Week 12 2017

After several disruptive weeks – pushing child friendly cities and play in media and at events I am back on the PhD research.

The feedback form the Assessor was to use Stevens work as a basis rather than Lefebvre. This led to an revised PhD proposal and contemplation about new research questions.

Project Proposal can be accessed here: PhD Proposal 23 March2017

Maciocco, G. & Tagliagambe, S. (2009). People and Space, New Forms of Interaction in the City Project. Urban and Landscape Perspectives 5; Springer. doi 10.1007/978-1-4020-9879-6_1

The City Project: intermediate Space and Symbol (p.164)

“The loss of the differential quality the city has suffered in its drift towards the “generic city”, a phenomenon of reduction of diversity, standardisation of life and the space produced by shopping, which has become “a primary way of urban life”, “the apotheosis of modernisation” (Chung 2001), the foolish outlet of the doctrine of form (of the city) that follows the (consumer) function in the same way throughout the world, the “unexpected revenge of functionalism” (Chung, 2001).

Chung C. J., Inaba J., Koolhaas R., Tsung Leong S. (2001) Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping, Taschen, Cologne.

Linked to the “generic city” is the process of “thematisation” of the city, the transformation of the city as a theme-park, an experience of places that is also the model of the place of pleasure (Jacobs 1998), a model that requires a glance turning everything into a show, that tends to blend in with its surroundings (Caillois, 1984) and that produces an absence of reference point, like the space of a labyrinth, spectacular and supervised, making the contemporary city uniform (Bataille 1970). But it is a desired labyrinth, that represents a complete mosaic of different types of landscape that make up, indeed, the “dark object of desire” of society (Vos and Meekes 1999).

Bataille G. (1970). Le labyrinthe. In: Bataille G. (ed) Oeuvres complètes, Gallimard, Paris. Caillois R. (1984). Mimicry and legendary. Psychastenia, October n 31.
Vos W., Meekes H. (1999) Trends in European cultural landscape development: perspectives for a sustainable future. Landscape and Urban Planning 46 (1-3).

The representations, images, our society creates for itself of landscapes as “desired products” express detachment from reality. In this detachment between reality and representation lies the contemporary incapacity to “represent” the city , to “see it”. What is projected in images aberrant to the point of losing their reference point is nothing more, probably, than the loss of the reference point as such, a loss affecting language, the same loss that affects the inhabitant when he tries to imagine the city (Soutif, 1994). If we do not go to meet the real, in the lived in space, unsettling pairs of opposites like real city/simulacrum city and citizen/non- citizen (de Azua 2003) will become established, where the figure of the “non-citizen” will correspond to the loss of the urban collective conscience and, with it, the loss of the city as a conceptual unit.

Soutif D. (1994) Topes et Tropes Le plan de Ville et la Référence. In: Dethier J., Guiheux A. (eds) La ville Art et architecture en Europe 1870- 1993, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

de Azua F. (2003) La necessidad y el deseo. Sileno nn. 14-15, pp. 13-21

“The space of the mind that gradually develops as the subject understands, in his acting and often after he has acted, the sense of this actions and those of others and that, in this sense, opens up to the world of relations that feeds the collective conscience.” (p.165)

–> Is the post capitalist city a place where symbols are exchanged? “The expressive strength of the symbol is essential for collective gaining of awareness of the elements that preside over our spatial life. ” (p.165)

The symbol represents,  always, “something else”, it refers to something different and never uncodifiable. (p.166)

“A symbol can be understood as a “bridge cast” between the universe of visible phenomena and the invisible, between reality and possible worlds.” (p. 167) –> play is a possibility and create opportunities for reaching out to a different world!

“The active, collective glance at the city makes us feel we belong to a whole, it reveals to us the contemporary public space.” p.13

Brodsky J. (1995) On Grief and Reason: Essays, Farrar straus Giroux, New York.

“The more substantial an individual’s aesthetic experience is, the sounder his taste, the sharper his moral focus, the freer- though not necessarily the happier- he is (Brodsky 1995, pp. 49-50).


Week 26: 8th-12th August 2016

Kingwell, Mark (2008) The prison of “Public Space”

public space can attach or defend architecture

public space can decry or celebrate civic squares

public space can promote or denounce graffiti artists, skateboarders, jaywalkers, parkour aficionados, pie-in-the face guerrillas, underground enthusiasts, flash mobs surveillance buster  and other grid resistant everyday anachists.

Unit of choice when it comes to predicting political futures, contemplating about citizenship, creativity and worrying about food security, water or environmental issues.

Text from an open letter to the mayor from the Public Space Committee in relation to surveillance cameras (p. 212)

“The proposed police cameras will be surveying public spaces throughout the city. We feel that it is reasonable to assume that law-abiding citizens should be free to walk the streets and enjoy the public spaces without being monitored by the police. The very act of continuous monitoring reduces the freedoms we all value within our public spaces. It puts into jeopardy our rights to privacy, and anonymity, on the streets of our city.”

