Impact Of Gentrification On Built Form Cultural Studies Essay

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Urban geographer Ruth Glass first observed this habit of upper middle class households purchasing properties in the traditionally deprived East End of London during the 1960's and it was this apparent contrast with previous waves of middle class migration and residential choice that marked it out as a new phenomenon (Lees 2007). The process however was not singular and by the 1970's had been identified within cities worldwide.

In Australia gentrification manifested itself in varying degrees around 1960 (Uzun 2003) with significant change occurring during the period of 1980 - 2000 (Dingle & O'Hanlon 2009). Generally this process of gentrification and urban renewal was accompanied with a shift away from a Fordist mode of production to a post-Fordist production system (Ä°lkuçan 2004), with the occupational structures within such urban areas shifting from blue collar employment to an economy based around the service industry including professional, administrative and technical occupations. This new middle class and their residential choice reflected, in the same way as Glass' identification in London, a drastically different lifestyle to the original occupants.

Gentrification as described by key researchers have long viewed the process not only as a social phenomenon but also as a process based around consumption. The urge of a certain fraction of the middle class - the gentrifiers - seek to create and maintain distinction within the areas they inhabit (Ä°lkuçan 2004). Through this process of living in inner-city neighbourhoods, this new middle class of professionals and service workers are having an effect on built environment. Through socialising with people with the same ideals, living in areas with a certain aesthetic, purchasing and upgrading properties the same typology of buildings in older neighbourhoods close to urban centres, an overarching strategy of capital is developed, one which is associated to the lifestyle choices expresses the identities of those who live there.

The question pursued in this paper is: How has change in the social construct of a gentrified area influenced the built form and use of existing structure? The evidence from the literature suggests that society impacts greatly on the built environment and that the retail landscape reflects the degree of social change through the mixture of shops, restaurants and services that initially attract people to, and surround, the lifestyles of the gentrifiers. By referencing this literature in conjunction with key census data and an analysis of socio-architectural change within Fitzroy and Geelong West a comparison of retail form and the degree to which gentrifiers have influenced their surroundings can be drawn.



The gentrification literature is focused on two separate thoughts regarding the processes inherent in its production, including both demand and supply-side discussions.

Demand-side discussions (Ley, 2003, Hamnett, 2003) rest on the existence of a new middle-class responsible of gentrifying some inner-city neighborhoods thus referring to a structural change involving a demographic and social transformation redefining the status of the area within the general layout of the city. Ley (2003) sees the roots of gentrification lying in the changing industrial structure of major cities from manufacturing to financial, cultural service-based industries and a change in the occupational structure from manual working class to white collar professionals, managers and technical workers which are concentrated in major cities thus relating gentrification with a new middle class, to be called 'gentrifiers'. Ley and later Butler argue that as a result of these changes in class composition, there have also been changes in cultural orientation and preferences predisposing these people to living in the inner city (Hamnett, 2003). At this point Ley (2003) points out to the place of aesthetic disposition in formulating the impact of cultural preferences on gentrification and he pays attention to a high percentage of artists and others shaped by their proximity to the aesthetic disposition of the artist such as intellectuals, journalists and educators in gentrifying neighbourhoods.

At the other end of the spectrum according to the supply-side discussions, Smith (2002) argues that the driving force behind gentrification is not the new middle class but the growing rent gap between property values and underlying land values in the inner city. This gap has been exploited by the actions of property-based capital, estate agents, developers and the like and gentrified undervalued inner city housing for profit. Thus according to Smith gentrification is the outcome of the capitalization of urban land in the hands of not the gentrifiers but the developers for profit making. Hamnett (2003) says Smith in fact doubts the existence of this class. However Smith does not reject the place of a new class formation but he refers class and its attitudes on urban space, which Ley argues is reflected by class preferences, as shaped by economic developments. In other words, it is the restructuring effects of economic capital that formulates the place-specific attitudes of the urban class strata. So Smith does not refuse the existence of a class component of gentrification but he refuses to give it a major role in explaining the roots of gentrification.

Smith (2002) also supports the idea of gentrification as an evolutionary process. By examining the development of gentrification in a historical perspective in New York, Smith has explored three phases of gentrification as sporadic from the 1950s to the 1970s, anchoring in late 1970s until 1989 and generalized following 1994. The first phase is bound with the rehabilitation efforts mostly in the hands of small investors, first in major advanced capitalist cities such as New York. In the anchoring period, gentrification is a major place-specific reinvestment in the center with an unprecedented capital flow into inner city land and property by the developers. This was followed by an increasing role of the municipalities and financial investors. Coming to the 1990s, gentrification supplied the housing for new generations of young, upwardly mobile professionals operating the global city's financial, corporate and myriad related enterprises and gentrification is generalized in city scale and with the second waves of gentrification in more central districts.

Thus gentrification is also evident in more unlikely centers down in the urban hierarchy. Lees

(2000) follows Smith's ideas and she argues that it is not only in these so-called global cities

that gentrification has been proceeding apace. Further down the urban hierarchy in cities, inner city neighborhoods are being redeveloped and revalorized. At this point Smith pays attention to the regeneration policies as a driving mechanism for the spread of gentrification across national boundaries as a means of global urban competition. Smith argues that gentrification to differing degrees by the 1990s evolved into an urban strategy for city governments in the name of urban regeneration policies, in consort with private capital in cities around the world expressing the particularities of the place in making of its urban appearance (Smith, 2002). So most of the gentrification researchers come to the point that appearance of the already formulated origins of gentrification are time and place-specific.


The appearance of this new class of young and high-income, educated white collar professionals, has brought different logics and outcomes in diversity of the spatial form of gentrification in different geographies. According to Zukin (1990), spatial form may be most obvious through consumption spaces like main streets. In which a proliferation of goods and services are evident that cater to the gentrifiers, with main streets starting as an enclave of upper-middle-class domestic consumption, then linking to new concentrations of creative capital such as in advertising, architecture and design.

Diversity originates from the class explanations of gentrification taken as a driving mechanism by itself or as an effected body of capital formulations. Lees points out to the fact that the notion of urban community has changed (Lees, 2000, p. 402) with the profound transformation in advanced capitalism. The shift to service industry and the associated transformation of the class structure has led to an aesthetic way of life enriched with the peculiarities of high-income and a high perception of cultural opportunities in the inner city.

The buying of commodities has been identified as increasingly important to the construction of people's identities. In other words, the types of commodities bought, such as clothes or foods, symbolise lifestyles and senses of self. The visibility of the consumption practices of the new middle class is a key characteristic of gentrification. For some, the consumption landscapes of gentrification, especially the residential environment (Ley 1996), are distinctive and set the new middle class of gentrifiers apart from other members of the middle class.

Gentrification emerged as a spatial component of this transformation. In Smith's words (2002), it increasingly implies new restaurants and shopping malls in the central city, waterfront parks and movie theatres, brand name office towers alongside brand name museums, cultural complexes and the like all the signs of a new life style not only rich in cultural capital but in economic capital as well. The life style of the new professional expressed in trendy restaurants and bars, home décor and designer boutiques and art both public and private in order to be bohemian in a fashionable way or to live trendy in the regentrified or supergentrified (as used by Lees, 2000) neighbourhoods of the financial centres of global capital.



In the previous section this thesis has traced the conceptual connections between the acknowledged characteristics of gentrifiers, their associated consumption practices, and possible retail implications. Through this understanding this paper now concentrates on the two study areas of Fitzroy and Geelong West and seeks to identify the physical and socio-cultural transformations that have occurred within the study areas.

The discussion that follows is based on two forms of information and analysis. The first is an overview of the development and change in form that has occurred since 1970. Followed by an analysis of the current types of retail establishments found and classifying each of these in terms of the types of retail outlet or service provided. This information allows for overview of the composition of these retail spaces and compare them with what is known of the consumption practices of gentrifiers. Whilst we are aware that it is not only local residents who frequent these retail spaces, it does seem reasonable to assume that local residents make up the greatest proportion of their shoppers.


As discussed previously the spatial form and building use within a gentrified environment is exemplified by its main streets and residential structure which further the development of the gentrified micro-geography separate to the surrounding areas. Both Fitzroy and Geelong West are similar in nature and categorised by such a long main street (Brunswick Street and Pakington Street), with terminations of major roads at either end, both areas also maintain a consistent residential structure of a mixture of brick terraces and renovated and extended weatherboard 'workers' cottages' and California bungalows.

Both areas and their development are discussed separately in the following analysis which covers the context of each area and a discussion of the change in development types and social structure. At the conclusion both areas will be commented on and a judgement made on development practices.


Fitzroy is an inner-city suburb housing a mix of residential, retail, light industrial and cultural uses within walking distance of the central city. It is Melbourne's oldest suburb and was initially sub-divided in 1839 when demand for labour without public transport produced a mix of factories with row-housing and a reputation for poverty and crime.

The 1950s saw an in¬‚ux of post-war migrants from southern Europe. In the 1960s, several entire blocks were replaced with high-rise public housing; a residents association was formed in 1969 primarily to resist further high-rise housing. From the 1970s, Fitzroy saw a growing component of student and artistic bohemian life which produced an aura of authenticity that attracted a sustained wave of gentri¬cation from the 1980s onwards. Row-houses were renovated and industrial buildings converted to residential use. House prices rose to almost twice the metropolitan median as the population density fell. The ethnic mix changed as post-war migrants moved out of the worker housing and new migrants of Indo-Chinese, Middle Eastern and lately African ethnicity moved into the public housing.

The area of Fitzroy has busy streets on all sides. Brunswick Street to the west is a small grain mix of cafés, bars, restaurants and specialty stores; the vitality and diversity of street life here are a city-wide and tourist attraction. The northern and southern edges are both heavily trafficked arterial roads.

The older residential interface is generally mediated by small front gardens while the converted industrial and new residential buildings generally have entrances directly on the street, often coupled with garage doors and blank walls. Industrial buildings in the northern section and row-housing to the south serve to blur this division and the transformation of most warehouses and factories into apartments has largely eliminated the functional divide.

Many blocks, particularly within the southern section, contain new residential infill in various contemporary styles. The zoning code divides the area into 'residential' to the north and 'mixed-use' to the south. The commissioned urban character study claims that Fitzroy is "notable for the consistency of its Victorian streetscapes" (City of Yarra, 1997).


As manufacturing industries closed in the later 1970s and early 1980s, the council and the local planning body took steps to change public perceptions of the area, with the aim of halting this decline, this process is in direct comparison to the development of the retail landscape in Fitzroy, as the development was instigated by council as opposed to the growth of student and bohemian lifestyles.

The then recently established Geelong Regional Commission (GRC) undertook a range of planning studies for the Geelong West City Council. These plans presented a new vision for the municipality, aiming to emulate the changed image of the inner Melbourne suburb of Carlton. Two of the mechanisms for cascading gentrification that Lees discusses seem to have had a role in the gentrification of Geelong West. The first is the idea of "serial reproduction: the reproduction of regeneration policies, plans and ideas across cities, and in particular, from bigger cities to smaller cities." This appears to have been very much the case in Geelong West, where the GRC proposed Lygon Street's ambience as a model for bringing new life to Pakington Street. The birth of the Pako Festa in 1983, four years after the Lygon Street Festa in Carlton, also highlights of serial reproduction.

The second mechanism is the concept of the "gentrification lifestyle," which diffuses through from larger to smaller cities. The growth of heritage consciousness in Geelong West, through the 1970s and 1980s closely resembles the moves to protect old buildings in the gentrified areas in both Melbourne and Sydney. The Pakington Street Plan In 1982, the Geelong Regional Commission (GRC) published the Pakington Street Community Shopping Centre Plan. The Plan revolved around the idea that Pakington Street was Geelong's answer to Melbourne's Lygon Street. By the early 1980s, Lygon Street was Victoria's textbook example of a successful inner-city shopping strip. After conflict between residents and various government agencies through the late 1960s and 1970s, Lygon Street was seen to be a shopping area with unparalleled ethnic chic. Carlton, and Fitzroy had overthrown their old image as a slum and was attracting young, white collar middle class workers.

The analysis by the GRC planners said that the "Lygon Street theme," based around its stock of well preserved nineteenth century buildings, Italian and Greek shops, and the large number of cafes and restaurants in the strip make it "a place where people go to spend time as well as to shop." These elements, they felt, made it 'cosmopolitan' and appealing to the inner city professionals who had moved to the area. The key points of similarity between Pakington Street and Lygon Street, according to the Plan, were their historic streetscapes, a product of their heritage as shopping areas, higher than average residential densities and the fact that both Carlton and Geelong West are "demographically and ethnically mixed areas." Most of the recommendations were of a planning nature, including extensive plans for the reintroduction of older-style post verandahs, for street treatments, and measures to limit the speed of traffic through the shopping district, to make Pakington Street more closely resemble the Carlton shopping street.

The GRC's willingness to propose Lygon Street as a model for reviving Pakington Street, and the Council's adoption of their plan, are measures of the flexibility of these agencies. Lees' discussion of the serial reproduction of rejuvenation policies and ideas uses the example of New York's South Street Seaport as a template for waterfront developments around the world. The difference in the case of Pakington Street was that the Lygon Street's success was not the result of planning decisions. It had evolved through the actions of traders and had become popular as the gentrification of Carlton progressed.

The protection of heritage housing within the suburb was presented as one of the most important strategies for achieving this objective. In the recent history of Carlton, the Carlton Association, most famous for fighting off the demolition of the suburb's heritage streetscapes, is credited with changing the image of the suburb from a slum to a highly desireable place to live.

In 1986, a Heritage Conservation Study was published, recommending the protection of dozens of buildings, several streets, and an entire section of the city. The interest in preserving and restoring heritage buildings was one of the keys to gentrifier behaviour in the larger cities, what Lees refers to as the 'gentrification lifestyle.' As in the case of the adoption of the 'Lygon Street theme' by the council, the difference between the examples in the larger cities and in Geelong West was that this process was driven by activists on the Council, rather than in opposition to it.


The early 1980s were the critical time in changing for both Fitzroy and Geelong West. During which time the social structures and

Pakington Street was at a low ebb as a shopping centre. Traders embraced the opportunity to make their strip the centre of attention. The local council was not backwards either, having approached the newly-formed Geelong Regional Commission to advise them on how to stimulate their much loved but declining municipality. With the publication of the Strategy plans for both Pakington Street and Geelong West as a whole, a new vision of the area emerged, which used its central location and unique shopping strip as a draw to encourage families to settle there.

At the same time, the local focus on the built heritage of the area was translated into a Council Committee, culminating in the protection of parts of Geelong West in 1990. The striking thing about the remaking of the area is that despite their magnitude, they have not disrupted the civic pride of West's people and their continuing feeling they have of living in a special place. The passion that drove them to protest against the central freeway and amalgamation seems to have endured up to today, and is clearly seen in local affection for Pakington Street.

The difference between the two places, I would suggest, is in the interaction between the different interest groups. Whereas the Carlton Association fought the Melbourne City Council, in Geelong West, local pride led the councillors to fight the Freeway and amalgamation, and to be innovative in seeking ways to revive their municipality. Not everyone in Geelong West feels that the changes of the last three decades have been for the best. Kevin Kirby speaks somewhat sadly of the modern community, but his fellow former Councillor Ken Wilks says the main change he has seen is the return of families to the area. He does not feel that Geelong West has been gentrified, just revived.

