Nordic Urban Lab 2018

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

Registration is open: find registration form here
Download programme as pdf here

Take a cultural perspective on the city

This is 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 will give an overview of both current European and Nordic trends and experience as well as focusing on 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) is 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.

We invite you to take part in this.

Themes of the Nordic Urban Lab…
will explore some of the key aspects of taking a cultural perspective on the city and on urban strategies and will include; 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.

We have invited some 40 key persons to engage and to kick-start discussions, but Nordic Urban Laboratory is structured to allow all participants to come with their experiences and their input.

Eight keynotes will provide the fixed points of the Lab on all three days, and we will offer 9 thematic workshops/breakouts and 12 urban case studies from Nordic cities, so you can plan your own route in this urban maze. There will be pop-up events and excursions to museums, neighbourhoods and hubs to immerse you in other realities and to give you other perspectives.

Please register via the form:

Final workshop/breakout programme and individual booking for your choice of workshops (three on Day 1 and three on Day 2) from 1 March – only for registered participants

Conference Fee
EUR 350 for professionals and EUR 150 for students and independent artists. This includes the full conference programme, documentation, lunches on all three days plus tea/coffee/snacks.

Hanaholmen is offering accommodation for out of town participants at reduced rates. Rooms can be booked via email or phone +358 (0)9 435 020 with reference to Nordic Urban Lab.

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) –

Contact & Questions: Please contact Metropolis – Københavns Internationale Teater for further questions: / (+45) 3315 1564

PRELIMINARY PROGRAMME (final programme due 1 Feb.)

DAY 1 

Background, theory, strategy, experience and methods of cultural planning


Introduction and three international keynote presentations putting cultural planning into a context: Hans Kiib DK, Nancy Duxbury CA, Panu Lehtovuori, FI


12.30-13.30 Lunch


Panel – Why Cultural Planning? with Finnish experts; Maunu Häyrynen, Jaana Simula, Maya Kovari & Erika Månsson


9 breakout sessions with talks, panels, workshops of 75 mins. Each participant can select three.
Key aspects and issues related to cultural planning:
Cultural mapping; from citizen involvement to citizen led transformation; city strategies for connecting culture and urbanism; temporary actions to transform the permanent; creativity and communities; new perspective on public art and public space; designing creative processes and cultural planning processes; do-it-yourself urbanism; events, microtopias and cultural acupuncture; democratising cities; artist led transformation


Workshops will involve 1-3 experts: Mikko Särelä, Jonas Larsen/Bureau Detours, Trevor Davies/ Metropolis, David Pinder/Roskilde University, Peter Schultz Jørgensen, Kenneth Balfelt, Dorte Skot-Hansen, Free Riga, Ari Marteinsson, Jadwiga Charznska, Kelly Jerrott, Gitte Marling, Erika Månsson, Maija Faehnle


Visit to Espoo Contemporary Arts Museum with presentation of relevant art-based urban projects, panel discussion, and reception



The Nordic Experience – artists, architects, planners and representatives from neighbourhoods, towns and cities present past and current best-practice from the Nordic and Baltic region



Overview and reactions from Day 1 followed by keynote by Franco Bianchini: “From cultural planning to urban activism”


10.30-13.00 & 15.30-16.30:

9 breakouts with talks/workshops of 75 mins. Each participant can select three.
Projects from cities, towns and rural areas focusing on transformation processes via cultural planning approaches. We move from “why to do” to “how to do” and “how not to do”. We cover do-it-yourself, community driven, artist led and curated projects and look at alternative processes of urban transformation.
Workshops will involve 1-3 experts and facilitators: Anna Laitinen, Ari Marteinsson, Erika Månsson, Free Riga, Jonas Larsen, Gitte Marling, Jana Simula, Maija Kovari, Christian Pagh, Pikene På Broen, Matti Luci Arentz, Paivi Raivio, Daniel Bumann, Tinna Harlang, Jekaterina Lavrinec, Lia Ghilardi, Laurie Smith Vestæl


13.00-14.00 Lunch



Panel – Cultural planning in the Finnish context as a potential strategic tool; Kirsi Kaunisharju, Susanne Tommila, Jaana Simula, Kimmo Aho, a.o.


15.30-16.45 Workshop 3


17.00-18.00 Keynote by Kelly Jerrott / Creative Cities Network, Canada: “The Canadian experience”



An informal evening programme at Hanaholmen with installations, video/film and featuring a major presentation by the artist collective Assemble (UK), winners of the Turner Prize 2015




Focus on the perspective of the citizen with city trips, meetings and city walks with instant mappings. Programme 9.30-16.00.


9.30-11.00 at Hanaholmen

Keynote by Charles Landry with his new book “The Civic City in the Nomadic World” as the starting point.


Following this, the bus becomes our mobile lab with commentaries en route, visiting Alto University / Group X with a.o. Anssi Joutsinemi.


The second stop will be The Museum of Finnish Architecture for a panel with members of the new Finnish cultural planning network. Working lunch.


The third stop will be a visit to the Kalasatama neighbourhood, where cultural planning is practiced, to meet artists, strategists, communities and activists including “Yes In My BackYard”


The Nordic Urban Lab ends with a final reception and last panel session at a downtown location 15.00-16.00.

Invited selected speakers:

Assemble UK, artist collective, winner of Turner Prize 2015
Anne Laitinen FI
, Sipoo Municipality, Dir. Culture
Antti Ahlava FI, Professor, Alto University, Emergent Design
Anssi Jouiitsiniemi FI, ass. professor, Aalto University, GroupX
Ari Marteinsson IS, USE creative community project
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 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
Gitte Marling DK, Prof. Aalborg University, author a.o. “Instant City”
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
Kelly Jerrott CA, President, Creative Cities Network of Canada
Kenneth Balfelt DK, Visual artist /community strategist
Kimmo Aho FI, Architect/Planner, Helsinki Planning Dpt. (not confirmed)
Kirsi Kaunisharju FI, Ministry of Culture and Education – Head of Section, Art, Culture and Heritage
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 Luci Arentz NO, Design og Arkitektur Institute
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
Trevor Davies DK, Co-director Metropolis
Tinna Harling SE, Process leader, Tjörn Kommun
Tommy Laito FI, Director Culture Helsinki City “The Participatory City” (not confirmed)


Nordic Urban Lab has received funding from: