Charles Landry

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Charles Landry
Charles Landry in July 2011
Charles Landry in July 2011
United Kingdom
OccupationWriter, urban planner
SubjectUrban planning
Literary movementComedia
Notable worksThe Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators

Charles Landry (born July 1, 1948) is an author, speaker and international adviser on the future of cities best known for popularising the Creative City concept. His book The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators became a movement to rethink the planning, development and management of cities.[1] He has chaired multiple urban innovation juries including The European Capital of Innovation Award – iCapital, New Innovations in the Creative Economy (N.I.C.E.) and Actors for Urban Change.[2] He is a fellow of The Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin.[3]

He is credited for his attempt to rethink city making through his work on intercultural cities, the psychology of cities, creative bureaucracies and the measurement of creativity in cities – the latter developed with Bilbao and now assessed through in-depth studies of 25 cities.[4][5][6] Previously he founded the think tank Comedia in 1978, which pioneered the connection between culture, creativity and city transformation.[7]

Early life[edit]

Charles Landry was born in 1948 and brought up and educated in Britain, Germany and Italy. Landry was born in London to German parents who had escaped from the Nazis. His father Harald was a philosopher and Nietzsche specialist and his mother an artist. He was educated at the Nymphenburger Gymnasium in Munich, Keele University in Staffordshire and Johns Hopkins in Bologna where he was assistant to Lord Robert Skidelsky. His dissertation was on problems of post-industrial society.[1]


Landry was assistant to Lord Kennet, a former Labour government minister, on the Europe Plus Thirty an EEC study on forecasting (1973-1974) commissioned by Lord Ralf Dahrendorf.[8] With colleagues he started Publications Distribution Co-Op in 1975, a company focused on distributing alternative literature and media for the then burgeoning system of non-mainstream publishers and bookshops.[9] In parallel he was a specialist bookseller focusing on radical publications.[10]

In 1978 he founded Comedia, a think tank, publisher and consultancy. Comedia undertook much of the early work highlighting the importance of cultural resources as well as a methodological framework and evidence for what is now known as the creative economy, formerly cultural industries. Its publishing programme provided some of the intellectual backdrop to the emergence of cultural studies, involving authors such as Dave Morley, Ken Worpole, Geoff Mulgan.[7] The provocative What a way to run a Railroad: An Analysis of Radical Failure (1985) assessed how the high failure rate of radical projects could be understood.[11] Subsequently, Landry was criticized as being ‘a left wing Thatcherite’.[12] Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, a changing group of people developed projects concerned with urban life, culture and creativity and the future of cities including also Franco Bianchini, Phil Wood, Sir Peter Hall, Jude Bloomfield and Naseem Khan. After producing more than 100 books Comedia publishing was sold to Routledge in 1988. Initially Comedia's publishing wing was most well known for research and projects on the future of cities. Later Comedia's research became better known with long term projects including The Creative City,[13] Culture at the Crossroads,[14] The Art of Regeneration,[15] Richness of Cities,[16] and Creativity at the Heart of Culture.[17][7]

Outlook and concepts[edit]

Charles Landry's focus shifted in 1986 towards the concept of "the creative city", a term he coined in response to the dramatic economic and social changes happening at that time. He argues that in such changing circumstances creativity at every level is required to address and adapt appropriately. He posits that conditions need to be created for people to think, plan and act with imagination in harnessing opportunities or addressing seemingly intractable urban problems. This means a city needs to embed a culture of creativity in the way it operates and to infuse how all of its organisations operate. Initially there was a focus on the contribution of the arts and the creative industries in driving innovation in cities and helping to make them distinctive. Increasingly he has focused on civic creativity and emphasised how the organizational culture needs to change to unleash the potential, resources and assets of a city. Traditional hierarchical structures restrict ideas generation and rethinking.[13] This has been elaborated in his work on the Creative Bureaucracy.[18] He contrasts the urban engineering approach to cities with creative city making. In the former there is a focus on the physical infrastructure or the hardware of the city, in the latter equal attention is paid to both hardware and software issues. Software is the human dynamics of a place, its connections and relationships as well as atmosphere.[19] The publication of the John Howkins' book The Creative Economy (2001) and Richard Florida's The Rise of the Creative Class (2002) gave the creativity cities movement added popularity.[20]

In his follow up book, The Art of City Making (2006) he discusses "the sensory landscape of cities" and how creativity needs to change its focus and be linked to an ethical foundation.[21] This he calls being creative "for the world" so cities give something back to the wider community. He argues that the popularity of the term "creativity" is in danger of hollowing out the concept and making it meaningless. A main focus of creativity should be on addressing global issues and behavioural issues such as climate change or the balance between rich and poor. In addition a role of creativity is to help make cities more distinctive given the danger of homogeneity and global branding.[22]

Work with his colleague Phil Wood has focused on the idea of The Intercultural City (2008).[23] This looks at how diversity in cities can become an advantage and whether diversity can lead to innovation and wealth creation. Interculturalism goes beyond equal opportunities and respect for existing cultural differences, to the pluralist transformation of public space, institutions and civic culture.[24] His overall aim has been to shift the intellectual architecture for city making. A series of short books have extended this concern, such as The Sensory Landscape of Cities,[25] Culture & Commerce,[26] The Fragile City,[27] Cities of Ambition,[28] The Digitized City,[29] Psychology & the City.[30] The Civic City in a Nomadic World[31] (2017) focuses on where we belong when everything is on the move and how we create places of encounter and empathy.[32]

