Week 6 2017

Based on the constructive meeting with Milica last week- the epistemological contribution of this research project became very clear and led to a revision of the PhD proposal.

The revised draft can be accessed here and has been send over to the supervisor for comments.

Remarks:

  • the title has changed to : “Play in the city- an international exploration of the play experience in urban streets.”
  • the literature review changed completely and includes the definition of play as well as the operationalisation categories of play in cities.
  • the objective and the aim has been amended.
  • The research paradigm includes an an explanation of the conceptual triad of spaces
  • The methodology part lays a rational account why I choose Yin’s case study approach and two instead of three units.
  • The PhD thesis structure is now in a traditional format.
  • Budget requirement is significantly lower as as the Vietnam case has been dropped, but can be revisited at a later stage.
  • The methods remained the same, but I man thinking of changing the interviews from unstructured interviews on the street, to targeted semi-structured interviews with targeted individuals instead.  (This will allow me to link the ream of memory and play to the great streets (Jacobs, A. research) in the city for play.

 

click here to access the revised PhD proposal

click here to access the new thesis-structure

click here to access the revised case-study-design-approach

Literature

Richard Sennett (1990). The Conscience of the eye. The Design of Social Life of Cities. faber and faber. London & Boston.

‘A city of differences and of fragments of life that do not connect: in such a city the obsessed are set free.’ p. 125

‘Deviance is the freedom made possible in a crowded city of lightly engaged people. But a community of single, middle- aged woman also deviates form the ‘normal’ connection between family and community; immigrants who barely speak the language of natives deviate, so do political radicals… Were one would add up all the “deviant” populations in many big cities, the deviants would form the majority.’ p. 127

The moral order is disorder. ‘The  urban dweller passes from place to place, activity to activity, taking on the coloring of each scene, as easily as a chameleon changes colors in various surroundings.’ p. 127

‘A fragmented self is more responsive. Thus Enlightenment unity and coherence are not, in this urban vision, the means to self-development- an ever more complex, fragmented experience is.’ p. 127

Chicago urbanists came to the conclusion that ‘differences produce disordered reactions rather than the clear perceptions that occur in simpler, more controlled environments’. p.127

Sennett suggests in response to the conclusion ‘Nor did the Chicago urbanists equate and a community: if stimulation occurs as individuals move between communities and scenes, gradually people lose an inner life, they become their skins, their “segmented roles.” This was how the Chicago urbanists came to celebrate the outside, the exposure of humans to one other.’ p. 128

Thought: is a healthy city and place which contains spaces for the inside, safety, intimacy and reflection. A space where people can take their time of explore and making sense of the connections between outside and inside. Playful engagement as a means to gain consciousness.

‘Sheer exposure to difference is no corrective to the Christian ills of inwardness. There is withdrawal and fear of exposure, as through all differences are potentially as explosive as those between ad drug dealer and an ordinary citizen.’ p. 129

‘The essence of developing as a human being is developing the capacity for ever more complex experiences. If the experience of complexity is losing its value in the environment, we are therefore threatened “spiritually”, though the spiritual life of a modern person must unfold is an exactly opposite direction from the path taken by the early Christina who sought to become a “child of God.”‘ p. 131- 132.

The power of interpretation are not disconnected from power and money, but they are more than pure reflections or representations. p.132

‘The medieval city was conceived by its burghers as a place in which people could write their own secular laws, exert their political will, rather than be bound by inherited obligations of manor or village. These laws were as irregular and varied as the streets of the towns, often self- contradictory or unclear, enacted with little sense of anxiety about form, made for what suited the moment. Clarity remained in the realm of the divine’. The motto “Stadtluft macht frei” appeared over many city gates. p.135

In Arendt’ view people in cities fear to make contact as a lack of the will to live in the world. p.135

Goethe notes ‘that without help from many external means, one had enough substance and content in oneself, so that everything depends solely on unfolding this properly’ p. 136 or Goethe, Dichtung und Wahrheit,  Mainz, Beuter Verlag, p. 664

Lavater understood Goethe that there is no destiny or true human nature. There is only struggle from freedom in here and now, or a radical struggle for freedom in the outside. p. 136

‘Transcending identities should make us look at others on the street in a new way’ p. 137

‘Hannah Arendt and James Baldwin represent two people of response to indifference. At one pole the subjective world is shunted aside so that people can speak to each other directly, resolutely, politically. At the other pole subjective life undergoes a transformation so that a person turns outward, is aroused by the presence of strangers and arouses them.  That transformation requires the mobilizing of certain artistic energies in everyday life.‘ p. 149

‘The power that marks a society as modern seem to have everything to do with people seizing control over the physical world through inventions.’ p. 151

‘The modern urban analogue between invention and discovery might seem to appear in the contrast between carefully designed streets and streets with no one author’ p.151

‘The power of discovering something unexpected to the eye gives them their value. Such streets are prized, we commonly say, as being full of life, in a way that traffic arteries, for all their rushing vehicular motion, are not.’ p. 151- 152

“Street life” is a symbol of urban provocation and arouse, provocation that comes in large parts from experiences of the unexpected.’ p. 152

Critique of Kevin Lynch’s legible streets: his streets are ‘streetscapes, places that are all about fixed identities of race or class or usage. But no form made apparent on the street leads to the equal and opposite evil, the grid experience of neutrality. How then to invent a form which provokes discovery? How to link invention and discovery?’  p. 152

Thought: Could play lead to discovery and transcend the mind at the same time. We need to define where design sits inside or outside.

The centre was during the sixteenth and early-seventeenth- century for the planners charged with importance, where people could move to and discover something. p.153

Perspectives and other elements drawing people to places and move them around. For example Rome with their arches and Obelisks. (designed by Pope Sixtus V’s). People seem to walk into horizon lines.

‘The reason lay in the trip of the obelisk: it creates a point in space.’ p. 153

‘All the things in a perspectival space can change their appearance by the draftsman’s manipulation of points and planes external to them.’p. 155

‘Perspectival vision transforms an object into a consequence of how it is seen.’ p. 155

‘The art historian Svetlana Alpers distinguished between perspectives that establish “I see the world” and perspectives that establish that “the world is being seen”. A famous instance of “I see the world” is Titian’s Venus of Urbino. p. 156

The spanish steps in Rome is an example where the experience contrasts the intended function. Instead of overlooking the city from one vantage point, the eye wonders between tunnel experience of the streets, the space with an obelisk and fountain in the middle. p. 158

‘coherence’ that encompasses restless movement for the eye through urban design. p. 158

‘Nietzsche called such nonposessive, exploratory perceptions “perspectivism”‘ p.158

‘Anti-humanism’ as used by Arendt, Satre, and their heirs, is a word one would do well to ponder. For the humanists of the historical Renaissance set the example for a visual provocation lacking in much modern urban planning…. The eye which perceived limits, incompleteness, otherness was engaged in the ocular experience of tragedy.’  p. 161

‘The urbanism of Sixtus V show how a concrete object like the obelisk can be used to create a restless, problematic space. It is a space of discovery, of exploration.’ p. 162-163

Thought: Why do spaces as Times square work –> the eye is not in control.

‘the experience of the street establishes human limits’ p.167

‘The humanism of Sixtus V, Serlio, Palladio and Scamozzi was enacted by design’ compared to a linear street in New York. Sennett suggests further ‘the street is indubitably full of life, but it is life bent on survival; it’s exchange, curbs, and negotiations occur without much reflection.’ p. 167

Sennett concludes: ‘Today, the principle of disrupted linear sequence, the street of overlayed differences, is an elusive reality in urban design.’ Further he notes that ‘the invention which designers are seeking, in order to prompt the discovery of others on a street, has something to do with time. Sigfried Giedion argued the experience of time could be designed architecturally and urbanistically- this experience was to him about free and coherent movement..Sennett responses by ‘if overlays of difference are the necessary condition for enacting a sense of connection between people on the street, is the subversion of coherent time a sufficient, complementary condition? And is it precisely this subversion of coherent time which a designer could draw?’ p. 168

Ist die Gefährdung der verbundenheit von Strasse und zeit genug der Strasse als Erfahrungsraum zu sehen? – Sollte der Designer sich diese Gefährdung nicht zu nutze machen und der Strasse in einen Erfahrungsraum zu verwandeln.

Carl Schorske ‘In the cold, traffic swept modern city of the slide-rule and the slum, the picturesque comforting square can reawaken memories of the vanished burgher past. This spatially dramatic memory will inspire us to create a better future, free of philistinism and utilitarianism.’ p. 176 –> Schorske, C. (1981) Fin-de-siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture. New York. Knopf. p. 72

‘In the tasteful glass-and-steel tower with its simple furniture carefully placed, we experience an emptiness that does not duplicate the experience of the Renaissance planners, for whom clearing way was a positive act of making- room- for in the midset of the clamor and mess of the squares and markets.’ p. 180

Clock-time came to be complemented by grid-space. This space/time relationship is anything but the beneficent conjunction Sigfried Giedion imagined. Rather than surprising discoveries, the clock seemed to offer its users only monotony.’ p. 180

in the context of modernity: ‘it is always an illusion to think broader changes in values have dates, the history of the cannon culminating in this invasion is the closest we can come to locating the birth of the modern sense of spontaneity. Spontaneous is dangerous; in the moment of spontaneity, eruption occurs.’ p. 183

Less conflicted spaces are less active and the social centre becomes the edge. p. 197

Should we design for conflicted spaces as interaction intensifies life.

‘The planner of a modern, humane city will overlay differences rather than segment them’ p. 202

‘Displacement rather than linearity is a human prescription.’ p. 202

‘It is this deity, rather than the Christian god of suffering, whom we need to inscribe in the spaces of the city.’ p. 252

Play it is…

 

 

 

Week 3 2017

This week I’ve finished the second draft of my assessors response and circulated it to my supervisors.

The draft can be accessed here: assessors-response-ghm-1601

Further on literature:

Appleyard, D., Gerson, S., Lintell, M. (1981). Liveable Streets. University of California Press Berkley. Los Angeles, London.

On the difference of heavier and lighter streets:
despite of the ‘pleasant appearance, its environment was inferior to the slightly less immaculate light street. The ultimate irony was that the rents were higher on the heavy street, probably because of the faster turn over of apartments.’ p. 26

‘Life on the light street, on the other hand, was in some ways idyllic. Residents were much more engaged in the street. They saw it as their own territory. Their children played on the sidewalk and in the street. They had many more friends and acquaintances, and they were generally much more aware of its detailed qualities. The contrast between the two was striking. On the one hand alienation, on the other friendliness and involvement.’ p. 26

On light streets people tend to have more children. The lack of children in the heavy street may be partly explained by the fact that social life was impoverished and many treated the street as a transient hotel than as a residence. p. 27

Ecology of the street graphic p. 31

FullSizeRender.jpg

Controlling driving behaviour depends on understanding and communicating with the driver psychology –> perception, expectation, and attitudes. p. 32

‘The Emmissions from traffic include noise, vibration, air pollution, dirt, trash thrown out of windows, and visual ugliness. Control of these emissions through vehicle redesign is an important way of increasing street livability.’ p. 33

 

 

Richard Sennett (1990). The Conscience of the eye. The Design of Social Life of Cities. faber and faber. London & Boston.

