Sexy and Rich with Urban Design


Never have people been so well informed about the best ways to eat and build wealth if they want to be sexy and rich, yet so ignorant about the main thing holding them back on both fronts, making every day a battle against weight gain and cash raining out of their pockets. You have no idea, do you? It’s the city you live in. It is the way it has been designed.

Regardless of whether it is dense or suburban, or so spread out you can tell yourself you live in the country, your city doesn’t invite you to put your body to use as nature intended. It also costs more to run and maintain than a city should have to.

The problem, in a nutshell: machines. Cars, elevators, trains, air-conditioners…. It would be nice to think they could be taken away, but then we would be left with apartments with no ventilation and face half hour walks to the ground via stairs. As for those with homes in the suburbs, they would be completely cut off, desperately learning to farm for their food.

Is there any escape from this twin bind of working to finance machines that do our work for us, thus making it natural for us to get fat? There is—as with everything—if you’re already rich. You can employ a personal trainer. There are options as well if you are happy enough to stay poor, like living on some remote coastline and fishing and surfing each day.

Most people though, want to build wealth, so they can one day retire, or get their kids started, or whatever their motive may be. For them it is cities with millions of people that provide the greatest access to markets. Unfortunately, those are cities of a scale that could never have existed before urban railways (the first of the kind being London) and where access to markets has become even swifter since the advent of freeways privately owned fleets of cars (for example Dallas-Fort Worth.)

Most people are faced with a miserable choice: choose the life of a poor bum but at least have time to get a body like Tarzan’s, or try to build wealth in a city that stings them for the cost of the very same machines that are making them fat.

CSmainlogo100_transparentIf this is the first time you have encountered anything with cycle-space or our logo attached, then know it is our mission to get you out of this bind. Stage one involved reaching out to built environment professionals through publications and talks.

Along the way we built a portfolio that includes both speculative and doable projects aimed at showing the viability, indeed the superiority, of a large city with a far tighter ration of machines such as trains, cars, elevators and air-conditioners —all causes of slack design thinking and peoples slack bodies.

The aim is not a city of treadmills and barbells to lift every time you turn on a light, but something analogous to a mortar and pestle. If you own one you know it is usually quicker to prepare dinner with than a food processor, plus it engages your body and you will only ever have to buy one. In so many realms we know that simplicity and essentialist design saves us money and time and is better for our health. We just need that lesson to be learned at the scale of the city and with the types of buildings and streets that go into its making.

Stage two, that starts with this blog post, is to educate the people who really build cities. It is not architects, developers or city planners. It is the market. In other words, you!

I am speaking to a demographic that has created many markets already. Food markets providing detailed information about where ingredients come from. Jobs markets offering flexible hours. Investment markets offering “financial products” when our grandparents were happy with porcelain pigs. As you will know there are markets as well for liveable, creative and glitzy cities all vying for investors and workers. Our aim is to create market demand, through education, for a city that serves our basic desires to be sexy and rich. Treat it as a happy coincidence that the model of development this angle will lead to is sustainable too.

There is much to cover in coming blog posts. For now, let’s just look at some questions you could answer yes to, if you lived in a sexy/rich city.

  1. Are there internal stairs within your apartment or terrace house?
  2. Can you wheel a bike through your front door?
  3. Can you ride your bike with no worries about being hit by a car from where you live to all the places you regularly go, such as schools, jobs, shops and places for recreation?
  4. Is there a free public swimming venue near to your home where you like to hang out for much of the year with next to no clothes on?
  5. Is your city large enough that it promises sex with absolute strangers who you are unlikely to run into again (even if you actually wouldn’t)?
  6. Does your city have free public venues for all kinds of sports, like casual soccer, surfing, mountain bike riding, bush walking, bicycle racing, jogging, skating, etc.?
  7. Do you feel confident that no one will steal your bicycle in the places you regularly park it, like the train station or shops?
  8. Is it virtually impossible to find places to park a car in your city without spending a fortune?
  9. Is there nowhere to park a car near your house?
  10. Do you highly rate the efforts of police in your city to control petty crime like antisocial behaviour and illegal car parking?
  11. Do you live in a high density context?
  12. Does your city provide quality free public health care?
  13. If there is a lift in your building, does it serve at least 20 apartments?
  14. Are there affordable housing options throughout your city, preventing the rise of upper middle class ghettos?
  15. Does your apartment or terrace house have natural cross-ventilation and some large windows that capture sun in the Winter?
  16. Is the average travel time in your city less than 25 minutes?
  17. Is the population of your city more than six million?

If you could answer yes to most of the earlier questions then I have some good news: your environment is conducive to you having a sexy lean body. Later questions are predictors of low living costs, while the last two are predictors of high wages and/or business success. There isn’t a city on earth that ticks every box, but there are ways we can get there.

If you want to be sexy and rich, I hope you will follow this blog in coming months, recommend it to your friends, keep an eye out for a book we hope to have on the shelves within roughly a year, maybe call us to speak at an event, but most of all see the sexy/rich city as something you will help to construct, by making yourself an educated consumer of urban space.

nyc mum


  1. Jonathan R says:

    Except for #3, #9, and #16, this New Yorker can pretty much say yes to everything else. I congratulate you, Dr. Behooving, for presenting these fairly basic ideas in the sexy & rich context (the original blog post in my reader was called “Sexy and Rich with Urban Design,” which I think is far more allusive and attractive than “Weight Loss and Wealth”).

    As you are aware, before your advent, the two dominant schools of urbanist writing were the take-your-medicine-style grim and hectoring, or the it’s-better-in-Denmark-style that appeals to Scandinavian wannabes and Ikea junkies. Your post here, on the other hand, connects New York’s history as World’s Sexiest City (and Playground of the Plutocrats) with its human-friendly urban layout.

    As always, please write more soon.

    • Steven says:

      You’ve made my day 🙂 I will change the title back, as you suggest. “Ikea junkies”: you’ve nailed it!

  2. crank says:

    Hey, I’m sexy and rich… and cranky – my city requires “combative”, “contrarian” and “unorthodox” to get there 🙂 This is a great list, great idea. I really believe cities will be increasingly competing for talent in the future. Was it a recent Age article mentioned most millennials would move city at the drop of a hat?

    • Steven says:

      The council employee in charge of infrastructure in Launceston, who I shall call Mr. H. Jock, binned a petition I gathered, so I decided to move… at the drop of a hat, yes. Leave all crony cities to rot.

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