Creative industries and cultural tourism can become strategic assets for big cities. Globally, some of them are deliberately developing cultural zones. Examples include the Zorlu Center near Istanbul, Odaiba in Tokyo, West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong, NDSM in Amsterdam and Stratford City Development in London.
Bilbao, in Spain’s Basque Country, is now an icon of culture-led urban regeneration, with the Guggenheim Museum. One of the most admired works of contemporary architecture, the building has been hailed as a “signal moment in the architectural culture”, because it represents “one of those rare moments when critics, academics, and the public were all completely united about something”, according to architectural critic Paul Goldberger.
Urbanization, coupled with the development of cultural activities, is also fueling the emergence of a new economic class in both developed and emerging countries — the “creative class.” This class, according to Richard Florida, urban study’s theorist, includes “super-creative” scientists, artists, engineers, designers and novelists, as well as “creative professionals” who work in a wide range of knowledge-based occupations.
The world is young – 1.8 billion of the world’s population was between 10 and 24 years old in 2014, a record high — and global literacy has improved significantly. Strong economic growth and young populations are already combining to produce a surge of middle-class consumers in many emerging markets.