Optimising Cities: Can We Think and Plan for the Next 100 Years?

Group Photo of Advisors, City Partners and Founding Members of Garuda Digital Alliance in Museum Kota Bandung(soon to be Urban Data Lab) in Development Program “Public Private Partnership by Youth” in Bandung City, hosted by Good City Foundation, partnering with Culture and Tourism Board, City Government of Bandung. (January 2020)

“We made a decision to project to “Year X” which was 100 years. Planners better appreciated the reality that planning decisions that were convenient now might not lead to results that would be convenient later.” — Liu Thai Ker, Architect and Master Planner of Singapore.

Entering the 5th year development of Good City Foundation and the journey of practicing bottom-up strategies in development in Southeast Asia, the team from London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Manila, Jakarta, Bali and Dhaka last week has conducted a long but meaningful review of work. It was a conference call in the face of coronavirus, lasting till 11pm, since 7pm Singapore Time. The team laid out the consideration of reaching Africa and the Europe, meanwhile discussing a common status-quo: “96% of Businesses Fail Within 10 Years”, published by Inc.

We are no fresh entrepreneurs, with background from Science and Technology of University of Hong Kong, Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy, London School of Economics and Oxford University, a mix of entrepreneurs and scholars. In a team as such, one common challenge faced is “What model of sustainability are you adopting?”. Even, president of a technology university in Bangkok came to us and questioned “How long do you mean by your strategy, to attain sustainability and self-sufficiency?”.

As a matter of fact, we together has baked a “Double-Funnel” method to simplify our experience, wisdom, failures and learnings, among which it accommodates the humanity, local culture, empathy, passion and trusted entrepreneurship of all. We operate no different from other garage-style startups, but we make decision and learn to plan for the next 50–100 years timeframe.

“We learn what not to do by watching other cities and also what to do from watching good cities. There is nothing new that you can think of that has not been tried by thousands of other cities.” — Lee Kuan Yew, first Prime Minister of Singapore.

The Liveable and Sustainable Cities: A (Reference) Framework for Integrated Master Planning and Development

co-authored by Centre for Liveable Cities and Civil Service College Singapore

The Framework summarised and collected comprehensive intelligence and wisdom of inter-generational urban economic planning since the beginning of Singapore upon independence.

With the “life or death” survival challenges in the city-state, the strong political leadership places tremendous entrepreneurship in innovation and integrated master planning.

For “Liveability”, Singapore highlights following 3 pillars:

  1. A Competitive Economy to attract investments and talents
  2. A Sustainable Environment as the city shall survive with self-sufficient resources
  3. A High Quality of Life to attain social and psychological well-being of the population
The CLC Liveability Framework Ten implicit principles are grounded in two key pillars of the CLC Liveability Framework — Integrated Master Planning and Development; and Dynamic Urban Governance © The Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC)

As Singapore coin above high and century lasting efforts as “Liveable City Outcomes”, the leadership summarises a framework as Integrated Master Planning system with a Dynamic Urban Governance approach.

Riding on the wisdom coined by the pioneering planners behind Singapore, along with 5 years learning journey of Good City Foundation, the team concluded the experience as a strategy putting lense into economic planning in emerging cities, meanwhile serving to crowd-in private resources, including technology startups, family offices and hence leveraging to institutional fundings and multilateral agencies.

All Weather Development: Double-Funnel Strategy

In the time of 5 years, the non-profit team of Good City Foundation(formerly “Future City Summit”) established “Emerging Future Cities Networks”(“Tourism”, “Social Business”, “Bangkok Agenda”…) with venture building and profitability department, Rainmaker Ventures. The principles of “Double-Funnel” Strategy are deployed to aggregate public and private partners along with the development challenges directed by the current master plans of the emerging cities.

Development Programs of “Public Private Partnership by Youth”, serves to locate more accurately the development need with strategies, regional stakeholders and local champion solutions, as the first funnel.

As the second funnel, with located development challenges, aggregated urban innovations(no matter local or foreign) as an alliance(e.g. Garuda Digital Alliance) are uplifted to development planning agenda for implementation, addressing policy and planning visions.

As such, the “Double-Funnel” technically consolidates urban innovation portfolios to serve a larger urban market demand, hence empowering to crowd-in efficiently other private resources(family offices as impact bonds, venture capitalists who look for bundle of urban solutions) and institutional capitals(multilateral agencies, regional development funds and even sovereign wealth funds).

The “Double-Funnel Strategy” is all weather in nature, covering necessary industries and vital economies that build up a city that lasts for a certainly long period of time(e.g. 50–100 years) in master planning stage, as well as city branding, place-making and urban story auditing.

As the latest progression, upon development program “Public Private Partnership by Youth” in Bandung City, a synergetic urban innovation alliance was formed as “Garuda Digital Alliance” to provide digital infrastructure for emerging cities such as Bandung City, addressing their development plan in coming 10 years, in the need of smart urban data.

