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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Future of Shrinking Cities: Problems, Patterns and Strategies of Urban Transformation in a Global Context


This publication is the outcome of a symposium held at UC Berkeley in February 2007, organized by the Center for Global Metropolitan Studies at the Institute of Urban and Regional Development, UC Berkeley. It brought together urban and regional planners, architects, engineers, developers, artists, and academics to examine the perspectives of a largely underrepresented topic: shrinking cities.

The Future of Shrinking Cities: Problems, Patterns, and Strategies of Urban Transformation in a Global Context presents research carried out under the aegis of the Shrinking Cities International Research Network (SCiRN) and – in addition – selected case studies from the United States. The purpose of the publication is to encourage and inform discussion to improve the quality of life in shrinking cities. The authors identify and examine critical projects and issues in shrinking cities and present lessons learned from relevant projects and experiences in the US and abroad. The comparative approach to shrinking cities, incorporating a wide range of case studies in order to widen the debate, is both unique and innovative.

The shrinking city phenomenon is a multidimensional process, comprising cities, parts of cities, or entire metropolitan areas that have experienced dramatic decline in their economic and social bases. Thus, urban shrinkage is often a challenge on the wide scale of metropolitan regions and requires policy-makers to redefine traditional paths of regional governance. Urban decline and the loss of employment opportunities are closely linked in a downward spiral, leading to an out-migration of population.

The joint work places shrinking cities in a global perspective, setting the context for in-depth comparisons of selected cities considering specific social, economic, environmental, cultural, and land-use issues. Especially in the United States, planning practice is to a large extent concentrated on either managing urban growth or tackling redevelopment in a fragmented – not a regional – way, despite the fact that in many metropolitan regions urban shrinkage reaches beyond individual cities. In this regard, the papers will help initiate a redefinition of regional governance in the U.S. and also in the other participating countries via comparative research on shrinking cities.

Karina Pallagst et al (eds.) With contributions by Thorsten Wiechmann, Emmanuèle Cunningham-Sabot, Sylvie Fol, Cristina Martinez-Fernandez, Chung-Tong Wu, Hans Harms, Sergio Moraes, Robert Beauregard, Ivonne Audirac, Karina Pallagst, David Leadbeater, Helen Mulligan, Jasmin Aber, Jose Vargas, Rollin Stanley, Teresa Gillotti, Daniel Kildee, Joseph Schilling, Gabi Troeger-Weiß and Hans-Jörg Domhardt.

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