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Redevelopment through rehabilitation. The role of historic preservation in revitalizing deindustrialized cities: Lessons from the United States and Sweden
Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Linköping University, Department for Studies of Social Change and Culture, Department of Culture Studies.
2007 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper is the result of a fellowship at Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies, funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond in Sweden, allowing the author to compare policies and practices of historic preservation in the U.S. and Sweden. One purpose was to compare the preservation and rehabilitation of an industrial district in the city of Norrköping with interesting counterparts located in the U.S. It was natural to pick one case from Baltimore with its traumatizing experiences of deindustrialization and disinvestment. Baltimore could also represent historic preservation in the North. Another case would be picked in order to represent the South. The choice fell on Durham, a considerably smaller town than Baltimore but of a size and character that was comparable to Norrköping. Except for looking at these cities, the author has also visited Raleigh, Richmond, Wilmington, Philadelphia, New York and Providence. Surveying and comparing national policies is one part of the purpose but not the dominating one. That could easily have been done without visiting the U.S. Instead, one basic idea with the paper is that national policy only influences rehabilitation projects to a certain degree. The local practices of city and state governors, planners and developers are more important for the results and consequences of redevelopment. Rehabilitation of the built environment in cities has to be studied primarily at the local level in order to be fully understood. Rehabilitation is approached as a cultural phenomenon here, instead of being seen as mainly an economic phenomenon. This means that the very concepts of rehabilitation, reuse, preservation and heritage are looked at, but also they way in which these concepts acquire meaning through public discourse. The perceptions of adaptive reuse are not universal but have national origins and have been formed by national cultures. Practices, on the other hand, have found national, regional as well as local expressions. The re-evaluation of a built environment is taking place not just as a consequence of economic factors but also within a cultural process. This means that the structures are actively given new meanings through redevelopment. Blighted properties become symbols of culture, creativity and regeneration. The past of the built environment is interpreted and used in order to make it attractive again. What this means to cities which are trying to profile themselves as creative hubs or as commercial centers will be elaborated below. The paper is divided into five parts. Part I is largely a discussion of previous research on urban redevelopment with historic profiles. The traditional Marxist approach of criticizing developers and city governors for going into unholy coalitions and creating alienated and privatized spaces is met with demands of the need to recognize the relative independence of the spectator. Urban space is interpreted not only by developers and planners but also by citizens and organizations, and in this view the dominating part of Anglo-Saxon research has been too deterministic. American preservation policies and views on reuse are treated in Part II. The historic shift from emphasizing new construction to preserving urban fabrics is traced and explained. In Part III, the two American case are described and analyzed. Emphasis is on the interpretation of the site-s history and how it affects the reuse. Lack of public accessibility and support are taken as evidence that redevelopment in the U.S. is focused on the interests of the property owner. Part IV is a more detailed study of the Swedish case and especially the concern with creating public spaces. In Part V, finally, the comparison between the U.S. and Sweden is carried through, first discussing differences in policies and then going into how practices result in different design and accessibility solutions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Baltimore, Maryland. USA: Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies , 2007. , 94 p.
Keyword [en]
Historic preservation, rehabilitation, urban regeneration, industrial heritage, deindustrialization
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-39465Local ID: 48687OAI: diva2:260314
Available from: 2009-10-10 Created: 2009-10-10 Last updated: 2010-05-12

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Legnér, Mattias
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Faculty of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Culture Studies
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