High-rise in trouble? Learning from Europe
Rights accessOpen Access
Purpose All over the world, millions of people live in buildings and neighbourhoods that follow the principles of Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) and Le Corbusier: high-rise “residential machines” in parks reminiscent of green seas. Some of these have become very successful living environments, but in Europe and the USA, several neighbourhoods featuring this architectural design dream have become a social nightmare. Residents who were able to moved to more desirable neighbourhoods. This led to a high level of vacancy and crime and fear of crime have flourished, resulting in a stigma that is often long-lasting and difficult to repair. The pupose of this study is to learn from these experiences. Design/methodology/approach In this paper, two high-rise neighbourhoods, built in a Corbusier-like fashion and situated on the outskirts of major cities, are put under the evaluation spotlight: Bijlmermeer: located in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, with an abundance of landscaping, shrubbery, green fields and one high-density neighbourhood; and Bellvitge: located in Barcelona, Cataluña, Spain, looking less like a park and more like a city with open-air parking on ground level, and many small shops, bars and restaurants. Findings Both neighbourhoods faced enormous problems from crime, incivilities, disorder and drug abuse. Fear of crime and feelings of insecurity were high. Both governments reacted by investing huge sums of money. In Bellvitge, the investment was mainly in public transport, the public domain and new approaches in policing while keeping the high-rise buildings intact. In Bijlmermeer, a large regeneration project supported the demolition of two-thirds of all apartments and the neighbourhood was rebuilt in a low-rise fashion. Research limitations/implications This paper outlines the history of both neighbourhoods and describes the solutions that were implemented. Important lessons can be learned regarding current high-rise neighbourhoods and about the learning capacity of urban designers and planners regarding urban management. Practical implications The paper suggests that urban planners, designers and managers are slow in learning from earlier mistakes. The hypothesis is that there is no clear method available to evaluate new urban planning designs by incorporating lessons from the success or failure of previous cases. This paper focuses on density, ownership and design to identify possible approaches to evaluate new high-rise estate plans. Originality/value The Western high-rise “wave” has faded away but nowadays has become a high-rise “tsunami” in Asia. Learning from European experience may be beneficial.
CitationSoomeren, P., Klundert, W., Aquilue, I., Justin de, K. High-rise in trouble? Learning from Europe. "Journal of place management and development", 2016, vol. 9, núm. 2, p. 224-240.