Two questions were raised in the essay: Is public space actually a public good? And if so, what kind?

A public good is something when it comes to access which should  not be gated, so that the benefits are open to the anybody without compromising the opportunity to make use of them.

Kingwell highlights several forms of public goods:

“tangible” things (grazing land, fish in the sea, air we breath)
“intangible” things (education, cultural identity, political participation)

He describes them as unlimited by definition and consequently they become scarce as a result of use.

“Since happiness is not itself subject to political regulation, at least in liberal states, and because the public good of status lies beyond their ambit, governments tend to manipulate the competition instead, using regulation, taxation or reparation to express a common interest in the distribution of public goods.

Kingswell has difficulties finding a precise answer, but sees a way forward as public space can be something larger and looser. The right to  gather and discuss, to interact with and debate one’s fellow citizens. “Indeed the larger notion of public space brings it closer to the very idea of the public sphere, that the place where, in the minds of philosophers at least, citizens hammer out the common interest that underlie- and may be underwrite- their private differences and desires. (…) Public space enables a political conversation that favours the unforced force of the better argument, the basis of just social order.”p.214

Problem with vitural Public spaces such as facebook: “they are invariably defended by users as in the breach, private. Narcissistic, competitive and isolating, these systems leach interest and energy away from the real world even as, user by user, they work social interaction free of actual spaces.” p. 214

He called them un-public public space. The virutal space is owned by dominant rules of the game –> terms and conditions that are hinged to the norm of private interest- and destroy privacy at the same time.

His conclusion: “We imagine that we enter public space with our identities intact, jealous of interest and suspicious of challenge, looking for stimulus and response. But infact the reverse it true. We cannot enter the public because we have never left the public; it pervades everything, and our identities are never fixed or prefigured because they are themselves achievements of the public dimension in human life.” p.215

Urban experiences

de Certeau, Michel (1984) Spatial Practices, Walking in the city

With reference to  NYC “The ordinary practitioners of the city live “down below,” below the thresholds at which visibility begins. They walk- an elementary form of this experience of the city; they are walkers, Wandersmänner, whose bodies follow the thicks and thins of an urban “text” they write without being able to read it. These practitioners make use of spaces that cannot be seen; their knowledge of them is as blind as that of lovers in each other’s arms. The paths that correspond in this intertwining, unrecognized poems in which each body is an element signed by many others, elude legibility. It is as through the practice organizing a bustling city were characterized by their blindness. The networks of these moving, intersecting writings compose a manifold story that has neither author nor spectator, shaped out of fragments of trajectories and alterations of spaces: in relation to representations, it remains daily and indefinitely others.” p. 233

De Certeau understand the operational concept in relation to urban space as follows:

“The production of its own space (un escape propre): rational organization mus thus repress all the physical, mental and political pollution that would compromise it” p. 234

Interesting take on the definition of city: The city “provides a way of conceiving and constructing spaces on the basis of a finite number of stable, isolatable, and interconnected properties.” p.234

Walking is considered by him in relation to urban systems as “the speech act is to language or the statement uttered.” further he notes “Walking affirms, suspects, tries out, transgresses, respects, etc., the trajectories it “speaks.”

There is an element of unlimited diversity and therefore it cannot be reduced to their graphic trail. He suggests further that walking crates shadows and ambiguities within.

Also he makes a reference in the child context and links it to loci. “Every walk constantly leaps, or skips like a child, hopping on one foot. It practices the ellipsis of conjunctive loci.” p. 235

 Back to: The Urban condition by Gleeson

cities are places of co-evolution

in the modern and neo-liberal urbanism context one can conceive cities as restless social-ecological systems. p. 141

issues with modern urban growth: entropic scaling,  unrestricted spatiality (aspatiality) of global accumulation, high in energy consumption, high- speed economic metropolitain economies (mobility over access), hypercentrality, high density. p.141

his solution is: “if we approach cities as complex social-ecological systems we must embrace change and evolution. There is no single optimal state towards which we may strive.” p.141

its about co-existance as one of many species in a holistic eco-system.







Week 20: 27th June – 1 July 2016

More thoughts

In reference to Lefebrve’s Production of Space:

“If reality is taken in the sense of materiality, social reality no longer has reality, nor is the reality.” p. 81

Thought: It may explain the increased level of depression and anxiety in western cultures.

Dwelling is as much a work as it is considered a product. However it remains a part of nature. It is an object intermediate between work and product, between nature and labour,between the realm of symbols and the realm of signs. p.83

The city may be understood as a work instead of a product. Example Venice, Italy.

If work is defined as a unique, original and primordial, as occupying a space yet associated with a particular time, a time of maturity between rise and decline –> under these circumstances Venice can be understood as a work.p. 73

What if one replaces the term/ word “work” with “play”. This would translate in relation to work in the context of unique act of creation rather production.

