All cities are born and some die. In between times they grow up. Can we take what we know about how we grow up and better understand how our cities grow up?

Professor Paul Burton from Griffith University’s Urban Research Program thinks we can.

He argues that we can learn a lot from what we know about the adolescent phase of development in humans when thinking about Australian cities, especially a city like the Gold Coast.

As children grow up they experience a number of changes including growth spurts, exploring different identities, realising they are not the centre of the universe and becoming aware of their sexuality.

“As a relatively young city, the Gold Coast is experiencing similar changes,’’ Professor Burton said.

“Like many adolescents, the city is trying to cope with a mix of sometimes conflicting pressures. Should it keep growing as quickly as it can and if so how (up or out)?

“Is it the city of the green behind the gold, the city of fun, open for business or a knowledge city? How should it relate to the rest of the world and who should we learn from?”

But he cautions that while the Gold Coast has great creative potential is it willing to take risks and to experiment?

“Will the city survive its own adolescence and grow into a mature city, or remain a perpetual teenager?”

Professor Burton will present a paper on his research at the Creative Communities Conference3 at the Crown Plaza, Surfers Paradise on Wednesday, September 26.