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Jennie Sjöholm, dissertation at Luleå University of Technology in 2016
Jennie Sjöholm, dissertation at Luleå University of Technology in 2016. Photo: Kjell Öberg/Norrbottens museum View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Heritage Processes in urban transformation

Published: 19 May 2016

Jennie Sjöholm can now call herself doctor after finishing her PhD research subject of architecture. Her thesis is about the cultural processes in the built environment; how buildings are valued and revalued as cultural heritage. Case study is the urban transformation in Kiruna, north Sweden.

The thesis aims to increase awareness both about cultural processes in the built environment, and also about how cultural processes interact with structural changes in urban environments. Research theoretical basis is the concept of "cultural heritability", that is, the process by which objects, buildings, locations and its use is converted to cultural heritage.

Photo: Kjell Öberg / Norrbotten Museum

The work shows that cultural processes are complex events. Perceptions of, and job creation, cultural heritage affected including urban planning. Views on what makes heritage meaningful occurs mainly in four different ways in a cultural process: the new heritage may apply; recognized heritage can be confirmed; recognized heritage can be reinterpreted; recognized heritage can be dismissed.

Why did you study urban transformation in Kiruna?

"Kiruna, a mining town in northern Sweden, was established as the cultural environment of the 1980s and a large part of the built environment is now protected. The entire city, including mining mountains, the cultural environment of national interest. Some buildings are protected by the Cultural Heritage Act, or in detailed by the Planning and Building Act."

"Now Kiruna planning an urban transformation of the mining company LKAB will be able to continue its iron ore mining, this leads to large parts of the buildings to be relocated. It is therefore relevant to examine how the buildings are managed as a heritage of the large-scale urban transformation, in which the built environment will inevitably change."

Tell us about the cultural processes in Kiruna?

"The study shows that Kiruna formally recognized heritage coincides with what are defined as "authorized cultural discourse." This cultural discourse has been challenged in urban transformation. The purpose of conservation is not made clear and the views of different players have diverged on how cultural heritage should be managed."

"Stakeholder perceptions have also changed over time, and city planning have collectively influenced by various interests and underlying discourses, such as cultural heritage, urban development, and the creation of architecture. This has led to new cultural processes, where certain parts of the formally designated heritage has been confirmed as a valuable cultural heritage, other parts have been written off as a cultural heritage, but nothing new heritage have been identified."

What will you be doing in the future?

"The thesis has been made ​​under the project The city's cultural environment, which continued throughout the year. The project is financed by the Research Council Formas, which focuses on cultural processes of urban transformation projects" says Jennie Sjöholm.

Jennie is elected to the board of the Swedish Industrial Heritage Association that safeguards the industrial society's history and cultural heritage in Sweden and Director of Swedish Architectural Association, and also a member of the editorial committee for their magazine Byggnadskultur (Building Culture).

Jennie Sjöholm

Sjöholm, Jennie - Senior Lecturer

Organisation: Architecture, Architecture and Water, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering
Phone: +46 (0)920 491849