Abstract - Gruppo Servizio Ambiente
THE URBAN “PLAYSCAPE”: A FOCUS ON THE SPATIAL DYNAMICS
OF CONSUMPTION IN THE NIGHTLIFE OF TORINO
The article focuses on recent transformations in the nightlife landscape of
nightclubs, music venues and clubs in the city of Torino (Turin). The concept of
playscape is discussed in the framework of the creative city debate, discussing the
relationship between the diffusion of entertainment facilities and the idea of
competitive and attractive cities in the eyes of global flows.
After introducing the case of Torino, a city with a profound industrial heritage, the
analysis presents maps and classifications regarding the geography of the urban
movida of Torino. This allows for some reflections on new forms of
marginalization of specific peripheral areas of the city, so as to consider the
celebration of the creative city in an urban centre characterized by a strong Fordist
Torino, playscape, night-life, creative city, nightclubs
* IresPiemonte, via Nizza 18, 10125 Torino, Italy, tel. +390116666480 and
Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecniche per i Processi di Insediamento del Politecnico
di Torino, viale Mattioli 39, 10125 Torino, Italy, tel. +390115644318.
The debate on the relationship between urban spaces and forms of consumption by
young people has widened recently and, especially in the last decade. It has
attracted an increasing interest with particular reference to the role played by places
of entertainment and nightlife within the functional and social space of cities
(Malbon, 1997; Chatterton and Hollands, 2002; Jayne, 2005; Winlow and Hall,
2006). Cities have often been characterized as places of pleasure-seeking (e.g.
Urry, 1990; Zukin, 1991), and urban planners are increasingly recognizing the
importance of the promotion of nightlife, intended as the descent of young adults
into city centre bars, pubs and clubs, especially during the weekend (Hollands,
1995). Such a segment of the urban economy is often viewed as a city development
driver, so that it is possible to talk about a night-time economy (Bianchini, 1995;
Lovatt and O’Connor, 1995). In the literature, there are many studies on growth
and development of new forms of typically urban and post-modern consumption,
for example, in relation to shopping malls and restaurants (e.g. Zukin, 1995),
mega-events (Hiller, 2000), night-time entertainment (Hannigan, 1998), and the
transformations of urban spaces into “nightlife hotspots” (Hollands and Chatterton,
This paper relates to the case of nightclubs in Torino (Turin) in Italy, and
analyses the spatial distribution of the urban playscape. In particular, the study of
the geography of nightlife will allow for some reflections of the marginalization of
specific parts of the city, and on the rhetoric of the creative city in an urban centre
characterized by a strong Fordist past.
The first section introduces the concept of playscape within the context of
general reflections on forms of consumption in post-Fordist society, and,
particularly, within the creative city debate (Florida, 2002). Secondly, the case of
Torino is introduced, followed by a description of the methodology adopted. In the
fourth section, cartographic representations are presented, together with interviews.
Finally, some concluding remarks about the cultural policy perspective lying
behind this general picture are made, highlighting a progressive approach to the
themes of the “creative city” that produces, as a side effect, a certain fragmentation
of the urban spaces.
1. Some theoretical notes about playscape and the creative city
Social and economic changes of recent decades have led important
transformations in many Western cities. Summarizing a debate that has lasted
several years, we have moved from a Fordist economy to a later stage characterized
by more diverse and segmented forms of consumption (Kneale and Dwyer, 2008),
specialization and flexible accumulation of capital (Harvey, 1989), and a growing
share of signs, symbols and cultural contents (Lash and Urry, 1994). These general
dynamics are also reflected in the centrality of the themes of recreation, hedonism
and leisure in the development of the urban space. The playscape, a concept
introduced by Chatterton and Hollands (2002), is intended as the locus where interrelations between production, regulation and consumption of recreational night
activities take place. This is, essentially, a post-modern space, related to recreation
and leisure, involving a large number of cultural meanings and social symbolisms.
