Att bygga mening och rum - om processer för utveckling av verksamhetsmiljöer
Doktorsavhandling, 1996

This study sets out to re-evaluate the experience gained from two local authority schemes for revitalising industrial pre-mises for the needs of small enterprise. Common to these schemes was the ambition that any renewal or regeneration was to be carried out on the terms of the firms concerned. The prime purpose of this reflection is to acquire an understanding of the factors in these two processes that were able to strengthen the places in question as environ-ments for small enterprise. Expressed in more general terms: what are the qualities in a process that both can create 'space' and develop social habits and a sense of purpose or 'meaning' for the people using this space? As a basis for this discussion an action orientated theory is presented. This identifies two fundamentally different kinds of action: 'instrumental action', and a form of action that creates its own meaning, referred to as 'meaning-in-action'. The two revitalisation schemes studied may be regarded as attempts to create arenas where meaning-in-action was given priority. Such processes can be interpreted and developed with the aid of design methods where the focus is on various dialogues between people, and between people and objects. The tacit forms of knowledge - 'to see', 'to do' and 'to be' - are in this way embraced in the process. Such creative 'collective design' processes have to be confronted and brought into interplay with the more instrumentally controlled planning processes of, for exemple, the local authorities. The two schemes show that this can be achieved by means of special limit-regulating instruments. In this way a 'balanced' meeting between meaning-in-action and instrumental forms of action can provide a 'well-considered' process of action. Models of this kind can also be tested in other forms of locally based initiatives where changes to the built environment are envisaged.

local economic development

local authority planning

action orientated processes

environments for small enterprise

social space


design theory

workplace environments

revitalising redundant buildings

civic processes


Lisbeth Birgersson

Institutionen för industriplanering