Strategic spatial planning with momentum gaining scenario storytelling: legitimacy contested? (SCENSLECO)

The aim of the research project is to study how legitimacy is produced and maintained in strategic spatial planning processes. Our view is that in situations characterized by institutional ambiguity, legitimacy has to build on the planning process, not on formal authority or legal rights. This is often manifested in practices of storytelling which aim at creating storylines that frame understandings on the present and future and bring together different stakeholders.


The research project is a consortium project led by professor Raine Mäntysalo at the Aalto University Department of Built Environment and Tampere University subproject is led by senior lecturer Helena Leino.  

Research team Raine Mäntysalo (Aalto University)  Helena Leino (Tampere University) Ari Jokinen (Tampere University) Markus Laine(Tampere University) Kristi Grisakov (Aalto University) Vesa Kanninen (Aalto University) Eva Purkarthofer (Aalto University) Simo Syrman (Aalto University) Johanna Tuomisaari (Tampere University)


During the recent years, the strategic approach to spatial planning has been fostered along with the general managerialist turn of the society. Different sorts of "soft" or unofficial planning tools have been introduced, portraying planning as strategic storytelling. However, the role of such soft planning in relation to the statutory planning system has been ambiguous, especially regarding the legitimacy of planning.  

The research project aims to integrate the unofficial and statutory forms of strategic spatial planning, to better manage legitimacy of planning processes, with a view on 1) rights and responsibilities, 2) democracy and power, and 3) information and knowledge. The research includes case studies of Tammela in the City of Tampere and the master plan of Lahti as well as an analysis of unofficial structural schemes made in several Finnish urban regions.

Funding source

Academy of Finland

Contact persons

Helena Leino

Senior lecturer

helena.leino [at]

+358 40 190 9751