Urban renewal of city centres: a comparative study between Canadian and Chilean cities

The proposed research seeks to compare the effects of rehabilitation programs on central areas in two cities: Montreal and Santiago de Chile. The research objective is to identify ways of promoting a sustainable process that allows on the one hand, its renewal, and, on the other, the protection of the built form and the inhabitants of the areas that surround the city centres.

The urban renewal strategies in the 90s succeeded in reactivating the market in Santiago. Nevertheless they also detonated a process that to a certain extent was more dangerous than the previous, as many of the older buildings were demolished and some of the traditional population was threatened with expulsion. Montreal has an interesting experience to learn from. In the last twenty years, it has implemented an ambitious program of urban renewal that has focused on environmental issues while, at the same time, protecting the built environment as well as existing and new communities.

The proposed research offers to study the cases from a socio spatial approach. The underlying hypothesis is that to enhance a sustainable development it is necessary to build neighbourhoods with a multiplicity of inhabitants sharing public space and amenities. To do this it is necessary to first understand the socio spatial construction of the neighbourhood itself, and second, to understand the global and local laws that govern the process. The research includes a first phase of analysis of secondary data related to the central area, basically a thorough revision of the government interventions, accompanied by a set of interviews to relevant informants, asking their impressions of the lessons to be learned form these experiences.