The limits to artists-led regeneration: creative brownfields in the cities of high culture

Lauren Andres, Oleg Golubchikov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
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Despite the burgeoning literature on creative cities, little explored is the context of cities rich in cultural capital but more orthodox in their approach to preserving the autonomy of culture. This paper discusses the status of artistic spaces occupying abandoned industrial premises (‘creative brownfields’) in historic cities that traditionally shape their policies around prestigious cultural institutions (‘cities of high culture’). Based on comparative insights from St Petersburg and Lausanne, the paper explores the relations and tensions between mainstream cultural governance and creative brownfields. Whilst there is no lack of creative brownfields in these cities, their wider urban impact is found to be marginal; moreover, these sites represent dispersed instances of temporary occupations rather than situated clusters of creative actors. More than co-incidental, this (lack of) spatialisation is argued to result from a particular governmentality – that of high culture – which disregards, rather than promotes, spaces of alternative cultural governance. The paper conceptualises creative brownfields in cities of high culture as the ‘soft infrastructure’ of cultural production, in contrast with those in ‘creative cities’ as the ‘hard infrastructure’ of urban production. The paper also calls for a recognition of the local context of regulation and accumulation in understanding the cultural/urban interplay.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757–775
JournalInternational Journal of Urban and Regional Research
Issue number4
Early online date26 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2017


  • urban regeneration
  • creative city
  • culture
  • artist-led projects
  • creative brownfields
  • St Petersburg
  • Russia
  • Lausanne
  • Switzerland
  • governance


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