Emplotment in Planning – Re-City, Tampere 3-4.9.2015

Today and tomorrow Re-City – the First International City Regeneration Congress – at Tampere, Finland.

I’ll be speaking on the subject of Emplotment in Planning in the context of Helsinki’s waterfront development – abstract below:

Emplotting Urban Regeneration: Narrative Strategies in the case of Kalasatama, Helsinki

Recent decades have seen an increasing interest in the fundamentally narrative and rhetorical structure of urban planning. Urban districts take shape based on words as much as on concrete. Narrative elements such as rhetorical figures, storylines and plot structures are relevant not only for the way in which a particular planned area is presented to the general public or framed within local policy discourse, but also for the way in which larger visions of an urban future translate into concrete developments within the built environment.

This paper will examine the planning of Kalasatama (Helsinki), an ongoing case of urban regeneration, by applying methods and concepts from narrative and literary theory to the analysis of planning documents, marketing, and media narratives. A key concern will be the manner in which planning documents “emplot” a new area, both literally singling out an area within a geographical setting, and framing the development within a “plot”, a story with a specific dynamics and morality. Character, plot and metaphor will constitute the key narrative concepts. This paper will draw on the burgeoning field of narrative planning theory, with the specific aim to make concepts from narrative and literary theory more compatible with existing theoretical frameworks from planning theory.

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