If play is defined as a unique, original and primordial, as occupying a space yet associated with a particular time, a time of maturity between rise and decline. –> spaces in cities can be understood as play spaces.

Case study rational

Based on Yin and after many ours of reflection I am testing  a single case study approach (phenomena play) and apply this on several units (precincts in cities). This will allow me to test certain methods and based on success rate to deploy them in an improved manner on other units.

However, while thinking about the approach further there is a part of me who still favours the multiple case study approach. Yin refers to the circumstances that 6-8 case studies are sufficient to prove a phenomenological point, but my project will investigate maximum 4 cases.

Multiple case approach:

  • Each on is a whole study in itself (lends itself to the book -> constructing a narrative behind the context)
  • Weakness might be that this distracts too much from the phenomena
  • It may be impossible to replicate environmental condition for play as their are time temporal and unique pending on outdoor condition.
  • analytical conclusions easier
  • if you do not seek direct replication it is good because of contrasting situation

general critique on single case studies:

  • fear about the uniqueness –> criticism turn into skepticism about the ability to undertake empirical work
  • requires careful investigation of the potential case to minimise the chances of misrepresentation and to maximise the access needed to collect the case study evidence.

critical test of a significant theory.

  • Revelatory case: investigator has an opportunity to observe and analyse a phenomenon previously inaccessible to the social science, Whytes “Street Corner Society” is an example.
  • Representative or typical case: capturing of circumstances or conditions of an everyday lay concept. Informative about experiences.

holistic case study problem: nature of the entire case study may shift, during the course of study. –> would need to make sure that the research questions still apply.


If I would do a single case study, then a embedded unit of analysis would be better. I would have to make sure that the single case- design (play) is eminently justifiable under certain conditions:

does it represents a testing of a theory? Unlikely.

is it a rare or unique circumstance? or representative or typical case? or where the case serves a revelatory case? In my case revelatory case.

Definition of the unit of analysis particular important: in my case precincts in cities (urban morphologies I am looking at). In can also include subunits.

  • Single revelatory case (play)
  • units (city/urban precinct)
  • subunits (urban tissues: public space, open space, park, street, edge)

Yin suggests that often too much attention goes into the subunits and the larger, holistic aspects of the case being ignored.

Multiple case studies: 2 or 3 cases can be undertaken on the basis of replication, but how clear can I define the parameters for replication (every city, every urban environment is unique)

The theoretical framework is particular important as it needs to state the condition under which a particular phenomenon (play) is likely to be found. –>  multiple case study might be better for comparison. Deployment of the same logic in every case.

Pilot case study -> worthwhile  in order to refine data collection plan with respect to content and procedure.

Selection criteria: convenience, access, geographical proximity

single case study embedded approach (revelatory)



multiple case study embedded  approach


Unit of analysis:

  • Definition very important. Unit would be a certain city and the subunits (open space, public space, parks, streets, edges)
  • The unit of analysis can be compared.

I will need to determine the scope of data collection (see methodology), how I distinguish data about the case (play) from external data (context–> cities, health and well-being in general).

Spatial, temporal and other concrete boundaries need to be defined as key to defining my case (play).

Revisiting the research question

Validation after amendments to case study approach and in order to be clearer, narrower  and less vague.

Led research question

Original: Why does play in cities matter?


  • Why do people play in cities?
  • Why should cities be designed for play?
  • Why do people prefer certain environments for play in the cities?

Answering research questions (White, 2009, p.114 ff.)

data –> warrant –> conclusion (Gorard, 2002)

The conclusion needs to be linked to the evidence via the warrant. The warrant is a logical argument demonstrating why the conclusions follow from my evidence.

Claims need to be stated clear and precise.

Prepare to defend claims against alternative interpretation.

Warrant can be a principle

E.g. if a greater number of play incidents are observed at a particular point in time compared to another point in time, this may constitutes a rise or frequency in playful behaviour.

play at time A: 6

play at time B: 15

Warrant principle

claim: play activity increased


Case study definitions & Selection criteria


The case will be the phenomena of play, in the context of human playful behaviour.  The definition of play:

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.


Precincts in mid- size cities (see results week 19 blog).


Public place:


Open space:

Open space refers to land that has been consciously or unconsciously reserved for the purpose of either formal or informal activity such as sport and recreation, preservation of natural environments, provision of green space and/or urban storm water management.



Why these four categories?

