- The Antwerp canvassing Programme - the political economy of the five senses in urban development   click here to open paper content31 kb
by    Nieuwinckel, Stefan | stefan.nieuwinckel@stad.antwerpen.be   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
The canvassing programme creates opportunities for inhabitants to ‘experience’ the multiple ways to use urban space. By stressing the ‘normality’ of multiple use, urban space is viewed as a arena for conflict, that must be permanently mediated.
The ‘canvassing program’ adds a particular flavour to the Antwerp style of urban renewal. It aims at making people to experience ‘urban space in change’ by creating possibilities to ‘use’ the space in different ways. This approach adds creativity to the participation of inhabitants in the decision making process. Professional planners and developers benefit form it by seeing the ‘ultimate’ users of the space they are creating as ‘living persons’ and not only as ‘abstract statistics’. On a deeper level, a ‘canvassing program’ makes urban renewal into a cultural process (creating ‘use value’) as opposed to a mere economic process (creating ‘exchange value’).

The Antwerp approach of adding a ‘canvassing program’ to a planned process of urban renewal is documented by elaborating two cases are: the ‘Spoor Noord’ case and the ‘Schipperskwartier’ case. Examples of strategies and activities within the two canvassing programmas are given (cultural activities, sports activities, commercial activities...). Based on good practise some general guidelines which may be of use in other contexts can be given.

The transferability of the use of a canvassing program is further optimized by linking the ‘practise’ to more theoretical concepts. The concept of urban space as a ‘dialectic’ of physical space and social space is a key issue. Social space is introduced in the early phase of the development by giving opportunities to inhabitants and ‘city users’ to explore and experience the space in multinple ways. By stressing that kind of multiple use, the canvassing program introduces in it’s own way ‘conflict’ as inherent to urban space. ‘Traditional planning’ has an underlying assumption of ‘physical determism’: ‘ideal physical space’ creates ‘ideal (i.e. conflictless) social space. The approach of a canvassing program leads to a dynamic of permanent mediation of conflict in urban public space, which seems more realistic in a diverse city.
Use value, use of the senses, creativity, social space, multiple use
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