Remapping the city

By reconceiving cities a different picture emerges. This needs mapping if policy priorities are to be set and the right investment undertaken. The best mappers are usually the planners. Their focus is largely on land-use patterns and socio-demographic trends. Many maps exist, such as of the value contours of the city, but these do not appear to be looked at from a holistic perspective in which planners, economic strategists and the social or culturally minded interpret together what the policy implications are. So far, interpretation has been too firmly viewed within isolated disciplines. This is fine as far as it goes. Yet when other dimensions are also mapped, further insight occurs. In short, maps stimulate insight when looked at through collective eyes, and we could be more creative about the kinds of maps we develop.

Maps rarely track emerging issues such as the flows of creativity, innovations, decision-making, participation, use of space and potential. Nor are maps made of industrial dynamics, showing how a place interconnects internally and with the wider world. But what can emerge from these are interdependencies, mutual reliances and often counter-intuitive conclusions. In Adelaide we undertook extensive remapping and discovered, for instance, the Playford PhD cluster. Remapping revealed an extensive decision-making spaghetti as one map was layered on to the next. The maps showing where creatives live confirmed intuition. Creatives move to areas of character and distinctiveness, but also to places in the process of transformation, where an element of edginess remains. Also there is a strong correlation between places on the heritage register and where they live, often in accommodation where they both live and work. The maps were also helpful in predicting areas of future potential or possible decline.

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