Temporary solutions? Vacant space policy and strategies for re-use in Dublin
In the context of the ongoing economic crisis and the associated slow-down in the commercial property sector, urban policies that seek to encourage ‘temporary uses’ have grown in popularity internationally. Such strategies have been streamlined with pre-existing ‘creative city’ agendas. The post-crisis scenario in Dublin has seen an increased engagement at the official level with these strategies, which have also been positively represented within media discourses. Vacancy, in this framework, is transformed from a form of ‘blight’ to an ‘opportunity’ for ‘innovative’ and ‘creative’ re-use of urban space. Thus various ‘temporary uses’ of vacant spaces in Dublin have also been mobilised in attempts to brand and market the city. In this paper, we offer a critical examination of Dublin’s emerging approach to vacancy and reuse. We focus our analysis on the wider policy discourses that temporary uses are being constructed within, and the set of assumptions about how temporary uses can contribute to broader urban development strategies. Our core argument is that the potential impacts of these strategies need to be more critically considered within the context of the city’s wider political economy, particularly in the context of the transformation of post-crisis cities.
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