‘This divide between inner, subjective experience and outer, physical life expresses in fact a great fear which our civilization has refused to admit, much less to reckon. The space full of people in the modern city are either spaces limited to and carefully orchestrating consumption, like the shopping mall, or spaces limited to and carefully orchestrating the experience of tourism. This reduction and trivializing of the city as a stage of life is no accident.’ p. xii

He sees a profound “spiritual” reason behind why people are willing to  tolerate such a bland scene for their lives. Further he notes that the way cities look reflects a great fear of exposure. ‘”Exposure” more connotes the likelihood of being hurt than of being stimulated.’ p. xii

Cities remove the “threat” of social contact through intervention such as street walls faced in sheets of plate glass, highways that cut of poor neighbourhoods from the rest of the city, dormitory housing developments. p. xii

Christianity set Western culture upon the course that built a wall between the inner and outer experience. p. xii

Further Sennett argues that ” attempts to unify the inner and outer dimensions simply by tearing down the wall, making the inner and outer one organic whole, have not proved successful, unity can be gained only at the price of complexity. p. xiii

–> He wrote this book in 1990, prior the advent of the smart phone technology. Through modern technology this wall has somewhat shifted or might be even broken. Sennett considers the next big task: how to revive the reality of the outside as a dimension of human experience. p.xiii

Sennett suggest that this battle on the street of witnessing diversity and difficulty can only be won, by an changes of ones orientation. In other word by keeping the balance. The Greeks referred to it as sophrosyne (grace or poise). This person today would be considered as ‘centered’. ‘A city  ought to be a school for learing how to lead a centered life. Through exposure to others, we might learn how to weight what is important and what is not. We need to see differences on the streets or in other people neither as threats nor as sentimental invitations, rather as necessary visions. They are necessary for us to learn how to navigate life with balance, both individually and collectively.’ p. xiii

Donal Olsen in his book “The city as a work of art” argues that creative powers take a humane form and turn people outwards. He suggests that our culture is in need for an art of exposure; this art won’t make us victims one another. Instead it allows for more balanced adults, capable of coping with and learning from complexity. p. xiv

‘theory’ comes from the Greek word ‘theoria’ –> meaning ‘look at’  ‘seeing’. –> physical experience in light with understanding  or ‘illumination’. p. 8

In relation to feelings, truth and the street:
Experiences such as ‘love become disturbed because feelings are kept insight, invisible- the realm where truth is kept. And places people live in become puzzling. The street is a scene of outside life, and what is to be seen on the street are beggars, tourists, merchants, students, children playing, old people resting- a scene of human difference. ‘ p. 9

Lao-tzu: “The true reality of a room is not its walls but the emptiness they contain.” quoted in Paul Zucker, Town and Square (New York: Colombia University Press, 1959) p. 94.

Medieval city builders were not concerned with order- instead they created contrast between order and disordered spaces with no need to understand it. p. 14

The discontinuity was created by permitted random houses and squares. Their sprouting created the ‘necessary contrast to make clarity speak as an experience of faith’. p. 14

The parvis (the space in front of a church was part of the zone of immunity), was a place of public ritual, plays, and political speech. The open space sanctuary resolved itself into gardens- transition zones that function as silence at the center. p. 17

This parvis protected the people from the city. p.19

–> similar to Gozo, Xhara Play in front of the church, festival in the piazza.

‘This dualism between inside and outside became first visible as urban form in the medieval way of marking territory.’ p. 18

Medieval builders protected the spirits within the church and walls from the street. p.21

Ferdinand Tönnies – distinguished between ‘Gemeinschaft’ and ‘Gesellschaft’. For him ‘Gemeinschaft’ encompasses a face to face relationship in a place that ‘was small and socially enclosed.’ p. 23
A ‘Gesellschaft’ was a more exposed mute exchange.

Sennett creates an example evolving around a pot. Buying a pot at a local market, involving haggling was an experience associated with ‘Gemeinschaft’. Compared to buying a pot in a department shop in silence as an operations, which is associated with ‘Gesellschaft’. p. 23- 24.

‘The more enclosed and inward in each is supposedly the more sociable. Images of people touching and talking, their communion as their bond, are scenes of subjective life at last established and opened up: Gemeinschaft could literally be translated as “sharing what is within me.’ p.24

Sanctuary in western culture is associated with the possibility of psychological development. p.24

According to Freud- human development is about gradual unfolding, physical, mental and psychological, each step consequent for the future. p.30

The stimulation of the street as a place to develop lacked the sequential order of internal rooms of an house and self-development became opposed in visual terms. p.31

Sennett made the remark, ‘an early Chrsitan would read the modern design as bound to fail because our culture is in pursuit of self-development rather than a faith transcending the self.’ p. 31

One may argue in order to evolve we need to stop self- development and start focusing on enabling environments where we can transcend ourself’s.

Further Sennett argues in relation to western culture and space, that a space of authority, has developed as a place for precision: ‘that is the guidance it gives to others’. p. 36

‘Today the secular spaces of authority is empty; it looks like the side street of the Rockefeller Center.’ p. 37

‘The visual forms of legibility in urban design or space no longer suggests much about subjective life or heal the wounds of those in need. The sanctuary of the Christian city has been reduced to a sense of comfort in well-designed places where other people do not intrude. Safe because empty: safe because clearly marked. Authority is divorced from community: this is the conundrum of sanctuary as it has evolved in the city.’ p. 37

‘The planner sees who designs neutral, sterile environments. The planner never meant to, of course. Still, it is curious how the designers of parking lots, malls and public plazas seem to be endowed with a positive genius for sterility, in the use of materials and in details, as well as in overall planning. This compulsive neutralizing of the environment is rooted in part in an old unhappiness, the fear of pleasure, which led people to treat their surroundings as neutrally as possible. The modern urbanist is in the grip of Protestant ethic of space.’ p. 42

The Protestant imagination of space is expressed as a desire for power. An obsessive inner struggle with a deep hostility towards the need of others through a resentment in their pure presence. For example homeless people on the street ‘they are resented because they, who are obviously needy, are visible. p. 45

In accrodance to Sennett this implies a cultural problem visible through impersonality, it’s alienating scale and it’s coldness resulting in a lack of value. p. 46

The acceptance of visual denial in everyday life becomes the new ‘normal’. In fact more than that as Sennett points out as reassurance with ‘nothing as important as the inner struggle to account. Therefore, one can deal with the outside in purely instrumental, manipulative terms, since nothing outside “really” matters. In this modulated form, neutrality becomes an instrument of power.’ p. 46

Street grids –> an expression of culture. A rationality of city life. ‘No physical design, however, dictates a permanent meaning. Grids, like any other design, become whatever particular society make them represent.’ p. 48

‘The grid has been used in modern times as a plan that neutralizes the environment.’ p. 48
The loss of a center is the second way to neutralise a space. p. 49

In the modern context citizens ‘are a complicated instrument of offices and restaurants and shops for the conduct of business.’ p. 52

