Design activism meets place-branding: reconfiguring urban representation and everyday practice

Guy Julier

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


This chapter provides a critical approach to place-branding, firstly by analysing its instabilities and secondly by developing an account of how design activism generates alternative identities and processes of identity formation. The research is underpinned by Julier’s work on design-led urban regeneration and his practical experience as director of Leeds Love It Share It, a community interest company set up to research and design new scenarios for Leeds in the context of long-term economic recession and climate change. This collective brought together human geographers from the University of Leeds, Bauman Lyons Architects, the Permaculture Association, and Media and Arts Partnership, undertaking research for Yorkshire Forward, Leeds City Council and the Local Enterprise Generation Initiative. The research involved a fine grain mapping of social networks, undervalued enterprise and underutilised spaces in Leeds’ Richmond Hill, an area of high deprivation. From this action research, design and social innovation processes were developed in collaboration with its community assets. The findings were published in a co-authored peer-reviewed article for Cityjournal (‘Building resilience and well‐being in the margins within the city’, 2011) and in a full report for Yorkshire Forward. Bringing together design, human geography, urbanism, permaculture thinking and community development, this cross-disciplinary and cross-professional/academic project resulted in the prototyping of low-cost regeneration approaches. In this chapter Julier considers the findings of this project in the context of place-branding, arguing for new approaches that focus upon social inclusion. Stemming from the development of this framework and in partnership with Bauman Lyons Architects, Julier has gone on to develop research approaches for Yorkshire Forward to look at processes of change for distinctive rural towns.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBrands and branding geographies
EditorsAndy Pike
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherEdward Elgar
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9781849801591
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2011


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