A Beautiful City News

Embarrassing Amount Of Famousness And Genius

I'm only posting this to inform you, esteemed reader, of updates in the day of A Beautiful City.

Called in as a last minute expert for Jamie Oliver, I appeared in Australia's Sunday Times (Perth) to comment on the transformation of William Street due to Jamie's Italian restaurant now there.

This was really embarrassing because it means I now have to humble-brag everywhere I go.

Here's some of the content I gave to Gail Williams, the reporter:


"Because Jamie Oliver represents divinity in food design, deserving local product is brought to nose-to-nose with the enormous design economy that Jamie Oliver represents - such as the artwork of Kyle Hughes-Odgers, which is in the restaurant and the surrounding precinct."

"Jamie's Italian contributes to the after 5 foot traffic profile in William Street." 

"The City of Perth Economic Development Strategy 2010-2019 has an outcome of '15% growth in foot traffic in William Street from 2009-2014, to 7,894 people per summer weekday' (page 11)." 

"We measure foot traffic in 9 Perth locations (not William Street), but can confirm that this footfall target appears to have been met"


How do I really feel about it?

I've never eaten at Jamies Italian - never eaten at Italian restaurants at all*

I can cook tomatos - I can't roll sushi.

The best thing about William Street design is not the retailers at the moment, it's the shopfronts and pedestrian realm.

Jamie's could well have been an independent restaurant, which would have been better.

And the steel chairs out the front are not good. Go wood. Steel is cold on your appendix.

We don't have to pretend that super-tenants revitalise our streets.

But without their cash, landlords cannot proceed, usually.

Unfortunately, Jamie's does not get a good reviews on Urbanspoon, hence my sour ending.  Jamie's Italian on Urbanspoon

You could say the people are disappointed.

*Except for Capri - but you go there to see a Nonna in her slippers.

Below: An example of an after-5 peak in foot-traffic.

Average hourly footfall for each day of the week in Albany Highway, East Victoria Park, Australia.



Warning - I've Fixed The Site Up

Got carried away with myself, did I?

The last two days I wrote some long posts.

But they weren't long, were they?

They were just bunched up.

I've gone back and edited them so each sentence is a paragraph.

Like this.

I can't tell if I'm smartening it up or dumbing it down.

But I imagined it was bugging you.

Which may have meant it was bugging me.

So, tell me what you think.

See the revised posts from yesterday and the day before:

- Get the new Amsterdam, part 1

- Get the new Amsterdam, part 2

Thank you.

Sickening Level Of Prizes, Awards

It's horrible how fame changes people. Me, after an initial cruise, paying off my mothers mortgage, a sausage sizzle for my football team and a polished blue Maloo - and perhaps a yellow lawn, will endeavour to politely lose it all in a spree at Adventure World and a tattoo of a Chiko Roll on my tummy, then assume my intelligible role, undercover, in the median-strip of society.

Here is an example of the sickening level of prizes and awards that I have to cope with now.

I am now on it: Place Making Leadership Council

Nominee, or something: Best Australian Best Blogs 2014

New gig: place measurement services for City of Nedlands 

New gig: business liason services for Town of Victoria Park


Tweeters: 455

Facebookers: Some

LinkedIn: Millions

Pinterest: 97 girls

Google+: Has anyone worked this out yet?

You Tube: A mess for me so far

All of these will be reserved for greater milking in subsequent posts to make my fall even greater, and Bounty's Revenge sweeter.

Changes, Updates - Maybe Even Improvements - To The A Beautiful City Website

Even I get tired of myself so I have adjusted the font so it is darker and the letters are closer together.

Coindesk has a jolly charming typeset - I've used them as inspiration - I've even changed fonts (Verdana).

Additionally a friend told me I should say 'I' rather than 'we' so I'm giving that a whiz.

I initially planned for A Beautiful City to be not-a-man-but-a-Principle but my friend might be right: sometimes a human is needed behind the debate as organic matter for the reader to watch rotting. Or thriving.

That's entertainment.

I'd also like to try summarising local mainstreet news like I see on MacroBusiness who, each Friday, leave their readers with a 'Weekend Links' posts as if to say, "You stay up, I'm going to bed" after five days of divulging all.

Wish me luck, then.

We've Jiggled The Site Round A Bit

We've jiggled around the site a bit.

What started as a blog, turned into a business, so all the Blog Categories have been moved from the top row to the side ☞.

All the critical pages are on the top row now☝.

We've changed our text to grey (7d7d7d), the headings of each article into Josephin Sans font, and the main body to Open Sans.

We have also added our current by-line, 'We Fix Mainstreets'. And, in the A Beautiful City habit of having an argument with ourselves we've written a comprehensive About Us section.

Get a bit of it down here☟

A Beautiful City is a Proprietary Limited company located in Perth, Australia.

Australia is a country in the world.

We are interested in Mainstreets, which you may also know as 'city centres', high streets, 'strip-shopping areas', downtowns and 'urban villages'.

We are interested in these areas because they represent the sustainable future of human development.

They are already there; they have served us well for thousands of years; and when they're not there, we're building them new because that's what people expect in modern urban development.

So they should.

Place Managers are the entities which essentially manage these places and are responsible for the outcomes. Largely, they're stuffing them up.

The thing that makes mainstreets sustainable, interesting and vibrant is independent retail and place management.

*           *           *

Our mainstreets are managed by local governments, with responsibility occasionally ceded to a business association. In some rare cases private landlords own whole mainstreets.

When your lover, your neighbour or your friend talks to you about their wonderful holidays you usually hear about the vibrant and interesting retail streets they spent their time walking in, and then 'Why can't we have that type of thing here?'.

They are interesting and vibrant because of independent retail and place management.

Chain stores and filthy streets rampant with psychopaths are not the places your lover will recommend.

And such places would not be sustainable for the innocents who live there, either.

We have learnt this through our passion for these places. And we have lots of experience in the private and public sectors to work out how the whole shebang works.

The thing that mainstreets need, and that everyone is missing, is the attraction of interesting and sexy businesses.

That means independent retail.

*           *           *

Don't think that if you secure big businesses, like Apple or Gucci, that all the little, interesting businesses will follow. They won't.

It's the other way round.

If you have streets full of interesting small businesses then the big businesses will find you - because of your interesting and vibrant streets which exude independence and creativity.

After all, chain stores have staff who travel to look at potential new-store locations. Unless they go home to their lovers, bosses, neighbours and friends and say 'You gotta check this place out!' they're not going to try and set up a new shop there.

The days where local communties build highways, give tax breaks and re-zone land just to attract a so-called 'big employer' are long behind us.

Businesses travel to the sexy workforce now, and that workforce is found near streets of diverse and vibrant cafes, interesting street life and a busy, creative economy. That's Mainstreets.

If you do it the other way round, trying to attract the trophy tenant to catalyse the retail economy, you will alienate the local community (they don't give a shit about big retail chains) whilst perhaps never getting the trophy tenant you wanted so much.

And if you do lure the trophy tenant first, rents will go up all round, so independent retail wont have a look in.

Downturn coming? The 'big businesses' and chain stores will pull out of your town leaving the high-rent expectations still in the mind of the landlords - meaning independent retail will still not get a look in.

Don't spend you money on customer attraction - expensive newspaper advertisements and festivals - until you have a strategic independent retail and place management framework in place.

*           *           *

People will love your community because of the distinct portfolio of interesting local businesses and well maintained streets (independent retail and place management).

You must go out and hunt down retailers who will build a sense of place for your community.

Implicitly, they will be from the grass roots of your community, reinforcing the local economy paradigm because businesses are seeded from within your own ecology.

And that's what's nocticeble and attractive to customers.

Get that right and the customers will come without the expensive newspaper advertising and festivals.

Place management means that your public and private spaces are well made, well maintained and well marketed to potential new retailers (not customers ... yet). That's small and interesting businesses.

