Translating ‘New Compactism’, circulation of knowledge and local mutations: Copenhagen’s Sydhavn as a case study
Journal article, 2022

The international circulation of urban design concepts often leads to their characterization as transferable ideals defined by a set of universalized ‘best practices’ that are simply implemented in new localities, as is typical of top-down approaches to planning. Recently, the compact city and New Urbanism have become trendy concepts informing the development of urban projects across geographies. This research draws on ANT sensitivities and policy mobilities studies to examine the regeneration of Copenhagen’s Southern Harbour (Sydhavn) wherein the compact city and New Urbanism ideals, together with a declared inspiration from Dutch architecture, were originally incorporated in the masterplan. Through the analysis of documents and semi-structured interviews, the paper illustrates how these ideals–merged as 'New Compactism'–were mobilized and re-intepreted by local actors in Sydhavn. It thus adds to our understanding of how the circulation of such ideals is not a matter of implementation, but a complex social process of translation that entails struggle and transformation.

policy mobilities

New Urbanism

compact city


circulation of knowledge



Marco Adelfio

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Urban Design and Planning

Ulises Navarro Aguiar

University of Gothenburg

Christian Fertner

University of Copenhagen

Emilio Da Cruz Brandao

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Urban Design and Planning

International Planning Studies

1356-3475 (ISSN) 1469-9265 (eISSN)

Vol. 27 2 173-195

Subject Categories

Architectural Engineering


Human Geography



More information

Latest update