Fusion Businesses and the Cities of Tomorrow
When a small branch of a local ice cream business opened within the laundromat up the street, it was evidence that today’s land use regulations are becoming more in sync with changing urban reality.
Today, in the spirit of the ice cream laundry, I’m switching from what we may lose to what we may gain: the looming fusion businesses of tomorrow.
For instance, what is the fate of technology of convenience such as individual washers and dryers? In what central places can we share, combine and “fuse” their use?
My neighborhood is not alone. Consider Copenhagen’s celebrated Laundromat Cafe, which has fused more than ice cream with laundry, and inspired a trend. Note also some American spin-and-dine examples, such as San Francisco’s Brain Wash.
In order to enable fusion businesses, land use regulations may need more flexibility. In this case, conventional zoning often segregated food service uses from more “industrial” uses such as laundries. In addition. smaller start-ups may have been prohibited within existing uses, with walk-up service limited in scope.
Reform efforts can and should reinvent such conventional impediments to the more efficient, compact city life, and allow the flexibility of innovation and redefined urban traditions. As currently proposed Seattle efforts illustrate, reforms aimed at more livable places can be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, and can enable more employment closer to home.
Beyond regulatory reform, in today’s sustainable city, it’s good to foster shared consumption lifestyles and functional, multi-purpose venues, whether fad, fancy or emerging reality.
Want to track shared consumption examples and the fusion dynamic? I highly recommend shareable.net for a one-stop check on the latest on bike-sharing, car-sharing and prognostication on the next sustainable recombination of the way we live.
Image composed by the author.
Charles R. (Chuck) Wolfe, M.R.P., J.D. provides a unique perspective about cities as both a long-time writer about urbanism worldwide and as an attorney in Seattle, where he focuses on land use and environmental law. In particular, his work involves the use of sustainable development techniques and innovative land use regulatory tools on behalf of both the private and public sectors. He ...