From wasteland to wonderland: The hypermedia(tiza)tion of urban regeneration in Leeds’ Holbeck Urban Village

Giorgia Aiello


In this paper, I examine Holbeck Urban Village (HUV), Leeds’ flagship urban regeneration project and a textbook case in approaches to planning and redevelopment via the popular notion of ‘urban village’. Based on an analysis of online planning and promotional media, I argue that the lived space of HUV is hypermediatized, as it is imagined and imaged for key lifestyle publics via top–down multimodal discourses. However, it is not only the social but also the more properly material dimensions of our cities that are increasingly mediatized. In my analysis, I note how specific ‘textures’ of envisioned lived space are mobilized in the communication of HUV to achieve distinction within major genres and formats of urban regeneration. I then posit that this is also a hypermediated approach to urban regeneration, as the imaginations and images that constitute the visual–material performances of the urban village are in turn productive of very specific and therefore also limited (embodied) subjectivities and (emplaced) communities. Overall, the key aim of this article is to draw attention to the increasing hypermedia(tiza)tion of the material and social dimensions of urban regeneration and, in doing so, also generate concepts for the development of a broader critical and theoretical framework for the study of major contemporary approaches to urban regeneration from a communication and media studies perspective.

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