*           *           *

The reason people love mainstreets is they recognise that they are the pinnacle of community participation. Theme parks, shopping centres, libraries, schools, universities, office precincts, industrial and residential zones all serve a purpose, but nothing brings the community together in such an efficient and sustainable way as our mainstreets.

Mainstreets are the places to meet and participate whether you're a baby, an old man, a customer, a young lover, teenager, entrepreneur, budding landlord, charity, not-for-profit organisation, teacher or student.

All these people must be thrust together simultaneously because the diversity accelerates innovation.

That innovation not only drives the interest-factor for people living or working in this area, but it also makes the community and region as a whole more resilient (ie: sustainable) because of the fertile ecology of innovation, creativity and human interaction which cannot be replicated in any other place.

There is no price of admission to participate on a mainstreet.

And mainstreets include the community from birth until death in a sustainable way. 

So what I do at A Beautiful City is explain, argue, fret, communicate, sell products and services and generally play my bit in the story of mainstreets.

And that's what I do. I Fix Mainstreets.

It's Now December

It's now December, and we beaver around ponds of pedestrian data for November and publish it.

This month is different.

Since July we've been doing this, and each time it's a private excitement which I'm no longer going to hide! So I am writing mini-articles as I go (it might take three days to collate and publish all our reports) which publish my insights (into whatever) as we go.

I recent had a look at the statistics for this site and realised we have quite a chunky number of readers. Instantly that strangled me. I want to maintain relevance and quality whilst being un-boring.

So you have to tell me how I go. OK?

Tracer Mk3 at St George Bank, 21 Adelaide Street, Fremantle, Australia

The Fremantle Business Improvement District Co. Ltd - A Beautiful City's Newest Client

I can now reveal that our latest client is the Fremantle Business Improvement District Co. Ltd - a not-for-profit business district management company with funding of about $1.7million over five years.  Juicy.

Just like all clever people, the Fremantle BID has a place-based focus to local economic vibrancy, community particpation and all those yummy synonyms of a beautiful city.

The BID has a business plan and is accountable to the commercial property and businesses owners within the Fremantle-CBD boundary.

Funding has come directly from the local council rates levied within the BID area - a differential rate, it's called, which is an extra tax on top of the normal council rates. This goes straight to the BID. They have their own employees and their own offices (just like a shopping centre management company) and they co-opt with their members (the aforementioned differential rate payers) to affect business improvement within their district.

I am thrilled to announce that they have chosen us to provide their people counting services within the city.  We have started counting in four locations; some of the numbers are really off the scale and I look forward to analysing them shortly for all their juicy insights.


Above: We are counting on South Terrace, Adelaide Street, Market Street and High Street - four really interesting retail streets with fascinating histories - and futures, I'm sure.

I would like to thank the following people who participated in this project:

Chloe Coombe -  Administration and Project Coordinator, Fremantle BID

Kim Low - Executive Manager, Fremantle BID

Cameron Bartkowski - City of Fremantle

Sharon Atkinson - City of Fremantle

Tom Griffiths - City of Fremantle

Peter Kanganas - Landlord, 55 Market Street

Richard Poulson - Morrison International

Kylie-Jane Radford - Morrison International

Peta - Morrison Fremantle

Daniel - Hush Espresso

Bill May - Landlord, 28 Adelaide Street

Tony Chapman - Landlord, 34 Adelaide Street

Nicole - Valleygirl Fremantle

Gerard McGann - Landlord, 93 High Street

Moti - Clara True Beauty

Rebecca - Clara True Beauty

David Wallace and The Gub Gub Family - Landlords, 52 South Terrace

David Heaton - Metropolis Fremantle

Vince Recupero - Metropolis Fremantle

The staff at Metropolis Fremantle

John and family- Fremantle Bakehouse

Alan De Souza - Fremantle Bakehouse

Town of Claremont A Beautiful City's newest client

I (we) are pleased to announce that Stephen Goode, Brian Kavanagh, Ashley Edwards and the team at the Town of Claremont have engaged A Beautiful City to provide their people counting services.