The grid is a ‘weapon to be used against environmental character’ p. 52

The grid as a place for economic competition, to be played upon like  a chessboard. It was a space of neutrality,  a neutrality achieved by denying to the environment any value of its own.’ p. 55

‘Places without centers or boundaries, spaces of endless, mindless geometric divisions. This was the Protestant ethic of space.’ p. 55

‘The refraction of power is as true of modern architects as it was of early capitalist who sought to take control of the world through detachment.’ p. 62

‘The spiritual struggle in its form as Protestant ethic denies the outside a reality in itself; denies the value of being present in the world.’ p. 65- 66

‘Control is a meaningless word uptown; here it is a synonym for anxiety.’ p. 66

‘The material abundance aroused by the division of labor were to be frustrated in the course of the industrial revolution, as in the home this principle of division of labour was to create an environment of emotional isolation. … It was indeed in those inventions which aimed to unify, rather than those which aimed to divide, that the Enlightenment showed true genius. This genius marked the Enlightenment’s planning of the physical environment, indeed shaped the very conception of the “outside”. For instance, the Enlightenment of the gardener sought to aid Nature in provisioning the pleasures of walking. Flâner means in French “to stroll along, observing,” a flâneur one who delights in doing so.’ p. 74

‘Consciousness that one is viewing an illusion is a heightened state of subjective self-awareness, and yet this was for Enlightenment no barrier to looking outwards.’ p.77

culture in opposition to civilization
‘culture represented for them the force of wholeness in society, while civilization represented a certain kind of acceptance of difference.’ p.79

‘Few planners who have pursued this path in the last generation would want to argue that “the people” best know their own needs; whether or not that is true, it is beside the point. In a society threatened by passivity and withdrawal, to encourage ordinary citizens to talk about social realities is to make the speakers care about one another.’ p.87-88.

‘The city is not only a civitas- a place of communication. It is alson on urbs,’ physical places that connect us. p.89

‘the is a conflict between building and people. the value of a building as a form is at odds with the value of a building in use. changing historical needs are seen as threats to he integrity of the original form, as through time were a source of impurity.’ p.98

‘ But in time enthusiasm arouse by experiences of unity between inside and outside subsided;”unity” came to refer to what objects were in themselves.’ p.99

The modern cult of the object is about what is left when the artist no longer strives to arouse that momentary sympathetic union between people and their environment. He or she seeks only for the sublime effect- the seizure, the shock in itself, for itself. At that moment anti-social art is born.’ p. 103

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 46: 27th- 30th December 2016

If play originates from a temporary situational joyful and socially inclusive sensational experience and situations are just products of what we are, how is it that there is so few public places truly socially inclusive designed.

Situation- a set of circumstances in which one finds oneself; a state of affairs. Or the location and surroundings of a place.

Spontaneous-  performed or occurring as a result of a sudden impulse or inclination and without premeditation or external stimulus.

Play – engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.

 

Play origin

Old English:

plegain – to exercise

plega –brisk movement

 

Middle dutch:

Pleien- leap for joy, dance

 

Theoretical thinking

Hypothesis:

Further thinking on spaces based on the reading of Lefebvre’s “Production of space”. Aim of this exercise is to create a response to the assessors feedback.

Energy needs to be wasted. Energy is not constant.

Energy produces space, too much space speeds up the process until disconnection is reached. The process implodes and creates a new opportunity through rebirth.

Hypothesis:

We create in our minds spaces (representational space). These spaces can be transformed through energy into symbols reaching out beyond the individual identity. Symbols can be transformed into action. These actions have effects on objects in space. Through a surplus of energy we can modify these objects. This process of producing these spaces can be described as ‘lived space’ (Lefebvre,p. 236) as it embodies both spaces (mentally and physically) and has a strictly symbolic existence. The results of the produced spaces effect other identities adding further energy and shared interpretation of objects. This shared interpretation in conjunction with actions in space can be called co-production of space. This co- production can just occur as long there is a surplus of energy available. Once this energy ceases, transformation occurs and changes into the space of memory. Complete is the cycle of space creation. This transformational process from co-production into the representational space, as Lefebvre referred it to, and opens up bridge to consciousness that creates the opportunity to elevate self- consciousness.

How does this relate to play?

Play lends itself as the perfect vehicle to this theory.

Lefebvre eloquently described this in his book “The production of space” and talks about a triad of spaces.

The representation of space (maps)

The representational space (memory).

The lived space (absolute space).

 

His thoughts originate from Marxist thinking about the value creation through labor,….

I agree with Lefebvre that “knowledge falls into a trap when it makes representation of space the basis for the study of ‘life’ for is doing so it reduces the lived experience”.  There is a great need to verify and test a priori against a posteriori (empirical evidence research approach. As Kant outlined the nature of a priori as transcendental and enables a better understanding of different forms of all possible experiences. I believe that both need to work with each other. A priori can be understood as a guiding light asking to be contested and verified by the a posteriori approach.

Hypothesis:

Urban Designers should strive to understand all three dimension of spaces if we want to create healthier environments for people. Play can be one of the vehicle to understand the interplay and harness indicators that create a fertile ground for carefully inserted changes in space enabling further playful experiences.

Conclusion:

With that in mind, the study of play supports the notion for this research project to collect data in a posteriori manner and use abductive reasoning, to find the logical inference from observation to the most likely explanation (theory).

Play in the street

 

Week 45: 19th- 23rd December 2016

Reviewed and reflected on the feedback from Assessors report and prepared a draft response as a basis for discussion on the 21 December 2016 with my supervisors.

Discussion Report can be accessed here: Draft Response Assessors Report

Supervisor arrangements

Andrew- will take a step back in 2017 for own research and swapped positions with Milica.

From 1st January 2017 Milica will be primary supervisor until Andrew returns. However, regular meetings with Andrew are scheduled.

Definition of play

Over the weekend I’ve revised the definition and created a figure to support the theoretical write up.

playmodel.jpg

 Supervisor meeting 21st December 2016

Notes:

Link between Lefebvre

explain production of space

how is each element linked to play

Small review of quality of space literature in relation to play and why is play important part of it.

