Futures of the Urban Waterfront at Shifting Grounds, Zürich

Speaking at the Shifting Grounds conference in Zürich (26.11.2016) on the subject of “Futures of the Urban Waterfront: Narrating Diverging Pathways in Literary Fiction and Planning Documents”. With a specific focus on New York waterfront development in city planning and literary fiction – from the city’s comprehensive waterfront plans to literary novels such as Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow. Unfortunately a subject that gets more timely all the time. One of the key questions: how to move from thinking about “[w]hat was possible? What should we be afraid of?” (Rich 7) to “Doing: finally.” (Rich 202)

Book of abstracts here.

Towards a narrative typology of urban planning narratives for, in and of planning

Out now!

“Towards a narrative typology of urban planning narratives for, in and of planning in Jätkäsaari, Helsinki”

Published online first by Palgrave’s Urban Design International.

The article is part of a series of articles on narrative in the context of planning – more here.


Urban planning and theory have witnessed an increasing interest in narratives. There remain, however, diverging notions of what is meant with narratives, and of their function and use. This article provides a taxonomy of narratives in the context of planning, illustrated by the redevelopment of Jätkäsaari, Helsinki. Three distinct types of narrative can be identified in the context of urban planning: narratives for, in and of planning. This paper argues that a narrative typology of urban planning that draws on concepts from narrative theory could bring new insights into the discursive urban practices that have appearing during past decades.


urban planning /waterfront development / Helsinki / urban form / narrative

Narratives of the Urban Waterfront in Crisis

Presenting a paper on narratives of the urban waterfront in crisis today at a seminar at the University of Tampere on spatial themes.

“How is the experience of crisis at the waterfront, and the uncertainty vis-a-vis possible futures, shaped in and by narrative?

This paper looks at narratives of the post-industrial urban waterfront from two distinct, but intermingling perspectives. I examine how narrative fiction frames the experience of the waterfront in crisis, and how literature presents possible futures and alternative courses of action in the face of crises. My research moves on to analyse how, in planning and policy documents of the waterfront, the simultaneous possibility of alternative storyworlds structures the way planning narratives are shaped. This research is interested, in particular, in how competing alternative storyworlds organize the narrative dynamics in both contemporary literary narratives and policy documents, juxtaposing desirable with undesirable storyworlds, and identifying moments of agency – the possibility to act towards a particular future. Three case studies will be addressed: the development of post-industrial waterfronts in Antwerp (Belgium), Helsinki (Finland) and New York City (US) in the period 1990–2015. The juxtaposition of these two different sets of texts will put into greater focus the sense of urgency of many of the literary texts examined, while simultaneously drawing out the profoundly rhetoric and narrative strategies underlying policy documents.”


Guest Lecture & Seminar on Spatial Themes

8 November 2016, room B4116

14.15 Elena Trubina (Ural State University):  ‘Permsky Kul’turnyi Proekt’ [Perm Cultural Project]: Looking back, looking forward

15.15  Lieven Ameel: Narratives of the Urban Waterfront in Crisis

15.40  coffee

15.55  Essi Katila: Russian Arctic as Utopian Myth and Apocalyptic Space – an Ecocritical Approach

16.20  Pasi Metsä: From Fittja to Myrbacka – Poor People’s Spaces in Mathias Rosenlund’s autobiography ‘Kopparbergsvägen 20’ (2013)

16.45  Yulia Bakhtina: Identity and Space in Narratives of Russian-Speaking Ingrian Finns

17.10 Books & refreshments