Reflexive neoliberalism, urban design, and regeneration machines
Urban planning had been emasculated by the first-wave neoliberalism of the 1980s. Urban form would follow market forces, and planners and urban designers would simply 'smooth' the rough spots. A corollary of providing a good business climate, for many globalizing cities, was the promotion of urban design, iconic architecture, and trendy cultural quarters. Flagship projects, 'starchitecture', and monumentality in urban design were seen as necessary for cities that wanted to compete in a globalized post-industrial service economy. Regeneration machines involve a broad spectrum of actors and institutions, all embedded in time- and place-specific social relations. London provides some of the clearest examples of regeneration machines, all products of the reflexive neoliberalism of national and metropolitan governance. Accusations of social cleansing and state-led gentrification notwithstanding, the net effect of regeneration in London has been to fundamentally alter the system of housing provision.