The purpose of this study is to lay out the pros and cons of downtown areas versus the suburban from the perspective of the concept „atmosphere“ which relates to an aesthetic quality, a sense of place. How the experience of atmosphere might influence the level of activity pattern of the residents is important for the discussion on what urban qualities should be accentuated and which disadvantages should be reduced to support meaningful and sustainable transformations in cities. It is looked at how and for whom downtown areas may be attractive from this perspective and in what way people may be influenced to seek this quality and how this differs due to city size. The study is based on results from 33 qualitative in-depth interviews conducted in June 2015 in two Norwegian cities of different sizes, Oslo and Stavanger, and also to some extent quantifyable data. When planning densification of central areas it is often seen as important to create vibrant atmosphere. The results from this study indicate, however, that motivation for visiting downtown areas are often the facilities themselves rather than the atmosphere which has some but limited meaning. In line with previous research by the author, experiencing natural environment is at the same time appreciated, often assumed to be better accessible in the suburban areas. This invites to a discussion about the dichotomy between the urban and the suburban atmosphere, location of facilities and the urban design and planning of cities towards degrowth. The new and important aspect of this study involves its broad scope, exploring the theme in the context of activity participation in general and choice of residential location.
This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Desirable atmosphere – (sub)urban“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.