The Town of Claremont's main drag is Bay View Terrace which is a beautiful row of about 50 retail shops.

Did you know that retail rents in Bay View Terrace are among the highest in the country?

We will be installing two pedestrian counters in Bay View Terrace.

In fact, the first one is already in.  With the cooperation of David Johns, Megan and Caroline at Empire Homewares, plus the landlords - the Deveroux family - we have been counting people at their location since Friday 12 July this year.

Our second counter will be installed shortly and I will update you soon.

Below: Our people counter installation at Empire Homewares, 12 Bay View Terrace, Claremont, Australia, plus: Super-Chubbs fraternising with the locals at Claremont News.

A Beautiful City in the news

It's great!  I was interviewed by Rosanna Candler of the Western Suburbs Weekly last week and the results are now published for all to see ...

  • Our first people counter, installed for David Maxwell of the Subiaco Retailers Association, is creating curiosity and that's good for A Beautiful City and me but it's also good for the community.
  • Our people-counting services were born in order to 'save' what we call traditional high streets.
  • They provide a critical measure, just like what every shopping centre depends upon, for community vitality, attracting and retaining new businesses, marketing and 'taking the tempertaure' on the health of your high street.

There's so much more to say about that.  That chat happens at your dinner tables, espresso bars and local news everywhere.

In the meantime, listen to Rosanna Candler by reading her article here.

I'm Glad To Be Back

I'm glad to be back, in front of a fantastic computer, where I can organise and re-organise my life and day.

Revisiting my photos, I'm going backwards to July 12, to publish relevant A Beautiful City, urbanistic articles and photos now originating from the A Beautiful City Phnom Penh, Hoi Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi trip - and you can see them here ...

Above: Super-Chubbs, A Beautiful City's first employee, in layover at Singapore Changi airport.  We notice straight away that manners, habits and conventions in Singapore, are different (better?) compared to Perth.  All over the airport, people are peacefully sleeping alone or in clusters, their eyes covered, their effects piled neatly to one side and their shoes off the furniture - their posture discrete and restrained.

Above: One of my first photos in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  I thought I'd shoot it as the bear-face was kinda cute, and multi-people on motorbikes was a novelty for me - and now I see that his cucumber looks like a wing-wang.  Bonus!

Below: I don't expect journeys to and from airports to be beautiful, but still, I shot away.  These photos have some A Beautiful City elements - Beautiful Bikes. 

And we can already see that people's attitudes or choices about personal transport are different, interesting - something we can learn from or think about, and adapt for our own city.

Below: I thought Super-Chubbs was as interested in the transport options as I was but then I realised he was just after coconuts.

And this is it for this post - below: a fascinating story about electricity development.  Love it.  We often complain and argue about red-tape, bureaucracy, added costs and unnecessary interference in building construction.  I'm not arguing for this, but we can reflect of the balance between development and restraint.  And there's no saying that this method is less safe, although an expert may chime in here and advise.  Thank you.

Back to Basics

I have been back in Perth about a week now.

And this is what I can tell you about what I see, fresh eyes, straight off the plane ...

  • This place is clean.  That's good.
  • This place is quiet.  That's good, a bit, although I know when the rain stops and the heat hits, there will be a lot more alcohol, road rage, street fighting and people giving me hass'.  That's bad.

That's about it for now.  My news is that we are finishing our people counter installs in Claremont this month and we will be announcing another client and their plans for A Beautiful City people counting systems soon too.

Also, I have been planning the replacement of my iPhone (lost or stolen in Hanoi) plus my travel computer as I intend to do more travelling and photography/writing on the road and need a great machine.

Mini Hanoi-Summary

Hello everyone.  Tomorrow I arrive back in Perth, to the world of $4.40 coffees, $300 hotel rooms, and taxi fares which make your eyes water ... hang on, there are no taxis.

Only joking, of course!

Just jumping on the cynic-bandwagon - comparisons between cities should not be done frivolously.

In my trip to Hanoi I have responded to the city, as we all do when visiting a place, and tried to document it.

