Posts Tagged ‘Regeneration’
Poitiers is a historic town situated in the west central area of France which contains a large panel of cultural heritage. Its population reaches 83.500 inhabitants.
Since Poitiers joined the URBACT HerO project, many transformations have been completed on the ground:
- The circulation plan has been altered which allowed pedestrians to recover a large part of the historical and heritage area;
- A new collective transport plan which takes this pedestrianization into account has been elaborated;
- A facades renovation operation has been launched with the example of the city hall. Additionally, some of the facades around the city hall square have been or will be renovated with financial assistance of the municipality;
- Big scale works of re-settlement and its surroundings have been conducted. Further 38 000 square meters will be then retreated, whereas public and private stakeholders have explicitly worked out the accessibility to the shops and public facilities;
- Artists were recruited for actions on the valorised public space;
- Historical monuments located in the heritage area were renovated;
- A Reference Plan for the settlement of the safeguarded area and its surroundings has been adopted;
- A Tourism Development Plan to improve and make the tourist offer of the city centre more attractive has been elaborated.
Within a few months, the heart of the city has changed due to considering the principles of sustainable development and specific constraints of a heritage area. Both private and public stakeholders of the city centre were deeply involved in the transformation processes.
The completion of projects is scheduled for the middle 2013.
Director, City of Poitiers
Partner in URBACT HerO Project
Sesto San Giovanni, partner in NeT-TOPIC URBACT Project, is a city undergoing transformation: from the 20th century factory town to a new multi-functional city, with high quality housing, commercial space and offices, new green areas and public facilities.
The new urban development plan, called Piano di Governo del Territorio (P.G.T.), is the framework for this transformation and it governs regeneration projects on big abandoned industrial areas (over 2 million square metres), close to the city centre. The P.G.T. also promotes the reuse of industrial architecture.
In fact, the city is applying to have the industrial site of Sesto San Giovanni included on the World Heritage List in the “Organically Evolved Landscape” Category. Thus, industrial memory is central to urban development and the city’s new identity.
The URBACT Local Support Group (primarily comprising members of the UNESCO project support group, called Comitato di sostegno UNESCO) is reflecting on this complex transitional phase and trying to tackle three issues through the Local Action Plan:
- What is the role of industrial heritage in the new urban model promoted by the P.G.T.? How can the industrial heritage be a real strategic asset for urban development?
- Which functions have to be prioritised in reusing industrial architecture? Public facilities, public services, high functions (museum, library, university, exhibition centre,etc.)? And/or private functions (commercial, tertiary, etc.)?
- The reuse of industrial architectures is expensive, especially for cleaning areas: what kind of financing can be promoted? Public funds, public/private partnership, sponsorship, private investment, etc.?
On last 24-25 September, the City of Sesto San Giovanni held an International Symposium to promote the UNESCO Candidature: “Sesto San Giovanni: a History and a Future. Industrial Heritage for the Whole World”. The third section of the Symposium was dedicated to URBACT Local Support Group questions, mentioned above, and to some international experiences: Nord-Pas de
Calais in France, Gunma in Japan, Le-Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland, Soufli in Greece, Pachuca in Mexico, Ruhr-Emscher Park in Germany, and Piombino and Venice in Italy.
The Sesto S. Giovanni Local Action Plan will also study these contributions and international experiences in depth, trying to apply them to the reuse of local industrial heritage.
NeT-TOPIC local project coordinator in Sesto San Giovanni
In the Netherlands there is one form of outreaching social support that has increasingly been applied in the past few years. It is generally addressed as the ‘behind the front door’ method. Professionals using this method actively and directly approach marginalised people to find and help them with their
most important problems. This new method has been widely applied in the Dutch ‘neighbourhood approach’. It is supposed to encourage cooperation within the social sector. In a recent literature study of Nicis Institute, commissioned by the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, different experiences within the ‘behind the front door’ approach have been collected.
Behind the front door
The ‘behind the front door’ method is applied in a wide variety of projects and policy fields. This study includes the following working areas:
- Debts, nuisance and abusive situations
- Family support
- Elderly people living independently
- Domestic violence
- There is a growing tendency in the Netherlands to use a certain degree of force when it comes to preventing people from falling down the social ladder;
- Discussion about the ‘behind the front door’ approach mainly concern accountability and home visits. These visits should always be legitimate and well-founded;
- Most of the professionals using and clients ‘receiving’ the ‘behind the front door’ method are very positive about it;
- For multi-problem families the ‘behind the front door’ method has turned out to be very useful, because they often do not ask for help or do not know where to go;
- The ‘behind the front door’ method is a good way to spot social problems. However, the method does not seem to be the answer ;
- The ‘behind the front door’ method can only deliver lasting effects if the entire structure of social support is improved.
