, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 379-387

Cultural industries, information technology and the regeneration of post-industrial urban landscapes. Poblenou in Barcelona - a virtual city?

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In a former industrial part of Barcelona, as in the de-industrialising neighbourhoods of many big cities, the ‘new’ economy and the ‘cultural’ economy have started to replace the ‘old’ economy, bringing new life into a declining district but also causing conflicts of land use, housing or the preservation of architectural heritage. The latter is an important part of regeneration and marketing policies of city governments, whereby the ‘new’ economy not only emerges from the old but the physical space of the old industrial quarter becomes the tool and setting in which the city can re-present itself and its success story of transformation and regeneration. Through the increasing use of information and communication technologies, which are at the same time driving this transformation - an industry as such as well as business-aid in various sectors, cultural industries in particular - the city has acquired a second, virtual presence. The city exists and ‘lives’ on numerous websites. Those by city government and city organisations often have the express purpose of marketing and presenting the city, while those by (cultural) businesses and other organisations in the district add to the mosaic of the virtual city. As a result, the old industrial space continues to live and be productive, its economic value having changed largely into a cultural value. This coexistence of the real and the virtual, old and new, also meets with a conflict at certain junctures. There is the positive representation of plans and events on the city's websites on the one hand, and the undercurrent of protest and disenchantment among the local population who find themselves marginalised from the profits and success of development, on the other.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.