The four types of cultural quarters, progressively speaking

“It can be posited that urban cultural quarters, or even urban districts with a strong cultural focus, fall into four categories:

  1. Museum cultural districts (eg South Kensington in London; Adelaide’s North Terrace)
  2. Institutional cultural districts – a cross-over of the above with major performing arts institutions (London Oxford Street, Melbourne Oxford Street)
  3. Metropolitan cultural districts – where cultural venues in the main are part of a dynamic urban mix (Temple Bar, London’s West End), and these include smaller and medium-sized elements;
  4. Industrial cultural districts – centres of production both for the plastic arts and the creative and design industries (Sheffield CIQ, London’s ‘cultural clusters’ and Tilburg in Holland).’cultural clusters’ and Tilburg in Holland).

The first two of these are oriented towards art as a good thing, an expression of civilization and of ‘cultural consumption’. The third is more closely related to urban-place making and mixed-use city diversity. The fourth is directly linked to the notion of the new economy and mixed media, and therefore the generation of new work, businesses and employment. However, there are many examples of planned cultural precincts that fail as urban destinations, remaining dismal, windswept and under-used.”

John Montgomery, Urban Cultures

Next entry: Part two – Cultural Quarters: Necessary conditions and success factors

Image: Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland

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