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The SMEs and the revitalisation of the European Cities

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PERCE ONCEI VE ACHIEVE ^ The ^ ■ t a i n a b I e City A European Tetralogy PART II , and the Revitalisation of the European Cities »[CjU European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions *•* PERCEIVE CONCEIVE ACHIEVE The Sustai nable City A European Tetralogy PART II The SMEs and the Revitalisation of the European Cities EF/95/15/EN René Schoonbrodt (1935), PhD in Sociology, is professor at the Open Faculty of Social and Economic Policy of the University of Louvain, director at the Ministry of the Région Wallone, president of the Atelier de Recherche et dAction Urbaine (ARAU), administrator of the Archives d'Architecture Modern; consultant for the European Commission (co-writer of the Green Paper on the Urban Environment) and the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Dublin). His published works include: Sociologie de l'habitat social, AAM, Bruxelles, 1979, 348p., Essai sur la destruction des villes et des campagnes, Pierre Mardaga, Liège, 1987, 188p., Penser la ville. Choix de textes philosophiques (avec Pierre Ansay), AAM, 1989, 480p., "Cités-Jardins contre ville" in Cité Jardins, 1920-40, AAM, 1993. Manuel De Haes (1965) is a lecturer in Economie and Social Sciences (Faculty of Namur); he is especially interested in management of enterprises.

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PERCE
ONCEI VE
ACHIEVE
^ The ^
■ t a i n a b I e City
A European Tetralogy
PART II
, and the Revitalisation
of the European Cities
»[CjU European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions
*•* PERCEIVE
CONCEIVE
ACHIEVE
The
Sustai nable City
A European Tetralogy
PART II
The SMEs and the Revitalisation
of the European Cities
EF/95/15/EN René Schoonbrodt (1935), PhD in Sociology, is professor at the Open Faculty of Social
and Economic Policy of the University of Louvain, director at the Ministry of the Région
Wallone, president of the Atelier de Recherche et dAction Urbaine (ARAU),
administrator of the Archives d'Architecture Modern; consultant for the European
Commission (co-writer of the Green Paper on the Urban Environment) and the
European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Dublin).
His published works include: Sociologie de l'habitat social, AAM, Bruxelles, 1979, 348p.,
Essai sur la destruction des villes et des campagnes, Pierre Mardaga, Liège, 1987, 188p.,
Penser la ville. Choix de textes philosophiques (avec Pierre Ansay), AAM, 1989, 480p.,
"Cités-Jardins contre ville" in Cité Jardins, 1920-40, AAM, 1993.
Manuel De Haes (1965) is a lecturer in Economie and Social Sciences (Faculty of
Namur); he is especially interested in management of enterprises. PERCEIVE
CONCEIVE
ACHIEVE
The
Sustai nable City
A European Tetralogy
PART II
The SMEs and the Revitalisation
of the European Cities
RENÉ SCHOONBRODT
• * • European Foundation
k "ΗΊ + for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions
• L^LI* LOUighlinstownÍ , Dublin 18, Ireland
*•*
Tel: (+353) 1 282 6888 Fax: (+353) 1 282 6456 Cataloguing data can be found at the end of this publication
Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1996
ISBN 92-827-4919-3 Volume II The SMEs and the Revitalisation of the European Cities
ISBN 92-827-4915-0e l-IV
© European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, 1996
For rights of translation or reproduction, applications should be made to the Director,
European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Loughlinstown,
Dublin 18, Ireland.
Printed in Ireland SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES AND THE REVITALISATION OF
THE EUROPEAN CITIES
FOREWORD
This study forms part of the Tetralogy: Perceive-Conceive-Achieve: The Sustainable City.
The Tetralogy has previously included reports on: urban eco-auditing; the limitation of
the private car and the enhancement of public spaces; and the functionality, aesthetics
and desirability of cities in Europe. This fourth study focuses on the economic
foundation of the sustainable city and the role which dynamics small and medium-sized
enterprises (SMEs) can play.
