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Re-understanding CBD: a landscape perspective

Abstract : The CBD is an urban model which emerged from the 19th century capitalist United States and then was diffused to the rest of the Western world, supported by the functionalist architectural ideal and state-led urban planning. Its demise began in the United States from the first half of the 20th century and it was threatened in Europe by the reconfiguration of the neoliberal state. However, there was a resurgence of CBDs in global cities, where they are directly embedded in the flows of global financial capitalism, embodying the new topographies created by the urbanisation of global capital. The planning of contemporary CBDs has been branded as a strategic tool to foster growth, but they have often been built in isolation from their local surroundings, leading to the development of two-tier cities, were inequalities are growing, reinforced by the neo-liberal approach to planning. The risks and, for some, the innate unfairness of this model has been clearly highlighted by numerous critical approaches of the city. In this essay, we have tried to follow a common thread running through these studies and show how CBDs are at the forefront of the demise of public realm and public ownership of space. Through what their private owners allow and forbid, as well as through their "ambient qualities" they do not sustain a democratic experience of the city, or a common social and spatial project. The photographic essay gives an account of the extent of these processes in the main "global cities" but it also displays some processes of CBDisation in secondary cities, especially in the European context. We have illustrated how the landscapes found in central areas of globalisation became a standard for the design of cities, large or small, central or standing on the margins of globalisation. Thus, the pictures show not only the branding of major cities around the urban forms produced within the CBD but also how some distinctive features of the contemporary CBD, such as iconic architecture or tall buildings, are instrumented by secondary or minor cities to convey images of urban dynamism. In doing so, those distinctive features act as powerful cultural norms on the production of the current built environment.
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Contributor : Martine Drozdz Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Thursday, June 21, 2012 - 12:48:39 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, August 5, 2020 - 3:44:02 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Saturday, September 22, 2012 - 2:40:09 AM


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Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution - NonCommercial - ShareAlike 4.0 International License


  • HAL Id : halshs-00710644, version 1


Martine Drozdz, Manuel Appert. Re-understanding CBD: a landscape perspective. 2011. ⟨halshs-00710644⟩



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