Spending time in a certain club, for example, surely involves the negotiation of a
certain social status (Tomlinson, 1990; Shields, 1992; Klein, 2000). In an urban
boosterism perspective, playscape can also be intended as a lever of urban
competitiveness: for a long time: consider, for example, the first pioneering
observations of Aydalot (1986). It has been widely recognized that “global flows”
(as tourists and investments, which cities try to attract with marketing and urban
branding) are highly sensitive to the cultural and recreational atmosphere of the
city. Finally, the politics of playscape may play an important role in providing a
sense of pride and belonging in citizens (Hannigan, 1998).
Regarding the appeal of the playscape with reference to the attraction of
global flows, an essential and popular contribution, although controversial in
academic debates, comes from Richard Florida’s works. He claims that capitalism
has moved, in recent years, towards a new phase characterized by an epochal
change in the composition of dominant economic inputs. Human capital, and the
creative capacity in particular, constitute today the main factors of economic
growth, in contrast with the past of Fordism and “flexible specialization”, when
organizational capacity and pace of adaptation to the market played a central role
(Florida, 2002, 2003). According to this perspective, it is important for a city to
attract the creative class, constituted by talented professionals, specialized in
knowledge-intensive jobs (artists, researchers, journalists, consultants, managers,
writers, for instance) who represent today the engine of development in Western
societies. In spatial terms, these actors are particularly mobile and attracted not
only by economic rewards, but especially by places recognized as creative. In this
sense, the link between marketing policies and creative-cultural policies of the city
Florida (2002) provides some indications of meaningful elements in order
to attract the creative class by the creation of a “people climate”, that is, an
atmosphere based on openness, dynamism and cultural diversity. This involves
investing in amenities, leisure facilities, services and recreational opportunities
available during all day and night (the “24-hour city” of Bianchini, 1995). Florida
mentions, in particular, the importance of the “buzz”, that is, the attitude towards
social interactions; this is well known in the literature on industrial clusters (e.g.
Saxenian, 1994, Storper and Venables, 2004). “Cities that buzz” are focused on the
presence of amenities, pleasant places and spaces for fluid daily interactions.
Florida (2002) describes them as “plug and play communities”. In other words, the
presence of a vibrant playscape would make a place more attractive in the eyes of
the creative class, providing numerous opportunities for informal and casual
interactions. Nightlife with a wide mix of options is viewed as a signal that a city
“gets it” (Florida, 2002). This is a position is shared in urban studies. For example,
analyzing art communities in North America, Markusen (2006) argues that the sole
agglomeration of creatives does not ensure the formation of a creative habitus, as in
the sense of Bourdieu (1993). She emphasizes, instead, the importance of social
gathering in clubs, studios, and meeting rooms, creating opportunities for
socialization and circulation of information. Similarly, Scott (2006), referring once
again to Bourdieu and the idea of creative field, highlights that the production of
new ideas through “social connectivity” happens both in formal working activities
and in the informal context of urban leisure.
Florida’s works, despite very strong popularity, have been the objects of a
number of criticisms. Leaving aside the methodological ones (e.g. Glaeser, 2004),
some scholars have highlighted problematic conceptual nodes. According to Peck
(2005) and Scott (2006), the concept of “creative city” is vague enough to be
manipulated and to justify almost any urban policy. The promotion of the
playscape and of attractive spaces for the creative class often encourages forms of
exclusion and social injustice. Consider, for example, the phenomenon of
gentrification associated with the development of certain areas of the city, or the
problem of a growing gap between people who can afford new forms of urban
consumption and people who cannot, as discussed by Harvey (1989). In the case of
Torino, I will discuss how playscape may also be intended as a fragmented space.
2. Torino as a case study
Torino is a city in northwest Italy and, with about 900.000 inhabitants in the
municipality, and 1,5 million people in the metropolitan area, it is the fourth largest
Italian city in terms of population. Capital of the Piedmont region, Torino is a
central node in the Italian economy: 8,4% of national income in 2007 was
produced in Piedmont (Istat, 2008). The city, particularly in the past, used to be
considered worldwide as an industrial town because of the headquarters of the
automobile company FIAT. During a century of centrality of FIAT in the local
economy, the physical, social and economic characteristics of the city have been
guided by the strategies and the growth rates of the big company, and industrial
work represented a fundamental parameter in defining social identities (e.g.
