A suburban dreamscape battling plans for densification: The case of housing advertisements

Authors: Bengt Andersen*, The Work Research Institute, Oslo and Akershus University College, Joar Skrede*, Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography, Europe
Keywords: social semiotics; urban densification; suburbia; nostalgia
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download


In recent decades, densification, as an urban development strategy, has achieved a rather hegemonic position in many European cities. This is also the case in Oslo, the capital of Norway. However, in contrast to the prevailing policy of developing a more compact city, there are also actors counteracting the policy of densifying Oslo. Norway’s largest housing developer, OBOS, has recently launched a campaign promoting the benefits of dispersed suburban settlements. This is said to resolve several of the disadvantages of living in dense urban environments. Using concepts adopted from ‘social semiotics’, this study demonstrates how a series of images used in a housing advertisement campaign operate ideological to suggest that the good life is found in the countryside, rather than in a dense urban settlement. This demonstrates that there is no straight line from political decisions to their implementation and acceptance by the public.

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