Soft space – byregioner, business

– et blik på udviklingen af det uformelle planlægningsrum i Danmark siden 1990

  • Henrik Mølgaard Frandsen
  • Mikkel Telle


The continuing economic concentration in urban and metropolitan areas and the strengthening of competition between cities in a globalized framework has set off an emergence of new regional patterns and interests. From the beginning of the 1990s, traditional public actors – especially the state and counties – is losing ground to other stakeholders, who organizes more smoothly in deregulated planning networks. Proposing the notion of soft space as a way to grasp this transformation, the article looks broadly at larger urban strategies in Europe the last two decades, then turning to Denmark. From these inquiries, notions of hard and soft space are considered as a first step in a necessary discussion of novel distributions of power in the urban and re­gional development that has largely been invisible in Danish historical research and in the public agenda. The article concludes that the soft space developing in a Danish context since the early 1990s has manifested itself into quite elaborated planning net­works on both a regional (business regional) and a megaregional scale. Here the cases are the danish business regions as well as Jyllandskorridoren, organized around expectations for high­way transport, but attention is especially paid to the STRING-cooperation, founded around the Femern-connection, but at­tracting interest from more actors connected to the Baltic region. The construction and utilization of soft space is particularly the case for eastern Denmark and the capital region, where the megaregional network, STRING, appears well organized.

The article also investigates some of the challenges posed by the evolving new political networks and draws particular atten­tion to marked tendency of a much more organized and geo­graphically strong soft space constellation concentrated around the capital region, whereas the megaregional organizational capacity of western Denmark on the other hand appears much less organized. The article finally points to further areas of re­search with a particular emphasis on the need of both empiri­cal and comparative studies when exploring soft space in a Danish context.