Polycentricity as spatial imaginary : the case of Helsinki City Plan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Research units

  • WSP Finland Oy


The paper analyses with a case study the use of a widely applied normative concept of polycentricity as spatial imaginary. The case study of Helsinki City Plan and the conflict over its city-boulevard scheme draws on qualitative content analysis of planning documents and expert interviews. It demonstrates the instrumental role of multiple interpretations of polycentricity in tension-ridden metropolitan and city-regional spatial planning. The conflict reveals how the conceptual ambiguity of polycentricity and the institutional vagueness of city-regional planning have together enabled advancing contradictory political aims under their guise. In conclusion, the paper emphasizes the persuasive performativity and fluidity of polycentricity as a spatial imaginary in multi-scalar planning settings.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-758
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Planning Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • City region, soft governance, spatial planning, urban structure

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