Planning and Urban Growth in the Nordic Countries

Planning and Urban Growth in the Nordic Countries

Planning and Urban Growth in the Nordic Countries

Planning and Urban Growth in the Nordic Countries


Planning and Urban Growth in Nordic Countriesexamines urban development and planning in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Emphasis is on the period from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day, and the authors of each 'country-study' look at their own national developments against the background of those in other Nordic countries well as the rest of Europe and the USA.


In this book we have tried to describe the main lines in the planning history of Nordic towns. We should therefore perhaps start by discussing what is meant by 'the North' or 'the Nordic countries' today, and to indicate some of the chief events in the history of this part of the world.

The concept of 'the North' includes Denmark together with the Faröe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden ('Scandinavia' includes Denmark, Norway and Sweden only). With their 22.7 million inhabitants (1984), the Nordic countries have a fairly modest population, but they cover an area more than twice the size of any single West European country. Does 'the North' exist as a social, cultural and political unit, or is it simply an honorary title, an idea lacking any real substance? There is no clear-cut answer to this question. It is possible to identify parallel or similar features between the Nordic countries as well as differences, and to point out areas of effective collaboration and others in which contact is weak or even non-existent.

Parallels and differences

Let us disregard Iceland and the Faröe Islands in the present context and limit ourselves to Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. in many respects the four countries look back on a shared history, albeit one frequently touched by armed conflict. They have similar political systems and a similar political culture, although Finland has a president who possesses real power, while Denmark, Norway and Sweden have retained their royal families as a political ornament. the languages, apart from Finnish, are also closely related. Swedish is still an official language in Finland and for a minority of the population it remains the mother tongue, but the proportion of Finns unable to speak any Swedish appears to be increasing rapidly.

Working through the Nordic Council, an advisory cooperative body elected by the Nordic parliaments, and the Nordic Council of Ministers, which is concerned with collaboration at government level, much has been achieved in harmonizing legislation and activities in many areas of society. Among the most important and spectacular results have been that Nordic citizens may live and work in any of the Nordic countries without special permits on the same conditions as the country's own citizens and with rights to the same social benefits. To cope with more run-of-the-mill cooperative activities, over a hundred different units have been set up to cover most aspects of society. Examples in the area of planning and building are Nordplan (the Nordic Postgraduate Planning Institute), an institute located in Stockholm for the further education of planners, and the Nordic Institute for Regional Policy Research. Apart from the more official

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