Why can a behaviour approach can be used in the context
Be careful with mixing resolving something and explorational pursuit

Explain the three examples more. –> explain the behavioural study

Explain a bit more the diagram and the definition.

 

 

Is play in us or in the environment?  –> hypothesis

Health and well-being needs to be more clearly linked.

Hypothesis exercise

end up being a traditional PhD.


 

Brainstorming after meeting

research and explain the

Social cognition and interpersonal perception

Situationist –> alternative life experiences through the construction of situations,

Literature:

Lefebvre, H. (1991). Production of space.

“A society is a space and an architecture of concepts, forms and laws whose abstract truth is imposed on the reality of the senses, of bodies, of wishes and desires.” p. 139

“Metaphor and metonymy are not figures of speech – at least not at the outset. They become figures of speech. In principle, they are acts. (…) they bring fourth form  the depths not what is there but what is sayable, what is suceptible of figureartion- in short, language.”  p. 139

“Symbols always imply an emotional investment, an affective charge…and thereafter ‘represented’ for the benefit of everybody elsewhere.” p. 141

He speaks of reading of space.. which is possible. “Space is at once result and cause, product and producer; it is also a stake, the locus of projects and actions deployed as part of specific strategies, and hence also the object of wagers on the future- wagers which are articulated, if never completely.  p. 142-143

“In produced space, acts reproduce ‘meanings’ even if no ‘one’ gives and account of them. Repressive space wreaks repression and terror even though it may be strewn with ostensible signs of the contrary (of contentment, amusement or delight). This tendency has gone so far that some architects have even begun to call either for a return to ambiguity, in the sense of a confused and not immediate interpretable message, or else a diversification of space which would be consistent with a liberal and pluralistic society.” p.144-145.

Robert Venturi –> architect wanted to make space dialectical (1966). He saw the space not as an empty and neutral milieu occupied by dead objects, but rather as a field of force full of tensions and distortions.” p. 145

Lefebvre’s  conclusion “We have seen that the visual space of transparency and readability has a content -a content that it is design to conceal: namely, the phallic realm of (supposed) virility. It is at the same time a repressive space: nothing in it escapes the surveillance of power. Everything opaque, all kinds of partitions, even walls simplified to the point of mere drapery, are destined to disappear.” p, 147

He also suggests based on the notion that we are designing now buildings with steel and glass that “private life ought to be enclosed, and have a finite, or finished, aspect. Public space, by contrast, ought to be an opening outwards. What we see happening is just the opposite.” p.147

Space related to:

Form, structure and function -> structural or functional  analysis p. 147

aegis–> public areas (the spaces of social relationships and actions) are connected up the private areas (spaces for contemplation, isolation and retreat) via ‘mixed’ areas (linking thoroughfares)

shin-gyo-sho embraces three levels bound together by relationships of reciprocal implications: spatial and temporal, mental and social. p. 153

It is not about decoding a system –> rather creating one. Differences between Japanese philosophy and western civilisation. p. 156

Its about bringing the realms into harmony and not through use of sign and its analytical proclivities. p. 156

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 44: 12th- 16th December 2016

In a philosophical conversation with Mo over the weekend – he made me aware of the philosophy of signs. On the basis that this research project is looking into physical traces in the built environment I’ve looked a bit further into it and found the following useful:

Culler, J. (2001). The Pursuit of Signs. Routledge, London and New York.

Foucault, M. (1966). Les Mots et le choses. Paris, Gallimard, p.15

Structuralist and semiotic thinking has been repeatedly labelled ‘antihumanistic’, and Michel Foucault has provided a target for such attacks in maintaining that ‘man is only a recent invention, a figure not yet two centuries old, a simple fold in our knowledge’ which will soon disappear. Michel Foucault, Les Mots et le choses, Paris, Gallimard, 1966, p.15 in P. 36 in Culler J. (2001) The Pursuit of Signs, Routledge, London and New York.

Indeed, we often think of the meaning of an expression as what the subject or speaker ‘has in mind’. But as meaning is explained in terms of systems of signs- systems which the subject does not control- the subject is deprived of his role as a source of meaning. P. 36-37 in Culler J. (2001) The Pursuit of Signs, Routledge, London and New York.

Meanings cannot be imposed unless they are understood, unless the conventions which make possible understanding are already in place. P. 44 in Culler J. (2001) The Pursuit of Signs, Routledge, London and New York.

Jacques Derrida calls the ‘logocentrism’ of Western culture: the rationality which treats meanings as concepts or logical representations that it is the function of signs to express. We speak, for example, of various ways of saying ‘the same thing’ p. 44 in Culler J. (2001) The Pursuit of Signs, Routledge, London and New York.

The pursuit of semiotics leads to an awareness of its limits, to an awareness that signification can never be mastered by a coherent and comprehensive theory, should not be reason for spurning its analytical programs as if there were some more valid or comprehensive perspective on signification. P.47-48. in Culler J. (2001) The Pursuit of Signs, Routledge, London and New York.

The institution of literature involves interpretive practices, techniques for making sense of literary works, which it ought to be possible to describe. Instead of attempting to legislate solutions to interpretive disagreements, one might attempt to analyse the interpretive operations that produce these disagreements- discord which is part of the literary activity of our culture. P. 52 in Culler J. (2001) The Pursuit of Signs, Routledge, London and New York.

–> aegis of semiotics that seeks to identify the conventions and operations by which any signifying practice (literature) produces its observable effect of meaning.

One should seek ways to analyse the work as an objective artefact. P. 53 in Culler J. (2001) The Pursuit of Signs, Routledge, London and New York.

Semiotic program may be better expressed by Karl Popper –> he talks about artifacts

 Why is Lefebvres “Right to the city” today relevant?

  • Back when he wrote about the concept at the end of the 1960’s the western world was dominated by a power imbalance. Government were heavily involved in top-down planning programs, which led to suppression of the option of the masses. Capital through developers rolled out mass housing projects. This neoliberal modernism was critiqued by him.
  • Today the landscape has changed, many government have insufficient funds in order to operate well. The private sector enjoy due to favorable political environments unprecedented power in decision making processes. One may argue we are living in an environment were the capital has gone on steroids- modernism reloaded. Within the city context large scale urban renewal projects being quickly rolled out and meaningful engagement often takes place on a tokenistic level. As a consequence people feel disempowered and overruled. The city vision is not shared resulting in conflicts.
  • I’d like to conclude that Lefebvres concept of “Right to the city” is today even more important than ever before.

