Waste and value in urban transformation: reflections on a post- industrial ‘wasteland’ in Manchester
Introduction: place-as-waste This chapter examines changing conceptions of wastelands, particularly in the case of former industrial districts of cities in advanced capitalist economies. It explores the historical development of the wasteland concept, as well as informal and formal reappropriations of ‘wasted’ post-industrial spaces, in processes of urban social, cultural, economic, and ecological change. In these ambivalent (Jorgensen and Tylecote 2007), vague (Solà-Morales Rubió 1995; Miller 2006; Barron 2014), and sometimes contemptuous (Armstrong 2006) sites, what is wasted in an urban wasteland, and to whom is this a problem? In exploring the discursive construction of place-as-waste, the dialectical relationship between waste and value becomes of central concern. Among the most sustained considerations of so-called ‘urban wastelands’, and the process of wasting more broadly, has been the urban planning and design theorist Kevin Lynch (1960, 1972; Appleyard et al. 1964), particularly his final, posthumously published book, Wasting Away (1990). In this exploratory text, Lynch departs from prescriptiveness of ‘good city form’ and urban ‘imageability’ to appeal for the acceptance of wasting as a necessary social, ecological, and material process. To him, waste was:
what is worthless or un-used for human purpose. It is a lessening of something without useful result; it is loss and abandonment, decline, separation and death. It is the spent and valueless material left after some act of production or consumption, but can also refer to any used thing: garbage, trash, litter, junk, impurity and dirt. There are waste things, waste lands, waste time and wasted lives.