The street: a key component for a less segregated city

Legeby, A., Berghauser Pont. M. & Marcus, L. (2014). The street: a key component for a less segregated city. (Mistra Urban Futures Paper 2014:1). Gothenburg: Mistra Urban Futures.

Publication type
Report/Paper/Working paper/Brief
Divided City
Ann Legeby Meta Berghauser Pont Lars Marcus
Published year
segregation Unequal living conditions configuration co-presence Place Syntax Tool



As a counteraction to social segregation and exclusion, the local government in Gothenburg, Sweden, has declared that the unequal life chances found in the city need to be levelled out. In particular, the poor conditions found in districts that today are socially disadvantaged are of great concern.During the last four decades, a number of anti-segregation initiatives have been carried out in these districts but in spite of these far-reaching efforts, the situation remains highly problematic.
Recent urban research examining ways that architecture and urban design can contribute to a less segregated city highlights especially the importance of the everyday urban spaces that make up city—public spaces such as streets, squares, parks, and so on—as it is there that various social processes decisive for integration processes take place.What is within easy access as we go about our day-to-day routines is highly significant, as is with whom we potentially share the street; both are of the utmost importance for matters related to social exclusion.Thus, the street—along with other public urban spaces—becomes an important arena for interplay between citizens and for processes of recognition of ‘the other.’ The interplay that may come about is found to be related to the configurational properties of these public spaces.
In order to transfer new knowledge from academia into practice about the role urban design can play in these matters, an initiative was implemented in the city of Gothenburg as an example.This research initiative identifies and describes affordances that are relevant from a social perspective in a comparative manner.The aim is to transform research knowledge into operational tools for urban planning and design practice that include the identification and development of typical descriptions, measurements, and indexes that can be useful in various planning situations or in the process of evaluating new proposals.The collaborative setup of the project, incorporating both practice and research, has led to intense discussion within the planning organization of Gothenburg, where new ideas about organizing and handling its different data sets and how the results of urban analysis can be integrated within the planning department and into participation processes. In this sense, the project has found a genuine interest in the kind of support that research can offer when addressing issues related to social sustainability in urban design and planning.

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