City as Space of Rules and Dreaming


Research Group
Research Components

The project is is funded by the Kone Foundation and coordinated by the Academy of Fine Arts
(Doctoral programme) at the University of the Arts Helsinki 

Other partners are Helsinki University Faculty of Law, Helsinki University Faculty of Arts / Aesthetics
and Aalto University Department of Built Environment




In ‘norms component’, the rules, practices, institutions, and facts that define, create, and renew the city are mapped. The key question in this component is: how does normality in urban space come true? The basic idea is that norms flow in the city not only as meanings on a symbolic level but also as material on a real level and as imaginations on an imaginary level. This consists of the following elements: a) urban legislation and verbal and cartographic regulations, b) the impact, practices and guidelines of investors, institutions and actors in the city, c) the urban landscape to be seen, experienced, touched and lived, and d) perceptions of urban conditions. In addition to legal provisions, practices, experiences, space, sound and material are examined. The assumption is that the city in its material state is not just a “be” fact but a normative “hold” claim. The sidewalk defines practices as well as sleep-suppression spikes placed in front of buildings. We analyze city law, which consists of these practices and rules.

keywords: legal, legitimacy


The 'neighbourhood component' examines the impact of urban space on residents' abilities and capabilities to participate. More specifically, it examines how the urban space created by modernist urban planning affects the neighborhood’s ability to form communities capable of collective political action. The work package also asks what more permanent traces political events and momentary states of emancipation may leave.

keywords: public, democracy, emancipatory practices


The ‘dreaming component’ elevates visionary, auditory, fictional, and magical thinking as a means to challenge the preconditions dictated by rational-technical thinking. Through a multidisciplinary artistic approach, prevailing social, cultural and urban practices and ways of thinking are re-evaluated. At the same time, the connections between art, empirical urban research and law are worked on. This workshop promotes (the most) anarchist and experimental approach. A top-down and pre-built urban space with a defined function and purpose may provoke opposition. An anarchist urban space is an alternative and a backlash to a conventional, smoothed and unwanted public space.

keywords: meaning, senses, belonging, stargazing