In 2008 he developed The Creative Cities Index with Jonathan Hyams in collaboration with Bilbao.[33] This assesses cities in terms of their comprehensive creativity economically, socially and culturally along four clusters: their capacity to nurture potential, the regulatory and incentives regime, the ability to harness and exploit creativity and the lived experience of place.[34] The danger of the creativity agenda is that it too narrowly conceived and becomes hollowed out. His latest work emphasizes the need for civic creativity which is imaginative problem-solving applied to public good objectives.[35]


  • The Civic City in a Nomadic World (2017)[36]
  • The Creative Bureaucracy & its radical common sense with Margie Caust (2017)[37]
  • Psychology and the City (2017) with Chris Murray[30]
  • The Digitized City (2016)[38]
  • Cities of Ambition (2015)[39]
  • The Fragile City & the Risk Nexus (2014) with Tom Burke[40]
  • Culture & Commerce (2013)[41]
  • The Creative City Index (2013) with Jonathan Hyams[42]
  • The Sensory Landscape of Cities (2012)[43]
  • The Origins & Futures of the Creative City (2012)[44]
  • The Intercultural City: Planning for Diversity Advantage (2007) with Phil Wood[45]
  • The Art of City Making (2006)[46]
  • The Creative City: A toolkit for urban innovators (2000)[47]
  • The Creative City in Britain & Germany (1996) with Franco Bianchini & Ralph Ebert[48]
  • The Other Invisible Hand with Geoff Mulgan (1995)[49]
  • Libraries in a world of cultural change (1995) with Liz Greenhalgh & Ken Worpole[50]
  • The Creative City with Franco Bianchini (1994)[51]
  • Borrowed time? :the future of public libraries in the UK (1993)[52]
  • What a way to run a railroad: An analysis of radical failure (1985) with Dave Morley, Russell Southwood, Patrick Wright[53]
  • Here is the Other News: Challenges to the Local Commercial Press (1980) with Crispin Aubrey and Dave Morley[54]
  • Where is the Other News: The Newstrade & the Radical Press (1980)[55]
  • The Other Secret Service: Press distributors & press censorship (1980) with Liz Cooper and Dave Berry[56]


