Kai van Hasselt
director Shinsekai Analysis

by Christa van Vlodrop

1. Background

Studied economics and a minor in urban planning at the University of Amsterdam and had a job as a trend watcher. Started Shinsekai Analysis in 2004, a practice for urban strategies and cultural intelligence, first part time and full time since 2007.

2. Why are you fascinated with
architecture / urban development?

The complexity of the city as an organism that (almost) will not let it be controlled is very attractive and deserves to be reflected on every day.

3. Best city

NY-LON, ten years ago, Time Magazine described New York and London as a twin city, intimately intertwined as world capitals of capital and culture. In 2008, an update appeared, Hong Kong was added: Ny•lon•kong. The shift of the West is unmistakable, but the cities continue to develop.

4. Most beautiful building

Casa Barragan, rarely was I moved so much, by a single building, then the house that the Mexican architect built for himself in the heart of Mexico City.

5. Most beautiful park or square

Inhotim, a special combination of botanical gardens and contemporary art park in Minas Gerais. Developed by collector and iron magnate Bernardo Paz and during construction inspired by Roberto Burle Marx, most famous landscape architect of Brazil. I haven't been to see it yet, but hope to visit soon. My favorite gardens are on my blog under the heading 'Ooh la la landscaping’.

6. Best public facility / urban infill

The manner in which Tokyo interprets extreme high densities, and subsequently how Japanese deal with this, is rarely surpassed. To us it sometimes seems radical (and) unorthodox, but if you are there it feels quite natural.

7. Best 20th and 21st century innovations

Birth control pill and the hypothetical pill from Drion brought a rationalization of life and death, and dignity and emancipation to groups that traditionally did not fulfill life to their full extent.

8. Next groundbreaking innovation

Urban externalities trading, an exchange for trading of spatial externalities. There has already been much attention paid to the mitigation of negative externalities, but we can achieve a lot by creating smart incentives for private parties by rewarding them if they invest in public goods with positive externalities. I am convinced that you can gain profit by setting up a market(mechanism) for it.

9. About the future of cities

I am long on the city and large businesses should do the same. Urban development, especially in the Global South, creates the biggest challenges and opportunities. The interests are by definition large and it is important that the established order and newcomers reach an understanding in a peaceful manner.

10. Personal contribution to urban development

For the future I hope to be on the cutting edge of urban development, art and economy and to contribute to those (different) worlds and connect them in a meaningful way.

11. Guerrilla in the city?

Last year I spoke to a colonel in the Marine Corps. It was fascinating to hear his view of the city: He was aware of the consequences and risks of increasing global urbanization around coastal areas and was dedicated to making the best of the city.