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Principal Voices

Quotes of the day: Peter Head

  • Story Highlights
  • Second Principal Voices debate took place in Singapore on July 9
  • Peter Head calls for better holistic thinking in design and planning
  • Building new cities needs attention to cultural roots as well as eco-tech ideas
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SINGAPORE (CNN) -- Director of Arup, Peter Head is leading the company's new department of Planning and Integrated Urbanism.

'Eco cities are about smart responsive simplicity, taking away the layers of complexity.'

'Eco cities are about smart responsive simplicity, taking away the layers of complexity.'

Taking a primary role in the development of the eco cities being built in China, he told his fellow panelists and the audience at the second Principal Voices debate how he believed the design world was moving into a new paradigm.

He said that more long-term strategic thinking was needed in urban development and believes that when creating new cities, cultural roots are as important as the technology and innovation behind them.

Below are some of his key quotes from the debate.

On moving into a new paradigm of design

"I'm learning more and more everyday, because my team is learning more everyday, we're interacting like we are today, so this is a really fast developing system of all components. Everywhere I go in the world, we're having these same conversations, so I think this is a global movement that is racing ahead."

"I think what we're finding and what other people are finding really hard is connecting the products and the buildings and the individual components with the high level policy and strategy. I think that's the area where we are in a bit of a leadership position."

"I think there's a tremendous confusion as to what the real objectives are; and this is the great problem. Every place has its own objectives and we have the global objectives too, so design has to be really relevant to the history and culture and authenticity of the place while addressing global issues."

On China and developing countries

"Everything in China at the moment is happening four or five times quicker than most other countries, therefore the scale, speed of implementation and learning that goes on is quicker. Young people in China will learn in five years what their counterparts in Europe and the U.S. will learn in 25 years, so from all points of view China is really important."

"In developing countries it's absolutely critical that land use planning and sophisticated thinking is put into place and that takes account of low carbon and the ecological paradigm, so it's locked into the framework of the planning. And that's a really big challenge, but it has to happen quickly because otherwise we're not going to solve the problem. We cannot do it piece-meal at a lower level."

On design and nature

"Arup is using the biomimicry principals in a lot of our work, and all of our eco city design work is using biomimicry to look at what is essentially a transition from an industrial model to an ecological model of civilization. If we look at the 10 principals of bio mimicry, gathering and using energy efficiently etc, we [designers] currently don't do any of them."

On eco cities

"When you're designing a new place you have to reach deep into the cultural roots of the place. If you bring that through with the community you can maintain that attachment people feel to a city."

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"Communication systems and governance are really important; the way eco cities are governed will be different, and I think it will be linked to responsive feedback loops, more like the Facebook type world that we're moving into that governance will somehow embody these ideas."

"I don't want people to think these are expensive beasts; they're not. We're talking about 'smart responsive simplicity', taking away the layers of complexity, not having many roads, more walking and cycling; things that are not expensive build or maintain either. I'm very optimistic about this. I think we're talking about a paradigm which is really attractive for investors."

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