Jigsaw Cities – a challenge to regeneration orthodoxy

At the book launch for Jigsaw Cities its author, Professor Anne Power and John Houghton, emphasised the importance of understanding cities as made up of a number of different jigsaw puzzle pieces with no picture on the cover to help put it all together. For physical regeneration there was discussion about renovating existing stock, using micro-spaces, and developing mixed use communities.

I find it depressing that the presumed starting point for regeneration is still physical – rather than psychological.  In my experience it is when individuals find confidence and hope that a community can start to regenerate.  It takes more than uPVC windows and doors to bring a community hope as this article by Sue Townsend so brilliantly illustrates.


  1. I totally agree Mike, but some would argue a chicken and egg situation. Many of my friends doing regeneration in the north west, would say it is the small things that started to make the difference…people talking to each other, encouraging trust, letting kids play outside – these things may help the big things happen? mmmm

  2. Could not agree more. Regeneration starts through conversation and relationships at a local community level. It is this community based ‘social capital’ that gives physical regeneration a real chance to succeed. The challenge facing so many regeneration projects – like the one in East Leeds is how to maintain social capital when in effect the community will be dismantled and their housing demolished to allow the physical regeneration to occur.

    Anne and John were advocating a scalpel approach to demolition rather than the ‘wrecking ball’ with compelling social and environmental reasons why large scale new builds were unlikely to succeed.

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