Precincts Historic Preservation and Urban Revitalization

Abandoned buildings have been converted into other uses when they are strategically located and have qualities that can be exploited. Cotton mills in Mumbai have been converted to office buildings, garment factories in Philadelphia and woolstores in Sydney into apartments, and the Ghirardelli chocolate factory in San Francisco (as has already been described) into a shopping and tourist centre. The list can go on and on. Not only do the buildings give a sense of continuity -a sense of history - to a city's inhabitants but also often they cannot be replaced today for financial reasons with ones of a similar quality. Such conversions of individual buildings are not generally regarded as urban design despite the catalytic effect they may have on the development of their surroundings.

Special district legislation and the use of zoning incentives as part of city planning have seen precincts conserved or renovated and, usually, gentrified. The upgrading in financial status of occupants occurred, for instance, in the Marais in Paris, Society Hill in Philadelphia and Duxton Hill in Singapore (i.e. the original population is displaced by one of a higher income as the physical environment and services are improved). The conversion of industrial precincts of cities as single projects into new uses without extensive demolition is less common. Clarke Quay in Singapore is, however, an example. It was totally converted into a new use under the direction of a single team of a developer and an architectural firm.

Major references

Attoe, Wayne (1988). Historic preservation. In Anthony J. Catanese and James C. Snyder, eds., Urban Planning. New York: McGraw-Hill, 344-65.

Jacobs, Steven and Barclay G. Jones (1962). Urban Design through Conservation. Unpublished manuscript, University of California at Berkeley.

Tiesdell, Steven A., Taner Oc and Tim Heath (1996). Revitalizing Historic Urban Quarters. Boston: Butterworth-Architecture.

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