Like other one-company towns, the crisis of Fordism from the 1970s produced
dramatic social effects on the economic destiny of FIAT and, consequently on the
city. Generally, mixed phases of crisis and recovery pushed the desire to
differentiate as much as possible the urban economic base. This happened partly
with a move towards cultural industries. Torino has not yet lived a full post-Fordist
transition, and industrial activities still represent the core of the urban economy.
Employment in manufacturing in the Province of Torino was 34,9% in 2006 (Istat,
2008), the highest Italian value among metropolitan provinces. In 1996, it was
36,4% (Istat, 2008), but specialization is quite less pronounced. The process of
differentiation has been politically strongly supported in the First Strategic Plan of
the city, Torino Internazionale, approved in 2000, while the second edition,
published in 2006, clearly stated that the vision for the development of the
metropolitan area refers to it becoming “a knowledge society”, both in terms of
high-tech industry and cultural activities (Torino Internazionale, 2006). The
Olympic Winter Games, hosted by the city in 2006, represented a great opportunity
to brand the city as a post-industrial, attractive metropolis. It should be noted that,
traditionally, the stereotype concerning Torino used to be that of a quite, austere
centre: to quote the words of the FIAT president Giovanni Agnelli in 1982, “Torino
evokes the ancient garrison towns, duties come before rights, Catholicism retains
Jansenism veins, the air is cold and people wake up early and go to bed early; antifascism, work and profit are serious things here”1.
On the side of physical transformations, the approval of the last Master
Plan in 1995 had a decisive role in supporting the renewal of industrial sites, and
the creation of new facilities for mobility: subway, first, and sport structures
connected to the Olympics. From the 1990s, many physical projects have been
realized with the help of European funding programmes, including actions for the
support of the social and economic fabric. In this renewal, nightlife clubs and
entertainment structures have had an important role in the politics of renewal,
while some areas of the city, the Quadrilatero Romano primarily, but also Murazzi,
Docks Dora,2., which no more than a decade ago were usually considered as
marginal and unsafe places, especially at night, have now become gentrified. They
have become lively places during the night, usually intended as socially and
economically vital and creative areas. As discussed previously, these areas may,
therefore, play a meaningful function in order to attract creative class. Without
questioning such position, the aim of this paper is to discuss how playscape is a
rather selective and uneven phenomenon, leading, in the case of Torino to a
progressive separation of areas included and excluded in nightlife.
Quote from the exhibition “Torino 011. Biography of a City”, June-October
2008, Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Torino.
Quadrilatero Romano is the core of the central area of the city (which
corresponds to the perimeter of the Roman castrum); Murazzi is the Po river waterfront;
Docks Dora is an industrial complex that served, at the beginning of the last century, as
warehouses and storage of imported goods.
The analysis takes advantage of different sources. First, a rough image of the 2008
playscape scene 3 in the city has been produced on the basis of weekly guides on
entertainment spaces in Torino; specifically, numbers from January to September
2008 of Torino News Spettacolo and Torinosette, conceptually similar to the
famous Time Out local guides4 and specific websites about the local movida. These
sources do not provide complete coverage of all the leisure structures, and the list
has been extended on the basis of interviews. The result is a directory of 245
nightclubs localized on a GIS map. Elements of the playscape have been classified
in three categories according to the work of Chatterton and Hollands (2002):
recognisability”, that is a brand that is well known, at least in Torino. A
mainstream structure is, therefore, used by actors with a specific interest for
that particular place. In other terms, these are spaces with a high “rank” (using
a “Christaller” expression) inside the city, with an elevated capability to attract
users from different parts of the city or even outside the city boundaries. In the
Chatterton and Hollands (2002) focus on the activities undertaken by young
people in pubs, breweries, music venues; they do not take into account other heterogeneous
forms of urban playscape (such as cinemas, theatres, restaurants, casinos, stadiums, events).