Geelong West has been, in a sense, a winner because of deindustrialisation. As industry has departed, property values have risen, and a different class of resident has arrived in the former municipality. Geelong West has thrown off its long-term history of workingclass ardship, but there are other places in Geelong where the transformation of the economy has not been so kind. Corio, just a few kilometres to the North, was built after the Second World War as a dormitory suburb for workers in Geelong's manufacturing industries, many of which have now closed. In a 2007 study published by Jesuit Social Services, it was listed among the most disadvantaged postcodes in Victoria. Documenting life in Corio from the Second World War up to the year 2000, is part of the future research agenda for this project.


We were interested here in the symbolic systems of these retail spaces - how they communicate meaning and the connections between these meanings and other symbolisms of gentrification. Our intention is not to draw direct parallels between what we read in these retail spaces and the consumption practices and identities of those using them. Rather, we analyse these material forms and their associated symbols in order to gain more understanding of the range of meanings available to consumers. Whilst this methodology clearly has shortfalls in relation to the meanings derived by actual consumers, it does enable an understanding of the connections between the symbolic workings of these spaces and the well-known symbolic attributes of gentrifiers.

Approximately one-third of outlets sell some kind of commodity, followed closely by restaurants, then services, by which we mean local services like real estate agents, laundromats, dry cleaners and solicitors. Some housing remains, especially in Glebe, with a small proportion of premises vacant when we took our inventory. Community uses include facilities like libraries, community centres and seniors' centres, a comparatively minor use of space. More conventional entertainment venues - live theatre, night-clubs, pubs - were not significant, with the exception of Newtown.

There are a number of general features of the retail-scapes of these inner west neighbourhoods that require comment. First is the lack of 'chain' stores in any of the categories. With the exception of supermarkets in Balmain and Newtown, franchised wine and beer stores in all neighbourhoods, and a bakery franchise called 'Bakers Delight', retail outlets on these streets were not part of a chain of stores. The same applies to services, with the exception of some real estate agents.

Sydney's retail landscapes provide a particularly sensitive indicator of the balance of forces in gentrified neighbourhoods due to the absence of retail chains of cafe´s and bars, as well as shops, so common elsewhere in the gentrified neighbourhoods of Western capitalist countries. It may be that there is more scope for local innovation in terms of commodities sold and consumption styles as well as the local retailscape matching local consumption practices. A second point is that these neighbourhoods are places of business as well, although much more so in Balmain than the other three places. Just over 10 per cent of the retail/commercial operations in Balmain are businesses that do not directly cater or the local community. They cover the offices of property developers, word processing/secretarial services and small creative sector businesses like architects and designers and associated consumption practices, and possible retail implications. Whilst retailing has not been systematically analysed in the gentrification literature, two avenues of investigation can be drawn out of geographic understandings of retailing. The first is the role that retailing plays in the construction of identities through its encouragement of particular sets of consumption practices. We are especially interested in the sorts of consumption practices supported in the retail spaces of gentrified neighbourhoods. Second, retail geography alerts us to the existence of microgeographies of retailing, or locally distinctive ensembles of retail establishments. Thus we are also interested in exploring whether the retail spaces of gentrified neighbourhoods are geographically distinct.

The 'urban village' atmosphere of many inner Sydney neighbourhoods is frequently remarked upon as distinctive and desirable in both general press reports and in real estate marketing campaigns (Bridge forthcoming; Stymes 2000). These microgeographies of retailing also alert us to possible differences between gentriŽ ed neighbourhoods. Differences in the gentriŽ cation process across nations (e.g. Badcock 1989; Lees 1994b), within nations and within cities (Butler 1997) are increasingly highlighted. Butler's (1997) work on London implies that being a gentriŽ er in Hackney is different from living in gentriŽ

ed Hampstead. He points to the material and lifestyle differences that exist between public sector professional employees on lower incomes but with considerable cultural capital and largely Labour Party voting, with those professionals working in the private sector on high incomes and more conservative orientations. These strands of the middle class are beginning to occupy different neighbourhoods that have all experienced gentriŽ cation in terms of their prior working-class histories but are now developing distinct ambiences depending on the types of gentriŽ ers that occupy them. Pressures in the housing market mean that the income differences between fractions of the middle class are becoming evident in spatial separation in different neighbourhoods. The question that interests us in this paper is whether there are also distinctive retail ambiences in gentriŽ ed neighbourhoods. In other words, does the particular ensemble of commodity outlets and performance spaces in the gentriŽ ed high street point to evidence of distinct consumption aesthetics developing in different neighbourhoods?

In this section we have traced conceptual connections between the acknowledged

characteristics of gentriŽ ers, their associated consumption practices, and possible retail

implications. Whilst retailing has not been systematically analysed in the gentriŽ cation

literature, two avenues of investigation can be drawn out of geographic understandings

of retailing. The Ž rst is the role that retailing plays in the construction of identities

through its encouragement of particular sets of consumption practices. We are especially interested in the sorts of consumption practices supported in the retail spaces

of gentriŽ ed neighbourhoods. Second, retail geography alerts us to the existence of

microgeographies of retailing, or locally distinctive ensembles of retail establishments.

Thus we are also interested in exploring whether the retail spaces of gentriŽ ed

neighbourhoods are geographically distinct.

