IN a world on the move, how do we create vibrant, rooted and creative cities where 21st century humans want to live and thrive?

This was the question posed by writer, speaker and inventor of the Creative City concept, Charles Landry, at a talk in Swindon Arts Centre on Tuesday night, part of Swindon Festival of Literature.

Landry has recently written a book called The Art of City Making, and the event was – appropriately – presented in association with Switch on the Swindon. A lively audience, bursting with questions and opinions about the art of making Swindon, demonstrated this was a question of enormous relevance to our own home town.

Landry began with a swift description of today’s nomadic world, in which movement is the order of the day. Whether that is people, tourists, crime or money, we live in a connected and mobile society and this has implications for the creation of our cities. He illustrated his talk with a host of fantastic photographs, and discussed the interactions between culture, art and the built environment.

Once the questions began, festival organiser Matt Holland was hard-pressed to rein in the enthusiasm of the audience. People wanted thoughts on Swindon’s future, how to retain young people who were leaving Swindon for destinations such as Bristol, the need for a university and the hobbling of grand ambitions with bureaucracy and planning conditions.

Landry described Swindon as one of the hardest places to navigate, and a town that seemed to need ‘knitting together.’

“There needs to be, from my point of view… a place which seems a bit experimental,” he said.

The place was buzzing with energy as Matt Holland, with some difficulty, brought the session to a close with many questions still hanging in the air.