What is revitalization?
In recent years, revitalization (urban regeneration) has become a recognised process, implemented in various locations around the world, both in developed and developing countries. According to its definition, regeneration is a broad process of social, spatial and economic changes, implemented in a crisis-hit area. Its objective is to revitalise a run-down city district and give it additional functions.
Simply put, regeneration involves the introduction of changes into a city district to make it a better place to live and work in. Regeneration efforts include not only renovation, the process is primarily about reinvigorating the area and improving the quality of life of its inhabitants. Changes are made based on a dialogue with the local citizens and seeking solutions to social issues.
Regeneration efforts are divided into:
- ‘hard’ efforts – of infrastructural nature. They include renovation of buildings, remodelling public areas, building new structures, communication routes or investing into mass transit. What’s important is that such efforts must not be an end in and of themselves, but must be aimed at improving the everyday life of local citizens.
- ‘soft’ efforts, of social, economic, educational and culture-forming nature. They include training for citizens living in social exclusion to help them find jobs or start their own businesses, preventing social exclusion, integrating local communities and supporting the activities of NGOs.
It must be noted that urban regeneration entails the improvement of the quality of life, this concept, however, may have different a definition in Europe than in developing countries. For us it would mean encouraging active citizenship and reducing the size of run-down districts, but for people living in other parts of the world it might entail increasing access to fresh water.
Imbalanced development of cities leads to the expansion of areas of poverty and exclusion, which is why it’s so important to take action in order to remedy such phenomena. The overarching objective of regeneration is to enable such areas to catch up with the rest of the city and create better working, living and leisure conditions for local citizens.