In contrast to the architectural transformation related to the public strategy of the urban renewal program, iconographical and micro-morphological transformation of the streetscape is produced by interacting patterns in individual projects or tactics: By the individual projects of inhabitants, visitors and other users of the city, as well as by shop-owners and other producers of small-scale environments. The observable patterns in changes of the streetscape can be associated with general patterns of changes in demography, in preferences and in urban practices. The concrete observable patterns are gradually developed by a diversity of individual projects realizing individual desires in relation to available resources and judgments of potentials in situations that also comprise public building regulations.


In general, the most visible form of transformation of immigrant and gentrified streetscapes today is the growth of a variety of shops, cafés and eateries placed within older architectural environments. The combination of old and new seems to give inner city neighbourhoods a specific character that many gentrifiers seem to value. Historical buildings give the area a sense of place and historical depth, while the changes in use at ground floor level add dimensions of novelty and style. By emphasizing the architectural stability, the new "global" metropolitan lifestyles are embraced in settings of local, stable distinctiveness and peculiarities.

And, as we later shall see, also the architectural adjustments related to programmatic transformation of the factory premises along Akerselva, supports the notion of architectural stability in the Grünerløkka area.

By interplay between observable patterns of differences the recognition of stability related to the preserved architectural characteristics can in itself be said to be involved in different homologies and distinctions in processes in which a 'sense of place' and identity are produced: In addition to distinction of recognizable architectural characteristics that can be contrasted with characteristics of later architectural systems, the notion of architectural

stability in historical architectural environments often imply a focus on interrelations between patterns produced by past and present practices in the area.

In contrast to the architectural transformation related to the public strategy of the urban renewal program, iconographical and micro-morphological transformation of the streetscape is produced by interacting patterns in individual projects or tactics: By the individual projects of inhabitants, visitors and other users of the city, as well as by shop-owners and other

producers of small-scale environments. The observable patterns in changes of the streetscape can be associated with general patterns of changes in demography, in preferences and in urban practices. The concrete observable patterns are gradually developed by a diversity of individual projects realizing individual desires in relation to available resources and judgments of potentials in situations that also comprise public building regulations. In the previous chapter we have seen how the architecture developed at Grünerløkka exploited the possibilities given by the building regulations, and how the (predictably) homogenous interest of a large number of investors and entrepreneurs produced a recognizable pattern, all in accordance with the political intentions of the building regulations. Also the morphological changes analyzed above, can be seen as a products of a public architectural strategy (with economic incentives). The process, in which micro-

morphological and iconographical patterns of architectural transformation are produced within an existing urban area, represents a slightly different relation between planning authorities and individual actors. These patterns are developed by a multiplicity of tactics that, taken together, transform the streetscape by exploiting the range of possible variations given by the situation. Most of this happens on a level of detail that escape public regulations. The observable patterns can thus be related to homologies and distinctions in individual tactics that by aggregation produce patterns which by others are experienced as strategies.

Observable patterns in how different commercial spaces advertise or expose their commodities and services towards the streetscape can be seen as a reflection of the demographic situation in the area. Such new patterns can be seen as a reflection of demographic changes both when it comes to inhabitants and user groups. Briefly summarized the main tendencies 348 in the demographical history of Grünerløkka and Grønland have produced a current situation of different coexisting, competing, and interacting socio-demographical groups that in a somewhat simplified manner could be

associated with notions of the "the old and weary", "the young and hip" and "the exotic ethnic": 349 During the first three quarters of the 19 th century both Grünerløkka and Grønland suffered from massive depopulation: From 1910 to 1966 the population was decimated by 50%: 350 During the 50s and 60s young and resourceful families moved out to the new satellite towns, while more deprived groups such as pensioners and benefit recipients remained in the area. 351 Grünerløkka and Grønland were cheap, central and run down and totally different from the new and popular satellite towns. At the same time marginalized groups in need of inexpensive places to live, groups of people demanding cheap housing because of other priorities, and also groups of people with alternative domestic preferences than the ones the constituting main part of the market, started moving in to these areas. The immigration from non-Western countries started with industrial workers in the 70s that settled in these relatively cheap, central areas. Gradually their families followed, later on also an increasing number of refugees. At the same time as

corner shops in Norway in general were suffocated by the competition from large supermarket-chains, the increasing immigrant population had developed a market for imported "immigrant" food shops in these areas. During the 1980s and 1990s (i.e. after 352 the urban renewal programs) Grünerløkka, but lately also Grønland, has received an increasing number of relatively young, ethnical Norwegian, smaller households, gradually replacing some groups of immigrants, elderly, and socio-economic marginal groups (except residents that stay put in their municipal social housing apartments).

