Lukas Smas


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Works at Department of Human Geography
Telephone 08-16 48 43
Visiting address Svante Arrhenius väg 8
Room X 327
Postal address Kulturgeografiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I'm Senior Lecturer in Human Geography with a focus on Urban and Regional Planning. From 2011 til 2017 I worked as a Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio, a research centre for regional development and planning, established by the Nordic Council of Ministers. I have also been an International Fellow in Urban Studies at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD (2009) and Visting scholar at Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, The University of Newcastle, Australia (2006). I have a PhD in Human Geography and a Master's Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Stockholm University.

Read also my spatial story about LEGO and maps


In 2018 I teach two courses at the Bachelor's Programme in Urban and Regional Planning

  • Planning systems and planning instruments
  • Theories and methods in social sciences

And I also teach two courses at the Master's Programme in Urban and Regional Planning:

  • Theoretical Perspectives on Planning
  • Planning Practices in Cities and Regions


Ongoing reseach projects and related activities

Previous research and commissioned projects

In addition I have also been leading and participating in different commissioned projects for national and international authorities, for example Nordic Council of Ministers; the Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning, Norwegian Ministry of Environment; Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth; Stockholm County Council.

Academic commissions


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2019. Peter Schmitt, Lukas Smas. Politics and Conflict in Governance and Planning, 133-150

    The political conditions for spatial planning in the Nordic countries are changing in multiple directions. This chapter investigates recent shifts and trajectories of change in spatial planning in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The focus is on the politics behind these recent shifts and the induced rescaling processes and modification of spatial planning instruments. The chapter provides at first a background on the so-called Nordic model, the different political-administrative structures in the Nordic countries and recent changes in regard to the political conditions for spatial planning. After that, we review the shifts in the spatial planning systems in the countries with a particular focus on the spatial planning instruments in the last 15 years. This is followed by a section in which we compare a number of further trajectories related to spatial planning. In the concluding discussion, we take up the post-political question in order to reflect upon to what extent we can identify signifiers towards either depoliticization or even repoliticization in regard to spatial planning in the Nordic countries.

  • 2018. Sara Gustafsson, Brita Hermelin, Lukas Smas. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management

    Strategic spatial planning has been suggested as a means for environmental sustainability. However, there are significant challenges with operationalising and integrating policy-driven strategic spatial planning within the standardised and process-oriented management systems of local authorities. This aspect has motivated discussions on how implementation of strategic spatial planning with a focus on environmental sustainability is conditioned by management systems. The empirical case is local planning and management practices in a local authority in Sweden. Interviews with planners, together with planning and policy documents, make up the empirical material. The analysis proposes that the integration of environmental perspectives into strategic spatial planning processes depends on (i) the overall concerns for environmental issues in local policy, and (ii) how administrative management systems can facilitate transformative practice in planning. In conclusion, this article illustrates how environmental sustainability in strategic spatial planning is formed and conditioned through interplay between local policy and administrative management procedures.

  • 2018. Peter Schmitt, Lukas Smas. Territory and States. Essentials for the Coordination of Spatial Planning Policies in the XXIst Century, 597-620
  • 2018. Lukas Smas, Peter Schmitt.

    Plans and other planning instruments that are used to mediate and regulate spatial development are fundamental for the operation of spatial planning systems, and for defining them, as well as pursing spatial planning objectives. This paper is based on an extensive comparative study of spatial planning systems in Europe (ESPON COMPASS), which included a review of spatial planning instruments that are used to mediate competition over the use of land, to allocate rights of development, to regulate change and to promote preferred spatial and urban form. Over 250 spatial planning instruments in 32 different European countries were identified by national experts. The results show a diverse pattern with strong differences in regard to the instruments' characteristics (e.g. visionary, strategic, framework or regulative) at different policy levels (national, regional and local) even between countries that have been grouped together within similar types or traditions in earlier studies. Furthermore, many individual planning instruments are often expected to combine several functions, e.g. they are expected to simultaneously be, in different combinations; visionary and agenda setting, providing strategic and long-term coordination, establishing policy frameworks for other plans and decisions, and/or be regulatory including legally binding land use commitments. Many planning instruments might thus be understood as 'multi-purpose tools'. Based on this review and analysis we offer empirically derived typologies and conceptualizations of spatial planning instruments that provide a different image of spatial planning systems across Europe compared to earlier studies, and as such gives insights in what directions spatial planning in Europe is moving.

