Chapter 13: Pretty vacant? Implications of neglect and emptiness for urban aesthetics and place branding
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This chapter considers the visual and aesthetic impact of vacant retail and commercial space (which may be in various states of disrepair) on perceptions of urban centres, and the consequent implications for place marketing/branding activity. We begin by examining the current fascination with ruination (manifest in the concept of ‘ruin porn’), moving to discuss the various ways in which the urban retail and commercial landscape can be read in visual terms and the manner in which this may be influenced by ruination. We consider how vacant retail and commercial space can be treated by those responsible for the management, marketing and branding of urban places, to mitigate the negative aesthetic effect of empty space, concluding with an identification of future avenues for research.

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