Publication

  • Urban Design from Below: Immigration and the Construction of Equality in Sweden
    Jennifer Mack
    Author
    University of Minnesota Press, 2017
  • GRANTEE
    Jennifer Mack
    GRANT YEAR
    2016

Installation of new signage at St. Jacob's Syriac Orthodox Cathedral, 2009, Södertälje, Sweden. Courtesy of Jennifer Mack.

Urban Design from Below offers a fresh perspective on segregation in the European modernist suburbs through a close-grained analysis of Södertälje, a Swedish town on the outskirts of Stockholm, where immigrants have been reshaping the urban environment since the mid-1960s. Swedish utopian architecture and planning programs (especially the so-called Million Program, which built one-million dwelling units from 1965 to 1974) explicitly emphasized the erasure of difference, yet this town displays ample evidence of its status as the global "capital" of the diasporic Syriac Christians. The book examines a series of immigrant-instigated architectural projects and spatial practices to ask how Syriacs have altered the town's built environment in dialogue with design professionals; their projects often require legal approval through the planning process, as well as the knowledge of experienced architects. Here, the nightmare of segregation is already undermined by the realities of an unacknowledged but potent force: urban design from below.

Jennifer Mack is a researcher at the School of Architecture at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research at Uppsala University. She combines history, ethnography, and formal analysis to study social change and the built environment. Mack has published and forthcoming work on the architecture of large-scale mosques, the design of mid-twentieth-century youth centers, the politics of landscape in allotment gardens, and the Swedish town center (centrum). Her research has been supported by the American-Scandinavian Foundation, the Swedish Research Council, Architecture in Effect, and the Fulbright US Student Program. She holds a PhD in architecture, urbanism, and anthropology from Harvard University, an MArch and MCP from MIT, and a BA from Wesleyan University.