The Entrepreneurial Countryside: Imagining Competitive Futures in the Architectural Contests of Finland's Periphery

The Entrepreneurial Countryside: Imagining Competitive Futures in the Architectural Contests of Finland's Periphery

Submission ID:

130

Architecture and urban design are central selling points in urban development projects advocated by city strategies as a boost to competitiveness. In particular, design competitions are frequently leveraged for entrepreneurial urban development (Bern, 2018; Tostrup, 2009). While competitiveness is often framed as an inherent quality of successful cities (Wachsmuth, 2014), the mobilisation of design in the pursuit of competitive advantage is not limited to metropolitan sites: even provincial towns and declining municipalities engage in architectural competitions to enhance their relative position. Nevertheless, the aspirations of peripheral towns undertaking such competitions are easily overlooked. In this study I consider the competition process as a site for the imagination and negotiation of possible futures for the involved communities, situated within societal trajectories of urbanisation, socio-economic polarisation, and economic restructuring in the peripheries of the global north. I explore how the globalised imperative of competitiveness is translated into the local worlds sidelined from cosmopolitan narratives of modernity, progress and growth. Examining documents from recent architectural competitions in the stagnant and declining regions of Finland, the analysis utilises a combination of visual data and text from official competition programmes and jury reports. The study, to be completed in autumn 2020, focuses on the ideas and meanings of competitiveness evoked in the architectural proposals of the competitions as well as the juries’ interpretations of them, with a particular focus on the imaginaries of the winning projects. The paper offers a distinct contribution to debates on urban competitiveness by re-inserting the periphery into the agenda, inviting further inquiries into the entrepreneurial strategies for ’competitive’ futures beyond the hegemonic sites of urban production.

Corresponding Author

Heini-Emilia Saari

London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Geography and Environment

Author #1:

Heini-Emilia Saari

London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Geography and Environment

Author #2:

Author #3:

Author #4:

Preferred Track

7. Urban competitiveness and social challenges

Second Preferred Track

5. Methods and technologies on architectural design and urban planning

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Contacts

DINÂMIA'CET-Iscte

Centre for Socioeconomic and Territorial Studies

Avenida das Forças Armadas | Edifício ISCTE

Sala D316 1649-026 Lisbon

grandprojects.2021@gmail.com

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