Does suburbanization yield to new models in the production of urban space ? The issue raised connects to the genesis of urban edges’ areas, and of the underlying forces that structure them. Indeed, private actors contribute to the production of space (professional territorial management, real-estate developers...) ; local public authorities have key strategies (control on land-use, social selection of residents, urban sprawl or slow-growth policies) ; and publicly-owned and managed areas tend to disappear, yielding to a private urbanism in which planned-unit developments are key features. The project aims at getting a better understanding of the production of urban space, centered on planned-unit developments, which are dominant residential morphology in the suburban landscape. The focus will be on identifying and describing the types of public-private partnerships involved in the suburban fabric ; studying the status of the partners (real-estate corporations, public / private co-operations, etc.) that shape the nature of the proposed goods ; understanding the shaping of blurred boundaries between public and private spaces. Numerous actors indeed operate at different levels, according to their own strategies : individual owners, collective organizations managing land-use and property rights (homeowners or residents associations), private firms and real-estate developers, as well as the different levels of governmental bodies intervening in granting development permits, defining planning and zoning policies and shaping the laws and rules that define operational schemes (municipalities, districts, State). Closely integrated within the UMR Géographie-cités, the proposed team brings together planners, geographers, and roots its analysis into theoretical aspects raised by economics and sociology. This multidisciplinary approach is sustained by a large international network of scholars from different fields, in which this project is embedded, and studying private urban governance. The “school of regulation” is especially a core analytical set of theory, as far as land-use patterns are produced by intricate public and private spaces, operated according to complex forms of property rights. The production of urban space results of actors’ strategies, each of whom operating rational location choices. This logic has social costs (exclusion and social segregation) and produces spill-over effects (sprawl, congestion, speculation), thus interpreted as a market failure in regulating land-use. The intervention of a public body of government is then understood as a means to limit the effects of those externalities. Partnerships, regulations and redistribution processes are thus underlying the emergence of structures on the urban edges. A database will gather information on residential planned-unit developments, describing both quantitative aspects of urban environment and location, and qualitative data (types of partnerships, interviews with the operators, budgets and fiscal data). The data collection will be conducted on three fields, all different in their legal, social, urban and cultural contexts (Los Angeles, Paris, London). This implies a comparative analysis, of both quantitative data (spatial analysis) on social structures and morphology, and qualitative data on the role of actors and institutional logics.
Three levels of inquiries will be analyzed :
- the interaction level of each kind of partners in the planning and development of the urban edge. This should bring the analysis to the issue of the efficiency of public authorities and their private partners in their ability to provide collective goods to the residential population;
- the type of partnerships and strategies operated in the production of suburban spaces, between individuals (buyers, residents, renters), private or publicentities acting at the local scale (homeowner associations, local governments), and private companies ;
- the consequences and systemic impacts of these strategies, that built or restrict the public space, produce a social selection of residents, impose externalities over the neighbors (implications on property values, on fiscal equalization...). These strategies contribute to define the ability of public authorities to regulate the allocation of public space and to control urban planning processes.
Finally, this project aims at analyzing the emergence of new suburban territories vs. the reproduction of classical patterns (homogeneity of urban sprawl). Spatial analysis of data will help mapping and sorting out the places of emerging patterns on the urban edges : diffusion of new models of urbanism, new polarizations, rapid changes in socio-economic patterns, building of social barriers.
Directed by Renaud Le Goix