The main objective of this thesis is to produce knowledge about visualizations and its significance in detailed zoning plans. This knowledge could be an important basis for specifying how visualizations can be used in the future. With a growing use of visualization in spatial planning it is interesting to understand how it affects the process. To understand this the thesis will examine the case Portalen in Lillestrøm and how visualizations have been used in the municipality process. The methodological approach for the analysis is a critical discourse analysis of Fairclough presented by Jorgensen in 2002. This model contains three elements where an event, in this analysis is visualizations, the element that encircles it is discourse practice, and the outermost element is social practice. Sheppard’s technique for evaluation of visual simulation from 1989 is used for the analyzes of visualizations. For the discourse practice the analyzes are based on Stuart Hall’s model of decoding/encoding. This model makes it possible to map out how the actors acess and understand information. Further the discourse practice is explained in the terms of Fiskaa’s model for communication in spatial planning processes. In the end the assignment is looking into the analyzes of social practice; how has the project changed based on the discourse with the visualizations. To gather information the assignment is based on eight interviews, review of 27 official documents from the municipality and 100 articles published in the local newspaper.
The results imply that the actors have different frameworks of knowledge about the planning process as well as different infrastructures to produce visualizations and different relations to the production. This mismatch produces an imbalance between the actors that can lead to a power shift. The review of the process shows that the project changed, however the significance of the visualizations is not established. With more or different visualizations that better reflected the discourses earlier in the process, the project could have changed to a further degree. The findings can imply that there is an unused potential in visualization as a tool for spatial planning. This potential may be made available by clearer expectations and framework for the visualizations’ role in the planning process.