Continuing my thoughts from The Population Vacuum, here is my idea of The Hub.
The Hub is a large-scale construction designed, from the ground up, to be a catalyst of human activity. Human activity means a healthy society. Stagnancy equals Rome.
It is designed with facilities for science, art, retail, food, relaxation, and entertainment. It is designed to foment as much exchange of ideas, money, goods, and services as possible in as small an area as possible.
The Hub will have strong ties to the surrounding area. It will invest heavily in ventures near and far, and will invite in the local economy, let it incubate, and then release it back into the economy. The Hub will not be an economic vacuum, like a super-plaza anchored by major chains. The Hub’s very existence is to prevent the deterioration of the nearby economy and culture. The Hub integrates and does not dominate.
The Hub receives as much of its resources for functioning from the surrounding area as possible. Raw materials for manufacture, food, and retail products are drawn from the locals. This provides fuel to the local economic fire as opposed to squelching it. It also provides a local flavor to The Hub, meaning each and every Hub is unique and desirable. The lack of cookie-cutter operations keeps each Hub out of competition with other Hubs.
The Hub can be smaller scale operations as well. It must not be pure retail. It must include manufacturing, art, entertainment, and as much free production and facilities as is economically possible. Malls could easily be hubs. With a vibrant schedule of activities designed to draw in the local economy, malls could become stronger attractions, raise property values of nearby areas, attract new residents, and foment ideas and economy.
The Hub can be instituted on a micro-scale. Small plazas can build parks, schedule events, and utilize the parking area for tents, stands, and presentations.
One of the primary elements of The Hub is a large variety of non-retail offerings that bring people in every day. People only shop now-and-then, but people always want entertainment, food, and stimulation.
Manufacturing must be included. Objects for sale made on site are necessary for a continued connection to the local economy. Furniture, toys, fabrics, clothing, art, board games. Everything except heavy industry.
Large chains compliment the environment and the smaller stores in The Hub. Starbucks draws in people and causes increases in traffic at local cafes. GAP isn’t necessarily in competition with local boutiques. Large chains are good.