AbstractsGeography &GIS

Creativity, clusters and fine-grain networks: an investigation of culture-led urban regeneration in Australia and China

by Lei Liu

Institution: Monash University
Department: School of English, Communications and Performance Studies
Year: 2015
Keywords: Culture-led urban regeneration; Creative cities; Shenzhen; Soft infrastructure; Sydney; Urban policies; Creative clusters; Creative ecosystem; Creative industries; Creative milieu; Fine-grain; Gentrification; Network; New media
Record ID: 1050683
Full text PDF: http://arrow.monash.edu.au/hdl/1959.1/1144148


The significance of creative industry clusters is well recognised in culture-led urban regeneration and in the development of cultural quarters over the last twenty years. The benefits of establishing and supporting these clusters are evident, ranging from the achievement of economic return to the improvement of social and environmental conditions. This urban phenomenon is also seen as the key drive behind the prevalence of a ‘creative economy’ and the cradle for the development of creative industries. In fact, the formation of creative clusters largely draws upon the wider urban ecosystem that supplies resources, energy and inspiration. The interrelationship between creative clusters and wider urban, national and international networks has been examined in recent literature (Bain 2013; Gibson et al. 2012; Brennan-Horley and Gibson 2009; Brennan-Horley et al. 2010). These studies also question the geographical confinement of a local cluster, and underscore the socio-technical operation of clusters. The traditional view of urban planning is that clusters are confined to a geographical boundary and are only connected by ‘hard infrastructure’, the physical components of interrelated systems. This perspective seems to be challenged by the concept of ‘soft infrastructure’ that leads to the superposition of sophisticated communications, programs and activities over the physical network. In order to dissolve the spatial limitation, it is crucial to understand the underlying forces that generate creativity and urban culture. In parallel with an ARC Linkage project this research scrutinises the concept of ‘soft infrastructure’ and its implications for creative clusters in Australian and Chinese cities. The investigation has been carried out to find out the parameters that are crucial to the fine grain activities of creative clusters, including learning and innovation effects, cross-trading, skills sharing, place-making and so on. In this thesis I explore the question of how these underlying parameters can be conceptualised, evaluated, planned, designed and facilitated. Extensive field research has been conducted on creative clusters in Australian and Chinese cities, followed by an in-depth comparative analysis of selected cases in Sydney and Shenzhen, China. The qualitative and quantitative examination is based on a comprehensive understanding of regional, city and local conditions with a consideration of the interrelationship between the clusters and the broader creative ecosystem. In particular, this research investigates the application of new communication technology in both cities and its influence on the formation of creative clusters, fine grain entrepreneurships and urban networks. It aims to generate a set of sustainable models for culture-led urban regeneration. From what I have found in Surry Hills, the rationales for promoting the suburb as a growing creative hub are not evident in the maps and statistics provided by the City of Sydney. The elements that make up Surry Hills as a creative milieu always have a…