Accepted Paper:

Exploring diverging visions of the future city using the tree as method  


Hanne Cecilie Geirbo (University of Oslo)
Hanne Johnsrud (Link Arkitektur)
Ida Nilstad Pettersen (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will use street trees as an entry to exploring diverging visions of future cities, such as the historically aware city, the technical city, the ecological city, and the aesthetic city, and to discuss how such visions are articulated and negotiated in street transformation projects.

Paper long abstract:

This paper uses street trees as an entry to studying how competing visions of future cities are negotiated. In the street, a multitude of people and things compete for space. Among them are street trees. Street trees are biological, but also cultural, architectonic, and historical entities. They claim space above the ground, but also underground, in competition with water pipes and electronic infrastructure. As a method to study different visions of the city and how they compete and are negotiated in practice, we have invited practitioners from different fields of urban development in two Norwegian cities to conversations about street trees. Through discussing the role of trees in their practice and asking them to draw a diagrammatic intersection of their ideal street with trees, we have got different visions of the future city into view. This includes the historically aware city where street trees represent continuity and connection with the past, the technical city where culverts are shielded from tree roots, the ecological city where street trees facilitate biological diversity and manage surface water, and the aesthetic city where the seasonal changes of the street trees facilitate a sensory connection to nature. The paper will discuss how these visions of the future city are articulated and negotiated in street transformation projects, including the power dynamics inherent in these negotiations. One example is the conflict between the visions of the historically aware city and the ecological city in Renaissance neighbourhoods where street trees will obstruct the continuity with the past.

Panel D01
Politicizing futures. When conflicting visions meet