Are we on the same page?: A thesaurus in leaving marks through street art

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Master's Programme in Creative Sustainability
This thesis examines social sustainability through the relationship between Helsinki's street art, public spaces, and nature. The focus is on the canal between Ruoholahti and Jätkäsaari, where the impact of water on the built environment and creative expression in that area is studied. Water and the seasons play a large role in how spaces and surfaces change over time, and how the way residents interact with these spaces changes as well. The thesis examines past/current policies and ideas regarding street art in more detail. In terms of this thesis, street art includes chalk, paint, stickers, posters, yarn bombing, guerrilla gardening, and more. This leads to questions, such as, who or what curates Helsinki's surfaces? Divided into three parts, this thesis examines the past, present, and future through three books that all come together to tell a story. The sections are a thesaurus, a yearbook, and a coloring book, which are not literal books, but rather larger themes to group and structure the information. The thesaurus covers the past by examining how wording relates to attitudes and politics. The yearbook is meant for today, presenting designs through photographs. The coloring book gives hope for creativity in the future when people can interact differently with their environment. Together, these sections support creativity and interaction in various settings. A small group of participants was asked to take photographs of their surroundings while walking. Participants' photographs were then analyzed to find similarities, differences, and interesting new observations between their photographs and my own. Following the changes along the canal highlights street art's impermanence and accessibility, and reveals how the city's resources are used to remove this art. The built environment is often inspired by nature, but it still feels contradictory when some people want to keep the surfaces exactly as they were originally designed. Allowing public spaces to change, like the people who pass through them, can help bridge this disconnect.
Berglund, Eeva
Thesis advisor
Lehtinen, Sanna
citizen engagement, street art, graffiti, public spaces, nature, creativity, photography, social sustainability
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