 

Refining the play definition and categories

I’ve tried now to verify my classifications of play in relation to the definition by superimposing the findings from the pilot phase.

By doing so I came to the conclusion that not all activities observed are covered by all elements of play in the definition. Although I would classify them as playful as they are in line with Callouis classifications, there must be some level of what must be met and what is an option.

Point of origin

Play is an intrinsic induced activity, that constitutes freedom, based on the acceptance of risk in its temporary transformational nature. It includes attributes such as spontaneity, curiosity, voluntary and creative processes that occur outside of the ordinary. This purposeless activity is necessary to the human identity as an exploratory pursuit of pleasure and comfort outside of social purpose.

New amended version

Play is an voluntary intrinsic induced activity (or with a degree of extrinsic motivation), that constitutes freedom through enjoyment, based on the acceptance of risk in its temporary transformational nature. Associated attributes such as spontaneity, curiosity, creative processes and purposeless can support this activity as it situated outside of the ordinary. This activity is necessary to the human identity as an exploratory pursuit of enjoyment outside of social purpose.

For orientation purpose

Playful interaction (definition in Tieben, R., Sturm, J., Bekker, T., Schouten, B. (2014). Playful persuasion: Designing for ambient playful interactions in public spaces. Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments 6, 341-357, DOI 10.3233/AIS-140265, IOS Press.):
Interacting in a playful way in order to elicit explorative, social and enjoyable behaviour. (from Bekker, M.M., Sturm, J., Eggen, J.H. (2010) Designing playful interactions for social interactions and physical play. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 14(5), 285-296.

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: Intrinsic motivation refers to doing an activity for the inherent satisfaction of the activity itself, while extrinsic motivation refers to the performing of an activity in order to attain some separable outcome. (from Ryan, R.M., Deci, E.L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist. 55, 68-78.)

Theories such as self-determination theory are helpful in gaining a better understanding of the influences of such types.

Theoretical thought:

The more people play the higher the production function of a space!

Human rights and healthy environments paper (Kruger, T.M., Savage C.E., Newsham, P. (2015). Intergenerational Efforts to Develop a Healthy Environment for Everyone: Sustainability as a Human Rights Issue, The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, Vol 80(1), 27-40, DOI: 10.1177/0091415015591108

by using the framework of human rights to advocate for policies and practices that protect older adults and promote high quality of life in that segment of the population, efforts can and should include attention to the natural environment and sustainability effort. p.29-30.

Morgan and David’s work from 2002 has been referenced as a useful overview on human rights documents. Two articles were identified as relevant to promote quality of life for older adults (article 25.1, article 27.1)

‘Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being of himself (sic) and of his (sic) family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or the lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his (sic) control.’ (Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, 1948, article 25.1)

‘Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits’. (UDHR, 1948, article 27.1)

‘Older adults might have skills that younger generation lack (e.g. gardening).’ p. 36

‘Researchers should develop interventions that target multiple generations for sustainable behavior increases; these interventions should also be investigated using the lens of human rights.’ p. 36

 

Week 43: 5th- 9th December 2016

Monday (5th Dec) facilitation a workshop with 22 school children form Giralang in Canberra. Student age ranged from 8- 10 years.

Task: Imagine and create your ideal street.
Time frame: 45 minutes
Groups size: 5-6 pupils
Material: Cardboard, plasteline, markers, glue, coloured paper, scissors, tape, wooden sticks

Some of the outcomes were:
– sofas on streets,- a water and sand play area on every street,
– Rock climbing streets,
– Areas where you can find pets (sharing them across the street)
– Tree houses,
– Cubby houses,
– Star lab,
– Parks and trees,
– Swings,
– Biggest adventure playground in the world,
– area where you are allowed to make a fire,
– miniature race space,
– most Cul-de-sac were converted into water play areas or other recreational spaces,
– road space was narrowed to one lane in pink colour and a parcoure put in
– playing field at the end of the street
– conversion into one way street

–> interestingly no child was drawing cars in the street

Rachel, Tom, Lisa and I will write up an article for a journal paper in Design Principles and Practices Journal: Design in Society https://secure.cgpublisher.com/conferences/382/web/proposals/new_proposal_entry

Tuesday:

completed the review of Donald Appleyards book: street compiling ten years of his research on traffic and neighbourhood streets. Note stickers are in the book.

Wednesday:

Idea: to restructure the PhD topic down to street and not cities. (helps to narrow the focus)

Based on the reading I’ve once more revisited the three questions trying to narrow down the research problem:

  • What is an optimal experience for people in street spaces?
  • What are the environmental triggers that facilitate change?
  • How can this device be used to support optimal urban experiences in public spaces?

After that I’ve revisited the introduction and the provisional title (see link below)

revised-introduction

Martin Heidegger (1972). On Time and Being. Harper &Row. New York.

Definition: dialectic

‘adrift inn contradictory statements… One allows the contradictions to stand, even sharpens them and tries to bring together in comprehensive unity what contradicts itself and thus falls apart. This procedure is called dialectic.’ p.4

‘To think Being itself explicitly requires disregarding Being to the extent that it is only grounded and interpreted in terms of beings and for beings as their ground, as in all metaphysics. To think Being explicitly requires us to relinquish Being as the ground of beings in favor of the giving which prevails concealed in unconcealment, that is, in favor of the It gives. As the gift of this It gives, Being belongs to giving. As a gift, Being is not expelled from giving.’ p. 6

‘We perceive presencing in every simple, sufficiently unprejudiced reflection on things of nature (Vorhandenheit) and artifacts (Zuhandenheit). Thing of nature and artifacts are both modes oppressively when we consider that absence, too, indeed absence most particularly, remains determined by a presencing which at times reaches uncanny proportions.’  p. 7

‘Plato represented Being as idea and as the koinonia of the Ideas, when Aristotle represents it as energeia, Kant as position, Hegel as the absolute concept, Nietzsche as the will to power, these are not doctrines advanced by chance, but rather words of Being as answers to a claim which speaks in the sending concealing itself, in the “there is, It gives, Being”. Always retained in the withdrawing sending, Being is unconcealed for thinking with its epochal abundance of transmutations. p.9

In relation to present and time: ‘we understand the present as the now as distinct from the no-longer-now of the past and the not-yet- now of the future. But the present speaks at the same time of presence. However, we are not accustomed to defining the peculiar character of time with regard to the present in the sense of presence. Rather, we represent time- the unity of present, past and future- in terms of the now.” p. 11

Kant says: time thus represented: ‘It has only one dimension’ in Critique of Pure Reason, A31, B47).

