Potentials for creative urban regeneration in the Ljubljana urban region

The creative industries are considered as increasingly important to economic well-being, proponents, such as Richard Florida and Charles Landry, suggesting that »human creativity is the ultimate economic resource« and that »the industries of the twenty-first century will depend increasingly on the generation of knowledge through creativity and innovation«. This view owes a lot to the concept of the »creative city«, developed mostly by Charles Landry since the late 1980s. It is described in his The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators and other writings and has since become a global movement reflecting a new planning paradigm for cities.

The concept of the »creative city« encompasses various dimensions, but the main idea behind it is that creativity is somehow related to a specific location and its milleu, a place. This has important implications both for creative economy and policies supporting the creative industries on the one hand, as well as for urban development and urban policies on the other hand.

Creative quarters seem to be the key urban policy tool, aimed at boosting the creative economy. Landry, among others, emphasizes the role of clustering and of creative quarters. Clustering of talent, skill and support infrastructure is central for the creative economy and the creative milieu.

On the other hand, creative clusters are also a key policy tool with regard to urban regeneration. Need for urban regeneration occurs as an outcome of broader socio-economic processes, like transition into the post-industrial age and suburbanisation, which both result in empty city centres and deserted industrial sites.

The recent study, conducted by the Institute for Spatial Policies for the Regional Development Agency of the Ljubljana Urban Region within the Creative Cities project (Central Europe transnational cooperation programme), contributes important insights into spatial distribution of creative industries in the Ljubljana urban region and assesses location factors that affect this distribution. The results should be a valuable contribution to both, policies aimed at stronger creative economy as well as urban development policies, especially with regard to urban regeneration. The results can be particularly useful with regard to supporting the development of creative quarters, being the main policy tool for both mentioned policies.

The biggest and most successful branches of creative industries are located in the city center ofLjubljana, which represents the primary location from where the secondary hotspots of creative industries expand in concentric form (from the center towards the periphery). The two most evident hotspots of creative activity are located in the city center: the first one is the area around the Tabor district and the second one is the axis from the Tobačna factory along the Rimska street. This is consistent with the theories, suggesting that the main conditions for the development of creative quarters are affordable housing, social community life, lively cultural happening, unclear boundaries between the places of work and leisure (24/7 lifestyle), proximity of learning oriented institutions and informal networks, … While affordable housing is scarce in both locations, affordable office space can be found in both. Likewise, both are centers of 24/7 lifestyles, Tabor being also increasingly the place of lively cultural happening, and the area around Rimska street benefitting in particular from the proximity of learning institutions.

Other findings include low functional heterogeneity of the creative industries in Ljubljana urban region, as the most successful branches are the ones that have a wide background and can respond to the broad needs of business and economics. Lack of economies of scale hinders the growth of specialized branches of creative industries.

Low spatial and functional diversification of creative industries is the result of »incremental« approach that does not follow elaborated development strategies of creative industries in the global context, but only responds to the current situation and is confined to the local and regional market. The main recommendation with regard to support for creative economy therefore addresses the need for targeted strategies aiming at more specialized branches of creative industries.

From the urban regeneration point of view, it is in fact not the city center that is most in need of urban regeneration, so the focus of urban policy should be on supporting creative clusters outside of city center. Secondary hotspots and hotspots of specific specialized branches, such as radio & television, software, arts & antiques market or video, film & photo, which are distributed in a relatively few locations outside of the city center, can thus present the greatest potential for creative clusters and thus for urban regeneration. This is of particular importance for the two large urban regeneration projects, Partnerstvo Šmartinska and Partnerstvo Celovška, initiated by the City ofLjubljana.

Full Study (PDF, 19,8 MB)

Creative Cities project

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