Nordic Urban Lab 2018

22, 23, 24 March 2018
Hanaholmen, Helsinki / Espoo, Finland


Thursday 22 March: Hans Kiib // Panu Lehtovuori // Nancy Duxbury

Friday 23 March: Creative City Network of Canada // Franco Bianchini // Anthony Engi Meacock, Assemble

Saturday 24 March: Lucy Bullivant // Charles Landry


Download final programme as pdf here


Nordic Urban Lab 2018 was the third and final open Nordic gathering of cultural managers and cultural strategists, urbanists and city planners, architects, visual and performance artists, researchers and academics, students, community organisers, urban activists, environmentalists, and city councilors, to look at alternative culturally based urban strategies and practice.

This intense two and a half day Laboratory based at the beautiful Hanasaari – Hanaholmen Cultural Centre gave an overview of both current European and Nordic trends and experience as well as issues, practices and cases in Finland.

One of the overall aims of the three Nordic Urban Labs (Copenhagen Metropolis Lab 2014 – Borås/Gothenburg 2016 – Helsinki 2018) was to develop a cultural planning tool kit, which can inform and support cities, communities, artists and cultural NGO’s to develop their own practice in the field.

Themes of the Nordic Urban Lab…
explored some of the key aspects of taking a cultural perspective on the city and on urban strategies and included; cultural mapping, from temporary to permanent, citizen led initiatives, activism and artivism, pop up and performative architecture, place making, do it yourself urbanism, linking urban and cultural strategies, gaming and urbanism, microtopias for visioning, urban tool kits, engaging and empowering citizens, public space as the key, new directions for public art, informal and formal processes – and naturally sessions on cultural planning.

Some 50 key persons were invited to engage and to kick-start discussions, but Nordic Urban Laboratory was structured to allow all participants to come with their experiences and input.

Eight keynotes provided the fixed points of the Lab on all three days, and 12 thematic workshops/breakouts and 12 urban case studies from Nordic cities were offered. There were excursions to museums, neighbourhoods etc.

REGISTRATION is now closed

Conference Fee
EUR 350 for professionals and EUR 150 for students and independent artists.


Organisation: Metropolis by Københavns Internationale Teater in collaboration with Espoo, Pori, Sipoo Cultural Dpts., The University of Turku, Aalto University and Hanaholmen.

Programme responsible: Trevor Davies (Metropolis) – / (+45) 2940 4489 & Maunu Häyrynen (Uni. of Turku) –


DAY 1 

Welcome to NUL by Tiina Kasvi, Cultural Man., Espoo City and Trevor Davies


Three international keynote presentations putting cultural planning into a context: Hans Kiib (DK), Nancy Duxbury (CA/PT), Panu Lehtovuori (FI)


12.30-13.30 Lunch


Panel – Why Cultural Planning? with Nordic experts: Maunu Häyrynen (F), Jaana Simula (F), Lia Ghilardi (UK), Maya Kovari (F), Erika Månsson (S), Trevor Davies (DK), Matti Lucie Arentz (N)


12 breakout sessions with talks, panels, workshops of 60 mins. Each participant can select three workshops each day.


Policies and Strategies: “Integrating Urban and Cultural Strategies in cities” Dorte Skot-Hansen (DK), “Cultural Mapping is the Key to Cultural Planning” Lia Ghilardi (UK), “The Experience of Cultural Planning in Swedish Towns and Cities” Erika Månsson (S)


Participation, Engagement and Activism: “Breaking Cities” Peter Schultz Jørgensen (DK) & Mari Vaattovaara (F), “Re-Engaging Citizens with their Cities” Aleksandra Szymanska & Natalia Brylowska (PL), “Civic Activism as Resources for The Metropolis” Maija Faehnle & Pasi Mäenpää (F)


Artistic Practice and Instant City: “Cities are Ours – The Public Space” Maija Kovari (F) & Jadwiga Charznska (PL), “On the Edge” Kenneth Balfelt (DK), “The Experience City” Gitte Marling (DK)