The basic hypothesis of this study is that a city will not be sustainable, if it does not
provide its own resources. It is the wealth produced by a city which will allow the
investments necessary in the search for a better environment. New partnerships between
SMEs, able to react quickly to change, and local authorities managing the long term of
urban life, may be better able to respond both to the need for a reconstitution of the
industrial tissue of cities and to the challenges of diversity, mix and urbanity.
Clive Purkiss Eric Verborgh
Director Deputy Director VII
INTRODUCTION
In the first phase of the research programme on Innovations for the improvement of the
urban environment we tried to identify innovative projects and realisations, bringing
significant innovations for the sustainable city. This sustainable city has already been give
a lot of valuable definitions. I imagined it human and strong, magnanimous and
dignified, offering all inhabitants better opportunities for working and living.
In its analytical phase, the project researches the innovative dimensions of actions
belonging to the following axes of intervention: the improvement of urban metabolism;
the restructuring of public spaces, spaces of mobility and moreover accessibility and also
the axis of urban aesthetics, which is also a foundation of the desirability of the
sustainable city.
This study constitutes a fourth axis of work; the economic foundation of the city searching
for sustainability, due to the dynamism of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Reconstituting the city which produces and reconciling it with the Agora, bringing
together the market economics, the environment and urban democracy. These are the
challenges which René Schoonbrodt tries to meet.
The history of European cities has never been the history of a long quiet fever. Those
who reflect with realism on the content of an innovative urban policy always seem to
have to face the dilemma: market city or city Agora. Giving priority to the profit,
economic efficiency and competitiveness, with captation of the technological knowledge
and investment in land development projects with high added value? Or, on the
contrary, invest in endogenous development, co-decision and co-existence of people and
activities?
Will a human-centred technology help to reconcile these approaches? Could SMEs
provide valuable solutions combining both requirements? In any case, the basic
hypothesis of this study is that a city will not be sustainable, if it does not produce its own
resources. It is the wealth produced by the city which will allow it to make the necessary
investments towards a better environment.
The methodological approach of the study includes the reflection on the best economic
theories in order to search for, on each urban project, no matter how modest, its high
cultural content. Among the theories on the virtual city and the omnipresent cities, René
Schoonbrodt chooses the texts of Jane Jacob, giving to the city a central, almost exclusive
role in the economic process. A city, active and mistress of its means may be the
European response to overpass the unemployment crisis. But, before engaging in that
direction, it is important to reflect on the social and economic reality of the European
city.
In order to reconcile enterprises with the requirements of urban life and at the same time
restructure the industrial tissue, René Schoonbrodt proposes new partnerships between
SMEs, able to react quickly to change and Local Authorities managing to the long tern
of the life of a city. These partnerships would allow the foundation of productive cities
responding to the quality of life requirements and able to revitalise their urban landscape VIII
and extend the fields of their creativity. Moreover, these partnerships would allow the
formation of a realistic vision for the future of a city.
Cities crystallize hopes for a better future. This future cannot be attained without the
search for urban forms that welcome the diversity of work organisation, its pace of
expansion and the particularities of employment opportunities. The achievement of
functional mix, able to promote a flexible and at the same time, democratically controlled
planning process, the acknowledgment of cultural differences and the search for
ecological balance are important preconditions of a dynamic urban development. They
should guide urban policies. But on the other hand, economic actors cannot remain
insensitive to the expectations of urban authorities; nobody wins with the extension of
pockets of poverty in cities. The resulting general climate is as negative for the city as
for the economic dynamism.
Opting for a city that produces its wealth is a European objective; it contributes to social
and economic cohesion and allows to find the necessary resources for the implementation
of an active environmental policy. This study explores this option, chosen certainly for
future generations but also in order to improve the living and working conditions of
present generations. This study is an essay and, like every essay, calls for deepening
confrontations and improvements.
Voula Mega
Research Manager