{ introspect/outrospect }


Planning and architecture are part of political activity and deal with several societal issues with widely differing goals. These goals often contradict each other. For planners and architects, their work consists of navigating between different possible choices. The decisions made by politicians and officials require the planners to take a stand and navigate amongst the demands and conflicts that exist. Based on the aforementioned conditions, architects create visions of how our surroundings should be designed. The most visible perspective is easily taken as the most reasonable. A perspective that is presented as natural therefore becomes an effective instrument of power in planning. But how can I reveal a power so taken for granted that I cannot see it?

It is not easy to understand one’s own role and what the pre-given rules are. “To understand human action is not to blame but to see that actors are so entrenched in their roles that they take the shadow play for reality and reality for the play” (Gunnar Olsson, 2017). Responsibility for how we build and plan is shared between legislators, government officials, private companies and architects. The act of planning becomes everybody’s and nobody’s responsibility. There is no one to blame. We all have many layers of different experiences, which in turn give us different motives. This makes us both interchangeable and unique. If the politicians follow the ideals of their own time and the private market wants to make profit fast, the architects need to understand the long-term significance of the built environment that we leave behind for the coming generations.

According to the principle of alternative possibilities, a person is morally responsible for what she has done only if she could have done otherwise. But what does it mean when one’s profession involves imagining alternative possibilities by creating visions? And how can I imagine something new to navigate towards without replicating what I am criticizing?

We need to introspect about our own intentions before we imagine how they will materialize in physical structures. We also need to outrospect about the forces that create changes in society before we can imagine good alternatives. But it is also our responsibility to imagine alternatives. Without visions, we have nothing to navigate towards.


Linnea Fröjd