Narrative Mapping and Polyphony in Urban Planning


The aim of this article is to critically assess recent research on story-telling in urban planning theory, and to examine the role concepts from literary and narrative theory could play in a narrative approach to planning. A first concept proposed is that of narrative mapping: the mapping of place-related narratives, carried out by drawing on plot, metaphor, and character development. The material used to illustrate a case of narrative mapping consists of narratives of the Helsinki waterfront. Bakthinian polyphony is the second key concept proposed here. I argue that an understanding of narratives as narratives – as specific stories told by specific narrators to specific audiences for specific purposes – could enable planning practices that are aware of, and embrace, the diverse voices – the narrative polyphony – they cater for.

Lieven Ameel

Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies, University of Helsinki