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
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
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
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:
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).
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".
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