Week 11: 26th-29th April 2016

Research Method session with Tim


troveharvester 0.1.4

work on newspaper article

Data management

Library guide

www.ands.org.au –> Preservation of research data across Australia

Portal to research data www.researchdata.ands.org.au –> often no access to meta data

http://www.data.gov.au –> government datasets with metadata available

for the ACT: www.data.act.gov.au


For making my data available:

use Figshare www.figshare.com


Web archiving

Pandora (selective archive in order to get around copy right)

e-deposit (send a copy to an archiving system e.g. the library)

Webarchiving will become an important tool to policy and political analysis

Australian Policy online –> to make grey literature available: www.apo.org.au

waybackmachine: archives all webcontent worldwide http://archive.org/web/
useful option to save data whenever I want it!

Biodiversity, films, images all of that is recorded in the waybackmachine

Webrecorder –> records the links using my browser to find data www.webrecorder.io

Presentation to peers as part of the creative research course

presentation access here

Outcomes uni presentation

Wednesday research & meetings day

Book: Sykes, H. (2013). Space, Place & Culture, Sydney, ISBN 9780987480705

Creative Cities by David Yencken pp.90- 110

“Curiosity about life in all its aspects, I think, is still the secret of all creative people.” Leo Burnett

“Human behaviour flows from three main sources: desire, emotion and knowledge.” Plato

  • ‘A City is not a tree’ by Christopher Alexander confirmed the complexity of interactions that occur in cities. He draws on the notion of humans inability to grasp or even retain complex forms and to reduce them to a manageable form. –> formal confirmation that cities are wicket systems.
  • Yencken draws on the notion that ecological variety and complexity give health to natural systems and variety and complexity give health to social and cultural systems.
  • All those people in these urban systems have different needs. The only way to envisage all these needs is through individual identities.
  • Yencken notes further, if we want creative cities we should recognise and encourage variety and complexity. The understanding of complexity is holistic thinking.
  • Western thinking might not be the way to answer holistic thinking, based on the philosophical origins. So how can we explain something that is constantly changing in Aristotelian thinking, it is or it is not.
  • He points out,that the preservation of social networks is more important than physical improvements to housing in less accessible locations.
  • a city can be perceived as a series of experimental relationships- events, activities, spaces and structures that generate emotions.
  • human stress of adaptation to a new environment can be greatly reduced when involving them.
  • creative cities have places for healing and contemplation –> magic places.
  • smart cities should smarty foster social interactions
  • cities consume 60-80 percent of energy and emit about 75 percent of Co2 emissions.
  • Kelly social cities report argues that personal relationships are fundamental source of happiness and well-being –> social connection is crucial to well-being.
  • Main concern is the experience of the city!


Supervisor Meeting

Task: Work on play definition and towards a joined paper.

Think about play under the paradigm what could be…

Book: Stevens, Q. (2007) The Ludic City. Exploring the potential of public spaces, New York

The Ludic City argues, that one of the fundamental functions of public space is as an environment where informal, non instrumental social interactions e.g. play can happen.

Concept of ‘play’ as a distinct character of urban experience. –> I’d like to argue that is is a quality experience.

Stevens argues that play is a largely neglected aspect of people’s experience of urban society as it embraces spontaneous, irrational or risky activities.

He points out that the forms of play reveal people’s creativity, curiosity and imagination when using public space.

Exploration of ‘play’

‘Play’ is a pure waste: waste of time, energy, ingenuity, skill, and often of money. (Caillois, 1961, p.5) It takes advantage of the surplus which exists in the natural world, made possible by human work. However I’d like to argue that there is an underlying interdependency. The human needs to work as well as play to bring back a balance to everyday life.  The act of creation (play) the new, is born out of the chaotic uncontrolled and unproductive acts in life. The act of productivity (work) is required to enable an environment where play can happen. Bataille (1985) support this argument by highlighting that society is defined by how it chooses to use or ‘waste’ its surplus and not by its mode of production. ‘Waste’ is an exit strategy out of cycles of acquisition, productivity and conversation. This reinforces the importance of play ‘not as a waste of time, but time filled with profound and rich experiences (Clark and Holquist 1984, p. 303 cited in Stevens, 2007, p.32)

social relations are rarely exploitative.

Play separates time and space. This allows people to forget their everyday roles, conventions, demands and restrictions.

Good spaces in a sense are inherently used inefficiently –> space is ‘wasted’.

Leisure can be passive –> but play is active

Play is a product of process of everyday life as well as a producer of processes. p.23

Play is temporary

Play is freedom (Huizinga (1970)

Play is intrinsic

Play transforms everyday experiences within everyday places.

Play is repetitive –> it is grounded in imitations of social practice and the material world. Play is archaic, magical mode of relating to things and to practices- in a child context  (Gilloch 1996:86 cited in Stevens, p.24)

Play can be disruptive – can be understood as an opportunity to reveal mythic from within.

