This research examines the motives and outcomes of competitively positioned mixed-use megaprojects on government land. This type of project has been increasingly occurring around the world over the past few decades, motivated by four global processes: city-based international competition; the mobility and growth of knowledge economies; the redirection of global investment from physical to human capital; and the dominance of market-rule ideology and politics.
The literature review and thematic content analysis determines the definition of a project sub-type within large development projects, termed Competitive Precinct Projects (CPPs) and reveals remarkable global consistency in evaluative themes, termed the five globally consistent criticisms of CPPs.
These themes are tested through the case study of four examples occurring in two countries over a period of three decades: Ørestad and North Harbour in Copenhagen, Melbourne Docklands and Sydney’s Barangaroo.
While the Consistent Criticisms represent patterns that have endured within a globally active urban development type for over three decades, this research shows that rather than being a neoliberal hegemony, there are mixed political and ideological aims and outcomes across projects and at times within the same project. A typological understanding allows patterns to be examined and understood, variances and hybridity to be evaluated, and more sophisticated future directions mapped out.
Four factors are identified as driving differences in outcomes: government versus property industry leadership; degree of strategic coordination; public benefit expectations; and urban design frameworks and local knowledge. Five key themes are outlined providing a potential urban design framework for CPPs, if the Consistent Criticisms are to be avoided and these projects are to achieve broader based city-scale benefits: government leadership; strategic city structure; reconciling global and local goals; authenticity; and learning.