Competitive cities and architecture. : A case study of Malmo, Sweden

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Malmö universitet/Institutionen för Urbana Studier (US)

Sammanfattning: Abstract    This thesis explores the evolving relationship between architecture and the globally competitive city, specifically examining how architects are involved in the realization of market metaphors that underpin city-branding on global markets. Specifically, this research focuses on waterfront redevelopment projects of post-industrial cities. Post-Industrial cities responded to their shared period of economic despair and declining port-related activities through embracing market-led city planning. This would repurpose their old redundant port sites and attract further economic investment. Through this, post-industrial cities sought  to appear more attractive on global markets, and this would in turn attract investment and foster new knowledge-based economies. City-branding became a key tool in this effort, with the goal of attracting investors and skilled individuals. The city's framework for city-branding has since greatly guided the output of the urban environment, and this has had a major impact on the work of modern architects. The theoretical section of this paper argues that architectural firms are complicit in maintaining the market metaphors of the city, and act accordingly to city-branding in reinforcing the entrepreneurial ethos of the city.   The argument of this thesis is that the close relationship between architecture and fostering competitiveness within city planning of competitive cities is a result of the prioritization of commercial considerations over architectural autonomy. It is argued that due to globalization, the neoliberal ethos of competitive cities has restructured the development of the built environment globally to economically brand cities. This has resulted in a reproduction of the neoliberal critiques we see which are related to the social welfare of those a part of the neoliberal regimes. The hegemonic nature of neoliberalism ensures the freedom of global markets, which this thesis discovers to have ranging social effects on architecture. Overall, the neoliberal ethos of competitive cities now ensures that architecture should reflect the investment appeal of the city, and promote an entrepreneurial spirit in the urban environment to the dismay of architects.     The analysis section employs press release analysis and interviews with architects to test the proposed theoretical frameworks of city-branding and neoliberal architecture. The findings demonstrate that architectural firms and their flagship projects do align with marketised city branding. However, the insights from our interviews reveal disparities between marketized branding and architects' personal interpretations of their work. Architects perceive architecture as an artform which struggles to maintain balance amidst the demands of global markets.

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