Browsing by Subject "Urban Geography"

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  • Airas, Annika (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    Urban waterfront redevelopment is a global trend. Since the 1960s, and the advent of containerization, new commercial and residential developments began to replace the industrial operations that once characterized the waterfronts of port cities. Research to date has largely focused on the redevelopment of seaports in large coastal cities, primarily in a North American context, yet significant changes are also taking place in smaller locations around the globe. In this study, two empirical examples are given of smaller cities, one in Finland and one in Canada, both of which historically served the woodworking industry. As these industries declined and reorganized, the waterfronts they occupied have been redeveloped primarily into residential districts, particularly since the late 1980s. This study takes a new, multidisciplinary approach to waterfront research by advancing the concept of historical distinctiveness and revealing the ways that it is expressed within waterfront planning. While the term distinctiveness is often used in planning documents to refer to the waterfront s historical past, the term remains poorly defined. This study presents the novel concept of historical distinctiveness and introduces a research framework through which it can be understood. In particular, the study pays attention to the content of historical distinctiveness and examines how it is expressed in the contemporary built environment of the formerly industrial waterfronts: Lake Vesijärvi, in Lahti, Finland and in Queensborough, New Westminster, Canada. Historical distinctiveness as defined in this study consists of six interlocking and constantly evolving elements: international historical influences, historic uses of the waterfront and their reflection in local built environments, the waterfront s relation to the city, the multiple historic layers in the built form of the waterfront, comparative differences in architectural history, and varying values. The concept of historical distinctiveness enables local histories and development trajectories to be revealed while widening the understanding of contemporary waterfront cities. Both Lahti and Queensborough are changing quickly and dramatically, which makes it difficult to identify the remaining vestiges of their woodworking past. Furthermore, the appearance and design of new developments reflect a narrow appreciation of their industrial legacy. Planning processes that aim to promote the distinctiveness of historical waterfronts are instead, ironically, ignoring and at times actually erasing truly unique urban histories. This study demonstrates how new rebuilt environments are becoming more similar across sites, while also becoming more similar to non-waterfront areas in cities. Such developments may limit or destroy the use value of these areas while ignoring cultural histories and local identities, thereby limiting options for creating diverse cities. By taking historical distinctiveness into account, cities can increase historical awareness and create possibilities for the future, thereby creating truly distinctive waterfronts.