Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Sociotope mapping: Exploring public open space and its multiple use values in urban and landscape planning practice
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Architecture.
2006 (English)In: Nordic Journal of Architectural Research, ISSN 1102-5824, Vol. 19, no 4, 59-71 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper aims to describe the theoretical body of a new urban planning tool called the "sociotope map" (Swedish: sociotopkarta), developed within the planning practice of the Stockholm City Urban Planning Administration. Since the postmodern communicative turn in urban and landscape planning, dominated by densification and sprawl, there has been a great demand for a more efficient connection between the system world of planners and the life world of citizens, starting from the users’ space and perspective, not the planners’. In Lefebvre’s terms the sociotope map is a representation of the users’ perceived space. The key Marxist concept here is use value, or more accurately in environmental economic terms: direct use value. The Stockholm sociotope map is consequently a map of the commonly perceived direct open use values of specific open space, of the citizens of Stockholm. The map emphasizes that people share use values but that every open space has a unique set of values. Its representation of diversity of place (topos) is maybe just the level of reduction that makes the map true enough to the citizens and at the same time useful for the planners. This can explain its recent recognition in Stockholm and other fast growing municipalities in Sweden (e.g. Gothenburg 2004-2007 and Uppsala/Gottsunda 2006). However more experience and research still remain to completely understand this tool. The recent success can only be explained by the fact that there is a true demand. A society which is turning increasingly postmodern, globalized and individualized can hardly plan, develop or grow without knowledge of the common use values of urban public open space.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006. Vol. 19, no 4, 59-71 p.
Keyword [en]
public space, open space, urban planning, landscape design, use value
National Category
Architectural Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-24485OAI: diva2:350403
QC 20100910Available from: 2010-09-10 Created: 2010-09-10 Last updated: 2010-09-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Compact sprawl: Exploring public open space and contradictions in urban density
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Compact sprawl: Exploring public open space and contradictions in urban density
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

Twentieth century urbanization has left a tremendous footprint on the globe. It is generally speaking a spread out fragmented suburban and exurban landscape continuously growing according to what has been called sprawl-like development, increasing energy and automobile dependency, challenging urban sustainability. Recently urban growth has also turned inwards because of economic and political change. Thus one of the main challenges for future urban design will be to ‘compact sprawl’. This thesis, set in the field of urban morphology, explores the spatial conditions for suburban densification by looking at administrative and user-related measures of density, public open space, and pedestrian accessibility. If we consider useful open space, it would not decrease density, but rather increase spatial compactness. So would also a well-connected street network, if we consider accessibility as part of density. The thesis’ first four papers explore new measures that contradict ordinary notions of density and the last three papers examine densification scenarios on different urban scales in collaboration with urban planners in practice.

The paper Place syntax explores a possibility to combine the space syntax description of cognitive accessibility, axial line distance, with place attraction into a combined attraction-accessibility analysis model. Empirical investigation shows that place syntax analysis captures pedestrian movement and can be used for new types of location density analyses.

Sociotope mapping describes the theoretical body of a new urban planning tool called the “sociotope map” (sociotopkarta) developed in Stockholm planning practice. The map emphasizes that the same public open space can have different direct use values for different people and thereby assesses qualitative open space area.

Exploring Ambiterritory investigates the notion of (sub)urban no-man’s-land. Densification most often means increased open space use, which naturally leads to an increase of potential conflicting territorial interests. However, the reduction of vague user space and unclear legal territories by densification can increase the size of useful open space.

More green space in a denser city investigates whether little public green space means low accessibility. User questionnaires and GIS-analyses in ten city districts in Stockholm correlate and show that it is possible to have more accessible green space in a denser city.

Strategic exurban landscape densification investigates different municipal location strategies and development rates in the municipality of Kungälv. Results show that location strategies create the biggest landscape impact and not development rates.

Greening metropolitan growth analyzes the density landscape in Stockholm county region and finds some correlations with health and socioeconomic variables. Growth scenarios in the regional plan for 2030 show decreasing compactness and spaciousness in inner suburbia.

Compact sprawl experiments use the measures developed in the former papers on four densification scenarios in two suburbs in Stockholm. The results show how it is possible to efficiently compact modernist sprawl, particularly the inner suburbs.

It is likely that we will be more dependent on walking, bicycling, and public transportation in the future. Street networks and public open spaces are then key issues today just as they were at the end of the nineteenthcentury, creating compact, sustainable, liveable, equitable, and more competitive cities. In fact, many compact urban cores such as in Stockholm, London, and Manhattan have through the 20th century persistently stood up to the competition against more sprawling cities. The thesis shows that compacting inner suburbia seems to be the new frontier many cities and planners are facing. In fact, this is a vast unexplored field that needs further attention in urban studies and urban morphology in particular.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2008. 79 p.
Trita-ARK. Akademisk avhandling, ISSN 1402-7461 ; 2008:6
Spatial morphology, Urban design, Public open space, Urban density, Landscape planning
National Category
Architectural Engineering
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-9193 (URN)978-91-7415-119-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2008-10-28, Sal F3, Lindstedsvägen 26, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Stadsform och hållbar utveckling
QC 20100913Available from: 2008-10-15 Created: 2008-10-02 Last updated: 2012-03-12Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Nordic Journal of Architectural Research

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Ståhle, Alexander
By organisation
Architectural Engineering

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Total: 879 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link