2018 Special Focus: Urban Regeneration (UR)—Between Regeneration and Resentment

"Resentment becomes a lengthening pole between them and us; the have consumer and the have-not consumer. Resentment calls up mass movements, more systems take command… pressure groups thrive in unidentified resentment…gangs form in the void where the community ought to be and is wanting."

Alison Smithson, “Collective Design: The Violent Consumer, Or Waiting for the Goodies”, Architectural Design, (nº 5, 1974, pp. W274-279), p. 277.

The history of Urban Regeneration (UR) in contemporary cities is a cyclical one. We have repeatedly seen deprived areas in our cities demolished in a circularity process of destroying the “bad” old past in order to generate a promising new “good” future. We have seen this process happening mainly in areas that are targets of economic pressure, mostly related to fragile social/working housing and their communities. This is a process which makes, and simultaneously unmakes, the environment. In-between people are displaced and community bonds are dismantled.

This theme aims to make the problem of what is hidden under the persistent "label" of UR visible, and to bring it to discussion. Although this process is always presented as a positive outcome for the evolution of cities, something which enhances the quality of life of urban communities, we intend to begin a conversation that addresses how UR is also catalyzing a continuous process of loss, not only related to public spaces, but also leading to increased resentment among communities. Both are opposed to the so-called process of progression.

To address this important issue, cross-disciplinary proposals, both theoretical and practical, are welcomed. Work from research-based contexts to concrete engaged transformation projects that bring to the forefront the complexity of this problem.

  • How can we make case studies from different geographies and cultures where urban regeneration happens visible?
  • How can we unveil the sense of resentment between communities and buildings as they relate to cases of urban regeneration?
  • How much waste is created in the continuous dismantlement of buildings related to the urban regeneration cyclical processes?
  • How can we protect public spaces and social interests from increasing economic privatization, when austerity measures are dismantling them in idea and form?
  • How can we create strategies that maintain and improve what exists, rather than repeatedly erase in order to start from scratch?
  • How can we create socially engaged practices that stimulate and rethink how to reinforce social relations in existing communities?

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