For the case study of Torino it has been chosen the same criterion.
Torino News Spettacolo is distributed freely every week in nightclubs;
Torinosette is a weekly supplement to the main local newspaper, La Stampa.
case of Torino, examples include the locally, well-known gathering places
Pastis or Caffé Elena.
Residual nightlife spaces: different from the previous category, these spaces
satisfy a more trite and ordinary demand. Referring, once again, to the concept
of “rank”, it can be assumed that they are characterized by users from a
smaller, self-contained area, not willing to move a long distance in order to
consume a commonplace leisure service. This is the case of many breweries
and pubs, often characterized by similar and little-known Irish-sounding
Alternative nightlife spaces: they are structures related to niche audiences,
often connected to youth subcultures (e.g. punks), sexual identities, political
attitudes (squatter-friendly places) and, in the case of Torino, ethnically
oriented forms of entertainment (as in the case of Romanian discotheques).
Of course, such a classification is necessarily connected to approximation - very
different structures are grouped in the same category- and subjectivity. To dilute
the second criticism, 30 subjects5 were asked to classify the list of the 245
structures (excluding those not known, directly or indirectly) in the three
categories. The results were then compared with the researcher’s classification in
order to introduce changes and to achieve a shared scenario. A similar exercise led
The sample consists of 15 males and 15 females chosen randomly among
nightclub users, aged between 18 and 40, living in Torino and in the metropolitan area and
they have been selected to obtain a high heterogeneity of the sample. They were also asked
to indicate any nightclub missing from the original list.
to the production of three thematic maps representing the spatial distribution of the
playscape in Torino.
In order to add a dynamic perspective, a similar exercise has been
developed with reference to the situation of 15 years before, that is, 1993. In that
period, the attitude towards marketing events and clubs on local magazines was
quite lower. As confirmed by several interviews, it was an option left to the
entrepreneurial initiative of club owners and directors, while today, it is a standard
and widespread activity (a pub owner stated that “now it is necessary to have a
visibility on these magazines”). In this sense, the previously quoted sources
(Torino News Spettacolo and Torinosette) were less effective sources in 1993, and
interviews have been more difficult in obtaining information concerning the
situation of several years ago. Considering these premises, it is plausible that the
1993 list of 130 structures is less reliable than the 2008 list, and the comparison
between the two should be primarily intended in qualitative terms rather than
quantitative terms, for example, in terms of concentration or de-concentration of
the nightlife spaces in certain areas.
Finally, 40 subjects (15 local owners, 5 experts in themes of leisure and
entertainment and 20 random users) were interviewed, in order to identify trends
and characteristics of the scene, and to check hypotheses coming out from the
interpretation of cartographic representations.
The results of the survey are briefly represented in Figure 1 and in more detail in
Figure 2, which graphically expresses the spatial distribution of nightclubs in the
city in 2008.
Figure 1 here – A picture of Torino playscape, 2008
Distribution of nightclubs is not homogeneous: it is very concentrated in certain
areas. More specifically, it is possible to try identifying some distinctive areas.
First, it is clear that the presence of two adjacent zones the two ellipses
indicated with the letter A- including the main core of the recently renewed
historical centre (Quadrilatero romano) and the river waterfront (Murazzi)6.
Figure 2 here – The Central District of playscape, 2008
These are the most celebrated spaces of the city movida, well known even
outside the city boundaries. These areas, in fact, are portrayed and described in
The first area extends, longitudinally, from Piazza Vittorio Veneto to Piazza Statuto and,
transversely, from Corso Regina Margherita and Corso Vittorio Emanuele II; the second
area, which should add the appendix of San Salvario, intersects the first one extending on
both the sides along Po river, from Corso Regina Margherita to Balbis bridge. The first
zone covers roughly the Quadrilatero Romano and the old town, the second one
corresponds to the waterfront of the city, as seen in Figure 2.
