facilities and location Many companies and employees have a need to

In this way, the economic resources are used

meet the surrounding world and enter into both

more optimally by not leaving the premises

informal and formal networks where new prod-

empty. It creates potentially better economic

ucts can be developed and new partnerships can

conditions for the individual company and the

be established. Flexibility is a keyword to many

possibility of synergy between different kinds

present idea and knowledge-based companies.

of companies which may be situated next to

They must constantly adjust to new demands

one another but without real contact. It may be

and this means changing needs in relation to the

accomplished more traditionally by dividing

facilities that the company needs. This applies

the building into smaller units and renting out

especially for small start-up companies but also

facilities to different small companies in order

more established and larger companies. For this

for them to have the same location. At La Oficina

purpose, the shared office facilities may repre-

in Frederiksberg (Copenhagen), the employees of

sent an important element in an urban area.

the shared office facilities have the possibility of meeting other people and thus benefit from the opportunity to make new partnerships across companies and achieve an increased financial gain by shared location.

Information City in LillestrĂśm, Norway is an association of research centers, companies, and public authorities which have taken the initiative in establishing a number of common facilities in Kjeller, a research and business area a couple of kilometres outside the center of LillestrĂśm. It is especially necessary in this area which is situated outside the city center, but it also creates a feeling of community among the members of the organization.

La Oficina in Copenhagen is a shared working facility for private entrepreneurs and freelancers which combines the best from the shared office facilities, the cafĂŠ, and the members club.

43 Create space for knowledge sharing Beyond the establishment of shared premises, it

Knowledge sharing is frequently celebrated

is natural–not least in industrial cluster areas–to

but how can it be supported and stimulated to a

establish common facilities such as meeting

greater extent? Every individual company will

and conference facilities across companies.

have their own answer to this question.

The establishment of these facilities may meet completely basic needs among the employees of a

An important aspect of knowledge sharing is the

company in relation to accessibility and proxim-

creation of possibilities for knowledge sharing

ity to daily facilities, thereby making it easier to

across company limits. This may occur by arrang-

combine working life with family and leisure life.

ing debate events of different kinds where people

These shared facilities may include day-care cen-

from outside the company are invited to present

ters, sports clubs, etc. The facilities also provide

different topics. Another possibility is to include

the possibility of meeting across companies and

the public or clients directly in the product devel-

creating informal relations which may be of great

opment of the company in order to ensure a short

importance in the professional work–and thus

distance between the producer and the user

the value creation–of the company. A financial

because the market is generally characterized by

gain is also obtained through lower operating

shorter product cycles than previously.


Helsecampus (Health campus) in Trondheim, Norway, is a very good example of not just shared location but shared facilities. Within the same buildings, the premises available are being used in turns by the hospital, university and different companies working within the healthcare sector.

The advertising agency Parters & Spade in NoHO, New York City, is located in a ‘shop’ to make specific exhibitions in collaboration with their business partners and sell the articles which they are advertising. This creates a unique possibility to obtain new impulses and direct user contact.




3 The Public Realm


Here, we examine how the

The public realm must be

The following examples focus

public realm and the public

recognized as a working space

on the public realm as ‘an edu-

spaces serving the public may

which may contribute to the

cational landscape’. They are

represent potential for the

creation of ideas, creativity

about establishing the public

value creation of companies.

and learning. In this regard,

domain as a space for knowl-

The section is about how the

public institutions are playing

edge sharing and inspiration

public realm and its public

an important role as examples

where the public spaces and

spaces can contribute to creat-

since many are open to the

institutions become platforms

ing junctions where people

public and may support this

for idea generation.

meet rather than spread.

through visibility in the public realm.



DYNAMISM/ In the future, the public space will increasingly be characterized FLEXIBILITY by meetings between different interests which each contribute to creating an environment that encourages interaction.


