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Unlocking the waterfront enclosures in Turku, Finland: redevelopment, appropriation and public policy

Authors: Sampo Ruoppila*, University of Turku, Jani Vuolteenaho, University of Helsinki
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Land Use
Keywords: urban geography, urban regeneration, waterfronts, urban policy, public space, enclosure, social inclusion
Session Type: Paper
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Transformation of erstwhile industrial waterfronts into lofty residences, officescapes and tourism-privileging recreation zones has been a focal point in the studies of neoliberal growth, real estate and planning policies, social divisiveness, public usage and access rights (or the lack thereof), and the new urban commons. In our paper, these urban tendencies and their social implications will be addressed both theoretically and empirically via a case study of Turku, a middle-size seaside city in south-west Finland. The analytic focus is on distinct types of waterside land by tenure, use and public accessibility. In elaborating the paper’s approach, we pay attention to both (i) policy-oriented studies that emphasise the practical accessibility bottlenecks and improvements concerning singular shoreline lots or city-wide infrastructural and functional arrangements, and (ii) studies critical of neoliberalization-associated property rights, financialization, gentrification and other transitions that tend to compromise the social inclusiveness. Empirically, the study concerns realised and projected changes on inner and outer waterfronts in the city of Turku, including the changes in ownership, access and usage as well as the role and characteristics of redevelopment and appropriation practices in reducing their enclosure. In conclusion, we underscore the complex and protracted nature of waterfront transformations, and the crucial role of the local governments in steering these developments towards progressive (i.e. mixed, shared, non-exclusive) direction.

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