Local responses to market-driven urban development in global cities

Teorija in praksa, 51.special edition, pp. 221-240
Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana | Ljubljana | 2014 | ISSN 0040-3598

Urban development has become an important instrument of neoliberal urban policy by which cities are trying to respond to global pressures and opportunities. Barcelona and Seoul are taken as case studies with different historical, cultural and institutional background, yet similar when it comes to how neoliberal urban policy and market-driven urban development are embedded into particular localities. The paper compares transformation of Poblenou in Barcelona and Wangsimni in Seoul in terms of planning approach, consequences on the everyday life in locality and local responses to market-driven urban development. Although its outcomes in Poblenou and Wangsimni were rather similar, the local responses were quite different. While the residents in Poblenou saw transformation of the neighbourhood as a threat to their collective identity, the residents in Wangsimni initially perceived it as an opportunity to improve their economic situation. The paper argues that local responses to market-driven urban development in this way reveal what Mlinar calls the mutual interdependence between individuation and globalisation. Although similar structural processes transform localities around the world, the later remain an important source of social and urban change in global cities.

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Industrial heritage in Barcelona: between vacant monuments and everyday life

AB, 41.190-191, pp. 40-42
Association of Architects of Ljubljana | Ljubljana | 2011 | ISSN 0352-1982

The 22@ district of activities is a typical case of urban regeneration of a former industrial area in Barcelona. The plan envisages an extensive economic transformation and urban regeneration of a working-class neighbourhood Poblenou whereby the city authorities would create new investment and employment opportunities and improve the city’s competitiveness. A lot of attention has been directed towards the protection of industrial heritage as an important aspect of Poblenou’s unique identity with the plan outlining various schemes to transform the former factories into new manufacturing, educational, residential or community spaces.

The practice has shown, however, that the protection of industrial heritage in Poblenou is more focused on preserving the appearance of the former factories than on the questions of their future purpose and significance, which has led to a conflict between the residents of the neighbourhood and the city authorities. The industrial heritage, which represents a part of everyday life to the residents of Poblenou and is a symbolic expression of their working-class past, was understood mostly as an opportunity for new investments by the city authorities. The 22@ district of activities thus shows that the successful protection of industrial heritage in Barcelona is largely due to the strivings of the civil society for the right to common memory, which makes the case of Poblenou relevant also for the Slovene environment.

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Local responses to global challenges: cultural context of urban change in Barcelona and Seoul

Založba FDV | Ljubljana | 2009, ISBN 978-961-235-386-5 | 2012, ISBN 978-961-235-501-2 (ePub)

Local Responses to Global ChallengesThe book Urban Change and Local culture in Barcelona and Seoul talks about how globalization influences everyday life in cities and about the importance of local culture for urban change. With a broad cross-cultural study of 22@ Activity District urban renewal in Poblenou in Barcelona and Wangsimni New Town urban redevelopment in Seoul the book reveals how structural inequalities on the global and national level influence everyday experience of both cities. Residents in Poblenou and Wangsimni actively respond to the changes in their everyday living environment, which are caused by the globalization, and in this way influence the transformation of both neighbourhoods. Contrary to a general belief that due to globalization cities are becoming more similar to each other, the book shows how local culture remains an important source of urban change in cities today, while being at the same time the source of their distinctiveness and diversity.

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Urban change and local culture: responses to urban renewal in Wangsimni

Journal of Seoul Studies, 37, pp. 117-153
Institute of Seoul Studies | Seoul | 2009 | ISSN 1225-746x

Urban renewal is a process, which improves quality of life in cities and addresses disparities caused by past urban development at the local level. Yet cities have also become increasingly integrated at the global level. The competition between them influences the way a particular city reacts to pressures and opportunities of globalization. Urban renewal is therefore often instrumentalized by political elites and private investors for improvement of global status of a particular city, which may in turn result in undesired social, economic, environmental or political outcomes at the local level. Seoul is no exception in this regard. This paper deals with the urban renewal in Wangsimni, an old neighbourhood east of the downtown Seoul, in order to study how globalization affects the urban renewal, how urban renewal constrains everyday life in cities, and how the citizens respond to challenges caused by it. In the conclusion the article argues that local culture has been a major source of responses to urban renewal in Wangsimni, although in this particular case the actual outcomes of those responses were far from desired. Urban renewal in Wangsimni namely seems closer to developmentalism, characteristic for Seoul in the past, than to anticipated sustainable development of Seoul in the future.

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Cheonggyecheon restoration: bridging old, building new divides in global Seoul

Urban regeneration in New York, London and Seoul, pp. 216-229
Urban Regeneration Network (eds.)
Pixelhouse | Seoul | 2009 | ISBN 978-89-958897-5-6

The article shows that it is the discourses and policies of globalization that have become not only the motor of urban regeneration, but also the main source of growing social and spatial divides in cities. These divides are even more obvious in globalizing cities such as Seoul. In conclusion the article argue that exclusion of marginalised social groups, which emerges as a consequence of urban regeneration, leads towards declined participation of citizens in the process of urban governance and towards alienation of cities as shared political institutions. Such undesired outcomes of urban regeneration may at the end prevail over its benefits, as the case of the Cheonggyecheon restoration illustrates.

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