brochures distributed and publicized by Turismo Torino e Provincia, the local
office for tourism and promotion, in order to advertise “Torino by night”, with the
use of slogans such as “Aperitif under the Mole”, “Torino is the apéritif”, and “By
night - from sunset to dawn” (an example of promotional picture is presented in
Figure 3). It is notable that, until a few decades ago, “the city of cars” did not
attempt, in any document, to celebrate its young and creative side. According to a
local scholar: “city reproduced the organization and the attitudes of working in
Figure 3 here – A brochure about the movida of the city, 2008
The two ellipses in the central area (focused in Figure 2) are characterized
by the highest density of nightclubs within a small space; the major axis for both
figures is no longer than three kilometres. Almost two-thirds (62%) of the total
number of clubs are concentrated in these two parts of the city, and almost all the
mainstream ones, with 93% of them being situated here.
The entertainment structures in area A are quite variegated: they offer
services, including food and music, combined by quality design of physical
structures and trendy atmospheres. There are also interesting interactions with
trendy shops: although not properly part of the playscape, creative boutiques in the
centre open during the night. As stated by the owner of a retro-pop, trendy objects
store (e.g. 1970sstyle lamps), “I opened my store here because here I have become
a part of a scene, of a loop”. Different kinds of clubs certainly refer to different
perceptions of individual and collective youth identity. In the words of an
interviewee, “if you’re a cabinotto7 you like clubs in Quadrilatero, if you’re an
‘alternative’ person, you probably prefer those ones in Murazzi and Valentino,
tamarri8 prefer some peripheral pubs”.
Clubs located within the A area seem to present a strong, internal
functional interaction, as night mobility, that is, club-to-club strolling, tends to be
strongly self-contained. To qualify this phenomenon, more extensive investigation
would be necessary. However, the outcome of the interviews strongly supports this
idea. It is clear, in fact, that both owners and customers claim a very strong
mobility between the locals within each area. According to an user in Quadrilatero
Romano, “If you spend the evening at Quadrilatero or Murazzi, it is normal
spending some time in at least two or three different night clubs... all the clubs are
very close to each other. In one you can have an apéritif, in another one you can
drink a cocktail… you can meet friends over there! Everything is available within a
In trying to define such self-contained areas, it may be useful to use the
language of the classic work of Lynch (1960), and to identify the presence of
The term cabinotto represents an interesting example of the link between identity
construction and space. The expression is used to define an adolescent of the burgess
Torino, especially one who generally wears branded garments and attends private schools;
the term seems to derive from the fact that at the beginning cabinotti gave appointment at
some telephone booths (cabine in Italian) near the park Maddalena, a luxury residential
area of the city.
Offensive expression refers to the language of uncouth youths and vulgar persons
because of the social status to which they belong (e.g. lifestyles of the “working class”).
“edges”. In addition to the evident example of the river, the “difficult” crossing of
the two large and busy urban highways of corso Vittorio Emanuele II and corso
Regina Margherita visibly mark the border between the gentrified area of the
Quadrilatero Romano and the poor area of Porta Palazzo, densely populated by
An interesting question concerns the assumption that such self-contained
areas reflect a sort of common identity, in terms of the forms of consumption in the
eyes of club owners. In this regard, 15 of them were asked if they felt a particular
connection between the place (the specific area of the city where they work) and
the nightclub, and which kind of hypothetical consequences will be generated if the
club had to move elsewhere. A total of 11 of these subjects expressed strong
criticism about the idea of re-localization, not only as a form of loyalty by local
customers, but also for the loss of a kind of spatial brand referring to the clubs of
that particular area. This compares with the “entry barriers” connected to spatial
brands, as discussed by Molotch (1996). Moreover, the possibility of losing
proximity to other competitors is considered a problem.
The owners were also asked whether this brand can refer to the idea of
nightclubs for creative types, that is, attended by creative people. Responses were
rather contradictory, with many claiming that their club is frequented by “crazy,
creative” people (in the words of one owner in San Salvario), referring to bohemian
behaviour of their customers. Equally numerous are those who also claim that their
clubs are used by heterogeneous customers. In the words of an owner in Valentino
Park “Yes, there are different users depending on the hours and on the days, but, in
general, I can’t say that this is specifically a place for artists…, obviously there are
a lot of artists here, but they are in the pile with ‘common’ people, and this is the
best feature of my club”. This phrase, which certainly has anecdotal value, on the
one hand seems to confirm Florida’s thesis of the social value of “difference”, but a
closer look seems also to denote creative work (or the “creative” status) as
“exclusive”, almost snobbish. Such an interpretation, if representative of the views
and perceptions of the local population, is completely opposite to the theoretical
assumptions of the “creative city”, which, by definition, means creativity as a
social democratic and inclusive moment (Landry, 2000). That said, there are
various examples stressing the elitist nature of policies connected to nightlife and
urban renewal. In the case of Quadrilatero Romano, the recent development
generated an increase of the average values of properties, and, consequently, of the
average price of rents. The inducing processes of gentrification are clearly visible,
not only in the housing market but also in the entertainment market.
The concentration of clubs in these areas is also characterized by its
recency: in 1993 (Figure 4), area A of Figure 1 included only 44% of all
nightclubs, while, today, as discussed, it is 89%.
Figure 4 here - A picture of the playscape of Torino, 1993
In the rest of the city, the situation appears to be very different. Area B
(Figure 1) in the North is, today, characterized by a low distribution of clubs, with
the exception of the concentration in the complex of Docks Dora: only 18% of the
total number. The area is also characterized by the almost total absence of
mainstream clubs. Structures of area B refer mainly to residual and alternative
clubs; this area of the city is the part with the largest number of alternative
structures. These clubs are, generally, the same ones of 15 years ago. In most cases,
they have an ensign with a different name, to testify to the lack of relevance of the
brand and confirming the location outside the mainstream category, but they
maintain an outdated look. Pubs and breweries were once linked to mass
consumption, particularly males, to “the sandwich and the beer” (interview with a
customer of area B).
This peripherization of Area B, in terms of playscape, not strictly in the
number of clubs, but in terms of their role and scope, is also confirmed by
interviews with owners, showing significant signs of depletion in comparison with
the past, particularly in terms of their area of influence. “The number of breweries
in the surrounding area has not decreased significantly, but the number of
customers is decreased instead”, according to one interviewee with an area B
owner. The idea is that these have become serial services without a specificity, and
that they are able to furnish only an easily replaceable facility. As one customer in
area B remarked: “If you don’t go to that pub, you go to another one ... you go
there because it is close to your house… because it is a place where you can drink a
beer with a friend without doing late in the evening... during the week I always stay
in the nearby”.
Area C, in the South-West (Figure 1), is characterized by a different
situation, compared with the other previous twos: there are both spaces without
clubs, and spaces with a dense concentration (but never equal to the level of area
A). Almost all structures of area C belong to the type “residual” (approximately
89%; about 40% of the total number of residual clubs is located in this area).
Opinions emerging from interviews about area C are similar to those of the
Northern area B. For example, one interviewee in area C commented that, “now the
majority of structures here is very banal…they have lost their ‘exotic’ connotation,
which you could see in 90s when breweries and English pubs or Latin American
clubs mushroomed everywhere”.
A similar distribution of the playscape reflects well the traditional,
functional vocations of the different parts of the city. It is not surprising that the
heart of nightlife is located in the centre of the city, a place, by definition,
associated with ideas of urbanity and of creativity. In contrast, the Fordist function
of the brewery, basically regarded today in Torino as a place trite and
undifferentiated, sexually oriented, highly standardized, supports well the
traditional and, in some ways, stereotypical, but nevertheless, the well-known –
“Fordist” vocation of the suburbs of the city. Thus, the distribution of clubs in the
city shows a clear division between clubs with a brand, which tend to concentrate
in the core and are oriented to a more sophisticated way of eating and drinking, in a
more trendy environment, aimed at stimulating social interactions, and residual
spaces, which are “marginalized” in the peripheral areas. The latter are, however,
the interviews, unable to supply forms of consumption and entertainment in step
with the times. On the margin, alternative spaces tend to be clustered in the
northern part of the city.
