Aestheticisation of public space as a way to manage the frontier between two neighborhoods

Authors: Antonin Margier*, , Guillaume Ethier, UQAM, Montreal
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: public space- aestheticisation- montreal- social housing- urban regeneration
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 4:30 PM / 6:10 PM
Room: Ambassador Ballroom, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As image is becoming a central component in the production of contemporary cities, public spaces, viewed as potential "reflectors" of a desired urban identity, have recently been under scrutiny of urban planners and policy-makers. The "aestheticisation of public spaces" conceptually describes a large array of urban regeneration strategies where culture, urban design and public art act as the main ingredients in the makeover of a designated – usually central – area. The Quartier des Spectacles (QDS), a vast project launched in 2002 that encompasses diverse cultural interventions in a kilometer square sector of downtown Montreal, is a great example of urban aestheticisation. But while the Quartier's visual identity displays a cohesive façade, a big part of its territory is actually occupied by an enclosed social housing project, the Habitations Jeanne Mance (HJM).Despite the opposing nature of these projects, the first years of cohabitation have seen a similar desire on both sides to revitalize, aestheticize and open the public grounds of the housing complex. But the aestheticisation takes different forms on both sides. From the point of view of the QDS stakeholders, aestheticisation follows the desire to include the common spaces of the HJM in the touristic and artistic experience of the QDS. On the other side, aestheticisation (as it is deployed in the HJM) is a way to involve inhabitants in the transformation of public space as part of their residential experience, and in that way, to consolidate the frontier between the two neighborhoods.

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