Thursday, May 08, 2008

Cleansing and Alchemy

When exactly did 'Regeneration' become the catch-all term for any act of building in a city? The word is perfect, ideologically: it captures first a certain contextualism, a working with what is already there, like the 80s German 'critical reconstruction' (whereas 50s terms like 'comprehensive redevelopment' sounded a bit scary); it sounds vaguely religiose and philanthropic; and like Blairism itself, declares that the bad old days of uncaring capitalism are gone, now we have a warm, considerate neoliberalism. The rise of this term was worth pondering upon finding a little magazine called 'REGENERATION' in the Guardian yesterday.

Produced by Lyonsdown Media Group, known for such publications as Franchising and - of course - Flexible Working, Regeneration is not, unlike say Movello, a straightforward glossy portfolio or catalogue of stunning developments. This one is more concerned, and hence more ideological, its intentions more cleverly phrased. For instance, a column on those PublicPrivatePartnerships argues that local councils should have more power in the schemes (though certainly not build by themselves, good heavens), so you have to search a bit for the giveaway phrase. It comes eventually though: ' the issue is that the right person to move into a property is not necessarily the same as the person who is next in line on the waiting list'. Let's not forget that James Baldwin once dubbed Urban Renewal in US cities as 'Negro Removal'.

Then there are all the cities competing for that all-important Bilbao effect: Swindon, Newport, Newcastle (where 'heritage drives urban regeneration'). Swindon even has its own little new town style corporation, 'The New Swindon Company'. The images all have certain things in common: water, for some reason, obsesses the urban regenerator (a strange compulsion to be in the frontline when the tides start overwhelming the cities?), as does extraneous bits of building like high-tech style bits of scaffold, or pine dressing. All these cities, rising from the ashes of the proletariat and its industries. Like Gordon Brown once did, they claim to have abolished boom and bust, magicked away the cycles of capitalism. 'No longer are our cities vulnerable to the single-industry shocks of the 80s', writes the vice chair of the British Urban Regeneration Association (presumably the service industry will last forever). This is so prevalent that it becomes the telos of every urban intervention - even a brutal urban war.

So, (as Roger mentioned here) we now have 'the logical end result of the Iraq war': an urban regeneration scheme for the Green Zone. A mixed-development, high-end project with accompanying 'regenerator's watercolour' depicting Landmark Architecture. So while at one end of the city there is no electricity, at the other end American chains and Saudi plutocrats are buying up the wasteland to create more gold from shit.


Anonymous Rob said...

Have you seen Meades on regeneration?

Whole episode worth watching - I think the rest of it is in youtube somewhere

10:54 pm  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

Yes, I had that in mind a bit, actually - and the 'Europeanising' comments the other day come from that episode too (should have credited him, am tardy).

12:48 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apropos "urban renewal" as "Negro Removal", here (as if on cue) is Alan Dershowitz talking about Israel and the Palestinians:

"Political solutions often require the movement of people, and such movement is not always voluntary ... It is a fifth-rate issue analogous in many respects to some massive urban renewal."

- as quoted by Johann Hari, today:

11:58 am  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

Bloody hell. That beats the Sudetenland defence by quite some way. (might have to shoehorn that quote into my Israel piece....)

1:38 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here what i found -> vision correction

12:40 pm  
Blogger ekle paylas said...

nice blog Thanks for sharing. voicesohbet was really very nice.
sesli chat siteleri sesli sohbet
sesli sohbet siteleri sesli chat
seslichat seslisohbet
sesli siteleri chat siteleri
sohbet siteleri sesli siteler
voice sohbet sesli sohbet siteleri
sesli sohbet seslisohbet
sohbet siteleri sesli chat siteleri
seslichat sesli chat
herkesburda herkes burda
sohbetmerkezi sohbetmerkezi

11:16 pm  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home