, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 489-504
Date: 31 Oct 2012

Towards the experiential meaning of milieu for neighbourhood regeneration: discussions on the institutional designation of milieu-valued areas in Tallinn, Estonia

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This article analyses the constructive and strategic character of the milieu discourse in the planning of urban neighbourhoods in Tallinn, Estonia, that has an influence on neighbourhood regeneration. In the institutional designation of milieu areas, the concept of milieu area means the coherent historical housing environment as assessed by planning experts. The article argues that this milieu discourse has strategic aims in terms of preserving architectural housing heritage and acknowledging the traditional understanding of the heritage value. This has influenced, in the collective knowledge, the specific perception of the term ‘milieu’ that will in turn influence the change of a neighbourhood’s social structure and of its placemaking. For example, the concept of milieu area is used by real estate agents for selling and renting apartments in deprived neighbourhoods that are institutionally acknowledged as the neighbourhoods with the milieu value. The study concludes that the expert-based milieu discourse does not consider the socio-spatial neighbourhoods’ everyday life, which is significant in terms of viable neighbourhood regeneration. The reconstruction of the milieu term towards an experiential milieu approach is suggested, as the involvement of residents in neighbourhood regeneration is especially essential in the neighbourhoods of the dispossessed.