Steven Gu


Lost in Translation: Creative Urban Regeneration in Bangkok, Thailand

Advised by Jerold Kayden and Diane Davis

Over the last decade, creative industry-focused urban regeneration is becoming more popular for developing countries and their postindustrial urban spaces. Narratively led by national government agencies, the creative regeneration occurring on the ground not only deviates from policy intentions, but also escapes market-based development explanations. To understand this gap between image and reality, my thesis proposes an alternative framework that delineates the urban processes, developments, and actors based on socioeconomic class intentions and differentiation. Examining the creative district initiatives in Bangkok, Thailand, I argue that the creative districts in developing contexts are a form of government-sanctioned regeneration that makes properties legible for lifestyle-led redevelopment. Utilizing a mixed-methods approach, I identify the urban imaginary of next-generation Thai landowners as the impetus for development rather than market-led economic viability. This research aims to expand factors behind international regeneration practices by centering the globalizing middle class and cultural capital in regeneration efforts.

Overhead view drawing of a developed town or city site showing buildings and streets and divided by a river. One side is tinted red, the opposite is tinted blue