Culture-led urban regeneration has been the buzzword of many cities around the world nowadays. There are two related ways to interrogate this problematic. First, it is about the extent to which it is a real urban future for cities. Second, it is about its applicability to cities other than those in the West. This article attempts to tackle these related queries by, first, invoking Lefebvre's concepts of utopia vs isotopia and, then, drawing on two cases of cultural regeneration in an industrial district and an old residential neigbourhood in Hong Kong. The conceptual discussion of utopia highlights the imperative of spatial contradictions as the prerequisite for the emergence of concrete utopia; otherwise, it only results in isotopia. As such, it is difficult for cultural regeneration to produce utopia. This, in turn, calls for greater attention to the historical–geographical processes that have produced the conditions for the concerned city. It is these processes that differentiate Hong Kong from many others in the West. The prevailing land (re)development regime has favoured some processes at the expense of others. The two empirical cases have confirmed that either spatial contradictions were not there, or if they ever emerged, they were time and space specific. These conditions rendered it difficult to nurture creativity and to really relegate the decision-making power to the people, thereby denying the possible applicability of the problematic of cultural regeneration to Hong Kong.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Urban Studies
- Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
- Culture-led urban regeneration
- Hong Kong
- Spatial contradictions