Panu Lehtovuori is the Professor of Planning Theory at the Tampere University of Technology, School of Architecture. Before the current position, he was the Professor of Urban Studies at the Estonian Academy of Arts, Faculty of Architecture (2005-2008 in charge, 2008-2012 full professor).

Lehtovuori graduated as an architect from the Helsinki University of Technology (now Aalto University) in 1995. A co-founder and partner of Livady Architects, a Helsinki-based practice, Lehtovuori held teaching positions in spatial and housing design between 1995 and 1998.

In 1999-2002 Lehtovuori prepared his doctoral dissertation at the Graduate School for Urban and Planning Studies. The work, Experience and Conflict (2005), presents a new conceptualisation of public urban space, valorises the changes of the use of urban space in Helsinki, and tests a new, experiential approach to planning and urban design.

In 2001, Lehtovuori was the visiting research fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University. From 2005 to 2012 he coordinated the module “Urban Interventions” of the international European MA in Urban Cultures (POLIS).

Lehtovuori and his team have received several prizes, purchases, and mentions in architectural and planning competitions. He is a member of the editorial board of Yhdyskuntasuunnittelu (The Finnish Journal of Urban Studies). He is co-founder of SPIN Unit, an international institute for advanced spatial intelligence and critical activism. Lehtovuori is also active in Nordic Urbanism that organises the IFHP Summer School in Finland.

Experiential urbanism

“…place generates space, and space is the region of the possible.” dOKUMENTA (13), Kassel 2012

As constructive criticism towards mainstream urban planning, which is still today based on abstracted knowledge and largely non-participatory processes, experiential urbanism seeks alternative paths of urban change. Speaking for a wide variety of urban actors, including urban activists and marginalized groups, experiential urbanism searches ways to analyze the appropriated and meaningful space. Following Henri Lefebvre, space is understood as a collective work, an oeuvre. Its dynamic and open nature can be grasped through the notion of concrete abstraction: ‘space’ is a mental thing, an abstraction, that is socially produced in real space and time. Instead of big plans or comprehensive models, experiential urbanism relies on experiments in real situations, step-by-step development through temporary uses and specific place-based interventions, dealing with the full complexity of urban space: perceived, conceived and lived.

Tampere R&D agenda

The focus of the research and development of the Chair of Planning Theory is innovation and new spatial practices:

NICHES – nurturing new ideas

Place-based innovation, temporary uses and grass-roots approach to renewing urban processes. In architecture new experimental typologies of housing and urban blocks, self-building, group-building, co-operatives…

REGIME – challenging the established actor-network

Development and critique of existing professional practices and the actor-network of real-estate sector. Institutional development of planning and urban management, re-thinking tools, roles and responsibilities.

LANDSCAPE – preparing for systemic change

Reflecting and critically rethinking societal and conceptual structures, economics, cultural connotations and the legal base of urban planning, development and management.

This agenda of innovation is set in the TUT context where urban modeling, parametric design and research in new materials are already strongly present, providing excellent basis to explore new methods and tools.


Ideas for renewing the Planning Law

Our team has participated in background studies to renew the Finnish Planning and Building Law. This work belongs integrally to the "Landscape" ...

Housing Reform Competition underway

The national architectural competition to find new ideas for Finnish social housing was launched in Tampere February 28. See for materials (in ...

Key Concepts in Urban Studies 2nd edition published

The new, thoroughly updated edition of Key Concepts in Urban Studies, an international academic bestseller since 2005, is now availlable:  ...