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Doctoral thesis, 2023

Planning for an urban recreational landscape : tracing geographies of outdoor recreation in the compact city

Engström, Amalia


Outdoor recreational activities, at recreational facilities, in nature and urban green areas, are proven to benefit both the mental and physical health of urban residents. However, in the contemporary urban planning paradigm, where compact cities are forefront, planning for outdoor recreational amenities is increasingly in conflict with such compact ideals. In a Swedish context, a historical perspective on the question of outdoor recreation in the urban sphere discloses a rich legacy of past welfare recreational planning resting on the notion of enabling sports for all. In this thesis, I aim to offer an interpretation, and to deepen the understanding of, the interactions and tensions between outdoor recreation, compact city models and lingering planning legacies of past recreational planning. I do this in order to scrutinise the conditions for outdoor recreation within the compact city.

The thesis adopts a material-semiotic approach and leans on assemblage theory, science and technology scholars working on the ordering effects of planning and previous studies on materialised discourses in the landscape. Findings of the thesis indicate an increasing fragmentation of outdoor recreation. This fragmentation leads to multiple definitions of the issue and a fragmented geography for outdoor recreation. These intertwined fragmentations, the thesis argues, support the rationales of the compact city, while marginalising outdoor recreational geographies. Based on the findings, the thesis concludes a need of reassembling landscapes for outdoor recreation and suggests that a historical perspective offers a fruitful way to do so.


Assemblage theory; Compact city; Landscape planning; Materialsemiotics; Materialised discourse; Ordering; Outdoor recreation; Recreational planning; Relational geography; Urban densification

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2023, number: 2023:59
ISBN: 978-91-8046-170-2, eISBN: 978-91-8046-171-9
Publisher: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Landscape Architecture
    Human Geography

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