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The aim of this book is to understand the causes and consequences of new scales and forms of territorial and spatial restructuring in a context of accelerated globalization by focusing on a diverse array of urban megaproject developments that, in various forms and with various objectives, are transforming the global urban landscape at the outset of the 21st century. The contributions to this volume explore the architectural design, planning, management, financing, and impact of urban megaprojects, as well as the social actors and innovations driving them. The contributions also articulate the various socioeconomic, political, and cultural causes and consequences of UMP development, thus providing a context to understand the reconfiguration of urban spaces in the new millennium.
This chapter explores how architecture is used as a signifier in the development and promotion of urban megaprojects (UMPs). It argues that these projects rely on…
This chapter explores how architecture is used as a signifier in the development and promotion of urban megaprojects (UMPs). It argues that these projects rely on architecture to gain visibility. First, UMPs need to be highly visible in order to justify their exceptional status and second, they have to be visibly new and different in order to initiate the desired symbolic transformations with which they are attributed. Drawing on the case studies of HafenCity in Hamburg and Donau City in Vienna the chapter traces the logics of using architecture as a signifier and means of legitimizing the UMP. Data on the planning history of the two case studies, their administrative and institutional frameworks and the overall urban development strategies is combined with a qualitative text and image centered analysis of marketing material, planning documents, and press articles. The discussion shows how visibility is achieved by very different means. The question of how to distinguish the UMP from other projects and of how to make it uniquely identified with the particular city guides the debate in both cases. However, the lines of argument are not predictable or easily comparable from city to city and “global architecture” emerges as a contradictory and relative concept. Based on a succinct review of the related literature the chapter disputes the alleged uniformity of UMPs and argues for a meaning and discourse-oriented approach to the analysis of architecture as vehicle of urban change and political legitimation.
Judit Bodnar is an associate professor of sociology, anthropology, and history at the Central European University in Budapest. She is a U.S.-trained sociologist with a degree from Johns Hopkins University. The author of Fin de Millėnaire Budapest: Metamorphoses of urban life (University of Minnesota Press, 2001) and co-editor of Critical urban studies (L’Harmattan, Budapest, forthcoming), she has written on cities, public space, urban theory, postsocialism, globalization, food, and alterglobalization movements. Her research and teaching interrogate larger themes such as modernity, capitalism, uneven development, and comparative thinking. She is working on a co-authored book that examines local histories of global urban restructuring through a comparative analysis of new housing in Chicago, Berlin, and Budapest.