I recently had the opportunity to coordinate two workshops that included participation in urban development one in the town of Agios Nikolaos (Crete, Greece) and only a week later in the district of Wedding in Berlin, Germany. The details were indeed rather different, but the basic idea very much the same. In Crete the goal was to think about the town’s identity and to formulate some visions for its future. In Berlin it was about the future of the place: “What do we imagine our neighbourhood to be in 2020”. Both workshops were thoroughly enjoyable, as I always find working with people on the future of their places a very rewarding process. Continue reading “The problem with participation in urban development”→
A collection of door knobs. Unclaimed mail. An ironing board. Through recording the evacuation of one Lancashire community, finds Steve Millington, the artist William Titley has made permanent a series of internal displacements, and the exposed the true meaning of “placelessness”…
by Dr Steve Millington
Yi Fun Tuan established the term “topophilia” in the 1970s. An awkward word, but it describes an emotion we all share, a deep attachment to place. We might express this through love for one’s country or perhaps through civic pride, but our strongest bonds are to ordinary places connecting our everyday habits and routines, what we might call home.
Home is perhaps the most important place in our lives. Beyond basic human needs of shelter and security, home is ideally a place where we can escape, be ourselves, find comfort, rest, experiment, create, laugh, dance, without too much concern about what others might think. Here we build and maintain the social relations necessary to support a sense of belonging considered essential for well-being and happiness. We only have to imagine the plight of millions of refugees who have had to leave their homes, neighbourhoods, the places where they were born, schooled, worked, ate, played, to realise how our lives might quickly untangle into a precarious state. Feeling ‘out of place’, feeling that you don’t belong can be soul destroying. Continue reading ““Unveiling the sediments of a lost landscape”: William Titley’s Demolition Street”→
Roeselare in West Flanders, Belgium, is a small city that is beginning to change rapidly. With a population of some 60,000, a catchment of around 200,000, and a reputation as a retail destination, Roeselare is typical of many locations across Europe that are having to address disruptive change in retail. In 2007, they adopted a plan that sought to achieve a balance between town centre and edge of centre retailing. A centre management team was set up in 2009 but it wasn’t until 2015 that the real challenges of retail change were addressed. Although retail vacancy remained moderate, at some 8.4% of the 400 units in the centre, there was a realisation that more radical things had to be done to maintain a sustainable retail offer. Continue reading “Town Centre Management in Roeselare West Flanders, Belgium”→
This image, which appeared on TIP’s (Berlin city magazine) Facebook page on 29th July 2016, depicts a map of Berlin, where boroughs have been replaced by types of fast food. I find the map very funny, but also an interesting case to think about place-related connotations. Before I get into that, let me explain what is what (starting from the outer left and then moving clockwise). Spandau: “SPANDAU”; Reinickendorf: “Currywurst (West)”; Pankow: “Vegetarian Spring Roll”; Lichtenberg: “Nr 131”; Marzahn-Hellersdorf: “Pelmeni”; Treptow-Köpenick: “Currywurst (East)”; Neukölln: “Döner & Schawarma”; Tempelhof-Schöneberg: “Foccacia & Co”; Steglitz-Zehlendorf: “We don’t serve fast food”; Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf: “Crunchy rolls with Tête de moine from Butter Lindner”; Mitte: “Sushi & Sashimi”; Mitte: “Bio-Burger”. Continue reading “Places and figures of speech: metaphor, metonymy and synecdoche”→
Informal housing is often seen as a defining characteristic of cities in the Global South, but housing problems in US and European cities is producing both practices and policy responses, which begin to question the nature of housing tenure in places where formal housing provision is considered the norm.
This is not to say informal housing is new to the Global North, indeed poorer groups in society have for a long time become subject to informal, illegal and temporary forms of tenure. But, housing shortages and affordability is beginning to expose a broader range of social groups to informal housing. Does this represent this transposition of the culture of informal dwellings form the Global North to the Global South? In other words, can we expect “shanty” style housing to emerge in European and American cities? Continue reading “Conference Report: Informal housing in Europe and North America”→
I recently came upon a very interesting (and in my opinion also very useful) document, the World Towns Framework, which begins with the following: “We shall support the unique characteristics of each town and urban district, the ‘placeDNA’, to engage communities, businesses and institutions in driving forward their future, and to address the plural and distinctive set of challenges facing these unique places.”
There are several issues I could raise here (e.g. does each town really have unique characteristics or is it the blend of characteristics that is unique? are communities, business and institutions players of the same level or are they different types of categories?), but today I’d like to ponder only the ‘place DNA’. It is an expression that bothers me and always has. Continue reading “Places don’t have DNAs – living organisms do”→
I feel like I am trapped in one of those dreams where my predicament is getting steadily worse; more and more zombies are chasing me, causing me to fall off bigger and bigger pavements whilst I gradually lose the ability to scream out for help. Only I am not asleep. This is no night terror, this is just my day-to-day lived experience in post-referendum Britain.
How exactly did I get here? Commentators have already used other bedtime metaphors. For example, Angela McGowan, Chief Economist of Dankse Bank thought we slept-walked into all this. Nevertheless, even the staunchest Remainer didn’t predict the political chaos that has ensued after the 24th June. That’s because I think Brexit is part of a wider phenomenon, one I am terming brandaganda, which may explain why so much that we used to believe in and trust is rapidly disintegrating. Continue reading “The rise of brandganda and why so much is no longer what we thought it was”→
The image of a country can be perceived internationally by means of a plethora of dimensions: associations, impressions, beliefs, representations, schemes, feelings, interactions, experiences, inter alia. Dimensions of a country brand are undoubtedly multifaceted – social, cultural, economic, political, environmental, behavioural – as several participants are involved internally and externally. Additionally, the main five complexities of the country brand are the following: stakeholder-related issues; government involvement; interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary opportunities, and potential nation brand models. Furthermore, the temporal dimension plays an intrinsic role. In view of this complex scenario, research in regards to country brand image can be undertaken by two approaches – academically or by consultancy indexes. Evidently, academic research focuses on theoretical and methodological advances, creating new conceptual frameworks and appropriate philosophies. The country brand indexes developed by specialized consultancies are often based on global real-data available from worldwide institutions. Continue reading “Evolution of country brand research: Studies on Brazil’s brand image”→