  1. ^ a b Helgesen, Sally. "Charles Landry Knows What Makes Cities Great: Distinction, Variety, and Flow". strategy+business. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  2. ^ FiLMPRODUKTiON, WiTJA (16 June 2015). "Keynote: Charles Landry - Actors of Urban Change". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  3. ^ Stiftung, Robert Bosch. "Robert Bosch Academy - Charles Landry". (in German). Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  4. ^ Landry, Charles (2018). The Civic City in a Nomadic World. Nai010 Publishers. ISBN 9789462083721.
  5. ^ Landry, Charles; Caust, Margie (2017). The Creative Bureaucracy & its Radical Common Sense. Comedia. ISBN 9781908777089.
  6. ^ Landry, Charles; Murray, Chris (2017). Psychology and the City: The Hidden Dimension. Comedia Publications Limited. ISBN 9781908777072.
  7. ^ a b c "Comedia: Thinking about creative cities". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  8. ^ Communities, Commission of the European (1976). The Futures of Europe. preface: Cambridge University Press. pp. 11–12. ISBN 9780521213264.
  9. ^ Atton, Chris (2002). Alternative media. SAGE. p. 7. ISBN 9780761967705. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  10. ^ "Charles Landry". The Conversation. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  11. ^ Landry, Charles (1985). What a way to run a railroad: an analysis of radical failure. Comedia Pub. Group. ISBN 9780906890806.
  12. ^ Body-Gendrot, Sophie; Carré, Jacques; Garbaye, Romain (2008). A City of One's Own: Blurring the Boundaries Between Private and Public. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 205. ISBN 9780754675020.
  13. ^ a b Landry, Charles; Bianchini, Franco. "The creative city" (PDF). Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Culture at the crossroads". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  15. ^ "The art of regeneration: urban renewal through cultural activity". JRF. 1 March 1996. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  16. ^ "Talking cities". Creative Cities. 2 April 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  17. ^ "Think tank: Cultural diversity breeds creativity". the Guardian. 23 February 2005. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  18. ^ "Creative Bureaucracy". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  19. ^ Carla F. Reis, Ana; Kageyama, Peter; Urani, André; Lerner, Jaime; Landry, Charles; Howkins, John; Wills, Anamaria; Pardo, Jordi; Strickland, Bill; Verhagen, Evert; Kalisch Rotem, Einat; Iversen, Lisbeth; Borges Martins, Rolando; Bertacchini, Enrico; Lin, Charles; Bonnin, Jean-Louis; Melguizo, Jorge; Joffe, Avril (1 January 2009). "Creative City Perspectives". Research Gate. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  20. ^ "The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited". CityLab. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  21. ^ Landry, Charles (2006). The Art of City Making (1st ed.). Routledge. ISBN 9781844072453.
  22. ^ "Debates 2011 – Investing in Culture – Charles Landry, the art of city making Forum d'Avignon". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  23. ^ Landry, Charles; Wood, Phil (2012). The Intercultural City: Planning for Diversity Advantage. Earthscan. ISBN 9781849773089.
  24. ^ "The origins of the intercultural city concept". Intercultural cities programme. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  25. ^ Landry, Charles (2012). The Sensory Landscape of Cities: Comedia 02. Comedia Publications Limited. ISBN 9781908777010.
  26. ^ Landry, Charles. "Culture & Commerce: The Royal Academy & Mayfair" (PDF). Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  27. ^ Landry, Charles; Burke, Tom. "The Fragile City & The Risk Nexus" (PDF). Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  28. ^ "Cities of Ambition, Charles Landry". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  29. ^ "The Digitized City – The book Charles Landry". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  30. ^ a b Landry, Charles; Murray, Chris (2017). Psychology & the City: The Hidden Dimension (Illustrated ed.). Comedia. ISBN 9781908777072.
  31. ^ Landry, Charles (2017). The Civic City in a Nomadic World. NAI010 Publishers. ISBN 9789462083721.
  32. ^ "Charles Landry presents:The Civic City". Pakhuis de Zwijger. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  33. ^ "Creative City Index: measuring cities' abilities and potential « Cross Innovation". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  34. ^ Landry, Charles; Hyams, Jonathan (2012). The Creative City Index: Measuring the Pulse of the City. Comedia Publications Limited. ISBN 9781908777027.
  35. ^ E, Renz. "Business Models and the Creative City" (PDF). HVA. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  36. ^ Landry, Charles (2017). The Civic City in a Nomadic World. nai010 publishers. ISBN 9789462083882.
  37. ^ Depository, Book (2017). The Creative Bureaucracy & its Radical Common Sense : Charles Landry : 9781908777089. ISBN 978-1-908777-08-9.
  38. ^ Landry, Charles (2016). The Digitized City : Influence & Impact 2016. Comedia. ISBN 9781908777065.
  39. ^ Landry, Charles (2015). Cities of Ambition. Comedia. ISBN 9781908777058.
  40. ^ Landry, Charles; Burke, Tom (2014). The Fragile City & the Risk Nexus. Comedia. ISBN 9781908777041.
  41. ^ Landry, Charles (2013). Culture & commerce : the Royal Academy & Mayfair. near Stroud: Comedia. ISBN 978-1-908777-03-4.
  42. ^ Landry, Charles; Hyams, Jonathan (2012). The Creative City Index: Measuring the Pulse of the City. Comedia. ISBN 9781908777027.
  43. ^ The sensory landscape of cities. Comedia. 2012. ISBN 978-1-908777-01-0.
  44. ^ The origins & futures of the Creative City . Comedia. 2012. ISBN 978-1-908777-00-3.
  45. ^ Wood, Phil; Landry, Charles (2008). The intercultural city : planning for diversity advantage (Repr. ed.). London: Earthscan. ISBN 1844074366.
  46. ^ Landry, Charles (2007). The art of city-making (Reprint. ed.). London [u.a.]: Earthscan. ISBN 1844072452.
  47. ^ Landry, Charles (2001). The creative city a toolkit for urban innovators (Repr. ed.). London: Earthscan [u.a.] ISBN 1853836133.
  48. ^ al.], Charles Landry... [et (1995). The creative city in Britain and Germany. London: Anglo-German Foundation for the Study of Industrial Society. ISBN 0905492935.
  49. ^ Mulgan, Geoff; Landry, Charles (1995). The other invisible hand : remaking charity for the 21st century. London: Demos. ISBN 9781898309819.
  50. ^ Landry, Liz Grennhalgh & Ken Worpole with Charles (1995). Libraries in a world of cultural change (1. publ. ed.). London: UCL Press. ISBN 1857284690.
  51. ^ Bianchini, Charles Landry and Franco (1995). The Creative City by C. Landry & F. Bianchini (First ed.). Demos in Association with Comedia.
  52. ^ Borrowed time? : the future of public libraries in the UK. Bournes Green, Gloucestershire [England]: Comedia. 1993. ISBN 1873667450.
  53. ^ al.], Charles Landry ... [et (1985). What a way to run a railroad : an analysis of radical failure. London: Comedia Pub. Group. ISBN 0906890802.
  54. ^ Here is the other news : challenges to the local commercial press. London: Minority Press Group. 1980. ISBN 0906890004.
  55. ^ Berry, Dave; Landry, Charles; Cooper, Liz (1980). Where is the other news? : the newstrade & the radical press. London : 9 Poland St., W1V 3DG : Minority Press Group. ISBN 0906890012.
  56. ^ Cooper, Liz; Landry, Charles; Berry, Dave (1980). The other secret service : press distributors & press censorship. London (9 Poland St., W1V 3DG) : Minority Press Group ; Hadleigh : Campaign for Press Freedom. ISBN 0906890152.

External links[edit]