Play sits outside of ‘everyday’, ‘mundane’ and ‘habitual’. –> it generates a quality experience within everyday activities, but breaks with ‘habitual’ although can be consumed by habitus however still rejects ‘mundane’.

city spaces for play

Reasoning why cities are the perfect place to study play, in accordance to Stevens (2007):

“The density and diversity of the city provide a stimulus and a milieu for this exploration. The publicness of space and people’s anonymity to one another encourage the development of roles and masks and encourages the expression of self. The surplus wealth which is a product of the city’s diversity makes possible non-instrumental interactions, and the complexity of urban social space also stimulates such interactions. The disorder of symbolism in the city reawakens memories, demythifies them, and arouses the imagination. All these conditions can potentially override social order and control. The experience of urban space is  characterized by multiplicity, ambiguity and contradiction, the unpredictable and the unfamiliar.”  p.25

Forms of play can occur in places that are physical or socially ‘forbidden, isolated, hedged, hallowed, within which special rules apply’ (Huizinga, 1970, pp. 28-29).

Play is traditionally understood as something opposite, compared to long- term purposes, work in accordance to Goodale and Godbey (1988). They also argue that play includes the freedom to attempt something and allow it to fail. Experiencing risk adds strength and depth of people’s experience in the world.

For Stevens, play is a principle contradiction to people’s assumptions about the everyday functionality of the urban built environment.

Deployment of the term ‘play’ is widely applied. It is always a rhetorical construct in order to describe a range of behaviours based on value and objectives (Sutton-Smith, 1997 cited in Stevens, 2007, p.26)

In general its a counterpoint to behaviour that is categorise ‘normal’ – everyday, conventional, expected, calculated, practical, constant. Interpretation depends on professional interest.

Focus on four interrelated ways which playful behaviour can be experienced as an escape from other aspects of everyday life in the contemporary city (Stevens, 2007, p. 27):

  • play involves actions which are non-instrumental,
  • there are boundary conditions and rules which separate play from the everyday,
  • play involves specific types of activities through which people test and expand limits (competition, chance, simulation and vertigo),
  • play in the city very often involves encounters with strangers.

Stevens acknowledges that play in a child context occupies a more narrow range of behaviour than the play of adults. He argues that play is just one component of the complex social existence of working adults and rarely analysed.

Mouledoux (1977) made the remark that ‘the full variety of play forms only appears with the achievement of a certain maturity’ (pp.52-52).

Adults play less often than children, but their freedom, abilities and knowledge make the dialectic qualities of play so apparent. Stevens highlights that “adult play provides far better illustration of the transformation of everyday life and of lived space into new experiences and new forms. It is the play of adults which can lead to a reconsideration of the ways in which urban space might stimulate and facilitate unexpected and impractical behaviour, and how space can be utilized for escape form serious meanings and uses and to critique the normal social order. ” (Stevens, 2007, p.27)

Children’s skills and ambition are limited and play is the primary function to pursue. It is often supervised. He raises another limitation of children’s behaviour, based on the notion that children’s play evolves around freedom, creativity and diversity of human agency rather then open it up. Huizinga (1970) points out that this does not explain why and how adults play.

Gilloch (1996) points out that adult play in urban spaces can enable a re-enchantment of their world. They take ‘advantage of conditions under which toil may be transformed into play, fetishism into curiosity, tyranny into reciprocity, and drudgery into spontaneity’ (Gilloch 1996 cited in Stevens 2007, p.28).

There is a distinction between leisure and play, as play offers potential of urban experiences for promoting and framing active, creative, and above all public behaviour. Play does not depend on leisure –> undermining of social aspects because leisure can foster segregation.

For Lefebvre (1991,The production of space, Oxford: Blackwell) describes play as an encounter with difference, encounters which contest the fragmentation and alienation of contemporary social experience.

Because play happens as part of everyday life, but is in itself an escape of reality it is far richer and valuable than rationalism and morality.

Play has a dark side as it can ignore even ethical boundaries. Nietzsche argued that the whole world is ‘eternally self creating, the eternally self destroying –> beyond good and evil. –> I’d like to argue play is a form of acknowledgement and the inherent prevalence of difference.

Play is the rehearsal of eternity (Bauman 1993, p.171). Nothing builds up, each new play is a new beginning.

In play and its culture is interlinked between adult and child world – both are not detached from other phenomena. (Kalliala, 2006)

Huizinga (1947) describes the homo ludens (playing man) and considers this as the essential nature of people better than homo sapiens.

Play is one of the main categories of human activity and an important element of culture. In accordance to Caillois (1961), Huizinga focuses too much on the higher forms of play (e.g. fighting for something and playing roles). However he ignored the ‘useless’ and chaotic elements of play. –> Caillois looks into both the higher as well as the chaotic elements of play.(Kalliala, 2006, p.17)

Also Caillois found it hard to define play and characterised it as followed:

  • voluntary
  • detached from ordinary life
  • unpredictable
  • unproductive
  • imaginative
  • in accordance with the rule

Both Huizinga and Caillois value the freedom play can provide and how people engage on a voluntary basis. It provides pleasure and allows a fascination of place because it is spontaneous and unconsciouse. The absorption in play can be described by the ‘flow’ theory from Csikszentmihalyi (1975). Flow as a way of spontaneous joy, delight and inseparability of self, action and the environment (Kalliala, 2006, p.18).

