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BLOXHUB Summer School module II – by Nordic Urban Planning Studies & Geography at Roskilde University

Cities have become the sites of both the world’s major problems and major possibilities. Consequently, liveability has become a leitmotiv of urban development, and it must be questioned what makes a city liveable, for who and what, and how in practice and theory?

The course introduces different critical perspectives on what makes cities ‘liveable’ and through various themes, we explore specific efforts to improve urban conditions as well as layout the challenges involved. The course is organized around cases from cities around the world and especially Copenhagen and its surrounding lands. Particular interest is given to Copenhagen because it is a site through which ideas and practices of liveable urban living are being explored, promoted, and contested. What to learn from these actions and lessons?

Unfolding liveable cities is about the ability to integrate social, cultural, and environmental dimensions. The key to this integration is to investigate and experiment with the diversity of cities and the processes through which life unfolds and cities take shape. Through research-based perspectives and a strong collaboration with local planners and practitioners, you will learn not only from multiple perspectives, but also work with real-life challenges experienced by various urban agents.


Hosted, designed and taught by Nordic Urban Planning Studies and Geography at Roskilde University (Denmark) in collaboration with BloxHub.

The course is taught by core interdisciplinary staff in urban studies and planning from RUC and Malmö University along with practitioners from collaborating organizations through a problem-based approach, combining lectures and workshops with site visits and supervised group research.


The course is organized in two main sections. In the first half of the course you will learn from leading experts and practitioners through lectures and field visits, in the second half, you will work in crossdisciplinary teams solving issues of urban livability.

Questions of livable cities are explored through specific themes and cases, before participants conduct a group research project with one of the participating institutions, supervised by staff from RUC.

In order to analyse the different aspects that are part of branding Copenhagen as a liveable city we focus on a series of themes and explore strategies related to these themes:


The public city

Public space is at the heart of notions of the liveable city, with efforts to make accessible, inclusive, open, safe and vibrant urban spaces such as streets, squares and parks widely seen as vital for the social and political life of cities. Copenhagen has become internationally renowned for concerns about the ‘life between buildings’ as well as promoting access to green space, playgrounds and a walkable city.

This theme explores aspects of public space and the practices through which it is produced, with attention given both to planning initiatives as well as to everyday uses. We addresses formal and informal spaces, questions of difference and cultural diversity, and attempts to address socio-spatial marginalization.


The mobile city

An essential element of the “Copenhagen brand” and of making Copenhagen a liveable city concerns strategies of green mobility. Creating sustainable mobility in Copenhagen has required a focus on both public transit, as well as cycling infrastructure. A strong focus on improved cycling infrastructure and culture has been essential in producing enjoyable public spaces, flexible connections for urban dwellers, as well as sustainable modes of mobility.

This theme provides insights into overall strategies of Copenhagen mobility planning with a focus on cycling infrastructure. We explore the municipality initiatives that have made Copenhagen the cycling capital of the world through a focus on the overarching connectivity of the bike lane network as well as prestigious and sensational initiatives such as the biking bridges.


The touristic city

Tourism is often perceived as a double-edged sword. On the one hand tourism is the world’s largest industry and a driver for local businesses; simultaneously tourism is often criticized for eroding the qualities of everyday spaces and several European cities are debating problems of over-tourism. Thus it is essential to promote tourism, which is sustainable, also for local communities.

Liveability is essential in urban tourism and we investigate how governmental agencies are pursuing a switch from “sightseeing” to “lifeseeing”, by promoting local neighbourhood and the liveable qualities to tourists. We explore how strategies for dispersing tourists throughout the urban neighbourhoods can counter experiences of intensified touristic landscapes and create revenues for businesses throughout the city, and we discuss how touristic development can exist in cohesion with local communities.


The smart city

Under the banner of ‘smart city’, global tech corporations increasingly seek cooperation with city authorities to accommodate the city’s transformation into a data mine. This would allow tech companies to expand their big data gathering activities into the physical realm – a giant (future) data market with real cities as its mining ground. The growing involvement of tech companies in urban development has potentially revolutionary consequences for the way we plan our cities, and will potentially create entirely new power relations in the urban realm.

Through a discussion on the social, economic, environmental and political aspects of smart urbanization, we will reflect on what decisions about smart city planning can offer for a liveable city.


The green city

We need to eat to live and, in this very basic sense, ensuring healthy food is central to creating liveable cities. We will discuss how food historically has shaped cities, and how cities might be fed sustainably in the future. We will also discuss nature-culture relations more widely, and the significance of ‘green’ and ‘natural’ spaces for both humans and non-humans in an urban situation where access to such spaces is limited.

On this day we will theoretically address concepts of sustainability and environmental change through the historical development of nature-culture relations, how food historically has shaped cities and urbanities and how cities might be fed sustainably in the future. We will critically explore liveability of affective and relational practices of growing, eating, tasting, and structural perspectives of current food production and how cities are fed.


  • Students will develop knowledge of key issues related to urban liveability.
  • Students will learn to identify and problematize issues related to the life quality of urban dwellers.
  • Students will develop competences to work in cross-disciplinary ways in problem-based teams
  • Students will learn from practitioners and scholars alike to understand how urban issues are framed, understood, and explored differently in varied contexts.
  • Students will develop theoretical, methodological and practical skills to explore real-life urban issues
  • Students will develop competences to present key findings and solutions to group research


The course is open for professionals working with urban planning as well as Master students, Ph.D. students.

Professionals are welcome to tailor the course by selecting specific themes and days of interest in order to better accommodate your work schedule.

As a professional, you additionally have the option of getting feedback on projects from your workplace, rather than participating in group project work.

Sign up here no later than September 1st here –

For Master and Ph.d. students, please look here –



The fee for professionals is 7.650DKK

Students enrolled at a Danish university with a pre-approval from the home institution do not have to pay fees. Students from universities in the EU, an EEA-country, or Switzerland with an exchange agreement with RUC do not have to pay fees.

Students from universities in countries outside of the EU, EEA or Switzerland with an exchange agreement with RUC do not have to pay.

If you want to use an exchange agreement, entered by your home university, you must be accepted and nominated by your home university.

The fee for Danish students without pre-approval from their home university is DKK 2.625.

The fee for Danish and international participants, who are not university students is DKK 2.625.

Students from universities in an EU country, an EEA country, or Switzerland, which do not have exchange agreements with RUC, the fee is DKK. 2.625.

For international students outside of the EU, the EEA and Switzerland, which do not have exchange agreements with RUC the fee is DKK 7.649,17.



Professionals, please register here, no later than September 1st here –

Master and Ph.d. students, please register here –



The course is organized into two main sections. In the first half of the course, you will learn from leading experts and practitioners through lectures and field visits, in the second half, you will work in cross-disciplinary teams solving issues of urban livability.



October 1st


With David Pinder


With Mathilde Dissing Christensen

October 7th PUBLIC CITY

With David Pinder

October 8th MOBILE CITY

With Malene Freudendal-Pedersen

October 15th SMART CITY

With Guy Baeten

October 18th GREEN CITY

With Emmy Laura Perez Fjalland

October 22nd WORKSHOP
October 25th

October 29th


(Each group will meet with their advisor on one of these days)

November 1st

November 5th


(Each group will meet with their advisor on one of these days)



The course takes place in Bloxhub, BLOX, Bryghuspladsen 8, Entrance C, 3. floor, København K

Module 1 - Theme

October 1st-18th 2019

Module 2 - Project work

October 22nd – November 8th 2019

Application deadline

September 1st