Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Framing multiple purposed urban projects

The research focuses on multi-purpose projects that intend to create new urban space in the context of emergent urban networks. The selected projects not only have a major economic function in connecting the region with international networks of modern service economies, but they also are to interfere intensely with social and cultural purposes and the care for environmental sustainability in order to establish new urban space characterised by qualitative use value instead of the exchange value of purely commercial space. For this sake, the decision-making of the projects has to be framed as a strategy of democratic and innovative integration. The present investigation addresses a double institutional challenge to the framing of project decision-making: the need of multi-level connectedness and of integrative innovation.

The aim of investigation is to analyse the following sets of innovative dimensions in the framing of large-scale urban projects and their context-dependent combination:
-Connecting the regional service economy with international economic networks (the purpose of regional competitiveness);
-Condensation of cultural, social and economic flows of activity in diverse and high standard, multi-nodal networks;
-Balancing new urban patterns by multiple purposed development of mixed land use;
-Shaping the physical conditions for balanced spatial patterns;
-Resulting in new diverse use values of urban space instead of the exchange values of purely commercial space;

Context conditions:
-Multiplication of urban space;
-Fragmentation of urban interests, inequality and conflicting coalitions of power;
-Different sets of institutional conditions;
Strategies/ actions:
-Convergence of economic and political action (in concept-building and in strategic alliance);
-Coordination of public interests over partisans;
-Strategies of active democratic innovation;
-Practicing interconnected multi-level strategies;
-Cutting through sector boundaries.

The case studies of the large-scale urban projects are prepared in the context of the COMET consortium with full support of academic researchers and professional end users from the seven metropolitan regions involved.
Within these urban regions the following indicators are used to select the case studies of large-scale projects.
-The cases must contain an area-based concentration of sophisticated service sector development (tertiary or quaternary services), which connects the regional economy with global economic networks. The volume of economic activity should be large enough to ensure a substantive impact on the competitiveness of the region. The quantitative indicator of at least 20.000 aimed work places on location gives a more precise indication of the involved economic volume. A further indicator into the standard and the physical condensation of economic activity is the requirement of minimal 12 workplaces per hectare;
-The area should represent a critical mass of location potential such as to bear a considerable impact on the spatial and environmental organisation of the region. For this reason the location conditions of the area should be capable of supporting high level infrastructure connections and of combining multiple urban activities of different sorts;
-The selected projects may be in different stages of development, but the actual stage should be advanced enough to ensure a conscientious analysis of the evolution of framing concepts and coalitions of decision-making.

A structured questionnaire has served as guide to the analysis of the case studies. Furthermore, some eighty interviews have been held with key figures in the seven city-regions in order to deepen the understanding of the analytical findings. The interviewees are selected from the private sector, the governmental sector, the non-governmental sector (i.e. functional organizations, or quango's: quasi- administrative non-governmental agencies) related to urban economic and spatial development, such as railway companies, infrastructure management agencies, port authorities, land management agencies, housing associations), and finally well informed persons of civil society (academic circles, press, community groups).

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