45 Mix the functions of the public realm

Mix housing and business for entrepreneurs

As previously described, the development of

These means are primarily for creating increased

industrial cluster areas and campus areas rep-

visibility for small companies and especially

resents an important competitive parameter of

small entrepreneurial businesses. They often

which many cities are aware. Knowledge sharing

consist of one or two persons who do not neces-

across these players as it is found in a cluster or

sarily have independent business facilities but

on a campus is dependent on connecting links

work from home.

which invite and encourage interaction. It is thus about integration of industrial cluster areas and

In this arrangement, they are not an integrated

campus areas in the public realm. It demands ac-

part of the public realm and are thus missing

cessibility in the area with connections–not just

out on important contacts with the surrounding

for cars but also for cyclists and pedestrians–be-

world–with both customers and business part-

tween different companies and between the com-

ners –which may help to improve the economy

panies and the different urban functions in the

and contribute to the development of new

area. Furthermore, proximity must be created

products or services. By eroding the clear distinc-

between different existing functions, potentially

tion between business and housing and creating

by creating so-called ‘mosaic planning’ where

new hybrid conditions, small entrepreneurial

both small and large companies are located close

businesses can use and contribute to the creation

to each other.

of an educational public realm to a greater extent.

RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. An integrated campus in the city center.

The so-called ‘Bokalerne’ in the buildings Rosengården of Malmö, Sweden, is a good example of the clear distinction between housing and business being eroded by building extensions to the existing housing blocks with shops and other businesses in immediate connection to the houses. Photo: MKB.

Strengthen the input of knowledge

Offer flexible public meeting places

The city often holds untapped knowledge re-

To prepare the ground for interaction between

sources which may be an active part of an edu-

different kinds of people in a way that may con-

cational public realm. It may be schools, other

tribute to learning and innovation, it is important

educational institutions, or a library. It is about

to have different kinds of public spaces. Among

making the knowledge possessed by these insti-

other things, this requires different degrees of

tutions accessible to companies which demands

flexibility which allow that employees use the

a new mode of thinking and the development of

public space as a working space, that people

new hybrid ‘knowledge hubs’/knowledge cen-

meet and exchange ideas, and that a larger group

ters. Such ‘knowledge hubs’ may - if they are used

gathers in a professional relationship. These

- raise new kinds of questions to the companies

different kinds of publicity must not necessarily

in order for them to develop. It may happen by

be arranged and designed beforehand but can be

involving schoolchildren and upper secondary

created on the basis of a flexible framework. The

schools in work concerning development and

meeting places must be able to work as alterna-

communication. In other words, it is not just

tive working spaces outside the company where

about input of knowledge but also about creating

it is possible to meet with customers and busi-

the basis for development and innovation.

ness partners on ‘neutral ground’.

Idea Store in the eastern part of London is an example of a new kind of hybrid based on the traditional library, but also houses different kinds of supplementary training for uneducated people as well as leisure courses. Furthermore, Idea Store distinguishes itself through integration in the public realm via a large open entrance to the street and direct entrance from a supermarket inside the building. It invites many kinds of people inside. Photo: George Rex

Harvard Yard (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) represents a flexible public space with movable chairs, which makes it possible to arrange them in different kinds of areas.

47 Create junctions as strategic public spaces for development and innovation A precursor to the knowledge-based society is an

In a similar way, car-pooling in private cars may

increase in the specialization of the workforce.

also have the potential to establish and use

This trend has the side effect of longer commutes

networks and knowledge sharing. In Washington

between employees’ home and the company.

DC in the USA, a phenomenon called ‘slugging’

The tendency is particularly noticeable near

has been created due to rules trying to limit the

the major cities. In Vallensbæk, Denmark (a

number of private cars with only one person on

suburb of Copenhagen), only 15% of the employed

the motorways. Here, private individuals–per-

work within the municipal boundary, while

sons who don’t know each other beforehand–

44% of all employed persons in Denmark are

drive together to and from work in an organized

classified as commuters. (Source: Danmarks

way. This has reduced traffic noticeably and

Statistik,Denmark’s Statistics Office).

participating persons say they save 30 minutes per day on average with the arrangement–but

The railway station is often reduced to a

valuable new relationships are also created.

junction, but it represents an important strategic public realm with so many people passing through every day. This role as junction can be strengthened order for the railway station to become an attractive public space in the development of an educational public realm. This may happen by adding other functions to the railway area which invite people to not just rush through the railway station, but to stay for a while and thus transform it into a meeting space. One hybrid space within the public realm for commuters is ‘the rolling public spaces’ in express buses and trains where employees can work in meeting rooms and at computers with a good internet connection. Google in Sillicon Valley uses this opportunity between San Francisco and their headquarters Googleplex, situated approximately 65 kilometres from the city.

The central junction of Kassel Hauptbahnhof (Kassel Central Station, Germany) is an important indoor public space after the transformation of the station in 1995 to ‘Kulturbahnhof’ (Culture Railway Station). Here, traffic is combined with cultural experiences as galleries and exhibitions, center of architecture, two cinemas and a theatre.


