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Becoming biophilic: Challenges and opportunities for biophilic urbanism in urban planning policy
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment, Urban and Regional Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0177-481X
2016 (English)In: Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, ISSN 2046-6099, E-ISSN 2046-6102, Vol. 5, no 1, 15-24 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss challenges and opportunities for the implementation of biophilic urbanism in urban green planning policy through a case study of the Green living Spaces plan in Birmingham, UK. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on document analysis and semi-structured interviews as a strategy of qualitative inquiry to identify the key tenets of biophilic urbanism and its implementation in Birmingham’s urban green space planning. Findings – Biophilic urbanism has its strength as an approach to create common visions and understandings of the many benefits of nature in cities, thus strengthening the position of urban green space planning. In Birmingham the potential for integrated policies connected to urban green space are shown and the concept can also be understood as a pragmatic tool to strengthen the position of urban green space policies locally as well as positioning Birmingham globally as a leading green city. At the same time challenges are connected to legal status, path dependency and leadership. Originality/value – Biophilic urbanism has gotten increased attention in academia and practice and this paper contributes with a novel case study discussing how the concept has been used and understood in the Birmingham context to discuss opportunities and challenges for actual implementation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2016. Vol. 5, no 1, 15-24 p.
National Category
Political Science Landscape Architecture
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-185770DOI: 10.1108/SASBE-10-2015-0036ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84963781666OAI: diva2:923686

QC 20160502

Available from: 2016-04-27 Created: 2016-04-27 Last updated: 2016-05-18Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Planning Practices of Greening: Challenges for Public Urban Green Space
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Planning Practices of Greening: Challenges for Public Urban Green Space
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Public urban green spaces are crucial parts of cities due to the many connections existing between urban greenery and well-being. Additionally, public urban green space represents a wide range of spatial concepts, such as parks, urban forests, commons, in-between-spaces, and gardens. This study explores challenges for contemporary public urban green space in an increasingly urban world, with high demands on urban growth, and simultaneously the need for more sustainable societies and cities. The aim is to problematize the complex reality for contemporary public urban green space from an urban planning perspective in times of urban densification strategies, global competitiveness between cities and trends of ‘re-naturing’.


The scope of this thesis is based on four high profile case studies. The Green Walkable City in Stockholm and The Green Living Spaces in Birmingham constitute planning strategies with a holistic approach to urban green space, including a strong focus on well-being. The High Line in New York and Parklets in San Francisco represent urban green space concepts, influential both at the local level and in the larger urban planning debate. The results point to a need to acknowledge the complexity inherent to urban green space provision, design, and management. This study contributes with insights of direct connections between narratives of nature, materialized urban greenery projects and conceptualizations of functionality of nature in urban planning projects. From the post-industrial, pristine flirting, crafted wilderness of the High Line; a symbolic but cosmetic scrambling with planters and narratives of parks of parklets; dualistic argumentations of natural values connected to quality over quantity of nature in a densifying and growing Stockholm; to pragmatic yet emotional and ambitious conceptualizations of human nature in biohilic urbanism and green space planning in Birmingham. Gentrification, publicness and production of public space and densification strategies are central themes in urban studies – and public urban green space can play an active role in these processes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2016
TRITA-SOM, ISSN 1653-6126 ; 09
public urban green space; public space; ecological gentrification; green city branding; urban densification; green cities; biophilic cities
National Category
Civil Engineering
Research subject
Planning and Decision Analysis
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-187055 (URN)978-91-7729-012-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-06-14, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Stockholm, 09:30 (English)

QC 20160518

Available from: 2016-05-18 Created: 2016-05-16 Last updated: 2016-07-08Bibliographically approved

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