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Modernism vs Urban Renaissance: Negotiating Post-war Heritage in English City Centres

Aidan While
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Aidan While: Department of Town and Regional Planning, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK, aidan.h.while@sheffield.ac.uk

Urban Studies, 2006, vol. 43, issue 13, 2399-2419

Abstract: Redevelopment and growth regimes are often eager to remove the physical remnants of post-war modernism. Largely unloved, and ofter out-of-step with current design principles, the 1950s/60s cityscape is fast disappearing as urban leaders seek to remodel and reimage the built environment. In some places, however, the push to redevelop and reclad the modernist legacy is coming up against increasing demands for the preservation of 'modern landmarks'. Certainly in England, the decision to extend statutory protection to the post-war era has resulted in a series of conservation conflicts over the meaning and value of modernist structures. Taking the contested rehabilitation of modernism as a starting-point, this article explores potential tensions and complementarities between the politics of redevelopment and that of post-war preservation. Empirically, the article is grounded on the experience of two English city centres (Coventry and Plymouth) with historically significant, but challenging, relics of 1950s/60s modernist architecture and post-was planning. The article offers insights into the (multiscaled) politics of urban preservation and the renegotiation of modernist meaning in the city.

Date: 2006
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