The Production of Urban Public Space: A Lefebvrian Analysis of Castlefield, Manchester

Leary, Michael. 2010. The Production of Urban Public Space: A Lefebvrian Analysis of Castlefield, Manchester. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The aim of this research is to unravel and interrogate critically the recent histories of the production and reproduction of Castlefield, Manchester. This unravelling is accomplished theoretically through the historicised application of Lefebvre‘s spatial triad. Production of space histories and Castlefield‘s 'regeneration‘ are revisited principally through archival and interview evacuations of the neglected years of the 1970s. Urban public space is seen as the key city synecdoche. The thesis argues against what is called the 'dominant academic narrative‘: challenging the narrative where it ignores or downplays the role of counter-representations and counter-projects in the production of urban public space. The empirical research is based mainly on archival data and complimentary interview and visual data; the analyses are qualitative. Visual representations of space largely neglected in the literature are foregrounded throughout the empirical research. Spaces of representation and spatial practice are interrogated from the perspective of public space analysis which emphasises the importance of the contested nature of representations of space within the public sector and the vulnerable and unstable character of some official representations of space. The thesis therefore does not seek to reproduce what might be called a 'traditional‘ Lefebvrian analysis which counter-poses repressive official representations of space against quotidian heroic, poetic spaces of representation. The research challenges oversimplified characterisations of Castlefield as a space simply of heritage, leisure and exclusive residential enclaves. A dynamic, complex spatial portrait is revealed whereby ludic, 'natural‘ and abstract space rise and fall though intricate spatial layering as time unfolds. Urban differential space and ludic space are found to emerge through the interstices of abstract space as key outcomes of the contestation of space. The thesis concludes that the potential for differential urban public space exists through the production of new spaces and their diverse politicised appropriation.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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March 2010

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Date Deposited:

17 Feb 2012 18:17

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:27


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