On the Frontier of Mental and Spatial Change in the Swedish – German Countryside(s)


Transformations in 21st century city is leading into the deepest rural areas, bringing along with it increasingly new forms of activities, infrastructures and social transformations. Rural areas are experiencing accelerated realities consisting of demographic influx and outflux, social exclusion, digital divisions, extended landscapes of monoculture, decreased biodiversity and an urgent need for ecological reparations.

It is obvious that the rural areas in Europe are on the frontier of a spatial and ecological change, yet these transitions are too often overlooked by architects and spatial planners. Other disciplines have introduced new and alternative perspectives that are having an impact on the applied research and design methods focusing on these expanding city networks. 

To be able to anticipate these fast moving trends, the European countryside(s) urgently needs to apply cross-disciplinary readings and invest in transnational co-operation. This is the first in a series of seminars that begin with the ambition to understand and to connect historic and contemporary transformations affecting the Swedish and German countryside(s). Along with the seminars we’ll make attempts to critically distinguish what kind of possible future(s) do we as European citizens offer the union’s countryside(s) as well as what kind of life values does the countryside(s) offers us
as humans.
This program is funded by the Goethe-Institut Schweden.

A Shared Space – Moving beyond the classification of urban and rural?

Place: Goethe institut, Stockholm
Date: 20th of November 2019
Time: 18:00
Language: English


There is an urgent need to develop new tools for how listen, analyse and communicate the challenges and possibilities for the European countryside(s) and cities. Within this seminar we ask ourselves what new know-how needs to be generated in order to develop a new language and a situated spatial planning that stretches beyond the classification of rural and urban into a more coherent understanding of European space.

Clues to understanding the importance of the German countryside in relation to German society are not difficult to find, but often are overlooked, given the monumental cultural role of German cities like Berlin, Cologne or Munich. Yet there is a rich legacy that is deeply linked to the countryside: the 19th century German Romantic landscape painting movement, the Post-war German New Wave cinema, the Dusseldorf school of photography, and the revival of post-industrial landscapes brought to life through the combination of industrial archaeology and recreation. This presentation moves through a number to these significant transformations, examining in the process the way the landscape continues to change and morph, and yet continues to attract those seeking a certain freedom of movement and expression.

Countryside Nostalgia

Dr. Martina Doehler-Behzadi, Director at IBA Thüringen.

Madeleine Eriksson, Umeå University. Associate Professor at the Department of Geography and Economic History.

Peter Lang, Royal Art Institute. Professor of Architecture Theory and History.

Marie Kraft Selze, Lecteur. Umeå Architecture School.

Place: Umeå Architecture School
Date: 27th of March 2019
Time: 13:00 – 16:00
Place: Umeå School of Architecture
Partners: Umeå  School of Architecture and Royal Art Institute

What is the image of the European countryside(s), to what extension has the image affected our understanding of what the countryside is, and how real is this image?

This program is funded by the Goethe-Institut Schweden.