Marking a New Chapter in the History of our City: Newspaper Narratives of Proposed Waterfront Star Architecture

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A recurrent claim associated with the development of star architecture buildings along new urban waterfronts is that star architecture’s capacity to garner media exposure can support a port city’s efforts to communicate narratives that support the process of urban transformation. However, despite the centrality of the role of the media, little evidence exists about the input of the media particularly in the inception phases of such projects where much of the legitimatization and conviction efforts by key actors takes place. This paper shows how newspaper narratives about star architecture proposed along the waterfront of a port city communicate transformation proposals, building on and propagating a sense of maritime belonging and culture. The case study presented is the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany. The findings are based on the content analysis of 420 newspaper articles, drawn from the LexisNexis database. The findings indicate that newspapers communicated the sense-making value of the Elbphilharmonie and introduced notions of identity, citizen identification and hanseatic particularity into the discourse. The newspapers played an important role in explaining the Elbphilharmonie as a symbol of the city’s commitment to the port, the maritime context and the Elbe River. Since narratives are constructed discursively, newspapers are a feasible site to investigate the ambitions of port cities as they invest in star architecture along their waterfronts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-112
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Creative Practices in Cities and Landscapes (CPCL)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Vol. 4 No. 1 (2021): Port City Cultures, Values, or Maritime Mindsets: How to Define and Assess what Makes Port Cities Special


  • Port City
  • Star Architecture
  • Narratives
  • Media
  • Identity

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