Norrköping, Sweden: Public Realm–Industrilandskapet Company–STV (Swedish Television) Employees–Tyréens


Urban district as educational landscape Industrilandskapet in Norrköping, Sweden EMPLOYEE



Norrköping, Sweden, previously held large and

was built. ‘Louis de Geer’ was a huge gamble but

important industries within the manufactur-

today represents an important entrance to the

ing of textile and paper. As in many other cities

area. The concert hall is also used for concerts

around the world, this has changed and the city

and events and houses a restaurant which is open

has been transformed remarkably since the end

outside concert hours. Some of the old industrial

of the 20th century.

buildings have also been appointed museums– Arbetets Museum (working-class museum) and

A central component of this development is a

Stadsmuseet (city museum).

part of a city called Industrilandskapet (meaning the industrial landscape). This urban area is in

Today, the area is distinguished by a mix of uni-

immediate proximity to the center of the city and

versity, a science park, an exhibition and event

is characterized by a beautiful landscape and the

place (Värmekyrkan), a company incubator, and

river Motala Ström (also known as Strömmen)

a number of small companies. Combined with the

which runs through the area where many old in-

number of cultural institutions, it results in many

dustrial buildings of high architectural value are

different people in the area which is supported

situated. When the industrial firms closed and

by attractive promenade connections along the

the area depopulated, a process to redefine the

river, interesting new public spaces (as Skvaller-

area began. Perhaps the most important decision

torget - the Skvaller Square) and a small park at

was to build a department of Linköping Univer-

the university. The efforts are meant to make the

sity in this area. The university has acted as a

area open and accomodating despite the often

magnet for other kinds of companies and institu-

closed old industrial buildings. One example is

tions. Today, the area is the biggest concentration

Strykbrädan which houses Norrköping Science

of knowledge-based companies in the region.

Park and the company incubator LEAD. On the ground floor, Coffice (Coffee + Office) is situated for

Another important driving force behind the

those who need an informal and creative work-

development of the area is the many cultural

ing environment as well as restaurant on the

investments. By establishing different cultural

ground floor which attracts people to the area.

institutions in Industrilandskapet, an area has opened up which previously appeared to be very

Industrilandskapet is characterized by incessant

introverted to those who were not working there.

development where new initiatives are constant-

The first step was taken when a new concert hall

ly being developed.


An example is the large-scale Visualiserings-

center houses a cinema, an exhibition site, and a

center C (Visualization Center C), which opened

restaurant which is open to both the employees

in 2010 and provides a meeting place centered

of the center (such as university researchers

on visualization technology. It is the result of a

and students) as well as other visitors. Thus, the

partnership between Linköping University, Nor-

center covers the urban community of Norr-

rköping municipality, Norrköping Science Park,

köping broadly and works as a facilitator for new

and Interactive Institute. Today, the Visualiza-

types of collaboration between the private sector,

tion Center C works as a very interesting hybrid

research, and education.

between art and science. The center has close relations to the visualization research depart-

All of this helps to attract many different new

ments of the university and aims to communicate

companies–and other players–to the area.

different aspects of visualization (technology)

Each contributes to develop the area and gener-

to the general public. Among other things, the

ate increased value as the driver for the city’s development.

Industrilandskapet is situated in production buildings previously used for manufacturing textiles, weapons, paper, and electronics. Today, primarily knowledge-based companies are situated in the area.

The company as a player in the Public Realm SVT




SVT is the national television station in Sweden

by what is going on outside the company, and

and is located in different parts of the country,

where the general public can have an insight into

including Norrköping. The location here and

their work and may express their opinion about

more precisely in Industrilandskapet is by no

it. In other words, it is important to STV to show

means accidental but rather a manifestation of a

their merit by demonstrating their actual value to

very conscious strategy by the television station.

a general public. • Between urban area and building level: STV

SVT is founded on values of accessibility, visibil-

has chosen a shared location with SR (Sveriges

ity, proximity, and accommodation. These values

Radio - Swedish Radio) in order to gain synergy

not only affect the employees of the company but

between the two institutions.

the overall organisational strategy of the com-

• Building level: STV has been strategic in the

pany. SVT has recently dealt with the question

attempt to transform their values to the way they

of location when the company moved into new

are physically present. This is taking place by

facilities in Industrilandskapet in 2010.

