- Reading the City, Appreciating the Neighbourhood: the case of Linkeroever, Antwerp    click here to open paper content464 kb
by    Wullers, Daniela | wullers@gmx.de   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
Especially in disadvantaged neighbourhoods people are able to ‘read’ their neighbourhood and manage the complexity of their environment. Often they don`t experience this knowledge with their brain but with their body.
We often talk about disadvantaged neighbourhoods in association with problems of poverty, crime and racism. We do not underestimate or ignore these problems, but supplement them with a more human, and less policy oriented approach: the personal experiences and tacit survival skills of the residents. With this we mean the numerous behaviours people learn to deal with the neighbourhood and with each other. This ‘urban wisdom’ is not only extremely reliable, since it comes from people that really have daily experiences, it also invaluable if spatial interventions are necessary.
As mentioned in the Call by the General Rapporteur, institutional and spatial complexity results in a growing fragmentation and separation between different policy fields and levels and the reality. Our approach explores this from a neighbourhood level.
Our case study deals with the Linkeroever area in Antwerp, Belgium. During a six month’s study in the first half of 2007, a small international team of researchers explored the network of professionals working in Linkeroever. Historic and morphological data on the neighbourhood was supplemented by a series of interviews with residents and professionals involved in the ‘professional structure’ of the area: teachers, pastors, community workers etc. By confronting them with their narratives on the neighbourhood we reconstructed patterns in their stories and created a better insight and appreciation of the ‘pure’ functioning of the neighbourhood. With this knowledge, they can better analyse their own work-behaviours and adjust their contribution to the area. The last phase of this research and training is the confrontation of the results with the municipality of Antwerp where policies for Linkeroever are made.
In our paper we will explore both the scientific rationale behind our methods and the results from the ongoing Linkeroever research and training program. We will give recommendations on the applicability of our method for other cities as well.
urban renewal, residents, daily life
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