New-Build Gentrifications: Forms, Places and Processes

Venue: University of Neuchâtel

Location: 2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Event Date/Time: Nov 15, 2007 End Date/Time: Nov 16, 2007
Registration Date: Nov 01, 2007
Early Registration Date: Oct 15, 2007
Abstract Submission Date: Sep 05, 2007
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Seminar « New-Build Gentrifications: Forms, Places and Processes »

Call for an international seminar at the Institute of Geography, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 15-16 November 2007


The seminar is organized by Prof. Etienne Piguet, Patrick Rérat and Prof. Ola Söderström at the Institute of Geography, University of Neuchâtel.

The seminar will gather a small group of 20 scholars and around 10 contributions concentrating on one or several of the themes below from disciplines such as geography, sociology, political science and architecture.

Abstracts (2'500 signs max.) are to be sent to until September the 5th. Notification of abstract acceptance will be communicated on September the 18th.

Keynote speakers

Two keynote speakers will introduce the seminar:

Loretta Lees (King’s College London, UK): “New-Build Gentrification: its Histories and Trajectories”

Mathieu Van Criekingen (Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium): “Demographic and Social Changes in Core Cities: Gentrifying the Reurbanisation Debate”


In its classical definition, gentrification concerns the physical and social transformation of existing districts. Recently, the concept has been extended to include high status developments and changes in the urban fabric such as the emergence of new urban districts on former industrial wastelands. The aim of the seminar is to focus on “new-build gentrification” and some recent trends in urban development such as regeneration and densification policies. We would like in particular to address questions regarding the roles of the actors involved in these phenomena: national and local authorities, actors of the housing market and households who settle in the new dwellings.

Public policy at the national and local level in many countries seek to promote the regeneration of urban wastelands and the densification of the built environment in order both to improve tax incomes and to correspond to a more sustainable development strategy. Private actors may create or reinforce the phenomenon of “new-build gentrification” since the purchasing power of the gentrifiers implies better return on investment. Finally, households who move into the new dwellings are generally composed of specific social groups (new middle class, transnational migrants, dual career households, non family households, etc.).

Three main themes will be addressed during this seminar: (1) the extension of the concept of gentrification, (2) the demographic changes in the core cities and (3) the actors of urban regeneration.

1. The extension of the concept of gentrification

The concept of gentrification has been extended to include other forms of development (new-build, retail, tourism gentrification) and spaces (suburban, rural). Is it fruitful to extend the concept of gentrification and more specifically to new-build areas? Is the extension to be regarded as a renewal of the heuristic value of the concept or on the contrary as a weakening? Are other notions (such as reurbanisation) more relevant? Does the internationalization of gentrification studies modify the content of the concept? What are the dynamics of gentrification in different national contexts?

2. The demographic changes in the core cities

New-build gentrification takes place in a context of demographic changes in core cities raising the question of the common features of these processes or their specificities in each local, regional or national context. What are the demographic and residential trends that are observed in core cities and specifically in the new districts built on former wastelands? What is the role of gentrification in the dynamics of reurbanisation? What are the profiles, trajectories and motivations of the new urban dwellers? What is the respective role of the different categories of gentrifiers? What is the role of the transnational elites in the demographic gain of cities? What is the evolution of the neighbouring areas (indirect eviction effect)?

3. The actors of urban regeneration

Reurbanisation is promoted by different political actors (State, local governments) often for quite different reasons. The model of the compact city increasingly influence planning policies since it is supposed to be more compatible with the different dimensions of sustainable development. However, its social sustainability is questionable since these programmes may not be neutral from a social point of view. What are the local and national policies in the field of urban regeneration? How can they be analysed and compared across space? What is the role of other actors such as real estate agents or investors?


Espace Louis Agassiz 1