Chronotope: Time-Space Planning for Resilient Cities?

Project: Research

Research areas and keywords


  • retail, urban planning, temporality, public space


The basic idea of this project is that competent planning tools should be able to deal with connections in time as well as in space, and that this is an important pre-requisite towards a planning that could govern the re-integration of two increasingly segregated societal sectors: the civil society and the retail sector (commercial interests). The aim of this project is thus to develop relevant planning tools and concepts that can facilitate the integration of spatial and temporal connections, especially when it comes to every day services. The primary aims include:
• To investigate the use of space-time planning and governance as employed by planners, regions, municipalities, civil society and by retail businesses in the private sector.
• To investigate the relation between activities of everyday use as related to retail and commercial activities at important public places of different urban regions.
• To investigate a number of European public places in terms of temporal and spatial territorial production.
And finally, and most importantly:
• To conceive a theoretical and methodological framework to assess the spatio-temporal aspects affecting the everyday life of urban citizens.
In this project we have conducted a series of case studies in the different European countries represented in the project. The methods used included archives studies, literature studies, field observations (of pedestrian movements, opening hours, activities, age groups, etc), interviews, and photographic studies (including time-lapse studies).
The investigation of polices showed that although changes in temporalities have went hand in hand with new urban policies in some places, the analysis made in the project of four different European cities (Porto, Barcelona, Malmö and Toulouse), points to the fact that there is no holist perspective to time management and to temporal integration in planning in the cases studied. Even if accessibility and mobility are cared for in planning (sometimes in debate and not so much in action) and rehabilitation/regeneration are important (although often mistaken with beautification, touristification and gentrification), it is possible to note a practical absence of (or fragmented) time management and time policies. One of the main arguments here is for a better promotion of social mixture and meeting places, where time must be seen as an important issue in promoting citizenship in the context of multilevel strategic-collaborative planning.
The investigation of relations between activities of everyday use and retail was done in a comparative study between areas in the cities of Malmö, Angers, Lisbon and Porto. The aim here was to discuss the impact and possible structural effects of strategical commercial time-space production on urban life and use through an analysis of the relationship between retail spaces and urban time-space complexity. The study is especially focused on the structure of opening hours, events and pedestrian flows. In all investigated areas, recent changes seem to include a decrease in time-space complexity and a very low involvement of civil society, which leads us to discuss the development of a city á la carte urbanism in Europe, including the proliferation of increasingly specialized, themed, and homogenous areas within the urban landscape.
Following these international comparative studies a series of case studies were done within different cities, investigating, for example, aspects of everyday time-space management, issues of synchronisations, and the relations between urban design and temporary use. The neighborhood Colinas do Cruzeiro (Lisbon) was studied from a perspective of time management and cultural resource. Through ethnographic studies of rhythms we here identified four types of profiles regarding the time styles they reveal: runners, routiners, flexible and caretakers. The main motors of acceleration of everyday life were commuting and family care, where the slower moments happened at the end of the day or during the weekend.
In France we did a series of empirical studies on retail and mobilities in four cities: Toulouse, Angers, Brest, Le Mans. Commercial public places appear to be important vectors of flows and animation, but the synchronization of individuals, households and families in urban society to other facilities seem to require a renewal of schedule offers, and a rethinking of the relation and negotiations between processes of synchronization and synchorisation. The issue of increasing synchronization problems was explored further and more in detail in a case study of the changing night life of Brest, and the transgression of rules generated by these spatiotemporal practices.
In Malmö, Sweden, we have done case studies on the temporary use of public space, including a theoretical and methodological discussion on how to approach recent changes in public space use (quicker pace, more public eating, people carrying more artifacts, were some of the changes observed here). A relational approach is suggested which looks at socio-material practices as the unfolding of events, established at different spatio-temporal scales. This means that a conceptualisation needs to take its point of departure in processes rather than categories.
A conceptual apparatus to discuss time-space issues in planning and urban design has subsequently been develop through all the case studies of the project, suggesting and elaborating on concepts such as time-space territorology, synchronisation, synchorisation, isorhythmia, time-space complexities and sequential materialities.
Effective start/end date2011/01/012014/12/31

Collaborative partners

  • Lund University
  • Urban Studies, Malmö University (lead)
  • University of Barcelona
  • University of Lisbon
  • Oporto University
  • Angers University
  • University of Western Brittany
  • Le Mans University


Related research output

Mattias Kärrholm, 2017, In : Social & Cultural Geography. 18, 5, p. 683-705 24 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Mattias Kärrholm, 2015, Urban Squares, Spatio-temporal studies of design and everyday life in the Öresund region. Kärrholm, M. (ed.). Nordic Academic Press, p. 7-15

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter

Mattias Kärrholm, 2015, Urban Squares, Spatio-temporal studies of design and everyday life in the Öresund region. Kärrholm, M. (ed.). Nordic Academic Press, p. 17-56

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter

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