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Here you can find all articles published during 2015.

Refereed articles


Unpacking polycentricity at the city-regional scale: Insights from Dusseldorf and Stockholm (#59)

Peter Schmitt, Kati Volgmann, Angelika Münter and Mitchell Reardon


The normative concept of polycentricity has become a promising tool to pursue spatial policy goals such as spatial equity and justice, sustainable and balanced development, and, more recently territorial cohesion, at vari­ous scales across Europe. As earlier research has shown, a number of city-regions use the concept for their planning and development work. In pursuit of polycentric development, they call for a robust terminology, solid analysis and methods. As a result, literature analysing polycentricity at the city- or mega-regional scale has grown significantly and it appears that some con­sensus has been achieved in regards to the main facets and dimensions. Recognizing that the potentials to comprehend city-regional dynamics by focussing on the extent to which polycentric urban patterns evolve has not yet been fully utilised, this paper intends to contribute to a more compre­hensive view on polycentricity at the city-regional scale. In doing so, we study the (potentially) emerging urban patterns of two cases, the Dussel­dorf and Stockholm city-regions, employing different theoretical starting points and analytical approaches. With this in mind, we aim to unpack the concept of polycentricity at the city-regional scale and to offer academics, as well as planning professionals and policy-makers, further insights into qualifying, analysing and understanding the complexity of the topic at hand. Likewise, we argue that sound strategies to promote and mobilise different facets of polycentric development should be carefully reflected and related to the theoretical, methodological and even normative starting point of any attempt to comprehending polycentricity.

26 pp (Refereed Articles, December 2015, no 59)

Schmitt, P. Volgmann, K., Münter, A. & Reardon, M. (2015). Unpacking polycentricity at the city-regional scale: Insights from Dusseldorf and Stockholm, European Journal of Spatial Development, 59


A Planning Palimpsest: Neoliberal Planning in a Welfare State Tradition (#58)

Helen Carter, Henrik Gutzon Larsen and Kristian Olesen


In this article, we analyse the evolution and transformation of Danish spa­tial planning from its tentative origins in liberalist politics, through its rise as a central feature of the welfare state project, to its more recent entrepre­neurial forms in a context of neoliberalisation. The article demonstrates how transformations of Danish spatial planning discourses and practices must be understood in context of previous discourses and practices sedimented as layers of meaning and materiality through time and over space. These layers do not completely overlay one another, but present a palimpsest saturated with contradictions as well as possibilities. We propose the notion of the ‘planning palimpsest’ as a helpful metaphor for drawing attention to the historical-geographical characteristics of planning discourses and prac­tices.

20 pp (Refereed Articles, June 2015, no 58)

Carter, H., Larsen, H.G. & Olesen, K. (2015). A Planning Palimpsest: Neoliberal Planning in a Welfare State Tradition, European Journal of Spatial Development, 58


Spatial planning practices of adapting to climate change (#57)

Bart Jan Davidse, Meike Othengrafen and Sonja Deppisch


Although spatial planning is considered as crucial for climate change adap­tion, e.g. in the EU White Paper on Adaptation, there are uncertainties re­garding the role of adaptation strategies in spatial planning practices. In this paper the potential role of spatial planning for climate change adaption is in­vestigated by distinguishing between two adaptation strategies: avoidance and minimisation. A case study in Stockholm, Sweden, serves to analyse the implementation of these ways of adaptation in the strategic and detailed planning stages. Spatial planning documents reveal a mix of avoidance and minimisation strategies. Expert interviews were used for further analyses of the spatial planning processes around these documents. It was found that minimisation measures prevail, and that only under extraordinary circum­stances, avoidance measures could be implemented. A conclusion is that a more prominent focus on avoidance measures is needed to utilise the full potential of spatial planning and to ensure more robust adaptation meas­ures. In order to achieve this, a normative adaption hierarchy is proposed as a guiding spatial planning principle in decision making about adaptation to the effects of climate change.

21 pp (Refereed Articles, April 2015, no 57)

Davidse, B. J., Othengrafen, M. & Deppisch, S. (2015). Spatial planning practices of adapting to climate change, European Journal of Spatial Development, 57


The "Blue Banana" Revisited (#56)

Andreas Faludi


This essay is about the “Blue Banana”. Banana is the name given subse­quently by others to a Dorsale européenne (European backbone) identified empirically by Roger Brunet. In a background study to the Communication of the European Commission ‘Europe 2000’, Klaus Kunzmann and Michael Wegener put forward the allegedly radical alternative called the “European Bunch of Grapes”. However, the juxtaposition is questionable, and for two reasons. Firstly, Brunet’s frame of reference was France and his point was that, other than how Kunzmann and Wegener present it, his Dorsale barely straddled French territory. It was thus an indictment of the dominant posi­tion of Paris and not a comment on European development. Secondly, and importantly, Brunet portrayed the Dorsale as a polycentric urban network with features similar to those which Kunzmann and Wegener ascribe to their Bunch of Grapes. So the implications of the two concepts for Euro­pean development are the same: Much like the Bunch of Grapes, the Dor­sale celebrates, if not urban networks as such, then the particular network in the Rhineland for forming the basis for its prosperity. If it had been the intention of Brunet to make recommendations applicable at the European scale, arguably he would have done much as Kunzmann and Wegener have: recommend polycentric development.

26 pp (Refereed Articles, March 2015, no 56)

Faludi, A. (2015). The ’Blue Banana’ Revisited, European Journal of Spatial Development, 56


Research briefings

Evergreen issues of planning? Learning from history for sustainable urban-rural systems landscapes (#5)

Madeleine Granvik & Per Hedfors


Contemporary planning for sustainable development has a main focus on sustainable urban areas. This paper highlights a systemic approach as well as integrated and contextual knowledge in spatial planning. Significant theorists within urban planning, landscape architecture and other related fields are faced with a search for knowledge that accommodates the development of sustainable societies. Our historical selected data (Sitte, Howard, Geddes, Migge, Mumford, and McHarg) was analysed in relation to the contemporary UN policy document The Habitat Agenda and the French architectural theorist Francoise Choay’s theory on urban design and critical planning. We identify several issues that could be considered as fundamental and discuss their potential role in current spatial planning in a Scandinavian context. The results are discussed in relation to theory and current planning trends. The main contribution of the study is a tentative theoretical framework that supports urban-rural interaction in spatial planning, titled The Sustainability Approach. This framework is also suggested as a natural evolution of Choay’s planning models.

22pp (Articles, December 2015, no 5)

Granvik, M. & Hedfors, P. (2015). Evergreen Issues of planning? Learning from history for sustainable urban-rural systems landscapes, European Journal of Spatial Development, Research Briefing No. 5