City Issue

Urban Theory, articles and research

Temporary Uses as a Tool for Urban Regeneration

The final_report of _TUTUR project | URBACT EU_

In the past decade, faced with disadvantageous demographic and economic trends, European cities have begun focusing on small and local scale development schemes, reconsidering their planning tools in order to foster efficient use of existing resources instead of large-scale, capital-intensive developments. There are various reasons to explain this paradigm shift. TUTUR focused his activities looking at how to start regeneration actions in the city through the re- use of vacant spaces, public and private ones. The concept of vacant space is ample and goes from the land use to the function of building, from the city fabric to the edifice and its indoor spaces. Indeed, TUTUR was dedicated to investigate and make operational practices of Temporary Uses; they exist and develop just in symbiosis with the existence of vacant spaces. In this report, we look at the experience done in TUTUR paying attention to the following aspects:
•The contribution of the project to the current state of art of Temporary Uses in Europe. The ways we succeeded in transferring information and creating knowledge related to Temporary Uses among the partnership.
• The meaning and role of Temporary Uses in contemporary urbanism.
Urban voids, urban bugs, brownfields, abandoned buildings/places, anti-space, non-lieu are different names, with different nuances, highlighting the negative film” of the city. Temporary uses work with these “city scraps” in order to make them a resource. TUTUR experimented through a proper methodology, supported by the URBACT one, in three cities innovative and effective ways of introducing practices of temporary uses within public administrations. To make operational and sustainable the recycling of spaces in the cities through design of proper urban policies dedicated to temporary uses as means for urban regeneration. As stated in the TUTUR baseline report, nowadays, investors, projects developers, landowners, development agencies (public and/or private), municipalities get the value of these practices. They start to see how these “in between spaces” are drivers of local
rooted processes, and how these processes have a high degree of manifold sustainability. Many of the current positive place-making activities with perspective/with future have their seeds in these urban areas. These kind of areas, most of the time, casually and unpredictably pop up and out from the city fabric: “ Key urban actors do not see temporary use as the hobby of social engaged planners any more, they see that effective and sustainable development of “life in the city” (das urbane Leben) should be linked to contextual aspects
(Christiaanse, 2013).”
The economic-financial crisis which has induced cuts in public spending and investments in urban development, industrial restructuring and technological advancements, the rise in contemporary flexible office work and multi-use of different kinds of property, an increased spatial need of counter-culture activities, as well as increased use of popular public spaces (Lehtovuori, 2013). The rising significance of creative industries has drawn increasing attention to the “creative milieus”, to which temporary uses contribute significantly, all while new technologies continuously enable spreading the word at great speed on these activities among interested communities. In this quest for sustainable and low-risk planning instruments, many municipalities recognized the potential of temporary uses to activate the greatest variety of underused or abandoned territories, such as brownfield sites, disaffected commercial areas or empty office buildings. In order to make use of these potentials, some cities have established programs, offices or departments for temporary use, facilitating social reuse of empty properties in order to support neighbourhood renewal. The employment of temporary use as a tool for urban development is based on establishing communication between owners and potential users, on network building, and on the identification of resources and the collection of data. This requires a flexible legal framework, a fast decision- making process, local sensibility and the continuous integration of experiences in the model, all aspects which have been addressed in the TUTUR project. The objective of the TUTUR project is thus to introduce the method of temporary use in urban regeneration to cities participating in the network and to provide an answer to the following: How can practices of temporary uses be mainstreamed and framed in
replicable, and effective urban regeneration policies/ programmes/ strategic plans schemes? In starting to answer this question, the TUTUR project relied on the pioneering achievements, which have represented the starting point of the project’s rationale: Bremen’s ZwischenZeitZentrale.
The City of Bremen, in promoting an urban policy like the ZZZ (Zwischen ZeitZentrale) demonstrated high sensibility in understanding the new demandcoming from the neighborhoods. This policy integrates itself in an already rich contest of instruments managing urban transformations in Bremen. Among these it is worth remember the new land use plan and the“Soziale Stadt” actions in different areas of the city ( Bremen Förderungsgebiete) making life in the city qualitative. The main key features of this Bremen policy can be summed up in following points:
•ZZZ is a “soft urban policy” thought-provoking transformation in under-used/abandoned areas;
•ZZZ is a policy cross cutting other planning instruments, while it builds synergies with them based on specific projects;
•ZZZ is promoter of socio-economic and cultural instances within the city, which could not arise in normal free market rules/behaviors;
•ZZZ structures and initiates the urban transformations in looking for a balance between bottom up instances and the inputs coming from real estate, economy and political actors.
The ZZZ experience has already identified and, brought to happy end, many projects in its now six years of activity. Many of the local projects and re-uses were made possible through the action of the ZZZ team and included the participation and the engagement of citizens, a crucial element in order to give a new meaning to use of abandoned buildings/area. In other words, a part of the successful practices lies in the will of the “temporary users.” The permanent collaboration with local “actors/stakeholders/shareholders networks” makes the temporary uses actions more effective, and through a strengthened network, it is easier to sustain a new initiative in a neighboUrhood. Temporary uses have to become acknowledged as “catalysers” of economies to be exploited through urban regeneration/ development initiative

 

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Author: Κ.Θ.

Urban narratives, theory and research

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