Critical Spatial Perspectives

ACEX35​,Masters’ thesis direction, 2019/2020

Description and aim

The master’s theses studio Critical spatial perspectives deals with a wide range of topics within the field of planning and design for a just and sustainable future. We emphasise such perspectives because they are urgent. Indeed, it has been pointed out that we now live in “an age of irresponsibility” which currently is creating over-consumption, poverty and social polarisation (Jackson, 2009). In this studio we want to emphasise that as design professionals we have means to make a difference, and that it’s important that we shoulder this critical role. Consequently, within the Critical spatial perspectives studio we are interested in unfolding how power, spatiality and meaning are connected. We believe that deeper knowledge of how these aspects interact in the continuous shaping of the built environment, as well as of people’s identity, is crucial for a development towards a more just, democratic and sustainable society. The knowledge we aim to build up in this studio is primarily focusing on current urban and regional transformation processes. This means that we especially welcome master theses project proposals that aim to critically investigate a problem, site-specific conditions for development, or other societal, environmental or political preconditions for design proposals related to uneven development.

Method and process

Common approaches within the studio are qualitative, discursive and regenerative design approaches, which aim at problematising social, environmental and political preconditions for architecture, urban design and planning. Further, we investigate how design perspectives can contribute to changes in order to achieve a more just and sustainable development. We are interested in critically investigating how we talk about, plan and reproduce society, but also to develop new approaches for how the design professions can contribute to making a difference. Such critical spatial perspectives can for example imply an analytical focus on how inequalities and uneven geographies materialise in the built environment, through urbanisation, gentrification or segregation processes, and thereby contribute to creating unsustainable spatial hierarchies between people and places, and in turn unsustainable use of land. It can also imply an analytical focus on the lack of fair distribution or protection of resources, or how current planning processes and management of buildings, land and infrastructure often reproduce unsustainable demands. Or it can imply a focus on cocreation, and participation. Developing a just and sustainable society demands transitions – long-term structural changes – within many fields of the society.

Specific evaluation criteria

Relevance of research question/contribution to broader discussions in society; Clearness of disposition; Relevance and clearness of suggested methods; Relevance and clearness of suggested theory/literature survey; Relevance and clearness of suggested case/empirical analysis/design proposal; Clearness of plan for own process; Level of independency.

Suggested literature and projects

Harvey. D (2006). Space as a keyword. In Spaces of global capitalism. London, New York: Verso; Mang, Pamela, Haggard, Ben & Regenesis 2016, Regenerative Development and Design. A Framework for Evolving Sustainability Wiley; Massey, D (2006). London inside-out. Soundings. 32, 1, 62-71(10); Tunström, M. (2016) Urbanism är språk. In: Olsson, K., Nilsson, D. & Haas, T. (Eds.) Urbanismer: Dagens stadsbyggande i retorik och praktik. Lund: Nordic Academic Press.

Exemplary thesis projects

Allegra Fornaca (2018) No retreat from change: A resilient flooding adaptation strategy for Henån (Orust). The thesis investigates land use and functions that can handle sea level rise and include different sea levels as new spatial qualities. Alice Valinger and Caroline Ekberg (2017) To build a home: An exploration of self building. The thesis presents a guide to how self-building processes can be developed by architects, by exploring a collection of reference projects, interviews, workshops and a detailed design. Ida Röstlund (2017) Form follows material: Design with local resources. The thesis discusses how architecture can be developed from available local resources and materials, and uses a research by design process in order to test potentials and constrains in a design process. Fredrika Sandblom and Matilda Nilsson (2018) Forming a Feminist Future: An exploration of design that allows young women and transgender to appropriate public space. The thesis investigates the right to the city and how public spaces can be designed for appropriation. Louise Karlsson (2018) Past Present Future: Utilising heritage to revitalize a post-industrial community. The thesis analyses a village from its spatial, geographical and historical context, and investigates different scenarios for a revitalization of the local community.

Direction faculty

Nils Björling, Lena Falkheden, Julia Fredriksson, Kristina Grange, Anna-Johanna Klasander, Henrietta Palmer.​

Published: Mon 15 Jan 2018. Modified: Fri 11 Jan 2019