Project outline


A comparative study of landscape discourses

of urban sprawl in Sweden and Germany

SPRAWLESCAPES. A comparative study of landscape discourses of urban sprawl

in Sweden and Germany


The project analyses planning discourses on urban SPRAWL, a phenomenon that is considered to be an escalating problem in Europe. By focusing on the role of ‘landSCAPE’ in these discourses, the study aims to reveal opportunities to ESCAPE from the currently dominant dichotomised and reductionist approaches to this highly complex and culture-dependent phenomenon.

In Germany and Sweden, planning discourses have developed that seem to provide a nuanced understanding of ‘urban sprawl’ by introducing the landscape-related concepts ‘stadslandskap’ and ‘Zwischenstadt’. The project proposes to conduct a comparative analysis of these discourses by exploring how the landscape-related concepts are built up and disseminated. To gain a deeper understanding of the debates, the project will analyse the complex and competing imaginaries involved, for these imaginaries are assumed to constitute the interpretative frame of the planning discourses. To achieve these objectives, the project will develop a specific discourse analytical approach that allows focusing on the underlying cultural patterns. Such an approach will also facilitate mutual learning as an alternative to (quantitative) European comparisons; by discussing such strategies for learning, the study will contribute to the implementation of the European Landscape Convention.

The project will allow the applicant to deepen her expertise in the German planning discourse on ‘urban sprawl’ while gaining intimate knowledge of Swedish ideas and theories of ‘landscape’ and ‘sprawl’. This will further reinforce her expertise in European landscape research. The project will open up a wide range of comparative studies, collaborations and other attempts to bridge language and culture divides within European landscape architecture and landscape research.


Funded by the European Union

in the Seventh Framework Programme

(Marie Curie Actions)

© Vera Vicenzotti, 2017

Last update: 06 Feb 2017