The cities we’ve missed

Rural areas have been highly prized assets during the pandemic. Clean air, social distances and nature to help recalibrate of personal values, have acted like a magnet for urban dwellers. Yet many of the cities we have used for events in the last few years are unrecognisable from the demonised portraits of urban living we have seen shrouded in smog and with inescapable crowds. Cities in the mountains or on the beach, offering urban surfing, forests floating on harbours, sailing regattas amongst the suburbs – all reasons why we have so missed the special cities around the world. We’ll be back!

Cities are being re-evaluated, with a greening of transport, plans for improved air, and visions for home office that will render swathes of office space redundant. There is a big re-think underway about how the majority live in urban settings. News of smog-filled skies in Asia, gridlocked commutes in Europe and nature in retreat across the urban world, ignores the trends that were already in place to enhance the quality of life in cities. In numerous cities across Europe, there exists a magical blend of urban life, co-existing with nature, offering quality experiences in diverse ways. Our clients have enjoyed these urban riches prior to 2020 and we can't wait to return to them again.

Surf the urban wave

Munich, the beer-loving, industrial powerhouse of southern Germany is an unlikely venue for surfing, yet year-round, spectators gather in the English Garden park to watch hordes of surfers riding a relentless, thundering fresh-water wave as the river empties from the nearby Alps. The contrasts are spectacular, with the buzzing city in the background, a park to relax in and gravity powering this wave of pristine alpine water. Swimming is popular for those not skilled enough to throw themselves into the cascading torrent.

Farms and forests on water

The biggest harbour in Europe is a hive of industrial activity, reaching right into the heart of Rotterdam. Container ships and leisure craft sail these northern waters offering a wonderful vista from the quaysides that surround the city. There are working farms which float on the harbour waters with plants and livestock taking to the water to relieve pressure on the land, operating circular production methods and utilising floating solar arrays. As well as the practical land use considerations, taking farming to the city centre offers a great contrast to urban living, allowing consumers to appreciate the origin of their food. Across the water was another natural installation, a floating forest amongst the choppy waters of the harbour – art and nature in the heart of the city.

Rooftop mushroom fields in southern Spain

Fresh air, art and vistas are on offer in the southern Spanish city of Sevilla. Fabricated from wood and thought to the largest wooden construction in the world, the Metropol Parasol is a collection of 6 giant wooden mushrooms which hover over the skyline of Sevilla. The units are connected by walkways in the sky and offer an incredible space to escape the crowds and see the city from its skyline. As well as the rooftop experience, the city is dissected by the River Guadalquivir which a hive of recreation activity and is flanked by wonderful riverside walkways. 

Yachting in the suburbs

Coastal cities offer a magical mix of built-up urban landscape and open expanses across the seas. With a natural harbour as well as an Atlantic coastline, Lisbon has a natrual connection to the water. To the south of the city centre is the Tagus Estuary where sailing regattas operate beneath the harbour bridges and alongside the promenades in suburban Lisbon. This is a city at one with the ocean and the Tagus Estuary offers a fantastic playground for water sports and activities along the shore.

Ski from the city centre

The capital of the Alps, Innsbruck is a jewel of the Inntal – the Innsbruck valley. Its northern flank rises from the valley floor up the steep sided Nordkette mountains. There is an ultra-modern underground funicular that runs from the historic old town to the ski fields on the northern mountains. In the opposite direction, jump on a tram that climbs the southern mountains to the local ski hill of Muttereralm. Outside of the winter months, there is rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, water sports and air sports all around the city. Glaciers can be seen from the northern suburbs, forests meet the edge of the city and the pristine rivers around the city empty the local glaciers and mountains of their vast water resources.

The truth is that the model cities that are on policy makers radars are already there, across Europe and beyond. They offer wonderful examples of urban living, with history, civic spaces and intimate connections to the natural world. We’ve been taking our clients to these locations for years and post-pandemic, they will be showing our clients how rewarding urban living can be.

View over lisbon harbour and bridge
Sailing yachts racing on Lisbon harbour
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