Time-space: ‘the name for the openness which opens up in the mutual self-extending of futural approach, past and present. This openness exclusively and primarily provides the space in which space as we usually know it can unfold. The self-extending, the opening up, of future, past and present is itself pre-spatial; only thus can it make room, that is, provide space. ‘ p.14
Time-space as commonly understood, in the sense of the distance measured between tow time- points, is the result of time calculation. In this calculation, time represented as a line and parameter and thus one-dimensional is measured out in terms of numbers. The dimensionality of time, thought as the succession of the sequence of nows, is borrowed from the representation of three- dimensional space.’ p. 14

True time is four-dimensional. past, present, future and nature of matter. –> holds them toward one another in the nearness by which the three dimensions remain near one another. (nearing nearness, nearhood –> Nahheit) used by Kant. Brings future, past and present near to one another by distancing them. p.15

‘Time is not the product of man, man is not the product of time. There is no production here. There is only giving in the sense of extending which opens up time-space.’ p.16

‘What determines both, time and Being, in their own, that is, int heir belonging together, we shall call: Ereignis, the event of Appropriation.’ It is not simply an occurrence, but which makes any occurrences possible. p.19

His conclusion: “The task or our thinking has been to trace Being to it own form Appropriation- by way of looking through true time without regard to the relation of Being to beings. To think Being without beings means: to think Being without regard to metaphysics. Yet a regard for metaphysics still prevails even in the intention to overcome metaphysics to itself. If overcoming remains necessary, it concerns that thinking that explicitly enters Appropriation in order to say It in terms of It about It. Our task is unceasingly to overcome the obstacles that tend to render such saying inadequate.’ p. 24

After finishing the Heidegger book I’ve revisited and amended once more the three research questions:

What urban street environment is optimal for playful experiences?
What are the environmental triggers that facilitate change?
How can play as a heuristic device be used to allow for optimal urban experiences in streets?

Street literature

Key aspects from

Appleyard, D., Gerson, S., Lintell, M. (1981). Liveable Streets. University of California Press Berkley. Los Angeles, London.

First line in the book in relation to the lived experience in ancient streets in Rome:

 

The incessant night traffic and the hum of noise condemned the Roman to everlasting insomnia. “What sleep is possible in a lodging?” he asks. The crossing of wagons in the narrow, winding streets, the swearing of drivers brought to a standstill, would snatch sleep from a sea-calf or the emperor Claudius himself.

 

Carcopino, Daily Life in Ancient Rome p.1

Nearly everyone in the world lives on a street. People have always lived on streets. They have been the places where children first learned about the world, where neighbors met, the social centers of towns and cities, the rallying points for revolts, the scenes of repression. But they have also been the channels for transportation and access; noisy with the clatter of horses’ hooves and the shouts of their drivers, putrid with dung, garbage, and mud, the place where strangers intruded and criminals lurked. p.1

In the nineteenth century the streets of European and American cities were no better than those of ancient Rome, although outside observers saw dirt and overcrowding as the main problems. p.1

–> today’s problem streets have predominately movement function, air pollution (fine dust and smog), noise pollution, and marginalisation of all other street function that lead to impacts on health and well-being in particular higher levels of physical inactivity, overweight and obesity, leading to diabetes two as well as depression

Garden City movement sought to make streets safe though cul-de-sacs, residential squares and neighbourhood units, with safe pedestrian pathways to the school. Modern architects “freed” their buildings from the street by placing them at right angles to develop quite green spaces.

–> increased car ownership (still continuing) more traffic as predicted; parking lots and more roads replace safe green open spaces. P.3

1961 Jane Jacobs glorified the intricacy and diversity of the old city and called for a return to the street. ”She argued that the lively urban street, was the safest place in the city.” Criminals could be identified on it, while in the parks and anonymous grounds of modern housing projects no one took it upon themselves to look out for others.” P. 3

Colin Buchannan in England published an influential report Traffic in Towns, à the report suggested to introduce the concept of zoning the city into “environmental areas”, where the environment would be the dominant concern. P.3

Herbert Ganz focused on the social homogeneity in neighborly relations. (1968). He also accused Jacobs of falling for “environmental determinism” by arguing that the design of housing and streets could in itself bring diversity to urban street life. P.4

Environmental concern really just begun to emerge in the 1980 in the US and looking into the overall satisfaction in residential areas.

Studies in 1975 emerged that found noise in the street due to heavy traffic. The most poignant issue was the large number of children injured or killed by traffic. p.5

The 12th international study week in traffic engineering and safety in 1974 reported that 84% of children under 10 years of age were injured within 800 m of home, and 70% of all accidents in the Netherlands involved children under 6 occured in streets carrying less than 3000 cars a day. p.8

OECD conference April 1975 “Better towns with less traffic” the street has personal and social meaning for adults and old people, too. We need not romanticize street life to be willing to protect it. p.9

First there must be a community willing to address the traffic issue. p. 10

four steps:

  1. thorough understanding of activities and mindset of the residential area (e.g. problems with groups and change);
  2. variety of strategies can create more livable streets and protected neighbourhoods to alleviate conditions where traffic in necessary.
  3. Effective participation programs that inform and encourage those affected by traffic changes to become involved in the planning process. –> I would suggest changes to meaningful engagement
  4. Reliable and relevant methods of assessing the costs and benefits of changes to different population and stakeholder groups. p.11

 

environmental analysis of the City Planning Department of San Francisco on the Urban Design Plan in 1969. p.15

  • vegetation
  • quality of view
  • maintenance
  • facade variety
  • distinctiveness form other street blocks
  • distance of each block from open space

Finding: streets with heavy traffic have no children on its block outside. p.16

Traffic noise index (Griffith and Langdon 1968)

Ask about important feature of the public (street) space to the person. p.24

 

Task:

to explore what is it like to live on as street where people can play? Several ways in which more streets can be safer and healthier for people?

