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EAUH Conference 2018


Session M53 - Beyond Ruinenlust: Historicising Urban Renewal, Regeneration and Resilience (all periods)

Coordinators: Marcello Balbo (, Julio d Davila (, Carlos Lopez Galviz (

Read Session abstractSynopsis

The question of how and why vacant, run-down or derelict buildings affect our perception of beautiful places is not one we understand fully. An important tendency of renewal and regeneration practices since the 1960s has been to implement schemes under the assumption that either they improve peoples’ lives or ‘upgrade’ the physical appearance of places. Austerity leaves us with more questions than answers, not least in a new ‘post-regeneration era’ characterised by a near universal absence of targeted interventions and the almost exclusive preference for policy to focus on facilitation or enablement (Tabb 2014, Wilks-Heeg 2015, O’Brien and Matthews 2015).

Renewal, regeneration and resilience are often a mirror where governments frame their ambitions in a manner that reminds us of the aesthetic sublime inherent in the Romantic notion of Ruinenlust, namely, the ‘preserve of an elevated aesthetic sensibility, a mark of sophistication and sensitivity’ (Zucker 1961); an experience where awe, fear, nostalgia and despair converge, however unevenly. History teaches us otherwise. Renewal, regeneration and resilience have been an essential part of how cities have changed for centuries, in some cases, millennia. Whether forced by war, famine, epidemics and nature, or the will of the powerful – call them kings, elites, councils or business – the built and social fabric of cities is often one made out of scars, well-honed decisions, half-realised plans, revolutions, and more.

This inter-disciplinary session invited proposals to reflect on urban change through the lens of renewal, regeneration and resilience in a manner that moves us beyond our fascination with the aesthetic, beyond Ruinenlust. Speaking from a wide range of places and times, the session will consider the spatial, the social, the cultural and the political dimensions of urban change. More specifically, the papers engage with questions such as: the extent to which a 'language of action without a subject' (Cohen 2013) has driven the reuse of derelict and abandoned buildings and sites; the role that personal memories and institutional heritage play in redevelopment practices where the past or, indeed, the present are riddled with despair, conflict and violence; the challenges and opportunities of connecting the interests of communities often sidelined by the perceived effects and benefits of ‘market forces’, including those associated with ‘mega-events’ such as world exhibitions, Olympic games and others; how urban renewal, regeneration and resilience have been understood at different times in history, by whom, where, and with what consequences.

The papers of four consecutive sessions will discuss and engage with these and other relevant themes, highlighting the significance of context, in our case, covering over twelve cities from Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, and ranging from classical Rome to twenty-first century Havana and Yangon.
Keywords: regeneration; urbanism; ruinenlust; memory; heritage; community

Thursday 30th August 2018
  Room 06 09.00-10.30, 11.00-12.30, 13.30-15.00, 15.30-17.00



Roma resurgens: political motivations for ancient Rome’s urban renewals
Hannah Cornwell

Roma resurgens: political motivations for ancient Rome’s urban renewals
Hannah Cornwell

Industrial heritage and urban regeneration in two recent Paris projects: paradoxes and questions.
Karen Bowie

Antiquity and Time Perception: Civil Porticoes and Urban Routes in XIII- and XIV-century Rome
Francesca Lembo Fazio

‘Rome and her Ruin past Redemption’s skill’? Romanticism, Rome, Ruin and the Possibilities of Regeneration
Simon Bainbridge

Urban Regeneration (UR) and Resentment seen through Aleixo Residential Estate
Cidália Ferreira Silva

Building a typology of urban obsolescence: urban informality and renewal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Giorgio Talocci

Urban space as an independent element of the urban regeneration process. Using the example of the city of Dresden in Germany, strategies, methods and instruments of German urban planning practice will be investigated and assessed in terms of their transferability within the Russian city of Irkutsk.
Anastasia Malko

‘Monuments to the Death of the Irish Dream’: Derelict Sites and Urban Modernization in Dublin, c. 1970-1990
Erika Hanna

Bogota’s Plan Piloto (1947-1951): From proposal to implementation
Hernando Vargas

Re-shaping ' The Private for the Public' concept in Traditional Courtyards: a case study in the Traditional Center of Baghdad.
Nawar Sami Mehdi Al-Ali, Saba Sami Mehdi Al-Ali

Presence, Erasures, and Façades: Material History and the Afterlife
Tracey eve Winton

Urbanization after labour? John Cockerill and the industrialization of Seraing (1817-2017)
David Peleman

Impact of derelict buildings on the cityscape – a study of Roman legislation on the prevention of ruins and reuse of materials.
Aneta Skalec

Politics of heritage in socialist transitions: Comparing Yangon and Havana
Catalina Ortiz, Giovanna Astolfo

Historic Paris and the threat of the skyscraper: towards a nostalgic hypochondria
Julie Gimbal