- Theming Urban Spaces in Post-Socialist Cities    click here to open paper content135 kb
by    Lorens, Piotr | plorens@pg.gda.pl   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
The paper deals with the topic of theming urban spaces. This phenomenon can take various forms and result in developing new types of urban environments.
This paper deals with the phenomenon of theming urban public spaces, which is also referred to as Disneylandization. Theming – emerging from the concept of “theme parks” – is connected with consciously and intentionally shaping a given space with architectural designs that refer to historical periods or other civilizations in an attempt to create an urban spectacle for a mass audience. At least two broad types of themed spaces can be distinguished – themed spaces sensu stricto and styled spaces.
The phenomenon of theming urban public spaces emerges from a wide variety of social and economic changes, among which globalization must be mentioned. These have a significant impact on the evolution of the structure of contemporary cities and alter them to meet the needs of the global economy. Another group of factors that contribute to the development of themed spaces are the changes in recent decades in architectural and urban planning theory and the development of the post-modern style. This process is related to much deeper cultural changes, such as the rapid growth of many forms of popular culture and the phenomenon known as MacDonaldization.
Themed public spaces are especially visible in post-socialist cities, including ones facing rapid transformation as well as recovering from post-war destruction. In many cases theming is perceived by these societies as a “shortcut” towards gaining competitive position in the “market of places”. But the same reasons are in-behind application of this way of dealing with urban structures in the cases of other developing and rapidly-urbanizing cities, which seek international recognition and tend to attract the global capital and representatives of the creative class.
Within the paper presentation, a number of cases from post-socialistic cities, as well as from other rapidly-developing ones, will be presented. This will allow discussion on the nature and consequences of the phenomenon as well as to draw conclusion on the issues that are related to the phenomenon of theming urban spaces and its position within contemporary urban design paradigm. This will allow discussion of the criteria for evaluating the identity and authenticity of themed spaces.
theming urban spaces, urban design, post-socialistic cities
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