Sebastian Dembski studied three cases of planning strategies in urban regions across Europe to analyse the use of symbolic markers in urban planning and metropolitan identity.
The current round of urban transformation with its blurring distinction of town and countryside and changing urban hierarchy has resulted in a need for modes of representation for the emerging city of the 21st century. Many urban regions therefore seek to identify theiconic objects and devices that could function as incarnations of a new metropolitan identity.
Three cases of planning strategies in urban regions across Europe using symbolic markers have been investigated: the improvement of quality of life through the Project Mainport Development Rotterdam in the Rotterdam Rijnmond in the Netherlands, two projects of the Regionale 2010 in the urban periphery of the Cologne/Bonn region in Germany, and the reframing of the Manchester–Liverpool conurbation in the UK as Atlantic Gateway, initiated by a private sector company.
Sebastian Dembski argues that the true qualities of symbolic markers are in their social and cultural embeddedness in institutional practices. He argues that symbolic markers help us making visible a struggle between old and new institutional meaning or between stagnation and transformation. The institutional activation of the new metropolis should be understood as a process of discovery, rather than instrumental design.
Sebastian Dembski, Symbolic Markers and Institutional Innovation in Transforming Urban Spaces. Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Willem Salet, co-promotor: Dr. Pieter Terhorst.