the establishment of an open ground floor where editorial meetings are held. The aim is that

The strategic considerations relate to different

the meetings should give a sense of openness


towards the public and that STV becomes a sort of

• Regionally: STV has chosen to locate in

‘speakers’ corner’–a place for discussion among

Norrköping in order to be located centrally

many different kinds of people.

in Sweden and thus comply with the aim of proximity for the majority and to be an accessible

STV is an example of how the key task and values


of companies can be closely connected to loca-

• Urban area level: Industrilandskapet was

tion. For STV, the public realm becomes a means

chosen because STV had the opportunity to

to fulfill the vision of the company.

locate in an urban area close to a university. Their location in the city center was also chosen to increase the organization’s prominence and visibility. The wish to locate in the center is in accordance with the community role of STV. Their aim is to have a close relationship with the surrounding society where they can be inspired


STV is situated along the river in Industrilandskapet.

The innovative employee The perspective of the employee:

Manager of Tyréns in Norrköping


Tyréns is a consultancy company involved in construction from a social perspective. The company moved into the premises of Industrilandskapet in Norrköping a few years ago in the midst of the university, a large number of innovative companies, exhibition centers and cultural institutions. The purpose was partly to create a more attractive workplace and partly to be located in an innovative environment in order to obtain inspiration and possibilities for collaboration. The employees of the company solve a number of cross-functional tasks for customers through extensive collaboration with other companies situated within the same part of the city. Thereby, a number of practical networks are established between employees of different companies resulting in more practice and culture in connection with networking. The employee interviewed describes this network as a new kind of company which connects the employees across the companies and institutions in all directions and thereby establishes an urban network organization with its own dynamism and a way of life and working culture which reflects this new reality and approach to collaboration. The surrounding city and environment seems inspiring for the employees as a place for reflection and absorption amidst the working day.




Johanna Grander, employee of TyrĂŠns

The informal meeting may result in new customers窶天esterbro, Copenhagen

A general outlook The starting point of this report is that the relationship between the value creation of companies and the public realm is not fully documented in regards to the importance of the city as a whole or the internal arrangement of the company. The report has discussed a number of questions and suggested means illustrated through case studies and examples. The report is more a beginning than an end, but it suggests that the public realm may be of great importance to the value creation of companies. It is hoped that this publication may be of inspiration to further work and increase the attention to this not-yet-fullydocumented subject. The report is an invitation to a number of considerations and further


2. The disclosure of the process and the players The report discloses the subject as relevant to a number of players but it does not indicate how this collaboration should be established with descriptions of responsibility, conditions of ownership, systematic problems, cultural standards, processes, etc. There are strong indications that a number of truly committed partners are needed in order to run this collaboration–especially in newly established urban areas. It is a relevant area of priority to be elaborated upon in order to obtain deeper understanding and experience in both user dialogue and process management.

elaboration on the subject.

3. New demands for the physical environment

1. The need to develop more knowledge

The interaction between the company and the

There is a need to qualify knowledge within the subject–preferably in the form of collaborations across disciplines such as in different academic professional groups and in partnerships between companies and research centers. This report shows that much knowledge about the subject (and good solutions) must be found across traditional demarcations.

public realm may have an influence on both the types of business and the different kinds of public realms. The programming of activities, arrangement of functions, the design of the ground floor, zones of security, etc. all affect the meeting between the company and the public realm. There is a need for increased knowledge of the relevant parameters of design, such as tool sets, concepts of design for the spatial, physical, and material designing of a stimulating public realm as well as the transition between building and public realm.

Interview surveys: summarizing table Industry (number)

Finance/insurance (4)

Property/ construction (3)

Creative companies culture/media (4)

Cultural institutions/ media (6)

Location (number)

City center (3)

City center (1)

City center (2)

City center (3)

Location (by type of area) for the respondents in this survey.

