Global architecture practice Woods Bagot has announced backing of a new consultancy ERA-co. With global headquarters in New York, ERA-co has capabilities spanning the disciplines of Urban Systems and Planning, User Strategy, and Brand Experience.

With a global collective of data scientists, strategists and experience designers, ERA-co partners with clients to transform the future of cities, neighbourhoods and business to positively impact the lives of people and the places they inhabit. 

The consultancy is led by Steven Cornwell, a former chief marketer and brand studio founder, James Calder, an early pioneer in activity-based workplace design and a leader in workplace strategy for the digital age, and Dr. Christian Derix, a pioneer of user-centric spatial planning with AI who has spent the past 20 years developing computational planning systems at the nexus between human-centric design, spatial cognition and machine learning.

With community behavior and expectations changing at increasing speed and technology profoundly changing the way we experience space, the three leaders saw a need for architecture and planning to be complemented by new skillsets. 

“We wanted to form a new consulting model that sits in the transformative space between creativity and consulting to enable our clients to tackle the 21st century’s biggest challenges,” says Cornwell. “The importance of evidence-based thinking – from I think to I know – and the growing attention to Experience in the boardroom, convinces me that now is the time to offer something new and different.” 

As the founder of the influential Australian brand studio Cornwell and, more recently, CMO of masterplan developer The Howard Hughes Corporation, Cornwell’s experience is something Woods Bagot CEO Nik Karalis values. 

“Steven’s experience in the boardroom means he has greater empathy towards the realities clients face every day,” says Woods Bagot CEO Nik Karalis. “His experience, coupled with that of James Calder and Dr. Christian Derix, will bring actionable and evidence-based solutions to business challenges.” 

“It’s important for us to be fiercely independent. We need objectivity as we offer solutions to our client’s operations. The idea is to produce tangible, actionable insights that align owner’s and operator’s ambitions with the user’s experience.” 

With operating offices in New York, Melbourne, Sydney and London (and plans to open in Shanghai at the beginning of 2020), the consultancy reports that it has already begun working on projects with a select group of clients in North America, Europe and Australia.