Growing smaller: Rurban interventions for degrowth
Examensarbete för masterexamen
Architecture and planning beyond sustainability, MSc
Many small towns in Swedish rural areas were developed around one dominating industry which they have been depended on. But high dependency on industries and economic growth often made them vulnerable to unexpected crises. Yet, the current consensus is that continuous economic growth is necessary for prosperity and freedom. Municipal plans and documents prioritize attracting businesses as a remedy for depopulation in rural areas. But as history has shown, there is a need for example of different forms of development there. The thesis aims to explore how planning and design can bring positive change in rural areas that have been affected by shrinking population. The case of this thesis is a town Silverdalen in Hultsfred municipality. The design proposal takes into consideration the context of the place and its history. The thesis will further explore how small shrinking town with industrial heritage can be transformed with spatial interventions that add new uses to post-industrial places. This is done by researching practices of degrowth and how they can be applied to a specific context. The thesis work is a combination between the methods research by design and research for design. The theories of rural shrinkage and degrowth have been studied to create an understanding on how a small town with industrial heritage can be revitalized. By exploring the context of the place, its history, and possible stakeholders, a proposal has been developed. It takes its cues from practices of degrowth – reuse of existing structures, create possibilities for sharing economies and generate social activities. The result is several design interventions that together strengthen the public space and revive previously abandoned places.
degrowth, rural shrinkage, post-industrial places, adaptive reuse