 

 

 

 

Week 41: 21st- 25th November 2016

After the comments of the assessor’s at the confirmation seminar last week, I took the opportunity to reflect and go through my own comments. Unpacking the session with my supervisors was helpful in order to contexcualise aspects. Valuable were the following:

  • keep narrowing down;
  • revisit research question and my aim as tools to narrow the scope further;
  • stick to my methodology and methods.
  • as it is not about existentialism or discourse analysis rather an observation of a phenomena providing insights into the dynamics and tension of the triad of spaces in light of the the affordance theory form Gibson and Flow. The tension can be made visible through the heuristic device of play explaining transformational change in time space of public urban spaces (streets environments)
  • This research is not traditional phenomenology (Merleau- Ponty) – environmental psychology based on Gibson and Kaplan
  • unpack further the meaning of play in the context of my research
  • justify further why the street (go back to Appleyard)
  • read again Lefebvre in order to explain the context of time when he wrote this and compare to the contemporary environments
  • the concept of “Right to the city” was seen from Andrew as an opportunity to dive further into as a basis to root this tension of space through play.

send email off the HDR waiting for feedback on the confirmation seminar that I can proceed.

Notes from literature work (23 Nov):

Henri Lefebvre “critique of Everyday Life” 1947 (translated 1991)

Since Marx and through the notion of making alienation a key concept in analysing the human situation Lefebvre was the first philosopher who connected philosophy to action. P. x

“Man must be everyday, or he will not be at all” p. xix

Own observation/ reflection

The tension in urban public spaces between the production of space and the regulation accompanied by the consumption of spaces is evident and even more prominent in the contemporary context of humans and the urban condition.

City governments around the world aim for the creation of equitable and just places, as it is supported by the New Urban Agenda. However, the current condition shows inconsistencies and tensions. Urban designers and architects aim to deliver under the promise of vibrancy and vitality quality urban spaces for all. Contemporary urban renewal processes focus strongly on objects in combination with land value capture propositions and increase liveability. Urban vibrancy is increasingly delivered under the paradigm of consumption and productivity. This not just reflects the neoliberal zeitgeist, but also raises questions around alienation and correlation to mental health issues in urban systems. These tensions can be made visual through play as a heuristic device.

Alienation leads to impoverishment, to the ‘despoliation’ of everyday life. However, Lefebvres everyday life is not reduced to inauthenticity of Alltäglichkeit, as in Heidegger or Lukács. P. xxiv

Modernity which has despoiled the everyday life of former times, which never appeared save in its metamorphoses, as in festival, which embodied a genuine ‘auto-critique’ of the everyday; it is modernity which has caused everyday life to degenerate into ‘the everyday’ p. xxvi

Modernity is the movement towards the new, the deployment of technology and rationality (which Lefebvre calls ‘modernism’), but it is also the absence of any real transformation of social relations, and leads from the human towards the inhuman, towards barbarity. P. xxvii

–> play behaviour mobile phone in public space –> transformation of the mind?? Less ‘real’ social interaction –> interactions of the minds –> disconnected from the ‘real’ –> but there is Pokemon Go??

Habermas distinction between System and Lebenswelt informed the work and impacted the debate in the second half of the 20th century in Europe.

Naïve, physically adept but spiritually innocent – Charlie Chaplin

Visually comic moments when Chaplin when he cannot adept create laughter and assure that humor never becomes awkward or embarrassing. Like pleasure, like harmony in music, laughter is stimulated by a series of resolved tensions, in which moments of relaxation are followed by even higher tension. P.10

Strangeness –> alienation

Through deviation through disorientation and strangeness, Chaplin reconciles us on a higher level, with ourselves, with things and with the humanized world of things. P.11

Restricting access to these pressures urban spaces.

“there are plenty of reasons for thinking that descriptions and cross-sections of this kind, through they may well supply  inventories of what exist in space, or even generate a discourse on space, cannot ever give rise to  a knowledge of space. And, without such a knowledge, we are bound to transfer onto the level of mental space – a large portion of the attributes and ‘properties’ of what is actually social space.” p.7

the physical experience in cities occupied by sensory phenomena, including products of the imagination such as projects and projections, symbols and utopias. p.11

space of social practice

focus on dialectic rather codes –> highlighting contents inherent to the forms under consideration. p. 18

25 Nov.

After reading several papers on Lefebvre and the context of his work it became clearer why his work is relevant in the contemporary urban academic debates.

The social space development within the triad of spaces can reflect the state of development of societies. Therefore it serves not just as an instrument for space observation (play) but may explain certain transformation of social conditions in cities. –> concepts that are non instrumental, spatial separated and public.

Conflicts can be made visual through the heuristic device of play. Stevens rightly pointed our that there is to date very little empirical evidence and understanding in the “non-functional” use and design of public space. He references Lennard and Lennard (1984), Dargan and Zeitlin (1990) as well as Borden (2001). Also he indicated that Gehl and Whytes work are mostly space- centred investigating general categories of everyday behaviour.

Stevens draw on observations of a range of cities over a long period. Critique point from him is that urban design foundation is amenity, but this can draw some people away. another issue is that we thrive to figure out how  spatial characteristics  shape people’s experiences and behaviours. Amentity again is being seen as the solution to a desired outcome that share the physical environment. However people understanding, their actions is well understood and fixed.

–> play and the city –> discover of the potential of urban streets.

–> development of an tool or a play ‘lense’ that can be used to make this tension visible and help to find solutions for urban design interventions.

Revised research question:

  • What are the aspects of play that reveal and facilitate change in the urban social spaces?
  • What are the  health co-benefits of play?
  • How can this device be used to inform optimal urban experiences?

Finding a way how to look beyond some of the limits of urban design thinking and practice.