These are things which I will post now as a summary:

  • Yes, I like Hanoi
  • I love Hanoi.  Why?
  • It's a world of small businesses - 1,000s of them, each of about 1-4 metres (3'3"-13'1") in width (yes, 1m!) forming an unbroken network among snug, appropriately sized, human-scale streets (the arguments of what constitutes 'human-scale' are yet unresolved, but I have taken measurement of streets so we can begin to debate this thoroughly).
  • Street widths of about 9.5m (31'2") - building line to building line.
  • Laneway widths of about 4m (13'1").
  • A city of 1,000 faces.  I have yet to document this but I am considering it as a new category.  The buildings of the city are so varied in form, shape and their projection outward toward the street that they present '1,000 faces' to the eye.  Does this matter?  Yes. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it) your city is dependant upon people having a positive sensory response to it: visually, smells, touch ... and those other senses, and the 'many faces' presented on a building's facade support this. 

That's about it for now.

Thank you for reading, and tell your friends!

A Beautiful City update

Hi there guys.  Just a note and reminder of the following:

  • I am in Vietnam right now, returning on Tuesday 30 July.
  • I have added 'automatic email' functionality to this website (finally) so please put your email address in and press subscribe (top right, at the moment).  For those who have already done that in the past and have recieved zilch - sorry!
  • My photos, posted from here in Vietnam, are bigger file sizes than they should be so until I get home and reload them properly, your articles will load a bit more slowly.  Sorry about that, too.


Hello from Phnom Penh

Hello everyone.  Things are going well here in Phnom Penh.

Yesterday, I spent four hours in a tuk-tuk, instructing the driver to show me every street and laneway in the city.  This freaked him out a bit.

Sadly, I failed to bring a computer that could re-size my photos for this website, so sorry about that.

I'll keep working on it.

But I can show you this photo of Super-Chubbs in layover at Singapore.

Move on.

A Beautiful City in Phnom Penh

I am leaving on 12 July and return on 29 July so I am looking to hook up with urbanists anywhere in the region.

I expect to go to Da Nang/Hoi-An (after Phnom Penh) and then end the trip Hanoi, Vietnam.

If you know of any locations, events or people I should see, please get in touch with me here or in the comments.

We are seeking high-quality urban, retail streets.

Over to you!

Hello Everyone

Hello everyone.

I / we have been busy lately, hence the lack of posts.  We have been installing and configuring people counters for the Town of Victoria Park.

It's very exciting to breath life into technology.

As the people counters are configured we can see the foot traffic statistics right before our eyes.  If something's not quite right, we can adjust the counter in real time to see an improvement in accuracy.

Fundamentally though, this assists us in managing our precinct.  We have real information which gives us new questions, and we don't ever have to waste time on guesswork.

After this, we're off to Claremont to install people counting systems for their precinct.

Sleepless A Beautiful City Counts People to Go to Sleep

I can't help myself.

When I've had a surplus of sleep and I'm awake at 3am and ready to go, I don't go to the beach or do a workout.

I drive to our business districts, taking people-counter measurements and photos, and admiring our economies whilst they're asleep.

This is what your mainstreets looked like at 4am.

Below: Mimco, 673 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley

Below: The Daily Planet, 634 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley

Below: Street cleaning at the The Northbridge Arch, corner of James and Lake Street, Northbridge

Below: Catholic Church, and the Central Institute of Technology Arts Building, with mural, at 12 Aberdeen Street, Northbrdge

Below: Our famous cockatoos, corner of Newcastle and William Streets, Northbridge

Below: The Good Store, 363 Albany Highway, Victoria Park

Below: Saffi Belle, 28 Market Street, Fremantle.  Seen in an A Beautiful City design blog.

Below: Remedy and Clara, 95 High Street, Fremantle

A Beautiful City's People-Counting Staff Grows!

We are pleased to introduce Super-Chubbs to you as the newest member of our team.

Super Chubbs will be taking responsibility of media and client liaison, so feel free to invite him out for a coffee to introduce yourself.

Thank you - and welcome, Super-Chubbs!