Critical Spatial Perspectives

ACEX35​,Masters’ thesis direction, 2019/2020

Description and aim

The master’s theses studio Critical spatial perspectives deals with topics within the field of urban 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, segregation and social polarisation (Jackson, 2009). In this studio we emphasise that as design professionals we have means to make a difference, and that it’s important that we shoulder a critical role. Consequently, within the Critical spatial perspectives studio we unfold how power, spatiality and meaning are connected in an urban or regional scale. We believe that deeper knowledge of how these aspects interact in the continuous shaping of the built environment is crucial for a development towards a more just, democratic and sustainable society. Hence, we welcome master’s theses project proposals that aim to critically investigate a problem, site-specific conditions for development, or other societal, environmental or political conditions for urban development.

Method and process

Master theses within this direction use theory and design to explore a critical perspective. Common approaches within the studio are qualitative, discursive and regenerative approaches. We critically investigate how we talk about, plan and reproduce society, but also how new approaches for the design professions can contribute to make a difference. Such critical spatial perspectives can for example imply an analytical focus on how inequalities materialise in the built environment, through urbanisation, gentrification or segregation processes, and thereby contribute to creating unsustainable spatial hierarchies between people and places.

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

Arlid, Hedda (2019) Scenografy for transition: In search of utopian visions beyond growth. The thesis uses a scenographic perspective to understand the potential conflict between GDP growth and sustainable development in relation to a public space in Gothenburg. 
Berg, Isabella (2019) In whose interest? A discourse analysis of the development of Karlastaden and its effects. The thesis is a theoretical work that investigates problem representations and their effects on the development of Karlastaden within the district of Lindholmen in Gothenburg. 
Fornaca, Allegra (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. 
Karlsson, Louise (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. 
Röstlund, Ida (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 in a design process. 
Sandblom, Fredrika and Nilsson, Matilda (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. 
Valinger, Alice and Ekberg, Caroline (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.

​Direction faculty

All supervisors and examiners from this direction work as researchers within the division of Urban Design and Planning: Nils Björling, Julia Fredriksson, Kristina Grange, Anna-Johanna Klasander, Henrietta Palmer, and Marco Adelfi.​

Published: Wed 11 Sep 2019.