Three elements in the construction of spatial identities in Mađir (Banjaluka, Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Ilsvika (Trondheim, Norway) neighbourhoods

Kuvač, I., & Schwai, M.

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Kuvač, I., & Schwai, M. (2017). Three elements in the construction of spatial identities in Mađir (Banjaluka, Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Ilsvika (Trondheim, Norway) neighbourhoods. Urbani izziv, 28(1), 83–95.

Elements of Construction , Ilsvika (Norway) , Mađir (Bosnia-Herzegovina) , New Neighbourhoods , Spatial Identities

The modern world is facing rapid urbanisation, increasing urban population, constant growth of cities and the construction of new neighbourhoods. Moreover, new neighbourhoods often lack the elements of identity in the context of the place and the people who live there. Therefore, it is necessary to construct these identities together with the physical and natural structure of place and the cultural identity of the people. The construction of spatial identities has been studied in two case studies of “new” neighbourhoods, Mađir (Banjaluka, Bosnia- Herzegovina) and Ilsvika (Trondheim, Norway), using a qualitative analysis method. The comparison makes use of a triangle model that includes three elements of identity construction as three points of analysis: a) spatial context, b) participation in processes of planning and construction and c) action in place. The two cultural contexts and two ways of constructing spatial identity in the new neighbourhoods studied show certain similarities and differences. The study points to the universal significance of this phenomenon and indicates that the process could be improved in each case by applying positive experiences from the other, with adaptation to the specific context. Considering the importance and interrelation of the three elements involved in construction of spatial identities, they should be harmonised in all stages of development.

Main finding
Residents of Mađir have an active public life and a strong place attachment, supported by the frequent construction of informal dwellings by displaced families and the tradition of maintaining a garden that leads to chatting with neighbors and passersby. However, the construction in Mađir is done with little foresight for communal infrastructure and public space. In contrast, development in Ilsvika is led by profit motives and constrained by rational decision making according to laws and regulations. The opportunity for public participation for a recent project was limited and led to dissatisfaction. Despite a higher density and greater number of residents, Ilsvika had much less visible activity in public space. The author argues that each approach to development fails in opposite ways. Mađir succeeds in accommodating individual needs but fails to provide for the community, and Ilsvika succeeds in providing for the community but fails to create place attachment through participation.

Description of method used in the article
Comparing two case studies, the authors conduct a spatial analysis, field observations, and semi-structured interviews to investigate the role of identity in the development process, based on spatial context, public participation, and social activities.

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