Key factors in project making : a study of three successful landscape architecture projects initiated by community actors

University essay from SLU/Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management (from 130101)

Abstract: This thesis studies three projects in which a community group, or small architecture firm, with local knowledge has realized an idea in the public realm by their own initiative, despite their lack of power, financing, or extensive experience. In the post-industrial economy many cities struggle to find their new identity, and commonly, contemporary urban theories revolve around the competition between cities. This rivalry stresses the necessity to enhance the city’s uniqueness; either to attract new industries, or the creative citizen who will start them. Supporting local initiatives could be a way for cities to harness the communities’ inventiveness and enhance existing identity through bottom up processes. This could help prevent cities from adopting a mainstream formula for transformation as these generally result in a conventional proposal for their official future. Narratives formulated from the top-down provide little room for creative city making; instead cities should leave room for the communities’ true narratives to emerge. In order to generate insight into the processes behind the executed projects, project makers and representatives of the city authorities are interviewed for each of the three case studies. Upon analysis, these interviews highlight similarities and common key factors in the processes that seem to be crucial to project realization. Firstly, the groups communicate their idea broadly as a method for change without proposing specific designs. Secondly, the project makers speak in terms of visions and ideas during initial project phases - a story rather than a picture from the future - and remain flexible regarding project details. Thirdly, groups receive help from a city authority who takes the role as a facilitator in city hall. The use of stories indicates the importance of project makers framing their projects in a way city authorities can work into the city’s official future, and through a medium that can be incorporated into the bureaucratic language of city authorities. These concepts are explored in depth through the literature review.

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