22. Temporary land use post-industrial cities_TMBTP

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This Must Be the Place (for now): In this episode of This Must Be the Place Elizabeth speaks with Robin Chang, a Research Associate and Lecturer in the Department of European Planning Cultures at TU Dortmund in Germany. Robin’s research looks at temporary urbanism: uses that contravene formal zoning, which last for a time frame that is not intentionally permanent, and which are spontaneously initialized. ‘Temporary urbanism’ is a growing field of study including tactical urbanism, pop-up shops, food markets, and squatters’ collectives. Robin has five such case studies in the port city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and will add more from Bremen in Germany. In a context of post-industrial transition, urban shrinkage, and fallout from the financial crisis, municipalities and communities in these areas have found ways to activate vacant and brownfields sites. Some of Robin’s case studies of temporary uses are now major tourist and gastronomic attractions for the city. Robin discusses the role of temporary use for entrepreneurs, for communities, and for Rotterdam in particular (which has a history of experimentalism). She also discusses the unintended consequences of laws discouraging risk, and how temporality challenges the field of planning. Also, the shifting role of planners when past plans have not materialized. (The Ruhr for example was planned for twice the population it now has). Robin suggests it isn’t impossible to have long term planning in parallel with short-term mixed uses and uncertainty. The challenge is how to manage the specifics spatially, legally, and financially. Post-industrial regions are at the cusp: compared to other cities (say, Melbourne) that have other developmental pressures or other industries to count on and which are, as Robin suggests, maybe just 20 years behind. Temporality is here to stay. (No-one ever steps in the same Ruhr River twice?). Alternative river pun: if you wait by the Ruhr river long enough, the bodies of your industrial plans will float by? p.s. The music in this episode is “We are all Detroit”, by Taylor Project (www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3Wnm14Lyl0)

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