New Seminar April, 29

CLaD is happy to announce the new seminar on April 29, 2022. 'Cities between homogenisation and authenticity: The forgotten spontaneity in cities and the production of placelessness! Case Helsinki' by Dr. Hossam Hewidy, PhD Candidate and Lecturer in urban and regional planning at Aalto University. 


From 10 to 11. 30 

Microsoft Teams meeting

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)

+47 21 40 22 23,,440203405#   Norway, Oslo

Phone Conference ID: 440 203 405#

Find a local number | Reset PIN

Learn More | Meeting options


A brief description about the speech

Globalization impacts the production of urban spaces by creating nondistinctive spaces and leaving little room for authentic spaces to grow. Helsinki also witnesses  declining  independent retail and monopoly of retail chains. Accordingly, many premises at strip malls, built in the 1960’s, have been left vacant. Despite this, ethnic retail has clustered at two malls converting them into livable hubs in an organic place-making process. Helsinki Marketing, a company owned by the city, praised the phenomenon and announced both malls as destinations for tourists and food lovers on the city webpage. In 2019-2020 two planning competitions were held with the objectives of forming urban centers through densification. Through two case studies, a research is conducted to examine the ability of ethnic clusters to function as tourist destinations and the role of urban planning policy in supporting the branding of the City of Helsinki regarding the potential of ethnic retail. The findings demonstrate that ethnic clusters can resist urban homogenization and authentic eateries become destinations for foodies. However, the case studies show that urban planning was unsuccessful in integrating these clusters into the planning competitions. The findings further show that immigrant entrepreneurs were ignored in participation and the city has not issued channels to communicate with them. The urban growth has ignored the potential of ethnic retail and both clusters will be displaced. The research argues that the (1) the anti-segregation policy was one of the main motivations of the development; thus, it was oriented to ttract middle class and (2) the connection between major retail entrepreneurs, the competitions organizers, to large banks has created circuits of power that dominate economy and urban culture. The consequence of the circuits of power is the commodification and homogenisation of urban space leaving no spaces for spontaneous authentic places.   

Relevant readings:

Hewidy, H., and J. Lilius. (2021) In the Blind Spot: Ethnic Retailing in Helsinki and the Spontaneous Placemaking of Abandoned Spaces. European Planning Studies, 1–21. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/09654313.2021.1932763

Hewidy, H., and J. Lilius. (2021) The Death and Life of Malmi Neighbourhood Shopping Street: Is Ethnic Retail a Catalyst for Public Life Recovery in Helsinki? European Planning Studies. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/09654313.2021.1956433

Hewidy, H. (2021). Just city planning competitions in Helsinki: between the power of image and many images of power. European Planning Studies, 30:4, 663-683, DOI: 10.1080/09654313.2021.1990216

Lilius, J. & Hewidy, H. (2021) The taste of diversity. Ethnic restaurants in Helsinki and the importance of networks for attracting a mainstream clientele, "Etnografia e ricerca qualitativa, Rivista quadrimestrale" 2/2021, pp. 301-320, doi: 10.3240/101573

Lilius, J. and Hewidy, H. (2019). Serving whom? Immigrant entrepreneurs in a new local context. Fennia - International Journal of Geography, 197(2), 215–231.



Published 20. April 2022 - 10:51 - Updated 27. April 2022 - 9:25