The Temporary and Instant City: “Do it Yourself Urbanism” Bureau Detours: Christian Juul Wendell (DK), “Instant Urbanism” David Pinder (UK) & Marco Canevacci (IT), “Playing Games in The Public Space” Jekaterina Lavrinec (LT)


Visit to Espoo Contemporary Arts Museum with presentation of relevant art-based urban projects in Espoo, reception with drinks and food. Welcome speech by Deputy. Mayor Olli Isotalo, Head of Technical and Environment Services, Espoo



Keynote by Sarah Douglas-Murray & Ali Sabourin, Creative Cities Network, Canada



10.30-13.00 & 15.30-16.30:

12 breakouts with case studies. Each participant can select three workshop each day – click here to register.


Policies and Strategies: “Cultural Mapping and Planning in Pori” Jaana Simula & Maunu Häyrynen a.o. (FI), “Cultural Mapping and Planning in Skien and Tjørn” Laurie Smith Vestæl (N) & Tinna Harling (S), “Urban Planning Toolkit” Sarah Douglas-Murray & Ali Sabourin (CA)


Participation, Engagement and Activism: “Nikkilä Memories, digital memory mapping” Eveliina Harsia and Pilvi Nummi (FI), “From Popular Protest to Citizens Driven Communities” Mikko Särelå (FI) & Kirsten Sydendal (DK), “What is a Truly Playful City – Engaging Children in the future of the city, Billund” Christian Pagh (DK)


Artistic Practice and Urban Transformation: “Performative Landscapes” Sara Erlingsdotter (S) & Joanne Leighton (AUS/BE), “Life Mapping in The Arctic” Luba Kuzovnikova (N), “Co-designing in The Public Space” Raivio & Bumann (FI)


The Temporary and Instant City: “Exploring Urban Space with Anti Festival” Johanna Tuukkanen (FI), “A decade of Alternative Urban Living” Institut for X (DK), “Activism as Strategy” Free Riga and Alte Mu, Kiel, Kaspars Lielgalvis (LV) & Liva Kreislere (LV) & Friederike Kopp (DE)


13.00-14.00 Lunch



Panel – Cultural planning in the Finnish context as a potential strategic tool: Kirsi Kaunisharju, Jaana Simula, Kirsi Korhonen, Timo Cantell, Kai Lehikoinen, Helka Kalliomaki 


15.30-16.45 Workshops with case studies (see above)


17.00-18.00 Keynote by Franco Bianchini (UK): “From cultural planning to urban activism”



An informal evening programme at Hanaholmen, featuring a presentation of the artist collective Assemble (UK), winners of the Turner Prize 2015 at 19.30 hrs.




Focus on the perspective of the citizen with city trips, meetings and city walks with instant mappings. Programme 9.00-16.00.


9.00-11.00 at Hanaholmen / Hansaari

Keynote by Lucy Bullivant (UK), PhD Hon FRIBA
place vision strategist, curator, director editor “Hyperlocal: A Cultural Toolkit for Open Source City”, co-author “Recoded City – co-creating urban futures”, 2017 – on participatory placemaking visions.


Keynote by Charles Landry (UK) the renowned cultural urbanist and inventor of the Creative City concept helps us to navigate the evolving urban landscapes and its potential. The perfect start to explore any city is Charles’ new book “The Civic City in Nomadic World”.


11.30-16.00 Helsinki Mobile Lab


11.30-13.00 The bus becomes our mobile lab visiting Aalto University/Group X. They are remounting the exhibition “Human Cities: Challenging the City Scale” and showcasing projects made throughout Europe by participating cities, including versatile approaches to contemporary collaborative design, where active urbanism shows it diverse character.  Aalto University contributes with School as Service project where the possibilities for children to access and participate in the city is presented.

Presentations by Prof Antti Ahlava, Vice President Aalto University, Anssi Joutsiniemi, Adjunct Professor, Head of Urban Studies & Planning master’s programme


13.15-14.00 The second stop will be The Museum of Finnish Architecture, where we will meet young urbanists who have just formed the Cultural Planning Finland.  An informal discussion on their perspectives and visions. Eveliina Harsia and Pilvi Nummi are our guides.


