Urban Caring : Finding creative strategies for care-full architectural practices in Norra Sorgenfri, Malmö

University essay from KTH/Arkitektur

Abstract: With its starting point in social and community building activities of everyday life, this project seeks a complex understanding of a former industrial site in Malmö - Norra Sorgenfri - its past, present and possible futures. Critical and participatory mappings, speculations, policy making and small-scale interventions are part of the produced material that circulate around the feminist ethics of care, and how it can inform a socially aware architectural practice. The site, a celebrated regeneration project, produces an interstice in relation to the more controlled urban fabric surrounding it. It is more open to diverse modes of occupation and use, accommodating activities and groups that otherwise have a hard time to make a space for themselves in the city. I argue that a feminist ethics of care enables designers and involved participants to make a complex engagement with places. Care can help us to redefine the role of the architect and to alter architectural practice. In the 1980:s Carol Gilligan introduced care as an attached way of human connection, requiring listening and understanding differences and needs. In this light, I define a design practice where sustainability is understood in relation to responsibility and actions oriented towards other people. Urban caring is about carefully seeing and using what is here; the small-scale and subtle that might go unnoticed in planning/architectural projects. My proposals contain how to read, care-fully observe, interpret and act - as an urban-caretaker. Among the design proposals and methods are: critical mapping as a central participatory task, a manual of care as part of the mapping and from an intimate understanding of the site, a series of design tests -strategies, policy making and small-scale interventions- , a manifesto that suggests ways for this knowledge to be transferred to other sites, and the interactive map a care-full companion. Urban caring offers an open-ended process, enabling the site to develop in a number of directions. My role has not been to over-determine what the outcome might be, but instead to facilitate tools of enabling positive change toward possible futures.

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