For more information, download the report (NL) about the ‘behind the front door’ method here
- Dutch Bi-Annual Report – PDF
Catalysed by events in Haiti and coinciding with new earthquake and tsunami incidence in Chile and the Pacific, the World Bank has just launched a new publication “Safer Homes, Stronger Communities – a Handbook for Reconstructing after Natural Disasters“. This is an interesting composite of structured guidelines, tapping into experience of agencies and stakeholders stretching across most recent global catastrophes from Pakistan through Indonesia to, the laboratory almost that is, Haiti.
Many of the messages included in the document have a strong relevance for sustainable urban regeneration in the general sense. However here, and particularly in the context of areas at risk in developing countries, the concept of sustainability has an extra dimension. Sustainable reconstruction means rebuilding communities and the urban fabric in a way that is resistant to similar future natural impacts. The comprehensive document sets out ten principles (Reconstruction begins the day of the disaster , Institutions matter and coordination among them improves outcomes, Reconstruction is an opportunity to plan for the future and to conserve the past, etc.)
Interesting to note the fact that certain of these recommendations do not correspond to our experience of a European approach, albeit at another scale level and in a different context, in L’Aquila.
During the launch event the Haitian Ambassador to the EU and Belgium, Mr. Raymond Magloire, did not shy away from the reasons for why Haiti has been disproportionately more severely affected by a lesser magnitude earthquake than the situation in Chile. He identified large-scale poverty as a major contributory factor compounded by lack of building control and unregulated land tenure. This is another slant on the discussion of land tenure raised in the URBACT Citylab on Metropolitan Governance where the city of Malmö explained how public ownership of land was a major advantage in achieving desired development patterns and realising comprehensive environmental management in the city.
Further discussions ranged around the desirability of establishing an autonomous “reconstruction agency” to cut through dedicated departmental/institutional competences in disaster situations. Here again another topic concerning URBACT cities the question of leadership was raised as a critical essential feature of any coordination structure. Praveen Pardeshi (Head of Regional Coordination UN Strategy for Disaster Reduction) “the only thing that makes a real difference is governance” and in this he stressed to target results at the local level with involvement of the affected population.
This document is well worth consulting for both policy makers and practitioners and the authors describe it as a starting point to be further developed as it is put online in an interactive forum.
URBACT Thematic Pole Manager
At the beginning of June 2009, I reported for URBACT on the effects of the earthquake on the Italian city of L’Aquila “such a catastrophe represents the extreme challenge for urban regeneration in the broadest sense”. Today events in Haiti (earthquake 12th January) take the idea of “extreme challenge” to a totally different, almost unprecedented, level – in terms of the localised impact of a natural disaster.
The Haitian Communications Minister reports that the direct death toll in the capital Port au Prince alone, has already reached more than 150,000. This suggests that we can expect a total figure in excess of 200,000 with some estimates suggesting that 1,500,000 have been made homeless. In the midst of this Guido Bertolaso, head of the Italian Civil Protection Service, responsible for coordinating and implementing the response to the L’Aquila earthquake, has voiced concern about the organisation and leadership of the International aid effort and coordination of recovery support measures.
It would certainly be instructive to examine what L’Aquila has taught us, to evaluate progress in re-housing displaced populations and restarting community life, to retrospectively assess why often recent constructions were worst affected by the acute tremors. However it is also important to remind ourselves that Haiti has suffered this additional misery on the back of a legacy of breakdown in all forms of governance.
Human rights activist Jean-Claude Bejaux prior to the earthquake “Government does not exist, the State does not exist, an administration does not exist. The government cannot even ensure provision of minimum basic human needs”. When we couple such a context to almost complete destruction of the urban fabric (unlike L’Aquila), where no internal support mechanisms are in place, the challenge for incoming aid organisations, whoever they may be, is “hors catégorie”.
As URBACT prepares to experience the luxury of discussing the problems and potentials of Metropolitan Governance in a City Lab in Lille next month, it is precisely the complete lack of any such structure which compounds the immediate and long term effects of the Haitian catastrophe.
The Montreal Conference uniting UN and principal supporting nations suggested that it would take 10 years for Haiti to recover …..hmmmm?, perhaps we should ask L’Aquila.
Final question: Does the Haiti experience justify the creation of a pan-European “crisis rapid intervention force” to capture the highly professional and effective national initiatives under one EU coordinating framework?
Philip Stein, Thematic Pole Manager