Detachment from ordinary life: play happens outside of the ordinary, however it often derived from the everyday life.

Bateson (1955) highlights that communication in play can either happen through text (description of play) and context (framework of play). Although I would argue that not just text but language is the transmitter of description.

In line with Caillois observations play is unpredictable and unproductive. The imaginative element highlighted by  Jean Piaget (1972) is an indication of thinking. For Vygotsky (1976) play is an indication for cognitive development, which is a indispensable precondition for intellectual development.

Caillois classification (typology) of play

  • competition (agon) – winning
  • chance and destiny (alea) – best luck
  • imitation (mimicry) – shared illusion (social and first step to release meaning from the ‘here and now’ perception –> helps to develop consciousness)
  • dizziness (ilinx) – falling, swining, sliding etc. –> vertigo

However Caillois admits that it is not possible to cover all fields of play with only four concepts (Kalliala,2006, pp. 20-21). Combinations of all four are possible.


Preliminary conclusion

It is important to acknowledge that it is difficult to define play. This conclusion should be understood as an attempt to explore and characterise the term ‘play’ in the broader theoretical context.

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.



Vygotsky,L. (1976) Play and its role in the mental development of the child. In Bruner, J., Jolly, A. and Sylva, K. (eds) Play: Its Role in the Development and Evolution. New York: Basic Books, 537-54.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1975) Beyond Boredom and Anxiety: The Experience of Play in Work and Games. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Caillois, R. (1961) Man. Play, and Games. New York: The Free Press.

Bateson, G. (1955, 1976) A theory of play and fantasy. In: Bruner, J., Jolly, A. and Sylva, K. (eds) Play: Its Role in the Development and Evolution. New York: Basic Books

Lefebvre (1991),The production of space, oxford: Blackwell

Mouledoux, E. (1977) Theoretical Considerations and a Method for the Study of Play, in D. Lancy and B.A. Tindall (eds)The Study of Play: Problems and Prospects, West Point, NY: Leisure Press.

Huizinga, J.(1970) Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture, London: Temple Smith.

Bauman, Z. (1993) Postmodern Ethics, Oxford: Blackwell

Sutton-Smith, B. (1997) The Ambiguity of Play, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Goodale, T. and Godbey, G. (1988) The Evolution of Leisure: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives, State College, PA: Venture.

Gilloch, G. (1996) Myth and Metropolis: Walter Benjamin and the City, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Clark, K. and Holquist, M. (1984) Mikhail Bakhtin, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.














Week 8: 3rd-7th April 2016

Notes from reading on philosophical background:

Why am I reading this? Because it gives me a better idea for the definitions and thinking on on cities, spaces, places, observation and new thinking in the urban design space about how cities work!

The use of sidewalks: Contact from The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) by Jane Jacobs:

The simple needs of automobiles are more easily understood and satisfied than the complex needs of cities, and a growing number of planners and designer have come to believe that if they can only solve the problem of traffic, they will thereby have solved the major problem of cities. Cities have much more intricate economic and social concerns than automobile traffic. (p.83 Urban Design Reader)

The trust of a city street is formed over time from many, many little public sidewalk contacts. It grows out of people stopping by at the bar for a beer, getting advice from the grocer and giving advice to the newsstand man…Its cultivation cannot be institutionalized. And above all, it implies no private commitments. (p.84 Urban Design Reader)

Impersonal city streets make anonymous people, and this is not a matter of aesthetic quality nor of a mystical emotional effect in architectural scale. It is a matter of what kind of tangible enterprises sidewalks, and therefore of how people use the sidewalks in practical, everyday life. p.84 Urban Design Reader)

City privacy

Privacy is precious in cities. It is indispensable. (p.85 UDR) Further Jacobs notes that ‘A good city street neighbourhood achieves a marvel of balance between its people’s determinations to have essential privacy and their simultaneous wishes for differing degrees of contact, enjoyment or from the people around them. This balance is largely made up of small, sensitively managed details, practiced and accepted so casually that they are normally taken for granted.

