Key urban projects: Local-regional planning tools for fragile urban landscapes
Paper in proceeding, 2014
In Sweden, cities are promoted as drivers of economic growth and solutions for decreased climatic influence, resulting in a dominant focus on development of large cities in the planning debate and sustainability discourse. As discussed by Harvey (2006), Massey (2007) and Tietjen (2011), this increases differences between growing and declining cities and regions, and escalates uneven geographic development. The process produces fragile urban landscapes, i.e. local situations short of resources, skills and mandates to handle change and deal with in-lock of sense-making structures, thereby concealing actual site specific possibilities and the potential of development of small towns and rural areas. This renders the need for new relevant planning tools with onset in a relational perspective on space (Harvey 2006, Massey 2007), urban ecologies (Guattari 1989, Banham 1971) and design-based, proformative approaches (Solà Morales 2008, Bunschoten 2001, Cuff & Sherman 2011).
This article argues for key urban projects as a relational, place-specific, operative planning tool that can open and lock urban transformation, secure and guide implementation and reveal strategies to develop fragile urban landscapes, with ability to: handle centre-periphery and urban-rural as dynamic contingencies; combine the capacity of different urban ecologies; relate the formation of urban landscapes to different scales; optimise combinatory potentials of local-regional resources; secure forms of operative collaboration; trigger critical negotiations; and integrate spatial implementation to the planning process.
These abilities are tested through design-based research-methodology with onset from works in progress in five Swedish contexts of practice that outline a spectrum of important characteristics of fragile urban landscapes.
Key Urban Projects are identified and developed through a mapping process iterating between identification of specific issues and the outline of their relevant contours, a process that both visualize and establish assemblages (DeLanda 2006). Key Projects gain their potential through stepwise change of the existing material landscape and its urban ecologies.
key urban projects