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Bilder av småstaden - om estetisk värdering av en stadstyp; Images of the Small Town - on Aesthetic Evaluation of a Townscape


Summary, in English

The thesis takes its starting-point in the last years' growing interests in the small town as an architectural concept. Pre-industrial small towns are used as visual and structural models for very attractive new settlements in Sweden. However, architects and other actors within the cultural sphere question the adequacy of using old models for new buildings. The thesis' overarching question is: What is it that makes the small town-like habitation much appreciated by lay people, and so controversial among architects?

A poll study in the small town of Karlshamn shows that the inhabitants make very unanimous aesthetic valuations of the buildings and that the wooden buildings, the small scale and the square are the most appreciated features. Studies in the field of environmental psychology find a general aesthetic preference for features that can be related to the traditional small town, such as coherence and complexity by maintaining the same scale on buildings and by following a street line, while at the same time being varied in colour, form and expression; a variety of openness and enclosure; legible structure which facilitates orientation, richness in greenery and historic significance.

Architects' aesthetic evaluation patterns reflect a modernistic discourse which implies that the use of historical references is strongly put into question. The wish to live in the new small town settlements is dismissed by many architects as conservative and nostalgic. Other professionals find qualities in the small town settlement which are lacking in the ordinary production of new houses. Some hope that the very essence of people's dreams can be turned into modern architecture and still attain the same appreciation. To the architect role is attached the task of interpreting our own time or developing a new, creative and visionary architectural style. The predominant building style in the architectural canon is - with few exceptions - modern. Non-modern architecture is thereby being excepted from the models of today's construction.

Genuine small-town settlements are very sought-after on today's real estate market but constitutes a very small part of Sweden's housing areas. The findings of the thesis suggest that a contribution to existing urban structures in the form of small town settlements would be welcomed by many people.

Publishing year




Document type



Department of Architecture and Built Environment, Lund University


  • Civil Engineering


  • Environmental health
  • Karlshamn
  • urban kvalitet
  • stadsmiljö
  • småstadsbebyggelse
  • estetisk värdering
  • småstad
  • stadsplanering
  • arkitektur
  • urban aesthetics
  • townscape
  • aesthetic evaluation
  • small town
  • Architecture
  • urban design
  • Miljömedicin
  • interior design
  • Arkitektur
  • inredningsarkitektur




  • Johan Rådberg


  • ISBN: 978-91-7740-086-8

Defence date

25 May 2007

Defence time


Defence place

Sal A:C, A-huset, Sölvegatan 24, Lunds Tekniska Högskola


  • Thomas Hellquist (Arkitekt SAR/MSA, adjungerad professor i arkitektur och gestaltning)