Between fixity and flow: the density of institutional environments in the regeneration of urban waterfronts around the North Sea

Harry Smith, Maria Soledad Garcia Ferrari

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    Urban waterfront regeneration areas are a distinct example of where Castells’s space of flows generated by globalisation and the reorganisation of physical space meet, leading to debates over place identity. This paper argues that such meeting of local and global scales is mediated by institutional environments at local, regional and national levels which create differentiated dynamics of change in different places. While such diversity may be more evident when comparing examples of waterfront regeneration across the world, it is also apparent between cities in a relatively small geographic area but with different traditions of governance and urban planning. The paper draws on lessons from the Interreg-funded Waterfront Communities Project, in which nine cities around the North Sea – Aalborg, Edinburgh, Gateshead, Göteborg, Hamburg, Hull, Odense, Oslo and Schiedam – established a learning network and piloted innovative solutions and sustainable spatial strategies for creating socially inclusive, economically productive, and high quality environments in restricted waterfront areas and their hinterlands. Applying an analytical framework based on institutional analysis supported by a political economy approach, the paper examines how different institutional histories and cultures of governance – in particular in urban planning – in these nine cities, linked to different national contexts, have affected the mechanisms and organisational innovation that have been developed in order to effect urban waterfront regeneration. It emerges that between the ‘fixity’ of the built environment and the apparent ‘flow’ of economic, political, environmental and spatial forces there is a layer of ‘institutional thickness’ which moderates the direction, pace and form of change.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2008
    EventThe Fixity and Flow of Urban Waterfronts - Hamburg, Germany
    Duration: 10 Oct 200811 Oct 2008


    ConferenceThe Fixity and Flow of Urban Waterfronts


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