5. Conclusive reflections
The research has focused on defining the physical form of the playscape of
Torino, and its distribution within the city. Maps allowed not only to locate
graphically the various nightlife spaces, but also to make assumptions and
reflections about functional specializations of different areas during the night,
behind the mere appearance of the spatial distribution of the playscape.
Analysis of the cartographic representations shows a strong concentration
of clubs in a restricted area. Gaps accentuate when looking at the typologies of
clubs. The central area, now crowded with cafés, wine bars and trendy clubs,
places where having fun, listening to music, having dinner, consuming the apéritif
does not match the same situation in the suburbs, where standardized and serial
clubs, offering a less qualified service have proliferated; they are characterized by
lower scope and range of attraction.
Such an articulation of spaces creates, necessarily, an imbalance between
areas in and areas out of the city, accentuating and perpetuating the “centerperiphery” gap, which, on the contrary, policies undertaken by the city have
apparently tried to dissolve under the rhetoric of cohesion and renewal.
Nevertheless, this uneven playscape underlies different attitudes related to the
forms of consumption. As emerged from the interviews to clubs owners and users,
facilities such as breweries and pubs have changed their role over the years,
becoming “places where you can have beers and chips during the week”, in the
words of an owner in area C, while the proliferation of mainstream clubs seems to
bind to more “elitist” forms of consumption. In this sense, the downtown of Torino
has certainly been renovated also by the opening of mainstream nightclubs. In this
regard, Zukin (1995) speaks about “pacification through cappuccino”9, but it is
equally credible that such a concentration of facilities has inevitably induced
processes of gentrification, as evident in the case of Quadrilatero Romano. The
risk, just theoretically discussed by authors as Peck (2005), is that of a two-speeds
is far from neutral. In this regards, Sharon Zukin (1995) argues that urban nightlife
has become a space where only the strongest or the richest can survive.
Transformations examined here fit into the rhetoric of the celebration of
Torino as a post-Fordist city capable of promoting a different image in comparison
with the past. Regardless of whether or not Torino is developing a specific, new
economic structure, there is no doubt that, recently, the city has increasingly
emphasized the celebration of culture, art, social interaction, events, consumptions
and creativity, also with the help of the playscape narrative (Vanolo, 2008). The
results of the analysis warns from the high selectivity of spatial practices within the
playscape. If the general marketing narrative celebrates lively nights in Torino
(Figure 2), the reality is that of a highly clustered geography of the city, with dense
areas of exclusion and marginality, together with a few mainstream concentrations
in the centre. A further line of research may also investigate the intuitive
If the creation of self-districts where locals co-operate with each other can be
seen as a way to remove parts of unwanted population, in reality, the feedback is not always
entirely positive. Think, for example, of problems as alcohol, traffic and noise repeatedly
appeared in local newspapers. See local newspaper La Stampa, 20 September 2008, p. 59).
connections of this phenomenon with respect to gentrification, social cohesion and
exclusion, and security.
On the other hand, we should investigate whether or not there is a real
connection between playscape places and creative communities or creative
individuals’ consumption, as stressed by the Florida-oriented literature. Interviews
allow for just some considerations. In a nutshell, the idea that there is a creative
community embedded in specific leisure nodes seems quite weak in Torino.
Nevertheless, coherently with the theoretical frameworks of creative cities and the
“cities of culture” (Scott, 2000), it is confirmed that the playscape locates social
practices and forms of consumption with a high cultural and symbolic content. It is
clear that ordering a cuba libre in a certain club on Saturday night is buying much
more than a mixture of Coke and rum. It is the access to a certain lifestyle, the
opportunity to interact with other people, the participation in a moment of the
urban movida, the reproduction of a particular space of imagined hedonism, and
also supporting fragmentations in the materialism of the city.
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Figure 1 – A picture of Torino playscape, 2008
Figure 2 – The Central District of playscape, 2008
Figure 3 – A brochure about the movida of the city
Source: brochure published by Turin City Hall in 2007
Figure 4 - A picture of the playscape of Torino, 1993