Beware the new Elysians

David Rudlin_index

Gentrification by creatives is threatening the viability of cities. But some are avoiding it and we must learn from them, writes BD’s new columnist

There is a tower in Cork. At 17 storeys it is not a very tall tower even if it is reputed to be the tallest in Ireland. It was completed just before the Celtic Tiger crashed and is only now fully occupied by bright young things working for Apple and other tech firms that have made Cork their European base. It is called the Elysian Tower, no doubt named by a marketing firm long before the film of the same name was released. For those of you who have not seen the film, the Elysians are a leisured elite orbiting in a giant space ship over the earth that has become one immense shanty town – spoiler alert, it doesn’t end well.

The Academy of Urbanism has just held its 13th congress in Cork and much of the debate revolved around our keynote speaker, Richard Florida, who was talking about just this sort of issue. It is fair to say that there was a degree of hostility in the hall towards Richard, not so much for what he was saying, but to some of the language used. To our ears the language of class grated a little: the “creative class” (the Elysians, you might call them) and the servant class – sorry, “service” class – who would no doubt be living back on shanty town earth.

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