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Gentrification: The Latest Architecture and News

Tech, Class, Cynicism, and Pandemic Real Estate

It didn’t take long for the coronavirus pandemic to inspire both cutting-edge architectural design solutions and broad speculation about future developments in the field. Many of the realized innovations have been contracted by or marketed to the real estate sector. But as firms compete to provide pandemic comforts to rich tenants, the COVID-19 technology that directly affects working-class communities is mostly limited to restrictive measures that fail to address already-urgent residential health hazards or administrative conveniences for developers that allow them to circumvent public scrutiny. These changes had been long-planned, but they have found a new license under the pretext of coronavirus precaution. In terms of “corona grifting,” this sort of thing takes the cake.

Gentrification and Dystopia: The Future of Mexico City in the Aftermath of the Covid-19 Pandemic

'Territory and Housing' (2018). Image © Alberto KalachSanta Fe, Mexico City. Image © Johny MillerSolving the problem of crowding, drought, and flooding in Mexico City (June 2018). Image © Eduardo VerdugoMexico City During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Image © Santiago Arau+ 5

When looking at the population of the world's metropolises, in this case Mexico City, the reality is that the majority of the people living there have migrated from other regions of the country and, sometimes, from other countries as well. Of course, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, companies and schools have gone virtual, and, with their work and studies no longer tied to urban centers, people have left in masse for the coast and other less populated areas in search of space and lower living costs.

The Challenges and Opportunities of Urban Regeneration in Gentrified Areas of China

Since the 1990s, copious amounts of cities in China have been undergoing urban renewal. Prompted by this state-facilitated urban redevelopment, skyscrapers are being built rapidly in major cities to attract affluent middle-classes, resulting in countless relocation and displacement of the working-class population. Such process is known as “gentrification”.

As cities and neighborhoods are being gentrified thoroughly to meet middle-class taste and boost economic growth, urban land resources are being treated in ways to increase business potential, leaving little room for the development of urban street life. Among rows of concrete and steel constructions, nowadays, urbanites are struggling to find a place to sit, rest, and play during leisure time. Analyzing five architectural practices creating livable urban public spaces, this article discusses the challenges and opportunities of urban revitalization in China under the phenomenon of gentrification.

“BEFORE/AFTER”: An Architectural Documentation of Urban Changes in Hutongs

“BEFORE/AFTER” documents the drastic changes, both physical and psychological, which took place during the renovation of Beijing’s Fangjia Hutong in the months between April and September 2017. In 2019, OPEN Architecture was invited to participate in “Unknown City: China Contemporary Architecture and Image Exhibition”, the opening exhibition of the Pingshan Art Museum, with their work “BEFORE/AFTER”.

Leona Lynen Explains How to Fight Gentrification in ReSITE Podcast

Design and the City is a podcast by reSITE, raising questions and proposing solutions for the city of the future. In the fourth episode entitled Fighting Gentrification, Leona Lynen, a city-maker advocating for the collaboration between civil society and administration, talks about the case of Berlin and her new co-operative project.

Sharon Zukin on Privately Managed Public Spaces, Gentrification and Urban Authenticity

The Midnight Charette is an explicit podcast about design, architecture, and the everyday. Hosted by architectural designers David Lee and Marina Bourderonnet, it features a variety of creative professionals in unscripted and long-format conversations that allow for thoughtful takes and more personal discussions. Honesty and humor are used to cover a wide array of subjects: some episodes provide useful tips for designers, while others are project reviews, interviews, or simply explorations of everyday life and design. The Midnight Charette is available for free on iTunes, YouTube, Spotify, and all other podcast directories.

On this episode of The Midnight Charette Podcast, Sharon Zukin discusses the economic and social impact the technology industry has had on cities around the world, the relationship between gentrification and the commodification of modern life, building improvement districts and the increasing securitization of public spaces, and the desire to live in authentic neighborhoods.

Michelle Mlati's Afrofuturist Approach To Spatial Planning

With an academic background that includes social sciences, curatorship, and architecture, Michelle Mlati's trajectory is an interesting one; more so for the way her current work dabbles in these areas simultaneously.  

Describing herself as an afrofuturist critical spatial designer, Johannesburg-based Mlati’s practice investigates elements of the city, from sustainability through to social dynamics, architecture to aural and visual cultures.

Rios Clementi Hale Studios Address Gentrification Through New L.A. Office

The Los Angeles-based firm, Rios Clementi Hale Studios, a transdisciplinary practice engaging in design from urban planning to product design, opened their new offices in the city's Crenshaw neighborhood. A recent article by Metropolis Magazine outlines the firm's design process in creating their new office layout to emphasize their aspirations as an established practice.

Dear Internet: Stop Placing Blame for Gentrification on an Architectural Style

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "Architecture, Aesthetic Moralism, and the Crisis of Urban Housing."

It may shock some people to hear this, but architecture is not urban planning. It is not transportation planning, sociology, political science, or critical geography. However, architecture, new-build apartment architecture specifically, has become a social media scapegoat for today’s urban housing crisis: escalating developer-driven gentrification.

Out of my own curiosity, I searched several academic databases for research that successfully correlates the architectural aesthetic of new build apartments with gentrification. While many writers and denizens of social media really want to blame today’s bland, boxy, cladding-driven style of multifamily urban housing for gentrification, I’m afraid the research isn’t there. In fact, one study featured in a paper on neighborhood early warning systems for gentrification cites historic architecture as one of five predictors of gentrification in the DC area.

9 Principles of Ethical Redevelopment to Consider in Order to Improve Communities, Not Gentrify Them

A version of this article was originally published by Common Edge as "The Principles of Ethical Redevelopment."

Where does creativity live? Can the highest level of cultural production come from down the street? What does it mean to be a good neighbor, a good steward? How does that look when there are so many forces at work keeping people isolated? How do you see value in what others discard? Can we learn to talk about moments of success in our struggling neighborhoods, not as random and magical, but as sophisticated flexibility? What is civic empathy?

These are some of the questions Place Lab, a University of Chicago partnership between Arts + Public Life and the Harris School for Public Policy, explored in an exercise last year conducted with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation: it’s the articulation of a set of nine principles collectively called Ethical Redevelopment.

Is India's Plan to Build 100 Smart Cities Inherently Flawed?

The Indian Government’s Smart City Mission, launched in 2015, envisions the development of one hundred “smart cities” by 2020 to address the country’s rapid urbanization; thirty cities were added to the official list last week, taking the current total of planned initiatives to ninety. The $7.5-billion mission entails the comprehensive development of core infrastructure—water and electricity supply, urban mobility, affordable housing, sanitation, health, and safety—while infusing technology-based “smart solutions” to drive economic growth and improve the citizens’ quality of life in cities.

In a country bogged down by bureaucratic corruption, the mission has been commended for its transparent and innovative use of a nation-wide “City Challenge” to award funding to the best proposals from local municipal bodies. Its utopian manifesto and on-ground implementation, however, are a cause of serious concern among urban planners and policy-makers today, who question if the very idea of the Indian smart city is inherently flawed.

Spurred by Privatization, Beirut's Working Class is Colonizing the City's Periphery

27 years after the Lebanese Civil War (1975 – 1990), Beirut finds itself a city of conflicting personalities. A summer night stroll through the recently completed Zaitunay Bay Marina flaunts the capital’s ongoing facelift. What GQ calls “the chosen destination for young rich cool kids across the globe” is now peppered with glitzy glass-clad high rises, world-class nightclubs, droves of foreign tourists, and high-profile architecture. A Steven Holl-designed yacht club is just minutes away from Herzog & de Meuron’s Beirut Terraces, a luxury condominium skyscraper overlooking a seaside promenade that the resort refers to as an “urban beach.” However, this inner-city development has also had extreme consequences on the city's periphery, as shown clearly in this photoset by Manuel Alvarez Diestro.

© Manuel Alvarez Diestro© Manuel Alvarez Diestro© Manuel Alvarez Diestro© Manuel Alvarez Diestro+ 13

From War Relic to Mixed-Use: Plans to Build a “Green Mountain” Atop a Bunker in Hamburg

A team of local residents and architects in Hamburg’s neighborhood of St. Pauli have been granted planning permission for a proposal to repurpose a war bunker dating back from the 1940s. Coined Hilldegarden, the proposal seeks to create a “green mountain” garden atop the disused roof of the bunker along with a range of mixed-use projects that increase its height by several stories. “We are rebuilding what we inherit.” The project’s initiative states, “Adding something to history while dealing with it and thereby reshaping history itself.”

via PLANUNGSBÜRO BUNKERvia PLANUNGSBÜRO BUNKERCourtesy of Hilldegarden.orgCourtesy of Hilldegarden.org+ 19

AR Issues: How Cultural Buildings Can Help Prevent Gentrification, Not Cause It

ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this introduction to the January 2016 issue, Editor Christine Murray recounts what we know about gentrification, and how cultural buildings can be planned to encourage - rather than destroy - a neighborhood's cultural vibrancy.

Cultural buildings are the new town halls: more socially inclusive than the pub or the church.

The best cultural projects act as public spaces, schools for continuing education, crucibles for talent, fostering innovation and social happenings, from yoga classes to children’s libraries. When free of entry charge, they are a place you can go to learn, rather than just buy – a triumph of experience over consumerism.

But what we’ve learned from the failure of the icon-building boom is that, for a cultural building to really contribute to a city, it must be part of a social ecosystem, not simply a place for tourists to visit. A cultural hub must be connected into a pre-existing cultural vibrancy, supported by decent infrastructure and a community that actually lives there.

Through Bankruptcy and Boom: What's Really Happening in Detroit?

After exiting bankruptcy at the end of last year, Detroit has suddenly become something of a boomtown in the eyes of the media. Discourse now talks about Detroit Rising, the "Post-Post-Apocalyptic Detroit". Rents are rising, private investment is flowing into the city, and institutions that left the city for the affluent suburbs are now relocating back into Detroit proper. Too long used only as a cautionary tale, the new focus on the reality of Detroit and free flowing money opens the door for architects and urban planners, not to mention the wider community, to begin thinking about how they want to rebuild Detroit, and who they want to rebuild it for.

It’s the perfect opportunity to formulate plans that will genuinely aid Detroit, involve the community and create a revival that really achieves something. But as it stands, the "revival" forming in Detroit, aided and abetted by media coverage, will not improve conditions for the vast majority of Detroiters and will not create a sustainable platform for future growth, instead benefiting only the private investors and those rich enough to benefit from what is currently classic, by-the-book gentrification.

Renaissance Centre, a previous attempt to revitalise Detroit. Image © Flickr user paul bicaAn abandoned Detroit house. Image © Wikimedia user Notorious4lifeDetroit's Brush Park neighbourhood in Midtown. Image ©  Flickr user Stephen HarlanDetroit's ExpressTram. Image © Wikimedia user Danleo+ 17

Inclusivity as Architectural Program: A Reflection on Vancouver's Woodward’s Redevelopment Five Years On

Officially opened in 2010, the Woodward’s Redevelopment project designed by Vancouver based Henriquez Partners Architects and situated in the city’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), was a contentious proposal from the time of its inception, and has continued to be so in the almost five years since its completion. Yet as the large-scale mixed-use complex, and its role in the community, nears the first of many milestone anniversaries, it offers us a chance for critical reflection and allows for perceptions and understandings to be gathered and assessed.

What has made Woodward’s an interesting case study, however, is the project’s attempt to act as a model for responsible development with respect to the regeneration of its surrounding urban and community context. Yet there has also been much criticism, with fears over rapid gentrification and claims that it has displaced some of the community’s most at-risk residents. For managing partner Gregory Henriquez, however, it was seen as an opportunity to introduce a place of inclusivity into the neighbourhood and as a chance to “share a portion of the wealth created in real estate development to support the greater good.”

© Bob MathesonThe umbilical-cord-like "rebirth stair" is a defining feature of the development's public space. Image © Bob Matheson© Paul Worchal© Bob Matheson+ 8