Regenerating Public Life in Barcelona and Manchester
Routledge – 2008 – 240 pages
As cities globally re-design their urban landscapes, they produce a different urban aesthetic and create new experiential milieus. Urban regeneration processes generate radical physical, social and cultural changes in neighbourhoods that demand new conceptual frameworks to address their impact upon daily urban life.
Sensing Cities investigates the reconfiguration of contemporary public space and life through the prism of the senses. The book explores how the increased stylization of cityscapes requires an understanding of public life as a spatial-sensuous encounter. Degen examines how power relations in public spaces are embedded in, exercised and resisted through the sensuous geography of place. This sensory paradigm is then applied to compare two emblematic regeneration projects, namely el Raval in Barcelona and Castlefield in Manchester. By combining detailed ethnographic analysis and interviews with those involved in planning regeneration processes and those experiencing them, the book argues that a changing sensuous landscape is crucial in redefining people’s social practices, attachments and experiences in places. Focusing on two European cities at the forefront of urban design, Barcelona and Manchester, Degen draws on sociology, geography, anthropology, cultural and architectural studies to provide a critical account of the politics of publicness in the entrepreneurial city.
With numerous photographs and maps this book stresses the ongoing, embodied and active nature of regeneration as a lived social process rather than merely a physical or economic exercise. Ultimately, Sensing Cities examines how urban regeneration is made effective through the organisation of sensory experience. This book is essential reading for students and researchers of Architecture, Urban Studies and Human Geography.
Part One 1. Introduction: Sensing Cities 2. Public Life in Late Modernity 3. Sensing the City 4. Sensuous Powers Part Two 5. Castlefield and El Raval 6. Planning Regeneration 7. Perceptions from ‘Down Below’ 8. Living in Regenerated Worlds 9. Conclusion: Regenerating Public Life? Bibliography
Mónica Degen is a Lecturer in Sociology at Brunel University where she teaches and researches urban culture, the senses, spatiality and cultural sociology. She has published in Environment and Planning A, The International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, and Space and Culture.