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Doktorsavhandling, 2020

Building transformative capacities: links between site and plan in post-industrial urban landscapes

Dahl, Caroline


Transformation of rundown industrial areas into mix-use and dense urban districts has been common practice in urban planning and design since the late 1990s. The discipline and practice of landscape architecture has been specifically engaged in the transformation of such post-industrial sites into large parks and landscapes, with an expanded aesthetic appreciation of the derelict as a result. This is not the case in urban planning and design, the practices of which all too often apply a tabula rasa approach to post-industrial sites, rendering them blank, removing all existing site qualities and conditions in favor of a generic urban model. This is problematic for two reasons: it erases cultural heritage and counters aspirations to stop wasting resources, both being important in achieving sustainable urbanity. This thesis takes as its entry point the masterplan - today’s primary tool for urban planning and design, and the criticism that is currently leveled against it and masterplanning in general. The thesis sets out to explore alternative modes of operating in order to formulate revised protocols for the transformation of urban landscapes. It asks: How can design approaches contribute to devising such alternative approaches? To explore this question, it draws upon inherent attributes of the discipline of landscape architecture; the ability to foster dynamic processes, recognize the undeveloped as opportunities, and bring action-oriented site knowledge to the fore. Using qualitative case study and design research, three transformation projects have been studied: Ile de Nantes in Nantes, France; Jubileumsparken 0.5 at Frihamnen in Gothenburg, Sweden; and the BayCity, Providence, Rhode Island, USA. Finding that the projects operate through the design activities of iterating, prototyping, and simulating the dissertation argues that, when transforming post-industrial sites, design approaches can leverage strategic and futurelooking masterplanning with incremental and transformative site-born actions that contribute to urban sustainability through economy of means and adaptability. The result of the dissertation shows how design approaches can augment, complement or supplement masterplanning by building transformative capacities through increased siteand time awareness. Its purpose is to inform the practices of urban design and planning by enriching established protocols of transformation of post-industrial urban landscapes.


site transformation; urban transformation; post-industrial urban sites; temporalities; design approaches; masterplanning; urban design; design research

Publicerad i

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2020, nummer: 2020:27
ISBN: 978-91-7760-572-0, eISBN: 978-91-7760-573-7
Utgivare: Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences