- WHEN PERCEPTION GETS DESIGNED BY THE MARKET   click here to open paper content29 kb
by    Castello, Lineu | lincastello@terra.com.br   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
What is your contribution about?
In present globalisation times, when the cultural assets of cities are merchandised as commodities, and cities themselves are marketed as entertainment products, perception of the urban environment becomes designed by market strategies instead of being spontaneously designed by stimuli originated from people’s existential practices; but there are tactics that can alter this.
What makes it interesting for participants?
I intend to further the discussion on what I call meta-urbanism (CASTELLO 1999; CASTELLO 2000) - that is to say, a phenomenon found all over the world, mainly through the form of themed environments, such as theme parks, themed malls, the reurbanisation of old historic central areas, ‘disneyfied’ environments, and other manifestations involving the practice of what Jon Jerde calls placemaking, and Ada Louise Huxtable calls placemarketing (HUXTABLE 1997); - its causes, and consequences for urban planning and urban design.
Since the presentation will deal mostly with Brazilian cases, it will bring up fresh references about a newly-industrialised society which already shows typical manifestations of post-industrialised urban environments, probably as a consequence of the effects of globalisation on cultural identity; but the same urban phenomena involved in globalisation are to be found in local manifestations actually occurring in regionalisation.
Finally, on more theoretical grounds, I will try to raise that a common explanatory factor for these phenomena may lie within the area of Environmental Perception (precisely the field of interest of my actual studies); and that research on the area brings up good potentialities for briefing planning strategies based on popular knowledge, thus bringing back some of the stimuli that have generated the original perception of the urban environment in the first place.
Could you please sketch in what way how you would like to present the content of your contribution?
(i) I will start by sketching some major theoretical aspects associated to ‘meta-urbanism’, trying to focus on its relation to advances in information technology, and to a globalised market economy that privileges consumption patterns.
(ii) This will be followed by an attempt to identify some of the major factors associated to the development of the tendency, paying special attention to the theoretical construct of place, both in its architectural and psychological interpretations; the making of theme places; and the marketing of such places.
(iii) Some brief examples on actual ‘meta-real’ urban places are provided next, illustrating what can be expected when perception gets designed by the market.
(iv) The consequences of meta-urbanism procedures upon the image of a city, specially in terms of loss of identity; and to the creation of spaces that become nothing more than generic spaces (KOOLHAAS 1997); are then discussed.
(v) It follows a second round of theoretical aspects, this time, associated to environmental perception research and to the possibilities of applying the findings of research to the planning process, in order to postulate planning goals according to values people perceive as genuinely rooted to their own environment.
(vi) The logic behind this sort of attempt is in accordance with recent progress in philosophical debates like LYOTARD’s (1988 apud SCHNEIDER 1997) questioning of the legitimation of scientific knowledge in the postmodern condition, proposing that the world now should be understood in terms of local narratives instead of the ‘Grand Narratives’of Science as assumed in Modernism times; and back to the bases postulated by BACHELARD’s and HEIDEGGER’s (LEACH 1998) thoughts on the phenomenology of urban environments.
(vii) Case studies will be presented next, bringing reflections on a regional situation in Brazil, namely, in the region known as the ‘Serra Gaucha’, located in the southern Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Sul.
(viii) The cases intend to show that the same processes involved in globalisation, in terms of cities’s images being commercialised as market commodities, are also to be found in similar marketing processes, actually taking place in the regionalisation scenario studied.
(ix) Research has been carried out in two communities of the region, employing environmental perception techniques directly to the populations involved.
(x) Research findings point out to the identification of stimuli through which people spontaneously perceive their environment; and to the perception people have been induced to perceive after artificial stimuli have been introduced by means of meta-urbanism practices.
(xi) Conclusions speculate about the possibilities of using popular perception as a tactical tool dedicated to the reinvention of the psychological space; this will help to alleviate the loss of identity caused by globalisation’s marketing of cities’s cultural assets as cultural commodities (ZUKIN 1995).
How are you involved into it personally?
I am presently engaged on a research project sponsored by the Brazilian National Research Council investigating the genesis of place in meta-urbanism.
Which one of the 4 sessions would you propose for it?
Parallel Session 1: Cultural Identity and Spatial Segregation
CASTELLO, Lineu. Understanding Meta-Urbanism: Place Making and Marketing Place. In Thorbjoern Mann (ed.) The Power of Imagination. Edmond, Oklahoma, USA: EDRA30 - Proceedings of the 30th Conference of the Environmental Design Research Association, 1999, pp.46-52.
CASTELLO, Lineu. Marketing Tradition: Post-Traditional Places and Meta-Urbanism. Traditional Dwellings And Settlements Working Paper Series, Berkeley, California, USA, v.124, 2000, p.1-21.
HUXTABLE, Ada Louise. The Unreal America. Architecture and Illusion. New York: The New Press, 1997.
KOOLHAAS, Rem. Cronaca del Pensiero: Rem Koolhaas The Generic City. Domus. Nº791, pp.8-12, March 1997.
LEACH Neil (ed.) Rethinking Architecture. A Reader in Cultural Theory. London and New York: Routledge, 1998.
SCHNEIDER, Andreas. Relativity of Knowledge, Time-Speed-Space, Cities and Planning. Report of TAN1. Haarlem, The Netherlands: Temporary Autonomous Network, 1997.
ZUKIN, Sharon. The Cultures of Cities. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1995.
Environmental design may impart changes on environmental perception, thus influencing cultural identity and behaviour. Actual trends in urbanism signalize to the creation of fantasy places in which perceptions are designed by market intentions. The role of Planning in such a context is discussed.
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