Polycentricity as spatial imaginary : the case of Helsinki City Plan

Kaisa Granqvist*, Sauli Sarjamo, Raine Mäntysalo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
285 Downloads (Pure)


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


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


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