Key Urban Projects: Strategies to Transform Fragile Urban Landscapes
Paper i proceeding, 2014

Conditions for the urban landscape are increasingly complex. When faced with change, specialized urban structures have problems to adapt to new spatial needs and show deficient adaptability to surroundings. Modernist planning has largely dealt with urban areas with a static ‘master plan’ approach. Such an approach is insufficient considering the physical-spatial conditions, and the complexity of layered relative and relational spatial aspects. Future planning needs to find tools that can handle space as interacting processes rather than space as form. This article argues that attempts to discuss sustainable urban development must take its onset in a) how existing qualities can be improved, b) how we integrate different parts and urban logics into a more diverse urban landscape, and c) how planning methods relate to both space and process. Considering these issues there is a need to identify complementary planning tools and methods that relate to both space and process as complexities of interrelated conditions. In order to handle the spatial complexity of the layered urban landscape these tools must have the capacity to, a) Connect layers, infrastructural logics and scales, b) Reveal and develop relative and relational qualities, and c) Visualize strategies that can transform fragile urban landscapes. The article presents the concept of key urban projects as an additional planning tool. From two ongoing projects the paper discusses the capacity of these architectural projects to transform the surrounding urban landscape and the possibilities to turn these capacities into a strategic planning tool that focuses resources and visualizes implementation strategies. The study is a part of a practice based research program where the theoretical framework is developed through architectural thinking within the projects and vice versa. The main theoretical framework derives from the concepts ‘urban ecologies’, ‘assemblage’, ‘diagram’ and ‘relational space’. Key urban projects have been used to identify implementation strategies for urban and regional development in the region of Skaraborg and the towns of Mariestad and Gothenburg in Sweden. These sites can be seen as fragile urban landscapes that need to deal with issues of regionalization and urban transformation. Key urban projects have proven to be very useful in order to focus processes for involved actors, to reveal possibilities and to turn main principles and future visions into implementation strategies.

relational space

planning tool

key urban projects


planning method

urban ecologies


Nils Björling

Chalmers, Arkitektur

New Urban Configurations

978-1-61499-365-0 (ISBN)




Building Futures (2010-2018)



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