London: the creative use of space to fund tourism

Versione in italiano

The Anglo-Saxon world has a lot to teach in terms of creative use of tourist, cultural and urban spaces, and our recent relocation in London gave us a lot of demonstrations of the British great ability to use strategically and profitably, for example, the locations they have available in their cities.
The basic goals are quite logical: avoid the complete decline of derelict or abandoned areas, expand the tourist offer and improve the city experience, be able to deliver value from what otherwise might be a burden.
An example is The O2 Arena, a multipurpose venue built in London in 2000 and used mostly for concerts and sport events, but on which roof it is also possible - at a cost of 28 pounds per person – to do the Sky Walk experience, a 90 minutes climb to enjoy the London skyline from a very special point of view, perhaps at sunset, and watch the sun go down over the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf.

The O2 Arena London Sky Walk

The O2 Arena London Sky Walk

Initiatives like this offer not only an unforgettable experience to the tourists, but allow you to earn money through the creative use of spaces and to keep alive the urban area even when there are no major events scheduled.
London also has a great theatrical tradition and, in recent years, the avant-garde is represented by immersive theater companies that lead the public to become an active part of the site-specific performance, which is designed and adapted to the specificity of the place in which it is represented: for tourists and spectators it is an unusual way to experience a story but also to discover otherwise inaccessible parts of the city.
This is the case of the show "Alice's Adventures Underground", staged to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland in the former warehouses of the Waterloo train station, where the company "Les Enfants Terribles" recreated the Queen of Hearts’ world bringing life, people and money in an abandoned area, and making it possible for tourists to live an incredible experience at the cost of 18.50 pounds.
An empty space, for a few hours or for years, is a space where you can invest in fantasy.

Jane Hobson photo

Jane Hobson photo

Examples abound: old factories converted into post-industrial design apartments or accommodations, ancient boats used today for private parties on the river, former breweries transformed into hops museums.
The economic crisis that begun in 2008 led many companies and several shops to shut down, the cities were full of empty spaces in both the center and the suburbs, and the immediate effect was that of desolation. In this context, some landlords and public administrators accepted the requests of artists, designers, freelancers and small business owners to lease these areas at high risk of degradation at low rent rates to organize events, set up exhibition spaces, create co-working offices.
Experience has taught that cohesion and creativity together mean strength.

Dixie Queen - Party on the river Thames in London

Dixie Queen - Party on the river Thames in London

In London today many locations do self up-selling to the benefit of businessmen but also of citizens and tourists.
Tailor shops and vintage clothing stores that during the night host 50s and 60s live music events, kitchens shops available for cooking-show and food related presentations, museums and galleries rented by brand for business events: the city and those who invest in it work also for the good of those who visit it and are constantly amazed by its possibilities and versatility.
Even the rooms of university campuses are rented to tourists during the summer: it would be a big waste of money to keep them empty and fruitless for three long months.
In many countries the debate whether to open the doors of the public to the private, of the universities to the tourists, of the museums to the brands is still heated and inconclusive.
Last May, the Saatchi Gallery hosted for ten days the exhibition "Patek Philippe Watch Art", an event sponsored by the prestigious Swiss company that built around the excellence of its brand a moment of art, in the place that most of all in Europe is a symbol of creative and economic turmoil.

Patek Philippe at Saatchi Gallery

Patek Philippe at Saatchi Gallery

Making money with style, in accordance with its own mission.
As often, once you find harmony among target, identity and goals, the cultural prejudice and the bureaucratic obstacles can be overcome, the creative up-selling of spaces is now vital for the health of tourism, culture and urban planning.
Italy, which is among the countries that, generally speaking, are reticent to this type of process, saw Papa Francesco allow the Porsche Travel Club to hold a private concert in the Sistine Chapel in order to raise money for the homeless: an illustrious indication of the way.

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