Architectural Policy Programmes in Finland - Perspectives on Local Level

Petri Tuormala

Abstract


Architectural policy has emphasized issues regarding the quality of the built environment in decision-making since 1990 in several European countries. In 1998, the Finnish government approved an architectural policy for Finland that has later been adopted as a model for many policies on regional and local levels. Although architectural policy has establi shed itself in several municipalities, few studies have discussed ways in which these policies seek to influence public decision-making locally.
 
Through architectural policy programmes, a number of EU countries have sought to promote the significance of architecture and integrated the concept of architecture into the public debate. General objectives recorded in the national programmes are concretized in municipal policies and strategies. In Finland, several cities have defined quality principles regarding the built environment in their local architectural policy programmes. In municipal planning, there has been a strong emphasis on the interactive approach since the beginning of the 21st century. Active communication and open planning also play a key role in architectural policy. The established structures and planning culture of municipalities have, however, often been seen as obstacles to genuine interaction.
 
This paper explores the mechanisms through which the local architectural policy programmes aim to promote the significance of architecture in municipalities. The frame of reference is the theory of communicative planning, which emphasizes understanding of the diverse values and backgrounds of the different parties in the planning process. The research method has been to employ material-based qualitative content analysis to explore the objectives written into the programme texts. The analysis has been restricted to 13 local architectural policy programmes published in Finland in 2002–2015.
 
The study shows that architectural policy opens new interactive channels alongside the established practices. On the other hand, it also meets the challenges of communicative planning in practical measures. Architectural policy facilitates interaction both within a municipality’s internal organization and with external interest groups by broadening the knowledge base, developing operating practices, and diversifying communication.

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