When an area of a city lacks a sidewalk life, the people of the place must enlarge their private lives if they are to have anything approaching equivalent contact with their neighbours. They must settle for some form of “togetherness” in which more is shared with one another than on the life of the sidewalks, or else they must settle for lack of contact. (p.87)

Lefebvre Everyday life theories

Henry Lefebvre (2004, Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life, Continuum, London, p.73) “(E)veryday life remains shot through and traversed by great cosmic and vital rhythms: day and night, the months and the seasons, and still more precisely biological rhythems … (T)his results in the perpetual interaction of these rhythms with repetitive processes linked to homogeneous time.

changing nature of everyday life time in itself. Butler points out that “Living in rhythm with biological and cyclical forms of repetition becomes more and more difficult as the everyday is subjected to relentless attempts to quantify time and increase productivity from previously non- productive parts of the day or time of the year. He describes Lefebvres observation as “commodification of social time and its transformation into a social product.” A similar claim is made with regards to space production and commodification. (Butler, 2012, p.32)

“(Q)uantified time subjects itself to a very general law of this society: it becomes both uniform and monotonous while also breaking apart and becoming fragmented.  Like space, it divides itself into lots and parcels:  transport networks, themselves fragmented, various forms of work, entertainment and leisure.” (Lefebvre,2004, Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life, Continuum, London, p. 74)

Role of festivals: social bonds were traditionally strengthened by communal participation in feasts, music, dance, sport and masquerades.(Lefebvre, 1991, Critique of Everyday Life I: Introduction, Verso; London p. 201-227’9.

Butler notes further that festivals are the way of celebrating regular and cyclical rhythms of nature with which human life is intertwined.

Lefebvres work Production of space reinforces the perceived fragmentation of the mental, physical and social field. –> strongest critique of both positivist models and the idealist currents in french poststructuralism. (compare Butler, 2012, p.39)

Space must move beyond the unhelpful dichotomy between the physical dimensions of space and abstract conceptions of it. (Butler,2012, p.39)

Benefit of Lefebvre to my research: he is trying to achieve an understanding of space that reduces this separation and explains the spatial relationships and connections between the mental, physical and social field. (Lefebvre, 1991, The production of space, Blackwell, Oxford, p. 11) –> How is space produced through a human agency. (Butler, 2012, p. 39)

Social Space is in accordance to Lefebvre simultaneously:

  1. a part of the means and forces of production which progressively displaces and supplants the role of (first) nature.
  2. a product that is consumed as a commodity and as a productive resource in the social reproduction of labour power,
  3. a political instrument that facilitates forms of social control
  4. the basis for the reproduction of property relations through legal and planning regimes which order space hierarchically
  5. a set of ideological and symbolic superstructures
  6. a means of human reappropriation through the development of counterspaces forged by artistic expression and social resistance.(Lefebvre, 1991, The production of space, Blackwell, Oxford,p. 349)

Lefebvre came to the conclusion that the human living body, as a deployment of energies, produces space and reproduces itself within the limits and laws of that space. (Lefebve, 1991, p. 171)

In relation to play in cities –> in which spaces are we play in mostly, eg. deploy our energy? mental, physical or social.

I would argue that pending on context or stage of urban development, we collectively move in western world towards the mental space, resulting is social isolation, and internalised view and consumption of physical space.

Ethics session (04/04/16)

  • Human Research Ethics Committee is meeting 11 times a year.
  • 15 Members
  • HDR needs to sign off the application
  • approved for 3 year (but could apply at the end of it for an extension)
    report annually

Include in my application the following:

  • protect the rights and welfare of research participants
  • protect the researcher (especially from unjustified criticism)
  • to protect institutions
  • to promote good research
  • to comply with regulatory provisions
  • to provide re-assurance to the public that research is undertaken in an ethical way.

Interaction with people so I will need ethics approval!
Stick to the University Coursework Guidelines
observations, case studies, online research, archival research as well as analysing media items such as video and / or audio recording and magazines, testing of ideas in practice as a means of improving  social, economic or environmental conditions and increasing knowledge.


  • Risk (harm, discomfort, inconvenience)
  • Participants (characteristics, recruitment, relationships, respect)
  • Benefit (personal, social, economic, educational)
  • Consent (informed, withdrawal rights)
  • Data (confidentiality, storage, disposal) –> Data must be kept for at least 5 years at Uni computer
  • Research merit (rationale, methodology, interventions)

Can’t store data on USB, or on Dropbox, but cloud is ok.


Human ethics manual

Submission dates (outcome after 5 working days)

out of session approval (2 days turnaround)

Application form

 Writing workshop session (05/04/16)

What is the next most important thing to do?

  • be specific
  • give myself another perspective
  • focus on that one that is the closest to be finished (Jumbo jet method, e.g. get it landed)
  • pick something

–> lack of certainty makes things harder!!

One way to look back on the paper from results and review the structure! –> do always the best you can do and give it a shoot

If I knew what to do what would it be? -> create a story or narrative!

  • Write before you feel ready!
  • Write down your ideas and do not worry about style or grammar!
  • Write as a 10 year old could understand it!
  • Avoid Readitis (believe of reading more articles in order to solve the problem) or Expermentitis (spending time in data in order to find the answer)
  • Get it clear in your head first and then write it down!
  • Writing is not reading
  • Writing is creative
  • Writing is clarifies your thinking
  • try tree bubble structure (5-6 stages until you reach your result)
  • 60 % of peoples papers lack of clarity in the narrative –> always make sure the red line is visible!
  • Writing is rigorous thinking!


