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Consulting Case Study: Arup with Cities Alive

—23 April 2015
—An insight into Arup's award winning thought leadership on rethinking green infrastructure and the future of our cities
Most of us will have experienced the positive impact of time spent with nature. As children, we play, take risks and learn within the green spaces around us. As adults, we exercise, relax and find perspective from our increasingly busy and increasingly urban lives.
 
Our cities are facing an uncertain future due to megatrends of rapid urbanisation and climate change. With space at a premium, Arup felt the value of green infrastructure (parks and open spaces; urban trees, streets, squares; woodland and waterways) in our cities needed greater recognition.
 
Cities Alive recognises that design and construction is a world where money talks. Cities Alive rethinks green infrastructure by presenting existing research in an economic, focused, practical way, to capture industry’s attention and offer practical guidance. It encourages our own firm and industry to design nature into our urban systems at all scales via new development or retrofitting; to give green infrastructure a more influential role in shaping the cities we live in.
 
Cities Alive has captured the attention of key internal and high profile external audiences, whilst bolstering Arup’s reputation for challenging design norms, and for having a vision for ‘cities’ – a key pillar of the firm’s new global strategy. It has opened conversations across industry and is now helping to deliver our vision of a linked ‘city ecosystem’ to help create healthier, safer and more prosperous cities.
 
It has also helped to distinguish the landscape architects in the firm who led the initiative, and to dispell the notion that they provide only the “parsley around the pig; or the token decorative garnish” around buildings. This has both pushed the boundaries of their profession and demonstrated its centrality to meeting urban challenges.
 
In a neat, high quality A5 publication, Arup has produced a freely-available, handy manual that can be carried and thumbed through for advice, written to appeal to a range of client and collaborator audiences across industry. Using a commissioned illustration to demonstrate the concepts visually, we ensured that the ideas were accessible and jargon-free.
 
The launch saw significant success, with international and extensive mainstream media coverage, and coverage across a range of trade and design publications. Cities Alive has generated over 38 articles providing 8.3 million opportunities to read about the ideas, supported by a five week social media campaign and live twitter Q&A.
 
Such has been the educational influence of Cities Alive, it has been: used in a high school assignment in the United States integrated into landscape architecture courses at a number of British universities embedded into the firm’s own Arup University module (Professional, Masters and Doctoral level education)
 
Cities Alive has delivered a step change in Arup’s thought leadership, whilst bolstering our reputation in ‘cities’, one of our core global markets. It has also delivered a radical shift in how green infrastructure is perceived internally and externally, and given evidence, conviction and support to those across the industry who would like to see nature embedded and valued more highly in urban development.

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