Christiania's Place in the World of Travelling Ideas: Sharing Informal Liveability

Helen Jarvis

Abstract


The self-proclaimed Freetown of Christiania has occupied prime real estate in the Danish capital of Copenhagen since 1971. Over the same period, Christiania has captured the public imagination as an evolving social experiment that represents intangible attributes of “liveability”. This paper employs a conceptual framework of informal urbanism, and a network space of flows, to challenge neoliberal assumptions that circumscribe how, in formal planning, liveability is narrowly determined from measurable indicators (such as economic revenue). In turn, this challenges the way that “influence” is understood to be “relevant” as a function of institutional actors and technologies that deliver “competitive” urban regeneration. Exploratory research is conducted on (and through) the Christiania Researcher in Residence (CRIR) programme, as a catalytic hub of dialogue, drawing on CRIR archives and ethnographic interviews to reveal a “space to think with” that is co- constitutive with diverse connected communities of practice around the world. This discussion yields a nuanced geographic analysis of “travelling ideas” and embedded learning. Focussing on the case of Christiania and CRIR raises a wider set of issues that we need to think about when considering interdependent patterns of formal and informal association in urban planning and social policy.

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