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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Finding the pulse of the welfare landscape: reframing green space provision in modernist planning

Qvistrom, Mattias;


Contemporary planning for urban densification permits the exploitation of the spacious green areas developed for recreation during the welfare planning of the 1960s-70s. Historical studies of welfare planning are needed to better understand the potential values under threat. Answering Colin McFarlane's call for relational studies of density, this paper offers a complementary examination of the relational geography of green space provision in the 1970s, to reveal what the development of the compact city both silences and (literally) replaces. This relational approach departs from the flat ontology of Actor-network theory. The study captures how ideals of recreation, nature, welfare, planning and the rhythms of life assembled into a geography for recreation in the early 1970s, and how this topology crumbles a decade later. While the green spaces of the 1970s linger on today, their reinterpretation as green structure in the 1980s and 1990s partly veils their former role and potential. The paper interprets the legacy of welfare planning, and provides a base for further examination of the geography of green space provision.


Actor-network theory; green structure; outdoor recreation; recreational planning; relational geography of planning; topology

Published in

Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography

2022, volume: 104, number: 3, pages: 269-284

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities

UKÄ Subject classification

Landscape Architecture

Publication Identifiers


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