MIPIM 2014 wrap up

City regeneration strategies

2014 was the 25th anniversary of MIPIM – the world’s biggest property expo, and annual industry pilgrimage to drink champagne in the south of France.  Yet beyond the sunshine, sand and socialising, it can be a fascinating place to study urban trends, with 384 local and public authorities from 34 countries participating this year. Some key themes from the display stands used by cities to promote their investments were:

  • Collaborative city regions – Helsinki / Tallinn and Copenhagen / Malmo;
  • Connectivity – rail and flight diagrams demonstrated anywhere can be the centre of somewhere; and
  • Transit led regeneration – focused on over station redevelopment in Barcelona, London and Helsinki.

From wandering the exhibition halls and listening to various speakers in the cities conference stream, here is a snapshot of innovative ways cities are regenerating in an increasingly optimistic, but still damaged global economy.

Dolni Vitkovice, Ostrava, Czech Republic The city of Ostrava in the Moravian-Silesian region of the Czech Republic has demonstrated creativity and resourcefulness in adapting a former iron works into a vibrant cultural precinct.  Adapting brownfield land for alternative uses can be challenging, particularly when the former use has been industrial as the costs associated with demolition and remediation can be significant.  Ostrava has opted to preserve the majority of the site in situ, adapting buildings such as a gas-holder into a concert hall; a blast furnace into an industrial museum; and the central electricity station into a market and performance space, with the atmospheric spaces in between now home to the annual colours of Ostrava music Festival (pictured). Through resourcefulness, patience and creativity, the Dolni Vitkovice project has helped preserve the unique culture and heritage of Ostrava, adapted to changing global market conditions, improved quality of life for residents and created employment opportunities. http://www.dolnioblastvitkovice.cz

V200, Torino, Italy The City of Torino is undergoing a gradual process of regeneration for its 2 million residents, with some 5m sqm of brownfield land redeveloped from 1995 – 2003 and a further 5m sqm still to be converted.  Although the city is home to major employers Fiat cars and Lavazza Coffee, their ‘V200 Projects’ scheme in the north east of the city focuses on how to create successful development in hard times. Torino describes their approach to regeneration as focused on flexible, timeless plans irrespective of investors.  Relying entirely on brownfield land, they utilise a bottom-up approach that progressively builds up the attractiveness of districts for users and investors through placemaking events and temporary uses, with incremental growth and flexible infill.  Of key interest was their approach to crowd funded regeneration.  Describing the process as working with ‘many small hands’, Torino said that investment through micro economic networks is at least, if not more so important than seeking out global investors as it enables a finer grain of regeneration that can have a more immediate and positive effect on people’s lives. www.youcanbetontorino.it

Jenfelder Au, Hamburg, Germany Thanks to Scott Burnham and his excellent Futrastructure presentation for making us aware of a water recycling project in the planned neighbourhood of Jenfelder Au in Hamburg.  A 35 acre former barracks is being converted to housing for 2,000 residents in a mix of housing typologies underpinned by infrastructure innovations such as the ‘Hamburg Water Cycle’ system for collecting and treatment of black water, grey water and rainwater.  The pilot project is led by the Federal Ministry of Transport Building and Urban Development; with the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development. The Hamburg Water Cycle divides household wastewater into three separate flows:

  • Black water effluent from toilet waste;
  • Grey water from bathing, clothes and dish washing; and
  • Rainwater run-off from impermeable surfaces.

This closed water approach will not only recycle rain and grey water for residential use but also generate energy from effluent waste.  Drawing waste-water from 630 dwellings, Jenfelder Au is the largest known trial of this technology to date and we hope very much it can be replicated in other communities. www.hamburgwatercycle.de

Vertical Garden City, Tokyo, Japan The Committee on Urban Structure, Association for Tokyo Urban-Core Rejuvenation is attempting to regenerate the Akasaka, Roppongi, Toranomon and Shimbashi areas of Tokyo into a Cultural Centre.  An interesting component of this precinct is the Vertical City concept proposed by the late Minoru Mori, whereby super high rise buildings are promoted to free up public open space, that is then terraced and layered to efficiently accommodate cultural, transport, infrastructure and leisure uses.  Underground levels are also utilised, with theatres, supermarkets metro stations and other communal spaces. http://www.mori.co.jp/en/company/urban_design

In summary, there are clear trends that can be seen across cities as they face similar challenges of regeneration after the loss of major industries.  They are all coming up with their own innovative approaches to meet these challenges, and there is a lot we can learn from each other.  We will be back next year to see how they are progressing, and maybe see you on La Croisette for some Champagne!  

Elizabeth Reynolds