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By : Hulya Turgut, Rod Lawrence and Peter Kellett

The 21st century has been designated as the century of urban transition. Urban environments have become a key reflection of the changes in today's world of dynamic and constant flux as cities throughout the world experience fundamental social, cultural and economic transformation. Socio-cultural and urban identities are being radically transformed; globalization, internationalization and the rapid flow of information all play a significant role in changing cities and their people. During the last three decades significant investments of monetary resources and professional expertise have led to numerous projects and programmes concerning urban regeneration, housing renovation, and the revitalization of old neighbourhoods. Many countries have witnessed significant changes during the 2000s and these have been reflected in urban renewal projects. Reform of provincial governance and other reforms of city planning have been much more centred on urban renewal. In current urban design projects, urban transformation and renewal issues have gained importance. Urban transformation and renewal are agents of integrated visions which aim at regenerating urban places on the verge of physical and social collapse, by activating existing dynamics rooted in the local economy. In many countries the most common approach has been based largely on quantifiable criteria related to the functional and physical performance of buildings, the financial return of monetary investments, and projections about demographic and economic trends. It has been rare to explicitly integrate the aspirations, preferences and values of local residents living in or adjacent to projects. The key question today is: how can future projects define a comprehensive programme of work if they continue to ignore the point of view of the local population? Instead of relying heavily on technical solutions by professionals, both quantitative and qualitative approaches are necessary and they should involve a wide range of actors from the public and private sectors including citizens. To explore these issues, an international symposium was jointly organized in Istanbul in October 2009 by two networks of the International Association of People-Environment Studies (IAPS). These are the 'Culture and Space in the Built Environment - CSBE' and the 'Housing' Network which have accumulated considerable scientific knowledge and experience. The symposium was addressed to an international audience of researchers, postgraduate students, teachers and professional practitioners involved in different disciplines including architecture, cultural studies, geography, sociology, economics, planning, political science and urban history. The objective of this initiative was to explore the interrelationships between new urban dynamics, urban renewal and transformation projects within the global restructuring process. This focus provided a framework for examining new approaches to revitalising built and urban environments in many countries. In addition, Istanbul's strategic location made the symposium a vital point of reference for understanding urban trends in Europe and the Middle East. The objective of this special issue of the journal is focused on concepts and methods related to re-urbanization and the revitalization of the built environment at the scale of neighbourhoods. Although there is a large consensus on what is required to create successful urban development, different countries have adopted contrasting strategies for urban transformation. The state and local governments in many countries now recognise that problems deriving from the deteriorating state of residential buildings and decreasing housing construction must be handled and the rehabilitation of housing estates and urban residential environments require arrangements both at national and local levels. During recent decades, various terminologies have been used to define these phenomena. A number of related concepts present overlapping meanings despite their basic differences in functions, objects, aims and methods: renewal, renovation, restructuring, rehabilitation, revitalization, and gentrification are all relevant in this respect. Urban renewal is the transformation and renewal of the old structures of the city in line with the social and dynamic conjuncture of the age. The aim of urban renewal within this context is to revitalize these older parts of urban areas which have lost their previous functions for diverse reasons, including changing manufacturing practices and locations. Parts of urban space may be derelict, threatened, physically degraded, damaged, obsolete, and even destroyed by numerous factors including the impact of urban development activities and changing economic policies. The objective of this special issue of Open House International is to examine the relationships between new urban dynamics, urban renewal and transformation projects within the global restructuring process. To highlight the aims, definitions and applications of urban renewal, the editors have selected key articles among the papers presented at the symposium to explore the current strategies and practices of different countries in order to provide a framework for new applications for revitalizing urban environments. The authors of the selected papers analyse different urban revitalisation and requalification approaches in Belgium, England, Finland, Hungary, Israel, Japan and Turkey. . This set of articles applies different definitions of urban transformation which vary according to different visions, objectives, strategies and methods. Urban renewal expresses the whole of the strategy and actions as applied in comprehensive and integrated approaches for improving economic, social, physical and environmental conditions of decay and collapse of urban areas. The scope and nature of urban transformation therefore impacts on the existing structure of the city and the physical, social and economic future of the people who live there with potentially significant impacts on local traditions and quality of life. This underlines the value of interdisciplinary collaborative practices underpinned by theory and international experience. This special issue aims to support these endeavours. For information about the -IAPS- international association of people- environment studies visit the website: For information about the IAPS Housing network visit the website: For information about the IAPS-CSBE network: visit the website: & in-the-built-environment/ To see all the papers presented at the 2009 IAPS - CSBE and Housing Network in Istanbul see: Turgut Yildiz, H. and GŁney, Y.( eds.) "Revitalizing Built Environments: Requalifying Old Olaces for New Uses" in CD Format, ( ISBN: 978-975-561-359-8). Note: The next joint symposium of the IAPS Housing and CSBE networks will be held in Daegu, Korea from 10th to 14th October 2011and it will address "Continuity and change of built environments - Housing, Culture and Space across life-spans". See: http://www.iaps2011symposium.Kr/down/call.pdf

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