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Conference paper, 2005

Swedish Railways and their Environment in Urban Settings

Gustavsson, Eva


In the year 2006 the Swedish Railways will celebrate the anniversary of 150 years of development. The expansion of this nation-wide transport system was an important trigger for urban city growth in general, but in the beginning also for a revitalization of the countryside and the emergence of tourism. Due to its various functions, the time-span includes a display of many different design solutions for the railway station and its surrounding areas. In early times the evident disparities in purpose and aesthetic expression can be exemplified by the provincial village parks and small-town centres with intensive commercial and recreational activities in close interaction with the railway station. During the recently exaggerating trend towards complex, inter-nodal travel centres the links between the interior rooms and the exterior open space have changed from distinct and obvious transitions towards a dynamic and open-ended structure, where the latter is not always so easy to grasp for an ordinary citizen or railway passenger. The main focus of this history-oriented study is to interpret human life through its physical expressions. The purpose is to gain a better understanding of the driving-forces behind the constantly changing city landscape, which can help us reveal some of the most compelling problems of commonplace settings for everyday city life. The study takes its point of departure in a strain of philosophy of action that via the German-Italian philosophy of aesthetics and rhetoric connects to the tradition of Aristotle. It is a method of interpretation that is concerned with human choice and consequently regards all designed objects as results of intentional activity and acts of deliberation. In order to understand the motives behind a solution, you must ask yourself which historical questions the actors of the actual historical context tried to find answers on. In order to identify these questions the study is directed towards how and in which ways people have tried to express themselves in terms of physical arrangements. By regarding design and aesthetic expressions as activities rather than physical objects there will be a strong connection to issues related to individual and societal dimensions of meaning and inevitably also to environmental ethics. Understanding the role of meaning is one of the most urgent tasks in the endeavour to identify future possibilities. It has obvious implications for the role the railway infrastructure will play for future integration of home landscapes with landscapes of work, travel and recreation. In many European countries the deregulation of the railway system has led to the split of a former very coherent organization. As a result the management has been divided on many hands and the continuity in staff competence has been broken. The big challenge for the future will thus be how the urgently needed co-operation between many interests and agents could be arranged in order to preserve and develop those inherited qualities which belong to a city landscape with an integrated railway transport system

Published in

Publisher: Research Council Formas


Life in the Urban Landscape - international Conference for Integrating Urban Knowledge & Practice

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Landscape Planning Alnarp

UKÄ Subject classification

Social Sciences
Economics and Business
Landscape Architecture

URI (permanent link to this page)