Urban regeneration programmes in the UK over the past 20 years have increasingly focused on attracting investors, middle-class shoppers and visitors by transforming places and creating new consumption spaces. Ensuring that places are safe and are seen to be safe has taken on greater salience as these flows of income are easily disrupted by changing perceptions of fear and the threat of crime. At the same time, new technologies and policing strategies and tactics have been adopted in a number of regeneration areas which seek to establish control over these new urban spaces. Policing space is increasingly about controlling human actions through design, surveillance technologies and codes of conduct and enforcement. Regeneration agencies and the police now work in partnerships to develop their strategies. At its most extreme, this can lead to the creation of zero-tolerance, or what Smith terms ‘revanchist’, measures aimed at particular
social groups in an effort to sanitise space in the interests of capital accumulation. This paper, drawing on an examination of regeneration practices and processes in one of the UK’s fastest growing urban areas, Reading in Berkshire, assesses policing strategies and tactics in the wake of a major regeneration programme. It documents and discusses the discourses of regeneration that have developed in the town and the ways in which new urban spaces have been secured. It
argues that, whilst security concerns have become embedded in institutional discourses and practices, the implementation of security measures has been mediated, in part, by the local socio-political relations in and through which they have been developed.
Scholarship in urban sociology has pointed to the reliance of city governments on ever-more market mechanisms for organizing social and economic policy. This form of governance involves prioritizing cities’ cultural and social assets for their value in a global competition of urban “brands,” each competing for new infusions of human and investment capital. At the same time, however, cities have been at the center of seemingly progressive policy efforts aimed at promoting innovation, sustainability, and creativity. These themes represent a newly dominant planning discourse in cities across the globe. While researchers have thoroughly examined how “creative classes” and “creative cities” may exclude everyday, working-class, or poor residents, new urban imaginaries focused on sustainability potentially imply less stratified urban outcomes. Analyzing two high-profile interventions in Buenos Aires, Argentina—a sustainable urban regeneration plan for the historic downtown, and the creation of an arts cluster in the impoverished south of the city—this paper argues that despite divergent narratives, creative and sustainable urban projects suggest similar policy agendas, planning assumptions, and relationships to market mechanisms. Increasingly, global policies, whose design and objectives may appear to contradict market logics, may have outcomes that further them.
Public art is an artistic expression created in streets, squares and other public spaces, including parks. Using the two popular public parks in the New York City, Central Park and the High Line, this paper explores the affordances offered by public art in these two urban environments, with a focus on physical, intellectual and emotional connections between the visitor, the artwork and the landscape setting. Using affordance theory as a framework, it considers the design of the landscape as a behaviour setting that affords viewing, acknowledgement and reflection of the artwork within the contemporary cultural context. Using preliminary qualitative observations of six artworks within the two parks, this research suggests that public art has the potential to afford such diverse opportunities for public park visitors. In order for these affordances to be actualised, the design of the park and the artwork’s intentions should be coordinated to ensure that the experiences of the visitor align with the claimed benefits of public art.
Public spaces constitute one of the first urban elements to be threatened in times of instability. Their efficient supply
and management becomes a concern for both public authorities and individual users. This paper examines the role and objectives of social entrepreneurs in supplying temporary public spaces within an unstable setting and focuses on small group collective action. The mechanisms used to identify potential land, negotiate use-rights and promote these
spaces are discussed for the case of Beirut, Lebanon, a society segregated by the effects of war and political upheaval.
The case of an organic food market is used to illustrate temporary public spaces in the critical period of 2005–2007,
when political instability reigned in the country and rendered conventional public spaces undesirable. The paper
concludes by drawing lessons for land readjustment in crisis situations from the movement of temporary public
spaces within a city while still attracting people that formerly had difficulties meeting elsewhere.
Sacco, P. L., Ghirardi, S., Tartari, M., & Trimarchi, M.
The purpose of this paper is to take part in the debate about power relationships in contemporary cities between the agents of urban renewal and the local communities, as mediated by cultural and artistic interventions and projects. Our study proposes a new conceptual frame, focused on the comparison between two notions of heterotopia as theoretical alternatives for the interpretation of cities as social and participatory spaces. The notions we consider may be traced to two key thinkers such as Michel Foucault and Henri Lefebvre, and lay the foundation for alternative analytical paradigms of the contemporary urban condition, in relation to artistic and cultural practices in the public space. We draw upon these two alternative readings of heterotopia to explore the implications of the interaction of artistic practices with the urban space as a contested terrain from the viewpoint of power relationships. In our analysis, we find that Foucault's notion of heterotopia is potentially conducive to top-down planning processes and to gentrification. Lefebvre's notion is instead possibly more suited to participatory practices as strategies of reactivation of the right to the city.
‘Urban identity’ is high on the policy agenda and pervades the discourse of the planning community on the value of historical city centres. Unfortunately, there seems to be, until today, no proposal in scholarly literature of any unified conceptual framework or any tools to make identity operational. ‘Tourism’ takes advantage of this process, by seeking the qualities of the place, its authenticity and its perceived uniqueness that is grounded on the physical features as well as on the presence of local communities – their way of living and investing in the place. The interdependence between identity as perceived by tourists (external observer) and the identity of the
residents rooted in the relationship with the place (in-group) are key to addressing the identity of historic urban areas. These issues are addressed in the context of the growing attractiveness of Lisbon, Portugal, using a historic neighbourhood as a case study. The findings, which are on a set of interviews with different groups of users, showed the points of convergence and divergence between the different groups’ views of the neighbourhood’s
identity. This actor-oriented approach is pivotal to understanding the process and to produce knowledge for informed action.
Power, M. J., Neville, P., Devereux, E., Haynes, A., & Barnes, C.
We examine how an Irish stigmatised neighbourhood is represented by Google Street View. In spite of Google’s claims that Street View allows for ‘a virtual reflection of the real world to enable armchair exploration’ (McClendon, 2010). We show how it is directly implicated in the politics of representations. We focus on the manner in which Street View has contributed to the stigmatisation of a marginalised neighbourhood. Methodologically, we adopt a rhetorical/structuralist analysis of the images of Moyross present on Street View. While Google has said the omissions were ‘for operational reasons’, we argue that a wider social and ideological context may have influenced Google’s decision to exclude Moyross. We examine the opportunities available for contesting such representations, which have significance for the immediate and long-term future of the estate, given the necessity to attract businesses into Moyross as part of the ongoing economic aspect of the regeneration of this area.
Parallel to the recent rise in interest in public spaces, the proliferation of alluring, distinctive and exclusive public spaces in many post-industrial cities raises the question of how far these environments are truly ‘public’. This paper discusses the question of the ‘publicness’ of contemporary public spaces in Britain, where they have been placed at the top of the political agenda of the Labour Governments since the late- 1990s. Studying in depth the changing ‘publicness’ of the Grey’s Monument Area (GMA), a public space recently refurbished in the city centre of Newcastle upon Tyne, regarding the dimensions of ‘access’, ‘actor’ and ‘interest’, the paper seeks to show that, contrary to the wide recognition of diminishing ‘publicness’ of contemporary public spaces in urban design and planning literature, the recent refurbishment has in fact had both positive and negative impacts on the ‘publicness’ of the GMA. The paper concludes that contemporary public spaces may show different shades of ‘publicness’, in which degrees of ‘access’, ‘actor’ and ‘interest’ can vary widely, and seeks to underline the emerging trends and threats of: (i) the blurring distinction between public and private spaces, and (ii) image-led regeneration strategies dominating everyday society’s needs and civic functions of genuine ‘public’ spaces, and ultimately violating the ‘publicness’ of public realms in post-industrial cities.
Within the International debates about the roles and relevance of planning and architecture, urban design is trying to find its place and clarify its contribution to city making. The products and the practice of urban design vary significantly in different global and socio-economic contexts and in relation to varying theoretical foundations. In South Africa, as in other developing countries, urban design is only beginning to feature as a valid mainstream concern within city development and among built environment practitioners. This paper presents the case of the City of Cape Town’s Dignified Places Programme as an example of implementation-focused urban design undertaken in a context where the conscious design and management of the public realm does not feature on the agendas of cash-strapped, basic needs-focused local government. The design and construction of new public spaces is the focus of this programme, but a parallel objective is to place the central concern of urban design – the quality of the public environment – squarely on the agenda of local government in Cape Town. The paper outlines the urban context in which it is being implemented sketches the issues that prompted its initiation and traces its theoretical origins focusing on the linkages between this theory and practice. The paper gives an account of the origins, objectives and strategy as well as the design principles that directed the form and location of the projects in the Programme. The paper finally reflects on the key successes and challenges of the programme and attempts to tease out lessons for both the theory and practice of urban design.