Urbanie & Urbanus

Issue 2019 Sep

Place Identity

Evolving and Transforming Place-identities

Prof. Georgia Butina Watson

Faculty of the Built Environment
Oxford Brookes University


There have been many concerns over the last three decades about the way we build cities and their neighbourhoods. Many critics claim that this is the result of the globalization processes through which built form components are produced. This inevitably leads to the homogenous places, where similar patterns are replicated and the users as well as the critics see such places as anonymous, anywhere places.

In response to this phenomenon many theorists have engaged in a critical discourse about place, identity and place-identity. Practitioners dealing with the form-production processes have also focused their work on designing places that would be seen as unique, distinctive, and responsive to the local cultural contexs whilst also aiming to generate new typology of buildings and open spaces, that would respond to new and evolving human needs.

Particularly challenging have been transformations of rundown housing estates, where the users have a negative relationship with such areas, and claim that there is no sense of place, no sense of place-identity. The paper will first discuss some of the key theoretical ideas which will serve as basis for discussing urban transformation of a former rundown area in South Islington, London.