Town Planning Review

The vital city: constructions and meanings in the contemporary Swedish planning discourse

Town Planning Review (2007), 78, (6), 681–698.

Abstract

This paper discusses contemporary Swedish urban planning discourse, focusing on the terms and concepts that structure the discourse along particular lines. In turn, these terms and concepts construct the ideal of the 'vital city' in Sweden. The paper focuses specifically on two aspects of this discourse – first, the fact that (certain) historical concepts constructing a 'traditional' city have a dominant (and virtually uncontested) status in the discourse and, secondly, the fact that the central city is a norm to which most new development relates in some way – as a continuation, as an opposition and/or as a (re-)interpretation. Through the use and status of certain concepts, the tension between a dissolving city and an urban renaissance is clearly visible. The paper concludes that the dominant normative ideal of urban vitality excludes large parts of the contemporary urban landscape and that alternative understandings of the city and its role in societal development are needed, including better-developed conceptualisations of cultural and social diversity in the city.

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Author details

Tunström, Moa