Nordic Baltic Rural

Nordic Baltic Rural is a transdisciplinary project connecting perceptions and conditions on rural areas in the Baltic Sea Region.


This project is funded by the Swedish institute and the Goethe Institut.
Partners: SLU Alnarp, Linnalabor, Region Dalarna, Municipality of Valga and AOM.


Lacking the possibilities of projecting rural areas into the future.

The future of rural areas in the Baltic Sea Region still continues to strongly depend on the urban agenda. As long as rural areas are defined and design as sources of resources for the ever growing cities, rural areas will not be able to define their own challenges and possibilities. According to Visions and Strategies around the Baltic Sea (VASAB) is the urban-rural division is one of the “major challenges for the cohesion of the Baltic Sea Region”. VASAB does also underscore that “this divide becomes more and more detrimental for the rural areas in effect of the population ageing and outward migration”.

There is a significant and alarming gap between the perception of rural areas being local when they actually are globally connected. Such gap prevents key stakeholders such as architects and spatial planners from being able to understand the global dimensions of local challenges and the local dimensions of global challenges.

Urgent need to understand rural areas in a globalised context.

Urban standards applied to rural challenges.

Spatial and social planning related to rural areas are constantly applying urban standards for solutions which tend to result in the reproduction social and economical inequalities between the rural and the city.

There is a crucial need for capacity building among architects and spatial planners when it comes to understanding and tackling the above mentioned challenges in the Baltic Sea Region. In order to develop an inclusive design for rural areas, stakeholders needs to settle a transnational and transdisciplinary matrix with the goal of connecting both challenges and possibilities in order to facilitate a coherent way for how to view, listen and design.

Lack of tools for how to view, listen and design for the rural.

Lack of a cross-disciplinary pan-Baltic platform to share experiences and best practices on rural development.

Architects and spatial planners in the region are not just lacking tools to conduct a proper analysis that includes the whole Baltic Sea Region, they are also lacking platforms for dialogue and exchange of experiences. As long as there is no common platform for such exchange, it is very difficult to develop pan-Baltic analysis and strategies to tackle contemporary and future challenges that will affect not just the rural areas of the region, the overall integration of the Baltic Sea Region. The Nordic Baltic Rural project is an honest attempt of activating such platform. 

Partnerships are key momentum for LABLAB. Being a research and design think tank requires dedication and a bold ability to develop methodology for spatial re:orientation. We believe that such methodology only can be conducted with a cross-disciplinary mindset accompanied with a never ending curiosity for new partnerships. Our institutional partners at the Nordic Baltic Rural project consist of SLU Alnarp, Region Dalarna, Linnalabor, AOM.