Fernández Águeda, Beatriz
Urban Planning in Industrial Cities: the Reversibility of Decay.
In: "City Futures in a Globalising World. An international conference on globalism and urban change", 4-6 junio 2009, Madrid.
At the present time, most cities are trying to take an international position and become global cities. On the other hand of our ever dual society, we find the cities that once were the symbol of the industrial society and nowadays lay abandoned and useless, suffering from serious problems of decay.
For these cities, good governance and good city planning are essential to survive and stop their decline. Nevertheless, the processes of urban decay have usually been dealt with an economic approach; the reversibility of urban decadence was linked to the restitution of economic value and lost status, not to the improvement of the quality of life or to the amelioration of urban or social conditions.
Business districts, shopping malls, amusement and theme parks have usually been the “solution” given by planners to revitalize industrial cities in decay. However, some successful experiences in Europe make us think that the regeneration of old industrial territories is connected with a good regional strategic plan, with the recuperation of lost industrial traces and with the participation of local agents in the process .
Nevertheless, the question posed by industrial cities in decay is wider, it refers to the urban model they would be able to follow and the possible futures these cities would be able to endure. Their ruins are an implicit critic to the prevailing urban model. How can the fourth most important city in United States in 1920s have become the poorest city in 2000? The question underneath is if continuous and unceasing growth is the only model for urban success. Or can the consequences of urban decay (urban voids, increase of open land...) be the source to a new urban model: better governed, better planned, more compact, more environmentally sustainable: more complex?