Cultural city model

Cities in transition: Exploring the role of urban cultural policies

Scientific productions

MESOC team published the Special Issue City, Territory and Architecture in SpringerOpen. This Special Issue welcomes submissions to the thematic series - Cities in transition: exploring the role of urban cultural policies.

It opens a debate on the role of cultural policies and initiatives in urban transformations and their potential contribution to urban transition processes. Activities developed in different cultural domains (e.g. including architecture, heritage, performative arts, visual arts) by different urban stakeholders have been broadly recognised as potential drivers of change at the city and neighbourhood levels. Nevertheless, their contribution to the long-term restructuring of spatial, social and organisational settings and their effects on citizens’ routines and behaviours needs to be further explored. Also, it is crucial to critically reflect on the paths through which cultural policies trigger (purposive or unintended) effects at multiple levels, and on their social and political implications. 

This thematic series hosts research reflecting on the role and meaning of culture-led transformative dynamics in cities and on the mechanisms through which they emerge. In addition, they will investigate how cultural activities contribute to (re-)shape cities in their socio-spatial and institutional configurations and affect citizens’ quality of life. Multidisciplinary and cross-silos research investigating context-specific and exogenous factors intervening in different urban settings is particularly appreciated. 

The Special Issue investigates research and case studies that tackle conceptual, analytical and empirical challenges related to the interaction among cultural policies and urban processes generating change in cities’ material and intangible components. Submissions relate, but are not limited, to the following perspectives and questions:

Interpretative perspective: 

  • Why is an “urban transition lens” relevant to interpret culture-led urban transformation?
  • What defines the transitional/transformation potential of a cultural policy at an urban scale?
  • What are the most relevant (positive and negative) social and spatial effects of cultural policies?

 ​​​​​​Analytical perspective:

  • How to analyse interactions among cultural policies and socio-spatial transformative dynamics?
  • How can culture-led transformations be detected and assessed? 
  • How to evaluate the effects of cultural policies on cities and urban processes?

Empirical perspective:

  • What factors enable the generation of transformative dynamics in specific urban settings? 
  • How do contextual conditions affect the development of culture-related transformations?
  • Which factors contribute to the emergence and consolidation of transition dynamics?

Lead Guest Editors

Irene Bianchi, Ilaria Tosoni
Department of Architecture and Urban Studies – Politecnico di Milano

Pau Rausell Köster
Department of Applied Economics – University of Valencia


The published articles are the following: 

Exogenous and endogenous factors affecting the social impact of cultural projects: the case of Barcelona ecosystem | Lluís Bonet, Giada Calvano and Pablo Fernández Compañ

Cultural policies and urban transitions green politics, democracy in the time of the pandemic | Emmanuel Négrier

Signals of sustainability transition: Sensing enabling factors through cultural initiatives | Grazia Concilio, Irene Bianchi and Ilaria Tosoni

Stretching the boundaries of cultural policies for inclusive and sustainable urban contexts: the case of Issy-les-Moulineaux in France | Anna Moro and Eric Legale

Cultural experiences in the framework of “cultural cities”: measuring the socioeconomic impact of culture in urban performance | Pau Rausell-Köster, Sendy Ghirardi, Jordi Sanjuán, Francesco Molinari and Borja Abril

Developing a framework for culture-based interventions for well-being in Cluj-Napoca, Romania | Claudia-Maria Cacovean, Marina-Denisa Dascăl and Maria-Rarița Zbranca

Changing mega-events’ spatial strategies and cultural policy: scaling down, spacing out, and assembling organizations in the cases of London and Milan | Zachary M. Jones, Stefano Di Vita and Davide Ponzini

Indicators for local policies of cultural welfare: content, dimensions, and quality criteria | Annalisa Cicerchia

Designing radical transitions: a plea for a new governance culture to empower deep transformative change | Derk A. Loorbach

The creative city approach: origins, construction and prospects in a scenario of transition | Chema Segovia and Julie Hervé