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Title: Logiche e dinamiche operative per la gestione delle trasformazioni urbane: il caso dei Large Scale Urban Development Projects
Tutor: Bianchi, Giovanna
Keywords: Large Scale Urban Development Projects
Collaborative Planning
Public-Private Partnerships
Urban Governance
Issue Date: 18-Nov-2013
Abstract: This research aims at investigate a topic probably not well examined by national and international literature, which is the one of the evolutions in operational rationales and patterns followed in contemporary urban planning. The hypothesis here discussed is that the transition from the so-called “modern” to the so-called “contemporary” city has engendered a number of issues, including a need for adjustment of a planning practice that is both not completed yet and can’t be longer avoided. In order to carry out such a survey two different case studies will be analyzed, the large scale urban development project of Paris Rive Gauche, in Paris, and King’s Cross Central, in London. From the late ‘70s a number of factors, among which the research pinpoints the disappearance of manufacturing industry from large urban contexts, caused a deep physical and socio-economic restructuring process in many European cities. As a consequence, also the urban planning models followed during the previous decades faced a corresponding restructuring process. In particular, what fell in crisis was the traditional plan-led rationale that for at least three decades characterized urban planning in many European countries. Indeed this rationale was considered by many scholars and practitioners no longer suitable to respond to the increased complexity characterizing contemporary urban contexts. During all the ‘80s a massive practice of deregulation has been proposed as the answer able to face such an issue. From the traditional plan-led model previously followed to implement urban strategies, the switch to the simplistic deregulation of real estate industry based on a property-led rationale knew a wide spread. Despite such an ambition, even also this alternative led in turn to many critics, mainly related to the ability of such models to achieve social and sustainable goals. Therefore, in the late ‘90s and even more at the beginning of the new Century different operational rationales and patterns began to be established, in order to face both the initial and unsolved restructuring process and its first attempted reaction. The aim of this research is to better understand the progressive affirmation of this kind of operational patterns and to critical review them. In order to better conduct such a survey, the methodology is based on the analysis of two significant case studies, and more specifically a certain type of urban transformation known in the international literature with the diction of “large scale urban development projects”. This research consists of four sections. In the first one will be described the background of the research, and then how this will be developed. By literature review will be discussed what caused the fall of a city that many other authors called “modern”, and the corresponding rise of a “contemporary” city, which will be analyzed. Then the research will focus on the discipline which has the city as its subject, that is urban planning. Therefore, it will be discussed how, in the different stages of urban evolution, urban planning met a corresponding evolution process, in order to understand different models followed by the discipline, but mainly to understand its ability to evolve in order to face always new issues. At the end of this first section, it will be discussed the framework of the whole research, in regards to what kind of methodology has been chosen, here based on case study research, and on how these case studies have been selected. In the second section will be discussed the theoretical context of the research, by the review of national and international literature on the topic of operational rationales and patterns in urban planning. This survey will start from the analysis of different patterns in public decision-making, focusing on the process that brought form the rational model to the affirmation of the incremental model. Then it will be discussed how decision-making patterns in public and administrative context reflect in the urban planning discipline, and how this affects the operational patterns used to implement these different models. As a second topic analysed in this section, it will be discussed the phenomenon of large scale urban development projects. Last two decades knew a wide spread of these kind of projects, whose success is commonly due to their ability in achieving a set of different purposes ranging from the redevelopment of large neglect urban areas to the improvement of competitiveness in metropolitan contexts. Moreover, these large projects permit to sum up some interesting trends in contemporary planning practice, because they are the result of important evolutions in the operational patterns followed their design and implementation. The third section will deal with the analysis of the two case studies of Paris Rive Gauche and King’s Cross Central. Both these case studies are well known by national and international literature, but here it will be given an original interpretation which aims, for the French one, to retrace the events that brought to the affirmation of the patterns we are discussing about, and for the English one to carry out an in-depth review of the state of the art in implementation of large projects and in the interaction between the actors involved in this implementation. The fourth section includes the conclusions of the research, where the literature review conducted in the second section will be compared with the report of the two cases, in order to answer to the research questions formulated during in the first section of the work. The topic of large urban development projects has been already discussed, especially in regard to the relationship between these and the affirmation of a new-liberalism in urban planning. However, not as many studies are specifically focused on the description of operational rationales and patterns in large scale projects, that on the contrary constitute probably the most original contribution of such projects. The spread of large projects could bring back up to the crisis of comprehensive plan, and to its inability in managing evolutions in contemporary cities. For these reasons, a broaden knowledge in evolutions of operational patterns can be useful in achieving a more effective planning practices.

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