The False Problem of Urbane Design


  • Fredrik Torisson KTH Royal Institute of Technology, School of Architecture



urbane design, social turn, neoliberal architecture, Malmö


Urbane design concerns itself with promoting the qualities associated with the urban – dynamism, transversal networks, etc. – in places where these do not (yet) exist. Urbane design can be considered a neoliberal off-shoot of ‘urban curating’ and other contemporary forms of extending architectural practice into the social realm. The urbane designer is the creative manager of the creative city, whose specific task is animating or activating urban space.

Arguing that architectural theory needs to interrogate urbane design beyond the traditional confines of architectural theory, this article addresses three different aspects of urbane design in relation to the mixeduse flagship development Studio in Malmö, Sweden. This article makes the case that urbane design plays an important part of neoliberalism’s attempt to portray itself as spontaneous, un-hierarchical and ‘natural’ and calls for a return to the underlying problems rather than focusing solely on their solutions. It is argued that this is a central task for a critical architectural theory at present.





Solicited Manuscript