The most striking observable reflection of the socio-cultural and programmatic changes at Grünerløkka (in particular, but partly also at Grønland), is the development of a rich variety of street oriented cafés, bars and eateries as well as a wide repertoire of life style oriented shops. This development, in relation to intensification of both street life and park uses

can be seen as a reflection of changes in patterns of urban socio-spatial practices associated with "urban recreation" comprising shopping and entertainment in settings in which consumption of places and it's imagery seem to be as important as consumption of commodities and services. In this perspective, the streetscape of Grünerløkka has developed into an arena for exposure and exploration of new lifestyle-expressions related to new sets of urban practices and consumer preferences. In the current Norwegian media

discourse 353 on the development of urban socio-cultural phenomena, lifestyles and "the latest and newest", the streetscapes of Grünerløkka are ascribed an unique position as both incubator, laboratory and exhibit-arena of such aspects of urban socio-cultural transformation. A few main patterns or general tendencies in iconographical and micro-

morphological changes can be observed as reflections of the programmatic and socio cultural transformation of the "architecturally stable" streetscapes in the study areas of Grønland and Grünerløkka. Some of these tendencies are also recognized and discussed by other researchers that have investigated urban transformation related to gentrification and immigration: Æ Extensive use of visual elements representing references to other places

or other times introduce aspects of otherness into the streetscapes: The new repertoires of commercial spaces introduce iconographical elements with more or less explicit references to other places, other cities or cultures, for instance in terms of global references (i.e. products integrated into the global economy, or cultural imports related to immigrant-driven enterprises). The variety of commercial spaces with an "international" or "continental" character is often ascribed symbolic value and as such seen as providing the area with an "urban" and "trendy" image. As discussed by Doreen Massey, the global references

can be seen as "mediators" in a local-global interplay creating a "global sense of place". 354 In addition, historical style elements, retro-concepts, etc. in many of the new total-designed establishments play up against the existing historical architectural environments in different ways, creating illusions of other places and other times. This can be seen as a more or

less artful manipulation of the "architectural narrative" contained in the local history of urban practices. Æ Variations in levels of investment and exposure of consistent design strategies produce patterns of differences between commercial spaces with a more or less deliberate informal or pretentious character - from the most thrifty and austere (but not necessarily minimalist) to the utmost staged and total-designed (but not necessarily excessive). Within the repertoire of new commercial spaces there is a tendency towards more ambitious and consistent design strategies. The increased focus on creating a distinct atmosphere of adventure and style can be said to reflect that great emphasis is put on consumption of place and experiences of place, in addition to the qualities of commodities and services as such. In contrast, the more thrifty design strategies can be said to reflect emphasis on competitive advantages related to price and quality of commodities and services. Street orientation: Many of the new establishments are more directly oriented towards the public street space than the traditional shops in the area used to be. New kinds of connections and interplay between the interior shop spaces and the exterior street space can be observed. The street orientation of the new retail units or eating-places transform the spatial integration the public street space (and its activities and users) and the commercial space(and its activities and users). The public street space is made use of in different ways:

Æ’ By extensive use of sidewalks for outdoor seating,

Æ’ by display of goods on the sidewalks,

Æ’ by use of large an spacious shop windows for improved visual

contact between inside and outside, and

Æ’ by use of large windows that can be pulled aside in the summer

season (with cushions for seating on the window sills), etc.

Æ Homologies, distinctions and cross-references:

Uses of design elements to communicate the profile of the establishment can be related to patterns of distinctions and homologies. There is a quite high turnover on commercial spaces in the study areas, and continuous changes in design and uses of iconographical elements. Within these relatively rapid changes, patterns in uses of iconographical eferences between different kinds of establishments can be observed: there are of course uses of

imitation to create associations and uses of contrasting design strategies to distinguish the profile of the establishment, but there are also numerous examples of iconographical characteristics that are mimicked

with irony, and play with cross-references. As discussed by Bourdieu, 355 interacting relations of homologies and distinctions are dynamic, and this becomes even more obvious in a situation of rapid changes. 356

In the following I will investigate observable patterns in micro-morphological changes and uses of iconographical means that are characteristic of different types of new commercial spaces that have emerged in the "architecturally stable" streetscape of the study areas Grünerløkka and Grønland: I will look into how the new patterns exploit the possibilities

defined by the architectural situation - and how the observable patterns transform aspects of the street architecture. I have selected a few trades, in which patterns of differences can be observed and analyzed, to explore variations within main tendencies.

Furthermore I have included a few more detailed studies to illustrate typical examples. These are:

- Hairdressers - an investigation of iconographical and micro-

morphological patterns of differences between traditional

Norwegian hairdressers, new "trendy" hair studios, and the new

more austere immigrant barber shops and hairdressers.

- Specialist food stores - an investigation of iconographical and

micro-morphological patterns that are typical of how immigrant-run

(fruit and vegetable dominated) food shops and halal butcher shops

exploit and transform the architectural situation, and a discussion of

patterns of association and contrast between the architectural

appearance of these types of establishments and a typical new total-

designed delicatessen shop.

- Places of entertainment - an investigation of patterns of

iconographical and micro-morphological differences that

characterize different types of establishments such as the typical

"brown" pub and the coffee bar, and a more detailed discussion of

how the design of some of the new café spaces play up against

different aspects of the historical architectural situation, and as such

create "architectural narratives" of place-identity by emphasizing

and manipulating the history of local socio-spatial urban practices.

- Spaces for shopping life-style markers: dressing, accessorizes and

home decoration - an investigation of typical patterns that are

characteristic of the new repertoire of life-style oriented specialized

commercial spaces and how such patterns contrast patterns typical

of both traditional specialized assortment-based shops and some of

the new "ethnically specialized" assortment based shops,

exemplified by Pakistani and Indian textile shops at Grønland and

lower Grünerløkka.

A more exhaustive analysis would probably have made it possible to discover

even more fine-meshed patterns. Since the purpose of this investigation

mainly is to identify aspects of dialectics related to other part-aspects that

have been investigated in other part-studies in this thesis, I've chosen to keep

it on a more general level of detail.



The discourse on urban regulation we have

seen here is partly a product of different

desires: desires of residents to conserve valued

neighbourhoods and to limit change; desires

of architects to add new character to the city

and of developers to build a taller building

at a higher pro¬ t; market desires for a commanding view; and those of strategic planners

and the state for higher density development.

The initial eagerness of residents to put this

test of 'character' at the centre of the planning

process was matched by the eagerness of

developers to engage in site-by-site exceptions

to urban regulation. Like its cousins 'identity',

'place', 'home' and 'community', the term

'character' is not easily contained or legislated.

In terms of urban regulation, these are slippery characters.

There are many theoretical lenses we might

deploy to understand what it is that was being

threatened and constructed here and it may be

useful to view this case through a few of them.

For Harvey, the politics of place operates in

a context where local character is a form of

local monopoly value in tension with global

capital (Harvey, 1996, pp. 297-298). From

this view, the experience of place serves at

once to ground a phenomenology of dwelling

(in the Heideggerian sense) and to attract

capital through the market desire for uniqueness and authenticity. Capital seeks to retain

'character' because it cannot afford to kill

the goose that lays the golden egg (Harvey,

2001, pp. 394-411). Thus capital opens up

spaces of antagonism to its own processes

and these are spaces of hope for a better

planning process so long as the politics of

place is not parochial. Massey has been the

key proponent of a progressive, global and

open sense of place that is open to difference,

forward looking and globally connected

(Massey, 1994, 2005; Cresswell, 2004). For

Massey, Heideggerian notions of place identified with stasis, nostalgia and enclosure

are limited and problematic because they

privilege deeply rooted identities that marginalise difference (Massey, 1993, p. 64).

The 'progressive sense of place' is always in

process; it valorises routes rather than roots

(Massey, 1993, pp. 66-67; 1992, p. 14). In this

view, 'place' can have a complex and unique

'character' without essentialism, a sense of

home for residents that is neither inward-

nor backward-looking. In its embrace of

difference, Fitzroy could be construed as a

paradigm case of Massey's progressive sense

of place. Yet while Fitzroy was not defended

on essentialist grounds, the resistance to

change was deep-seated. Massey's antiHeideggerian conception of place tends to

distance the experience of place from the

ontology of dwelling and it does not fully explain the depth of antagonism towards the


This is scarcely the place to open debate

on Heideggerian philosophy, but it may be

useful to distinguish between Heidegger's

ontology (the spatiality of existence) and

his essentialism (the primordiality of place).

Heidegger can be read in both these ways, yet

the claim that place is a taken-for-granted ontological ground (existence takes place) does

not necessarily suggest that senses of place are

rooted or ¬ xed in the ways that Massey and

many others rightly condemn. The evidence

here and elsewhere shows that the experiences of place in everyday life, whether or not

taken-for-granted until threatened, surface

Downloaded from at UNIV OF MELBOURNE on November 15, 2010PLACE-IDENTITY IN MELBOURNE 2611

as part of the politics of place where they are

further constructed and shaped.



and sociality are inextricably intertwined;

space is socially constructed as the social is

spatially constructed (Lefebvre, 1991; Massey,

1993). This reciprocity is apparent in the

continual slippage (often in mid-quote) between social and material aspects of Fitzroy's

character. In this context, there is a clear need

for concepts and approaches that cut across

the sociality/spatiality divide, a need to move

beyond a false choice between place as pregiven (¬ xed, essential) or as entirely socially

constructed. We suggest that the conceptual

frameworks of Bourdieu and Deleuze may

be fertile in this regard.

There are clearly aspects of urban character

that residents have dif¬ culty articulating-the

proposed project violates a sense of 'appropriateness' or 'feel', something pre-conceptual

and taken-for-granted. Bourdieu's (1977)

conception of the habitus is a set of preconscious dispositions that structure the

taken-for-granted doxa of everyday life

He inhabits it like a garment [un habit] or a

familiar habitat. He feels at home in the world

because the world is also in him, in the form

of habitus (Bourdieu, 2000, pp. 142-143).

The habitus is described as "a sense of one's

place" but also a "sense of the other's place"

(Bourdieu, 1990, p. 113) and as a "feel for

the game" of social practice (Bourdieu, 1993,

p. 5). The concept of habitus is derived in

part from Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology

of embodied spatiality (Carman, 2008,

pp. 217-219). The resonance between habitus

and habitat can be a useful conceptual frame

here because it parallels that between social

and physical character, between the feel and

the form. As we turn place identity into planning codes, we move from the pre-conscious

experiences of place in everyday life to the

production of a discourse of 'place' and

'character' within institutionally structured

¬ elds of power (Bourdieu, 1993): news media,

housing markets, planning tribunals. From

this view, 'character' is the taken for granted

'doxa' of urban life that becomes a para-dox

of urban design and planning. The habitus

is the 'feel' that is threatened by the 'form'.

In this case study, resident opposition was

deep-seated without being deep-rooted

in a singular or purified identity-hence

the paradox of gentrifying residents selfconsciously defending the mix against their

own domination.

This conception of character as deep-seated

but not deep-rooted suggests that it is immanent rather than transcendent; grounded

in the myriad particularities and everyday

practices of place revealed by morphological

analysis. Another useful conceptual framework in this regard is the work of Deleuze

and Guattari (1987) on 'assemblages' and

'multiplicities'. An assemblage is not a collection of things (whether buildings or people),

but an entity that emerges from the interaction of parts. Assemblages are at once social

and spatial territories connecting material

forms with discursive practices (DeLanda,

2006). The assemblage is thus a conceptual

framework that potentially connects both

the 'feel + form' and the 'social + physical'

dimensions of place. The concept of place

can then be seen not as bounded location

but as an assemblage of connections. Such a

conception cuts against any notions of place

as an organic tree-like concept that organises

spatial meanings around an essentialised stem.

The pre-conceptual 'doxa' of everyday place

experience maps usefully against Deleuzean

notions of sensation, affect, desire and

intensity. Urban character can be described

as a kind of 'intensity' that haunts the urban

assemblage. The 'sense', 'feel', 'atmosphere'

and 'character' can be seen as intensities

in the sense that desire, love, ¬‚ avour, light,

colour, tone and experience have intensity

(while height and bulk have extension). The

widespread description of Fitzroy's character as a complex social and formal mix

Downloaded from at UNIV OF MELBOURNE on November 15, 20102612 KIM DOVEY ET AL.

suggests an 'intensive multiplicity'-more

like a soup than a salad in the sense that the

¬‚ avour is found more in the interaction of

ingredients than in fragmented parts. When

taller buildings or different faces appear on

the street, the tone of the neighbourhood

changes. Again, as character is legislated, as

'feel' is reduced to 'form', intensity is reduced

to extension. Urban regulation is a process

of coding: character is coded into characteristics; parts are made to stand for the whole;

desires are captured and identities are ¬ xed.

The desire from both Fitzroy residents and

the architect/developer to retain the mix

and the intensity of Fitzroy in a context of

potentially escalating heights suggests that

it may be useful to conceive of Fitzroy as a

'plateau'. While often associated with Deleuze

and Guattari's book A Thousand Plateaus

(1987), the term originates with Bateson

(1973) where it is de¬ ned in opposition to

schizmogenesis: the way a positive feedback

process escalates out of control (like an

arms race). The way that one tall building in

a neighbourhood can set a precedent that

triggers the right to go ever higher is an

example of schizmogenesis. There are links

here to Jacobs' (1965) theory of the 'selfdestruction of diversity' and to Harvey's

(1985) work on the circuits of capital leading

to creative destruction. For Bateson, the

'plateau' is a stable state that is valued for its

intensity and where schizmogenesis is held

at bay. It is a "self-vibrating region of intensities whose development avoids an orientation towards a culmination point" (Bateson,

1973, p. 113). For Deleuze and Guattari, the

plateau is also a 'plane of consistency' in an

assemblage that is open to change but not

to suicidal escalation. The concepts of place,

plateau or plane (note the shared etymology

of these the pla words) denote immanent

¬ elds of everyday practice that ground modes

of thought and identity formation without

transcendent ideals (Stagoll, 2005).

There is no suggestion here that any particular view of character is right or wrong, nor

that character is always seen in the ways it is in

Fitzroy. The suggestion is that character can be

seen as an urban intensity that is threatened

by escalating heights and that height control

can be conceived as a socio-spatial plateau:

a place assemblage that is open to change

but not to suicidal escalation. While there

may well be a strategic need for dramatic

transformations of place, the practice of applying performance-based regulation of

character on a site-by-site basis is a recipe

for trouble. While it may appear that site-bysite planning may be more sensitive to the

differences between places and the nuances

of place experience, one of its effects in this

case was to move the practice of urban regulation out of the framework of democratic

planning and into the control of the judiciary.


Slippages between social and physical

aspects of character tend to confound attempts to operationalise it as a code of urban

regulation and this very slipperiness becomes

attractive to proponents of 'deregulated' and

'¬‚ exible' planning systems. Many aspects of

'character' become discursively constructed

in the ¬ eld of politics where character comes

to mean what different interests want it to

mean. Carroll [as Alice] put it in a different

context: "The question is whether you can

make words mean so many different things".

Or, as Humpty Dumpty responded: "The

question is which is to be master-that's all"

(Carroll, 1871, ch. VI).

While planning codes and consultants'

studies generally try to reduce character to a

set of formal elements, the ways it is experienced in everyday life tend to resist attempts

to separate the social from the physical. Struggles to prevent the wrong kinds of building

can easily slip into the exclusion of the wrong

kinds of people. It is the tendency to presume

that urban or neighbourhood 'character' is

somehow embedded in built form, waiting

to be de¬ ned, ¬ xed and protected that needs

to be rethought. The pursuit of it is akin to

Carroll's (1876) Hunting of the Snark

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it

with care;

They pursued it with forks and hope;

They threatened its life with a railway share;

They charmed it with smiles and soap.'

Just as the pursuit of the 'snark' slides between

'thimbles' and 'care', 'forks and hope', 'smiles

and soap', so the pursuit of urban character

slides between such ethereal and corporeal

categories (Deleuze, 1990), between 'feel and

form'. In this case, they threatened its life

with a cheesegrater, yet a more serious threat

to character may lie in the desire to reduce

it to a series of fixed features which turn

character into caricature.