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Conference paper2008Peer reviewed

Spontaneous Memorials in the Urban Contemporary Landscape

Jallow, Sabina; Wingren, Carola; Lieberg, Mats; Sörensen, Ann-Britt; Petersson, Anna


Spontaneous Memorials in the Urban Contemporary Landscape Spiritual places Spontaneous memorials Public space Urban landscape Planning Design Interdisciplinary research Urban sociology Landscape architecture People in urban environments often express a need to find particular places to disconnect from the everyday stress, to connect with the past and to be nourished by the tranquil and spiritual. Cemeteries are presently helping to fill this need due to their design, vegetation, and central locations in urban environments. But in a secularized world where private expressions tends to be more important, there is a need for new and different physical places less connected to specific religions. These places may also be important for contributing to a meaningful cityscape in a time when the landscape of the city becomes more discontinuous and difficult to understand for its citizens. The purpose of this paper is to present part of an ongoing research project, aiming to generate knowledge and understanding for the production and use of spontaneous places for memory and meaning in the urban landscape, and for the way these activities are met by the planning and designing professions. Based on theories of urban sociology and landscape architecture, this transdisciplinary project investigates expressions, tools, artifacts, and methods used by individuals as well as by professionals. The project also aims at exploring how such places can enrich the human environment by creating increased value for its inhabitants. The project is based on different case studies using site visits and interviews as the principal source of empirical knowledge. By including urban and cultural sociologists, as well as a product designer and a landscape architect, the approach of the task is interdisciplinary. Research questions and methods of analysis will further be developed in seminars including also theologians, architects, sociologists and ethnologists. Joint problem formulation and methodological integration between the different professionals permeates the project. Sketching procedures and visualizations will also be used in upcoming workshops with planners, decision makers, architects and users, to further develop the concept of memorial sites in the urban landscape. An outcome of the research will be a gained knowledge about contemporary physical and environmental needs of individuals, for mourning or other similar activities. Also a developed understanding for what a memorial or a place of ritual is will be an important result, which further may lead us to visualization and concretizations in the contemporary urban landscape. A third outcome will be the revelation of the interaction between the individuals in their spontaneous production and use of places and the way society and architects respond to these activities. This interaction will in this paper session be visualized through a documentation about the course of event after a discotheque fire in Göteborg ten years ago, where many young people died. The site where the study takes place represents a common contemporary urban situation where people from different cultures and religious backgrounds are living side by side far away from their original home situation, and where they have to deal with their sorrow in a new situation where traditions from different countries and religions need to be confronted. The Göteborg study is one of the key studies in the search for knowledge of how new places of memory and meaning can be created in the urban landscape by private and official initiatives

Published in


New Landscapes - New Lives, New Challenges in Landscape Planning, Design and Management

      SLU Authors

      • Lieberg, Mats

        • Department of Landscape Planning Alnarp, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Landscape Architecture
      Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

      Permanent link to this page (URI)