Alongside kindred civic-driven and place-based urban greening initiatives, studies document an upsurge over the last decade in urban gardening and alternative food initiatives across a range of Euro-American settings. Meanwhile, historical and cultural inquiries into urban design, planning and politics suggest that the place and role of ‘nature’ in the city is now undergoing significant shifts. In this article, we deploy a case study of a civic-driven permaculture garden in Copenhagen in order to suggest a novel analytical grid of the imaginative and material domain of public aesthetic norms shaping current-day tensions over interventions in and valuations of the fabric of multiform green-spaces in the city. Reading across existing literatures, we model this domain along two structuring axes – of ‘orderliness’ versus ‘wildness’ and ‘pastoral nature’ versus city-nature ‘imbrication’ – and illustrate the usefulness of the resulting grid for making sense of internal debates and external criticisms in the Copenhagen permaculture gardening case. By assisting us in explaining how and why this garden struggled to carve out a legitimate space in a city otherwise committed to urban nature, we argue that attention to variable urban-green aesthetic commitments helps recast questions of urban sustainability politics in important ways.
Bibliographical noteEpub ahead of print. Published online: 2. February 2020
- Aesthetic norms
- Community gardens
- Sustainability politics