Manufacturing decline: the production of urban decline narratives in boom cities

Authors: Craig Lyons*, University of Wollongong, Chris Gibson, University of Wollongong
Topics: Urban Geography, Land Use, Australia and New Zealand
Keywords: decline, manufacturing, redevelopment, industrial land, creative industries, land use
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Grand Couteau, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In cities like Sydney, Australia, which is in the midst of a decade-long property boom, urban decline narratives, vital to the “spatial fix” of urban redevelopment, are harder to produce. Nevertheless, they have featured as omnipresent pre-requisites for state- and developer-led real estate projects. This paper discusses the production of decline narratives in Sydenham and Marrickville, neighbouring inner-city suburbs of Sydney, Australia. In Sydenham/Marrickville, two specific decline narratives are instrumental to the implementation of urban redevelopment: (1) decline of space for creative industries and live performance; and (2) decline of inner-city manufacturing. These narratives create space for two adjacent interventions into the urban landscape: (1) creation of “creative precincts” that foster transition in land use from industrial production to cultural consumption; and (2) redevelopment of industrial land for high-rise residential redevelopment. These responses reduce the amount of available land for material and cultural production in the inner city, in effect engineering the actual decline of those sectors over time. The production of decline narratives in boom cities is pushed by those who stand to gain the most from redevelopment - property owners, developers, planners, and architects, who draw upon the existing character of the built form of the area. In privileging particular (Fordist) buildings and in the denigration of more recent (postwar) factories, decline is reified. In this sense, the history of industrialisation is used as a tool to devalue and diminish the current contributions of material and cultural producers in order to pave the way for rampant financialised redevelopment.

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