  • 2018. Peter Schmitt, Lukas Smas. AESOP 2018

    Spatial planning is often expected to coordinate other policy areas or sector policies, in particular those that have strong spatial impacts. Ideally this process of coordination shall lead to policy integration or to other forms of consensual agreements such as policy packages. Inevitably the question arises to what extent spatial planning can be considered as an autonomous policy area with specific instruments (e.g. statutory frameworks that are of visionary, strategic or regulative character) and power resources. We address this question by discussing and comparing the role of spatial planning across 32 European countries in relation to 14 other policy areas based on findings from the ESPON COMPASS study. First, the degree of integration of spatial planning is investigated within other policy areas at three different policy levels (national, sub-national and local). Secondly, the extent to which these 14 policy areas are influential in current debates on spatial planning will be compared with the year 2000. The analysis reveals a number of recurrent patterns and types of spatial planning as well as directions of change. In the end we argue that spatial planning plays a significant and for the most part even increasing role in relation to other policy areas in most of the studied countries in Europe, but at the same time we can construe a growing degree of diversification between countries, policy levels and policy areas.

  • 2017. Moa Tunström, Lukas Smas. Urban utveckling och interaktion, 145-164
  • 2016. Peter Schmitt (et al.). Smart me up! How to become and how to stay a Smart City, and does this improve quality of life?, 1003-1007

    In this paper we discuss findings of our case study on the making and implementation of the exhibition 'Experiment Stockholm' in 2015, which, based on artistic exhibits as well as a number of forums, aimed at generating creative narratives for the sustainable urban future in the Swedish capital city-region. Our analytical framework is informed by the emerging notion of 'urban living labs' across Europe as well as 'communicative' and 'actor-relational' planning theory', which is discussed in another paper within the poceedings of this conference (cf. Schmitt et al. 2016). We argue that the exhibition 'Experiment Stockholm' and the activities around it can be characterised as a soft mode of urban governance that can help to unlock creativity and to open up avenues for experimentation and alternative solutions in urban planning. However, caution must be taken to not overvalue such approaches, as our example implies a rather exclusive expert forum instead of a a mode of governance that might be associated with openness and wider engagement. In addition, our example illustrates the significance of suitable and unconventional methods, which otherwise considerably limits the innovative capacity of the participating stakeholders and their search for alternative solutions.

  • 2015. Lukas Smas, Peter Schmitt. Megaregions, 146-174

    How can the established concept of ‘Norden’ – which covers the Northern European countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – be understood in a brave new world of megaregions? The significance of Norden, which literary means ‘the North’, is often acknowledged to be a ‘stabilised’ transnational (mega) region (Gustafsson, 2006). This is due, in part, to the Nordic countries sharing a number of cultural and historical commonalities, somewhat similar political trajectories through the 20th century and a well-known welfare state tradition. Yet, on closer inspection, we have seen in recent years various diverging development paths in territorial policy and politics in general, and urban and regional planning in particular. Furthermore, when adopting a relational perspective, we can detect how a number of Nordic city-regions are being formed and transformed – through transnational (business) networks and various related state spatial strategies – with the aim being to strategically place them as nodes within the global space of flows. What this amounts to is a more fluid geographical image of Norden. Against this backdrop the concept of Norden is an interesting example of how (mega) regions are being constructed through particular sets of relations, processes and mechanisms, while at the same time being challenged and deconstructed by other sets of relations, processes and mechanisms. In this chapter, we seek to problematize these happenings, providing critical reflections from a North European perspective. The research presented derives from a range of studies and observations produced by Nordregio – The Nordic Centre for Spatial Development.

  • 2012. Lukas Smas. Hotel spaces, 73-80
  • Book (ed) Hotel spaces
    2012. Lukas Smas.
  • 2010. Lukas Smas. Nätverk och skuggstrukturer i regionalpolitiken, 25-30
  • 2009. Lukas Smas. Cultural Quarters and Urban Transformation, 280-303
  • Thesis (Doc) Transaction Spaces
    2008. Lukas Smas (et al.).

    Consumption forms and is formed by the city. How, when and where commodities are transacted is essential in this urban drama of mutual relationships. This thesis explores how consumption and everyday life in cities are interrelated. The specific objective is to analyse how commodity transaction situations are configured and constrained in time and space, and, how consumer service spaces are formed in and are part of city formation. Transactions are conceptualised as economically and socially situated material projects constituted by consumers, commodities and producers. Commodities and values are transferred and created through transaction spaces. The theoretical perspective is framed around consumption and production of spaces, and particularly informed by Hägerstrand’s time-geographical thinking and Lefebvre’s work on urban space. Methodologically different examples of consumption projects and spaces are used to discuss configurations and formations for commodity transactions.

    The thesis stresses material and time-spatial constraints for commodity transaction and it discusses the blurring of boundaries between what conventionally has been separate social and economic activities and places. Changing transaction configurations and the formation of consumer service spaces in the city are explored through analysis of different consumption places and commodities such as books, coffee and clothes and property development projects in Stockholm city centre. Transaction configurations display geographical and historical continuities and changes as well as time-spatial flexibility and spatial fixity. Transactions spaces are continuously formed and reformed through processes embedded in the global cultural economy, urban development and politics, as well as through people’s everyday life. Producers’ strategic production and consumers’ tactical appropriation of transactions spaces are accentuated as crucial in the spatial practice of transactions, places and city formation.

Show all publications by Lukas Smas at Stockholm University

Last updated: November 15, 2018

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