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The fast-foodification of cities

Greg Isenberg recently wrote about what he refers to as the fast-foodification of everything — including cities. His arguments are that (1) we have reached peak sameness (Toronto is largely indistinguishable from, say, Sydney) and (2) the best brands and companies going forward will be local, unique, and community-driven.

I don’t know how to assess whether we have reached peak sameness, but I do know that, whatever we are experiencing right now, is at a minimum 100 years in the making. The International Style (of architecture), which emerged after WWI, is exactly what the name suggests. The intent was to fashion an approach to architecture that worked anywhere in the world. Location, climate, and context were all irrelevant.

This approach has been widely criticized for the reasons you might expect and for the reasons that Isenberg outlines in his post. But sameness is not exclusively the result of European architects who wanted to eschew ornament and local flourishes. As the world continues to globalize and become “smaller”, there is an inevitability to this growing and continued sameness. Business wants economies of scale.

But there is no question that, more than ever, people are craving unique and local experiences and places. And if you can create that in our globalized world, you are going to win.

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