Reintegrating Ghettos into Society - Lessons Learned from the Danish Ghetto Strategy

Mette Mechlenborg


In 2010, the Danish government launched a ghetto strategy with 32 initiatives in order to “dissolve parallel communities” in Danish housing areas and to (re)integrate them into Danish society (Regeringen, 2010). Despite its negative offspring in the Muhammed riots (Freiesleben, 2016; Houlind, 2016), the strategy arguably presented a strategy for revalorization of space and, thereby, a new strategic approach combining social and physical initiatives in order to permanently transform deprived housing areas in a Danish context. With the ghetto strategy, Denmark is aligned with similar international regeneration programmes in order to close the socio-economic gap between housing areas and residents. Based on the recent architectural evaluation of social housing renewals for the Danish National Building Foundation (Bech-Danielsen and Mechlenborg, 2017) and with a Lefebvrean perspective of a spatial trialectic (Lefebvre, 1991; Soja, 1996), this paper reflects on why Danish – like international − transformations are not able to realise the potential of the initiatives in the strategy. What are the effects of the initiatives they do realise? And what does that tell us about the social impact of physical transformation in relation to the overall aim of the ghetto strategy?

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