Permitted Exceptions: Authorised Temporary Urban Spaces between Vision and Everyday

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch


This PhD thesis examines the phenomenon of temporary use in a contemporary Northern European planning context. The background for the study is the increasing interest in initiating temporary use projects within urban redevelopment by public authorities, such as municipalities, related sub organisations and partnerships. In this context temporary uses are more than simple short-term appropriations of vacant areas; they become tools for various planning agendas—to establish new collaborative practices, transform spaces, test future facilities in ‘light versions’ and communicate with the public.They embody a wish for ‘different’, exceptional and experimental initiatives to frame city making.While being considered ‘alternative’ urban development tools, there is also a strong desire from the side of the authorities for these initiatives to be well integrated into official planning systems and long-term perspectives. This factor seems to hold some, if not conflicting, then at least challenging aspects. Current research is inadequate to disclose what actually happens when integrating temporary exceptions into urban transformation projects. I define, document and explore these attempts as permitted exceptions.

In this thesis I research the implementation of temporary urban spaces that are authorised, officially launched by public authorities, based on three case studies, two from Denmark and one from the Netherlands: a harbour transformation area in Køge, a vacant urban plot in Valby, Copenhagen and the industrial site of a former sugar factory in Groningen.I explore the assumption that while ‘temporary urban spaces’ contribute to an increasing multiplicity of spatial expressions and practices, they not only challenge established planning procedures, but alsounderstandings and use of space. The study focuses on the various ‘shapers’ which affect the formation and conception of temporary urban spaces in urban planning, in light of the visions expressed for an area—the expectations and motives—and the everyday decisions made and spatial practices carried out. The case studies are informed by different levels of practice involvement and explored through a thematical set of theoretical lenses.

The central component of this inquiry is a case-based in-depth study of the temporary use spaces and results in a set of new concepts describing spaces and practices within authorised yet temporary sites.The study offers a nuanced perspective on the challenges and the potentials of transitional spaces in today’s urban planning culture.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherDepartment of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen
Number of pages372
ISBN (Print)978-87-7903-755-7
ISBN (Electronic)978-87-7903-756-4
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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