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In search of building types: On visitor centers, thresholds and the territorialisation of entrances

Mattias Kärrholm


The aim of this paper is to contribute to an actantial approach to building type studies through a study of the visitor centre and its role in contemporary spatial production. The article takes its empirical departure in the (from a Swedish perspective) intense urbanization of the Scania region, in the southern part of Sweden. Looking at building types in terms of actants implies that different sets of buildings can be abstracted in different ways (and not just in terms of form or function) depending on the effect they have in a certain situation. The proliferation of visitor centers in Scania is by no means an innocent development, these centers have a part to play (an actant role) in the urbanization process of the region. In this article I discuss this role as a kind threshold actant or type, which I further divide into four different subcategories in order to show connections with other sorts of spaces in the urban landscape. The discussion is then used both to highlight the role of visitor centers in recent processes of urbanization, and to argue for a more open-ended, relational and pragmatic approach to building types studies


building types, visitor centres, thresholds, material semiotics, territoriality

Full Text: JOSS_7_2016_P55-70