Previous industrial area (1)

Previous industrial area (2)

Previous industrial area (2)

Previous industrial area (3)

Use of the city

• Prestige, visibility • Balanced location strategy–consider the different needs of different customers

• Profiling through location • Location as part of company values regarding innovation • Not conscious (real estate agent)


• A large number of customers regionally • Traditional cluster thinking in concern with being close to other banks

• Customers (found both locally and nationally)

• Other media companies locally, nationally and internationally • Networking primarily in the capital • Networking managed by customers • Customers all over the world (few local networks but a wish to be more engaged in it)

• Citizens in the city • Would like to have a facilitating role between groups–citizens and entrepreneurial environments (student center)

Demands to/off the City

• Good interaction between ground floor and public realm • Traffic accessibility

• Conscious of the importance of the ground floor but sees a challenge in beginning early as well as broad plans being a challenge

• Physical proximity: education, political management and business life • Culture for distribution of information is important • Diversity in the city • Environments providing inspiration - new hybrid spaces • Less commercial meeting places • Important to have a university environment– new knowledge and ideas

• Urbanity demands densely built-up areas • Focus on inviting public realm which may contribute to synergy guiding people • Incentive to stay in the public realm • Transparency and not isolation in the public realm

• Support the vision of the company • Part of the branding strategy • Use the landscape & cafés • Informal work meetings/ business meetings • The city is important to the employees, a place for inspiration (surprises) and innovation • Location–a conscious choice supporting the identity of the company– peace and transparency simultaneously (a building which people can enter while remaining in the city)

• Use the whole city as a workplace–be in the center of interest and where people are in order to follow the trends. A need for contact with society–transparency • Contribute considerably to the city–reach out and act as an urban living room, a meeting place


Knowledge/production (2)

Computer/IT (4)

Research institution (1)

Consultancy (2)

Educational institutions (3)

Industrial area (1)

City center/peripheral region (1)

Cluster/campus (1)

Cluster/campus (1)

Previous industrial area (3)

Cluster/campus (2)

Previous industrial area (1) Peripheral region (1)


Previous industrial area (2)


• An attractive public realm for the employees– and is thus considered an economic factor


• Location in order to retain employees

• See themselves as a strong urban capacity which contributes to urban activity • The historical issue in the area is a source of inspiration • Location is essential to they kind of educational institution they want to be • Use of the local area in connection with project work by students • Shared location is necessary in order to generate the possibilities for the their students






• Marketing of the city • Reduce the mental distance between campus area and the city center in order to profit from the city development which has taken place and in particular how Kjeller represents in Norway

• Proximity to transport and urban pleasures (would like to pay more)

• Marketing of the city • Reduce the mental distance between campus area and the city center in order to profit from the city development which has taken place and in particular how Kjeller represents in Norway

• Traffic and parking are important factors • Attractive urban life in the center with restaurants and shops

• Transparency in buildings indicating the right thing to do when creating connections and inviting others • Need of open meeting places with space for surprises which may generate new kinds of meetings

Campus as center of city development Malmรถ Hรถgskola (Malmรถ University), Dockan, Malmรถ, Sweden

Suggestions for Further Reading Bakke, John Willy (ed.): A Nordic Guide to Work-

Hansen, Høgni Kalsø: The Urban Turn – and the

place Design. Nordic Innovation Center, 2007.

location of economic activities. Lund Universitet, 2008.

Campbell, John L. ; Ove K. Pedersen: Institutional competitiveness in the global

Hansen, HK & Winther, L: The Urban Turn:

economy : Denmark, the United States, and the

Cities, Talent and Knowledge in Denmark.

varieties of capitalism, 2007.

Aarhus Universitetsforlag, 2012.

Carillo, Francisco (ed.): Knowledge Cities. Ap-

Jacobs, Jane: The Death and Life of Great Ameri-

proaches, Experiences and Perspectives. Taylor

can Cities, 1961.

& Francis Ltd, 2005. Jacobs, Jane: The Economy of Cities, 1970. Florida, Richard: The Rise of the Creative Class. 2002.

Kayden, Jerold: Privately Owned Public Space : The New York City Experience, 2000.

Florida, Richard: Who’s Your City? 2008. OECD: Growth Follow-Up: Micro-Policies for Gehl, Jan: Cities for People, Island Press, 2010.

Growth and Productivity, 2001.

Gehl, Jan: Life Between Buildings, 1987.

Schittich, Christian: Work Environments. Actarbirkhauser. 2012.

Glaeser, Edward: Triumph of the city. How Our Greatest Inventions Make Us Richer, Smarter,

Whyte, William: City: Rediscovering the Center,

Greener, Healthier and Happier.


Pan MacMillan, 2012. Hansen, HK , Vang, J & Asheim, BT: The European Creative Class and Regional Development, 2009.


Public realm and company value creation  

The report is based on the three fundamental factors: the employee, the company and the public realm. The report discusses nine questions an...

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