‘Cities for people’ — A Manyone take on urbanism and mobility

Jaan Orvet
Everything That’s Next
3 min readDec 2, 2020


Exploring how our cities are built and how they influence the way we live is the best way to understand how we can create appreciated, sustainable, ethical and successful products and services. Understanding cities, and everything they entail, is fast becoming a core skill for all types of designers.

Part of our mission here at Manyone is to expand what is possible within the fields of urbanism, mobility and related areas.

The mobility commissions that tend to receive attention are those focusing on the moving thing itself (and in the case of our Aeroslider deservedly so). It’s a big field.

But there are also tremendous opportunities within mobility and urbanism when the focus is not the mode of transport.

Those instances are when physical and spatial design merge with digital development. (An example is our Adaptive Wayfinding System where outdoor signs change the direction they point when the information on them updates.)

This is why when we talk about cities we also include:

  • the cities themselves; via government departments at a national and local level along with local authorities and other stakeholders
  • charities; in many cases, they have a human-centred focus we identify strongly with, and the ability to deliver a very high level of impact
  • developers of land and real estate (especially across Southeast Asia)
  • non-profit organisations
  • community groups
  • architectural agencies and architecture firms
  • universities and other stakeholders in the world of campus creation
  • agricultural (city farms)
  • and many others.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a sustained and broad range of digital services from the above groups being commissioned that enjoy a tremendous positive impact on people, communities, faculties, and abilities.

One reason is that many of the above organisations are able to take a long and sustained view on how digital and design can improve, enhance and enable.

Thus, when we speak of Cities for People we include spatial design and spaces plus digital services and research in equal measure. We are equally comfortable working in both.

Singapore, by Anastasia Yudin.

Singapore is home to several of the best examples of this way of thinking, and of course a key reason to why we located one of our offices here.

Two things stand out about the work done in Singapore in general, and across much of Southeast Asia:

  • It is human-centred in its most literal sense.
  • It is genuinely about the interface where human meets nature.

In short, the rest of the world can learn a tremendous amount from Singapore. Where to start? By embracing this simple fact:

Cities run on design. Done right, cities thrive and support human beings.

Cities are, after all, for people.

Jaan Orvet is a Design Strategist and Partner at Manyone Asia where he heads up the Singapore studio. He is the co-author of State of Mind at Work, an Academician at Academy of Urbanism and the former Global Cities Lead at M by Volvo Car Mobility.

Manyone is a hybrid strategy-design agency. Visit us at Manyone.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and our two Instagram accounts.



Jaan Orvet
Everything That’s Next

Partner, Global Strategic Design Director at Manyone. Co-host of podcasts 'design, Design, DESIGN, design!' and 'Dauer & Orvet'. Opinions my own. www.orvet.se