14.15-15.00 The third stop will be a visit to the Kalasatama/Fiskehammen neighbourhood where cultural planning is practiced, to meet artists, strategists, communities and activists including the “More City to Helsinki” group. Host


The Nordic Urban Lab ends with a final reception with drinks, snacks and an informal panel session at a downtown location 15.00-16.00.



Invited selected speakers:

Ali Sabourin CA, Treasurer, Creative Cities Network of Canada and Senior Project Manager for the Tourism and Culture Division for the City of Hamilton, Ontario
Anne Laitinen FI
, Sipoo Municipality, Dir. Culture
Antti Ahlava FI, Professor, Aalto University, Emergent Design
Anssi Joutsiniemi FI, Aalto University, GroupX (Adjunct Professor)
Assemble UK, artist collective, winner of Turner Prize 2015
Bureau Detours DK, space maker / do it yourself urbanisers
Charles Landry UK, author a,o. “The Creative City”, “Psychology and The City”, “The Civic City in a Nomadic World”
Christian Juul Wendell DK, Bureau Detours, Institute for X
Christian Pagh DK, Urgent Agency, engaging children in the city of Billund (Lego)
David Pinder UK/DK, Professor of Urban Studies, Roskilde University
Dorte Skot-Hansen DK, Dir. Centre of Cultural Policy, author a.o. “The Stage as The City, The City as The Stage”
Erika Månsson SE, Swedish Cultural Planning Association, Växjö
Franco Bianchini UK, Prof. Culture and Planning, Dir. Culture, Place & Policy Institute, Hull Univ.
Free Riga LV, activism and empty buildings as a strategy
Hans Kiib DK, Prof. Aalborg University, author a.o. “Performative Architecture”
Jaana Simula FI, Director of Culture, Pori
Johanna Tuukkanen FI, Anti Festival Kuopio
Jekaterina Lavrinec LT, Prof. Urban Planning, Dir. Co-Urbanism Network
Jadwiga Charznska PO, Art. Dir. Laznia Arts Centre, Gdansk, Cities on the Edge Network
Kenneth Balfelt DK, Visual artist /community strategist
Kirsi Kaunisharju FI, Ministry of Culture and Education – Head of Section, Art, Culture and Heritage
Kirsten Sydendal DK, Lovestorm Lolland
Laurie Smith Vestæl NO, Skien Kommun
Lia Ghilardi UK, cultural planner, Dir. Noema, Culture & Place Mapping
Linnabor Urban Lab ES, independent cultural & urbanist platform, Tallinn
Lucy Georgina Bullivant UK, editor of Urbanista, author a.o. “Responsive Environments”, “Re-coded Cities”, “Co-creating Urban Futures”, “Master Planning Futures”
Maija Kovari FI, Cities Are Ours, urban designer
Maunu Häyrynen FI, Professor in Landscape Studies, University of Turku
Mari Vaattovaara FI, Prof. urban geography, Uni. Helsinki
Maija Faehnle & Pasi Mäenpä FI, Researchers, Civic activism is reconstructing the city
Matti Lucie Arentz NO, Artist and Curator  
Mikko Särelä FI, Architect/planner “Yes In My BackYard“
Nancy Duxbury PT, author a.o. “Culture and Sustainability in European Cities, “Cultural Mapping as Cultural Enquiry”
Paivi Raivio/D. Bumann FI, Artists, urban designers
Panu Lehtovuori FI, Prof. Tampere Uni. of Tech. “Towards Experiential Urbanism”
Peter Schultz Jørgensen DK, Urban Planner, author a.o. “Cities Breaking / Byer i Opbrud”
Pikene på Broen, Kirkenæs NO, cultural collective and agency
Sara Erlingsdotter SE, Theatre Director/Researcher “Performance and Landscape”
Sarah Douglas-Murray CA, Vice President, Creative Cities Network of Canada and Senior Manager of Cultural Services for the Town of Oakville, Ontario
Tinna Harling SE, Process leader, Tjörn Kommun
Trevor Davies DK, Co-director Metropolis


Nordic Urban Lab has received funding from: