The Role of Place Identity in the Perception, Understanding, and Design of Built Environments

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In an era of globalization, where the progressive deterioration of local values is a dominating characteristic, identity is seen as a fundamental need that encompasses all aspects of human life. One ...
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Revitalization of Public Spaces in a Working Class Neighborhood: Appropriation, Identity and the Urban Imaginary

Pp. 47-62 (16)

Hélène Bélanger, Sara Cameron and Cecilia de la Mora


After years of decline due to the relocation of industries and the closure of the canal, Pointe- Saint-Charles—located in the Southwest Borough near the city of Montreal’s downtown core—is experiencing significant real estate (re)development projects. As a result, long-time residents are now facing the transformation of the built and social environment at the neighborhood level. With the rise of the post-industrial economy, natural resources and public spaces that were once perceived as part of the industrial production process have become residential and leisure “landscapes” due the recycling of old industrial buildings and changes to specific site function. With a newly arrived resident population sharing this new leisure site with the “old working class”, there is a possibility that contrasting representations of these post-industrial spaces will be produced. This chapter presents the results of an investigation into the contrasting representations of the living environment (home territory) of residents living in the neighborhood of Pointe-Saint-Charles (Montreal, Canada), following the revitalization of the Lachine Canal Park and the massive redevelopment projects that took place along the canal’s banks. Residents’ representations are explored through the collection and comparison of long-time and new residents’ sketch maps of their living environment, as well as through semi-structured interviews. Sketch map analysis (scale, complexity, meaningful spaces) showed that long-time and new residents’ appropriated territory is not determined by length of residency. The Lachine Canal (and its banks), variously imagined as an historical industrial site bordering a working class neighborhood and a postmodern leisure space bordering modern housing developments, is shown to be the most important element in residents’ home territories.


Appropriation, identity, urban imaginary, territory, regeneration, public spaces.


Université du Québec à Montréal, Département d’études urbaines et touristiques, École des sciences de la gestion, Case Postale 8888, Montréal (Québec) H3C 3P8, Canada