Garuda Digital Alliance was formed with founding members of JetSchool(left 1), 1001Teras(left 2) and PearlPay(right 2), with the witness of Good City Foundation and Garuda Fund. Continuous informal business meeting on implementation of Garuda Digital Alliance infrastructure design and planning in Jakarta. (right photo)

Place-making with Heritage: Bridging the History, Humanity to Creative Digital For Future Lifestyle — Bandung City

Bandung City is accommodating over 800 underutilised heritage buildings.
Museum Kota Bandung, Designated Pilot Heritage Renewal and Revitalisation Project(“Urban Data Lab”) with Good City Foundation in Bandung City, Indonesia, under the management of impact fund Garuda Fund.

Bandung City as the capital of West Java province in Indonesia, as the 4th most populous city in the country. While the city is vibed with creativity, multimedia and design, Bandung City houses over 800 heritage buildings underutilised with low level economic planning due to the lack of urban data, on local citizen behaviours.

Commitment Letter on Urban Data Lab development presented by Director of Good City Foundation, Shadman Sadab(left) to Mrs. Kenny Dewi Kaniasari, MA, Head of Culture and Tourism Department , City Government of Bandung(right), with the witness of Oded Muhammad Danial, Vice Mayor of Bandung City(middle).

As such, a heritage building Museum Kota Bandung was designed to Good City Foundation as the first pilot heritage upgrade for digital transformation, with Garuda Digital Alliance supporting digital infrastructure.

The joint urban innovations would empower the city for capturing urban economic information and hence feedbacking the planners with insights for better planning and design, accelerating a more efficient industry development and policy.

Development Model of Urban Data Lab as Heritage Renewal, Serving Digital Transformation(DX) Needs of Bandung City.

A Playbook for the Rural: New Economy of Tourism and Nature for The Island of Gods — Bali Island

Construction site in Sun Sang Eco Village in Bali Island.

As the second phase of development program of “Public Private Partnership by Youth” in Bali, a team of master students and lecturer from Harvard Graduate School of Design with Udayana University School of Engineering investigated the cohesive planning of innovation portfolio “Sun Sang Eco Village”, for a potential expansion of the village, along with the development plan provided by the Tourism Board and Department of Denpasar City of Bali City Government.

The architecture students teamed up to investigate the local need and design feasibility expansion plan for Sun Sang Eco Village.
Credit: “Immersive Dwelling, Landscape Reflecting Tri Hita Karana”, by Ana Gabriela Loayza Nolasco, Ni Putu Prema Prakanthi and Xinyi Zhou, Harvard Graduate School of Design and Faculty of Engineering, Udayana University
Credit: “hubbanjar” by master students from Harvard Graduate School of Design and Faculty of Engineering, Udayana University
Credit: “Menyama Braya”, by Shindy Bella, Zilin Gui and Pa Ramyarupa, Harvard Graduate School of Design and Faculty of Engineering, Udayana University

A playbook for the rural development would be concluded and collected upon the completion of all design with local wisdom provided by Sun Sang Village for empowering the rural economic planning and its connectivity to the urban tourism development planning.

Flipping The Table: Urban Revitalisation for Inevitable Natural Challenges — Batangas City

Upon Taal Volcanic Eruption in 2020, with Ash Spews, Smoke and Rocks.

As much as the strategy has been implementing, the next point to prove is scalability and sustainability. Beyond Bandung City and Bali Island, the next potential implementation concerns one of the latest damaged cities, Batangas City in the Philippines.

Taal, the Philippines’ second-most-active volcano, surprised even volcanologists when it suddenly erupted on in January 2020. Within hours, the volcano on an island in the middle of a lake shot a plume of ash a mile high and triggered multiple earthquakes. Residents on the island, as well as those in provinces within a 14-kilometer (or 8.6-mile) danger zone, have been ordered to evacuate.

Photos Credit: The New York Times (2020)
Project Introductory Meeting for Batangas City Redevelopment in the Philippines.

What if the strategy of “Double-Funnel” may work also in the emerging cities context in the Philippines?

The urban innovation portfolio PearlPay and Good City Foundation conducted a project introductory with private sector in Manila concerning the potential Batangas City Redevelopment, addressing its long fragmented master plannings, and the hazards brought by the natural disasters.


  1. Liveable and Sustainable Cities: A Framework, Centre for Liveable Cities Singapore
  2. Singapore: Would cities risk leaving millions people behind with the unparalleled development of “smart cities” ?, Good City Foundation
  3. The Market Left Behind, Foundation Ownership and Capital for Purpose, Good City Foundation
  4. Zero to One : Network of Network, Network of Capital and A 5-Years Bet on Contrarian Truth, Good City Foundation



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Emerging Knowledge

Emerging Knowledge

Fostering better public private partnership through foundation stewardship model in emerging cities.