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Situations of Opportunity in City Transformation: – enriching evaluative case study methodology with scenarios and backcasting, exploring the sustainable development of three Stockholm city districts
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment, Environmental Strategies. KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Centres, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Centres, Centre for Sustainable Communications, CESC.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7140-9602
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Energy Technology, Applied Thermodynamics and Refrigeration.
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment, Environmental Strategies.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5191-9250
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment.
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2009 (English)In: Proceedings of the ENHR Conference 2009, Prague, 2009Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

To keep global warming at 2°C, society faces challenges of a totally new magnitude. In Swedenlike any high-income country, it becomes a powerful driving force in city transformation. Tackling this challenge of urban sustainable development poses problems for planners and researchers alike: What planning processes, what urban structures enable transformation, how can planners and other actors combine forces to deliberate themselves from path dependency,extending their freedom of action? In this paper, we explore how evaluative case study methodology merged with techniques from Futures Studies provide a cross-disciplinary research approach that defines the challenge in scope and time while retaining its complexity. Case studies are in-depth analyses of a small number of units, enabling studies of complex phenomena; for us, complexity means integrating the issues of What to change and change by Whom in order to explore How change can come about and evaluate How much it could contributeto urban sustainable development. How can this approach be developed to explore the future? Futures Studies can indicate the probable or supply visions of the desirable, it can be normative or descriptive. For our purpose, it is normative, focusing on the long-term necessityof mitigating global warming. Through it, we develop scenarios that explore the path of transformation of three Stockholm City Districts, from today’s climate changing society towardsa 2060s vision of a low carbon, low energy society. From historical studies we learned that there are shorter periods – Situations of Opportunity – when inertia against change is low. This concept we now apply to future Situations, making these our cases proper. For each Situation in every district we develop three representations of their realisation in the upcomingdecades: the Final Scenario is a narrative of the whole, seen from the future; the computerisedEnergy Usage Model quantifies outcomes in terms of reduced energy use; the Transformative Governance Network illustrates the process of change, its agents and their forms of co-operation. Elements of the approach could contribute to the practice of planning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-27620OAI: diva2:378609
European Network for Housing Research Conference (ENHR), Prague 28 June - 01 July 2009
QC 20101216Available from: 2010-12-16 Created: 2010-12-16 Last updated: 2012-02-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Identifying Strategic Initiatives to Promote Urban Sustainability
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Identifying Strategic Initiatives to Promote Urban Sustainability
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

is thesis explores the overarching topic of the capacity of strategic urban development decisions and initiatives (including planning initiatives) to positively and powerfully influence the ability of a city to promote sustainable patterns of development. The work is presented in six scientific papers, the first four of which focus on the development of an inter-disciplinary conceptual framework and research methodology. The concept of Situations of Opportunity and its related Field of Options is proposed as a means to identify and analyse periods in the growth of cities when urbanisation can be more easily managed so as to promote sustainable development goals. Historical studies in the cities of Stockholm, Dar es Salaam and Curitiba are used to develop the methodology. Another paper looks ahead and refines the methodology in combination with future studies, presenting a research strategy that employs Situations of Opportunity as a means to identify and explore periods in the future urban growth with significant potential for change. Building on the method developed, the remaining two papers consider the social dimension of sustainable development and how it can be promoted in the urban context, during ongoing Situations of Opportunity. The concept of social sustainability is reviewed and discussed from two different disciplinary perspectives (urban development; companies and products), exploring commonalities and differences in approaches, and identifying core themes that cross disciplinary boundaries. A case study of Eastside, a brownfield redevelopment site in Birmingham (UK), reveals how the retention of established small food outlets can provide opportunities for promoting social sustainability goals in an urban regeneration area. Overall, this thesis provides a better understanding of how transformative change can happen in cities. The Situations of Opportunity concept developed here can be a helpful way to study strategic initiatives that promote sustainability in cities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2010. 44 p.
TRITA-SOM, ISSN 1653-6126 ; 2010:18
sustainable urban development, transformative change, research methodology development, situations of opportunity, field of options
National Category
Environmental Management
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-27625 (URN)978-91-7415-822-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-01-20, Sal F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 09:00 (English)

QC 20101216

Available from: 2010-12-16 Created: 2010-12-16 Last updated: 2014-05-23Bibliographically approved

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