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Innovating Urban Practices

Type of project
Basic research
Research Council of Norway

About the project

This research project explores the potential of a more active role for the architect as a mediator and a key agent in shaping the future, and study innovations in urban practice. How may urbanists and architects contribute to a sustainable future for our cities by operating intelligently in the space between grassroots initiatives and top-down approaches?

During the last decade, we have seen a growing number of architectural practices who explore new ways of working, operating in the gaps between the domains of formal institutions and the realities of the urban, everyday environments. The primary focus of this research is therefore the work of architects and urbanists operating as mediators and agents – their strategies, tactics, projects, experience and reflections. Thus, it is not a research on them but with them.

The next step of this research project will be to explore how the many individual design-oriented, bottom-up initiatives may add up and move beyond a single change at the single site to form more extensive moves? What policy changes would support such initiatives, and also maximize the capabilities of design to secure basic needs and improve the urban environment? The perspective is global, yet with a focus on the Norway and the Nordic countries.

The  project continues the research developed by Lisbet Harboe in her PhD thesis (AHO 2012): Social Concerns in Contemporary Architecture: Three European Practices and Their Works.