Tree- bubble structure (image)

Suggested method:

  1. Write
  2. Read
  3. Write
  4. Read
  5. Write
  6. Read
  • Protect your narrative
  • Quality is in the story that I pull together
  • Write down the links to your next part of the story!
  • Be clear and simple!


  • write little but often
  • binge writing
  • regular snacks (time slots for writing)
  • 1-2 golden hours for writing every day –> try early in the morning when the brain is fresh!!
  • Park on the hill (link your thoughts to the theory, write dot points before stop writing at the end of each section)

What is new writing?

  • new words
  • Motivation kicks usually in after 15 minutes!


  • Purpose of feedback is to make my work as best as possible!


More reading notes on theoretical background

Appleyard and Jacobs (1987) Toward an Urban Design Manifesto, in UDR p. 100) Rasmussen, Kepes, Kevin Lynch and Jane Jacobs identified a new set of vocabulary for urban design which includes sights, sounds, feels, and smells of the city. Materials, textures, floor surfaces, facades, style, signs, lights, seating, trees, sun, shade –> all this from the perspective of the observer and user.

This has humanised urban design in their opinion. Appleyard and Kacobs see problems n modern urban design. Large-scale privatization and a loss of public life, especially in the american city, has become more private embracing the consumer society and their emphasis on the individual and the private sector.

My thoughts (writing):

Why is there nothing that brings the city and play together?

Theoretically “play” can happen anywhere, but it doesn’t. When people talk about play it is usually in the child context, but adults and older members of the community can play as well. Play is a powerful behaviour, not just because its fun and creative, but people can find purpose as well as become healthier. Play is good for physical and mental health. Play is a human right. Through play we can truly learn what it means to be human. This activity is social and has an impact on the environment around us. Spaces become places as they generate value for playful behaviour. In cities we see an increase in large scale privatisation and a loss of public life. In these private spaces, humans need to follow rules. Often this excludes play. Is that everywhere so or do other cultures value play in the city differently. In our western society we like to create special places for play. Compartmentalise, regulate and control as much activity as possible. However given that play is a human right and could by nature happen everywhere I ask myself why is that so and why can’t we be more playful in the city?

Play could solve a lot of problems in cities? As we know from child play, with an increase in automobile traffic we changed the perception of safety in adults, resulting in spatial restrictions of play in the public realm and in the neighbourhood street. Very dense urban environments marginalise play, it becomes internalised. Mental health and physical activity behaviour changes and generates in combination with bad diets a serious public health issue. If we acknowledge play as a human right for all we can find a pathway to create healthy cities.

The play instinct is in all of us and can be unleashed by the flow experience through all five senses. Hearing, seeing, smelling, touching and feeling can be experienced in space. If one revisits the concept of what noise level, amenities, smells, materials and feelings are positive towards play and pleasant play experience, we could find indicators/ determinants for positive play experiences in cities spaces. Based on playful human interaction they could become valued and if they are valued, they become meaningful and people start caring for them. This can result in social inclusion and social capital in neighbourhoods as part of everyday life.

My thoughts on culture:

The culture of dwelling, means in German “Baukultur”, the culture of constructing. The way we construct our environment is a result of our thinking, which translated into words/ language. Transmitting language from one human being to another enables us to share an experience and to construct a common understanding. This understanding can result into action, allowing us to shape the environment around us. The way we do that can be referred as  dwelling (Heidegger). Heidegger describes interlinks building with dwelling and dwelling means to him “the manner in which mortals are on the earth.”  Further he notes that “building as dwelling unfolds into the building that cultivates growing things and the building that erects buildings” (p.350). Dwelling does include the environment as “earth and sky, divinities and mortals- belong together in one.” (p.351) He concludes “What we take under our care must be kept safe.”

Heideggers highlights that “space is in essence that for which room has been made, that which is let into its bounds….space receive their essential beings from locals and not from “space”.

More notes on city:

The city is “a state of mind, a body of customs and traditions, and of the organized attitudes and sentiments that inhere in these customs and are transmitted with this tradition.” Further its noted that a city is not just “merely a physical mechanism and an artificial construction. It is involved in the vital process of the people who compose it; it is a product of nature, and particularly of human nature.”  (Park and Burgess, the city, 1970, p.1)

Research term: Dialectic –> try to find definition and apply to research problem!!

Good paper to inform the method:

The right space at the right time: The relationship between children’s
physical activity and land use/land cover

Grant application for German research form

Applications open on 4 April 2016 and close on 17 June 2016. Applicants will be informed of the outcomes in writing in November 2016. Project funding will commence in 2017.

The application form is available to download here (DOCX 832.6KB).

Meeting with Andrew in regards to mid term review on 6th April –> result blog post on research plan

GIS workshop all day on 8th April 2016