Transurbanism : Towards a new transdisciplinary approach in urban planning

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SoftGrid in association with AESOP and IFHP
The on-going financial crisis is having a negative impact on post-communist European countries of the Baltic Sea Region. In Estonia, for instance, recent data 1 related to annual population growth reveal a loss of 0.2% while at the same time Tallinn, the capital city, has gained 0.6%. Thus a double layer dynamic affects the country whereby Estonia loses population to wealthier European states and other countries, while Tallinn drains the remaining population from the countryside. Similar dynamics affect other post-communist Baltic States (the once labelled ‘Baltic Tigers’) so much so that while 30% of Estonian residents live in Tallinn, 32% of Latvian residents live in Riga, and 26% of Lithuanian residents live in Vilnius. Comparing this data with the northern sector of the Baltic Region (Finland and Sweden) we find that 11% of residents in Finland live in Helsinki and 9% of residents in Sweden live in Stockholm. However, in this paper we argue that while the urban population imbalances (i.e. urban primacy versus shrinking countryside) of shrinking Baltic states (i.e. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) put pressures on the land uses and social milieus of their capitals (e.g. Tallinn in Estonia) the same is true for Scandinavian capitals whereby rising international migration is putting pressure on their welfare states (see the case of Helsinki in Haila 2005: 20). Maimone (2004: 6) explains that while for cultural reasons the Russian-speaking minority in Estonia has been generally urbanised, Estonians, on the other hand, disperse in the countryside. The recent urban migration in Tallinn has thus increased the chances for social conflict between Estonians, independent from USSR since 1991, and their rivals Russians. The latter are perceived as intruders and never fully integrated in post-communist Estonia (Maimone 2004: 4). In 2007 a conflict between these two groups revolved over the issue of the relocation of a soviet memorial (the so called ‘Bronze Soldier’) from the city centre to the periphery of Tallinn. For weeks, tensions at the political and social level (Estonia vs. Russia and Estonians vs. Estonians of Russian origin) resulted in urban riots and demonstrations.
Architecture & Planning in Times of Scarcity : Reclaiming the Possibility of Making. 3rd AESOP European Urban Summer School 2012, Manchester
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