The Narrative Turn in Urban Planning : Plotting the Helsinki Waterfront book cover
1st Edition

The Narrative Turn in Urban Planning
Plotting the Helsinki Waterfront

ISBN 9780367555856
Published November 16, 2020 by Routledge
172 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Narratives, in the context of urban planning, matter profoundly. Planning theory and practice have taken an increasing interest in the role and power of narrative, and yet there is no comprehensive study of how narrative, and concepts from narrative and literary theory more broadly, can enrich planning and policy.

The Narrative Turn in Urban Planning addresses this gap by defining key concepts such as story, narrative, and plot against a planning backdrop, and by drawing up a functional typology of different planning narratives. In two extended case studies from the planning of the Helsinki waterfront, it applies the narrative concepts and theories to a broad range of texts and practices, considering ways toward a more conscious and contextualized future urban planning. Questioning what is meant when we speak of narratives in urban planning, and what typologies we can draw up, it presents a threefold taxonomy of narratives within a planning framework.

This book will serve as an important reference text for upper-level students and researchers interested in urban planning.

Table of Contents



  1. Introduction: Examining Narratives in the Context of Urban planning
  2. Narratives Matter


    Plotting the Waterfront

    The Helsinki Waterfront, Jätkäsaari and Kalasatama



  3. Urban Planning and Narrative: Towards a Theory of Narrative Planning
  4. The Narrative Turn in Planning: A Critical Overview

    Different Kinds of Knowledge

    Defining Narrative in Planning

    What Is Not a Story?

  5. Narrative for, in and of Planning
  6. A Threefold Taxonomy

    Narratives for Planning

    Narrative Mapping

    Mapping the Helsinki Waterfront: A Concise Literary Case Study

    Narratives in Planning: The Brief Story of the Helsinki Waterfront

    Planning Maritime Helsinki

    Narratives of Planning: Telling the Future of the Waterfront



  7. Emplotting Urban Regeneration: Narrative Strategies in Kalasatama
  8. Emplotment as Spatial and Narrative Practice

    Situating Kalasatama within a Plot

    Metaphors of Kalasatama: "In the Armpit of the City"

    Diverging Narratives: Urban Centre or Shopping Mall?

    "How we live in 2033"

    A Meshwork of Contradictory Storylines


  9. Genre and Metaphor in Planning Jätkäsaari
  10. Dominant Narratives in Planning in Jätkäsaari

    Simple Story, Complex Story, and Micro-Narrative

    Narratives for Planning in Jätkäsaari

    Jätkäsaari’s Identity Marker: The Hotel Controversy

    Centre or Periphery?

    Narratives of Planning in Jätkäsaari

    A Bildungsroman for a Waterfront Development

    Planning as Bildungsroman

    "Man’s Island" or "Women’s City"?

    Lost Opportunities for Planning with Narrative

    Park "Good Hope"

    Sustainable Jätkäsaari

    Narratives and the Building Block

    Planning with Diversity?


  11. Planning with Narrative
  12. Narrative Mapping and PPGIS

    Planning with Polyphony

    Planning without Closure

    Planning for Narrative Space

    Teaching Planning with narrative





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Lieven Ameel is a university lecturer in comparative literature at Tampere University, Finland. He holds a PhD in Finnish literature and comparative literature from the University of Helsinki and the JLU Giessen and is docent in urban studies and planning methods. He has published widely on literary experiences of the city, narrative planning, and urban futures. His other books include Helsinki in Early Twentieth-Century Literature (2014) and the co-edited volumes Literature and the Peripheral City (2015), Literary Second Cities (2017), and The Materiality of Literary Narratives in Urban History (2019).


"This is a fine contribution to the planning field and will be especially helpful to those interested in the stories told around planning strategies and projects. It draws together and enriches the literature on narrative and storytelling, both generally and specifically in relation to planning and urban studies. It contains two well-developed case studies of major redevelopment projects in one of Northern Europe’s major cities which illustrate the different ways narratives inform, get used in and are generated by planning activity. Many will find this book a really helpful resource."

- Patsy Healey, professor Emeritus, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University, UK