Week 9: 11th-15th April 2016

Over the weekend I have been able to engage in several meaningful debates informing my philosophical stand regarding my research topic. Most interestingly I came to the conclusion/ actualisation that language in any form is limited in capturing feelings and thoughts. Even more though the written word may last it may never be able to document and capture the full sensory experience of a certain space at a certain time. In order to provide the highest level of validation mixed methods are required to generate a comprehensive narrative of an experience. Therefore constructed reality must be based on methods that capture as many stimulus at a certain time. The interpretation of perceived truth/reality can is always limited as long as have not found a way to capture experiences before they form words of any language. Strong narratives can generate an impact beyond the spoken word and leave a lasting impression. Therefore they contain the highest chance of  opportunity to alter perception and therefore change the environment around us.

Throughout today I have been working on my proposal in a cyclic/ spiral manner, adding information in different section, revisiting concepts and altering sections according to emerging thoughts.

Note: I am also finding myself looking back into my earlier post revisiting ideas and reflecting on previous established questions in light of emerging thought patterns.


Work with GIS Mapping in order to create a narrative around a story or case study:

Seminar content: https://github.com/wragge/teaching/blob/master/modules/Making%20simple%20maps.md

Work with Cartodb: https://cartodb.com

Direct access to me: https://greghmews.cartodb.com/me
Map Box:  is good for basic mapping

Exercise Playgrounds in the ACT:

Philosophical conflict

I believe that as long as we have not reached a higher form of collective consciousness social research will fail to find an objective truth. Based on my earlier thoughts that most of our knowledge is routed, replicated and generated through language (including writing)- language is a limited tool in order to generate meaning evolving around truth. So far we have been caught in a spiral that rotates around an elusive vision of truth. If there would be one truth out there, we must first evolve beyond- individually as well as a collective. Only by working with our five senses we will be always limited to understand the connection between objects and subjects. If we reach a higher level of being (connection) or consciousness that breaks the barrier between object and subject we may get closer to a truth. Sadly there are no research methods out there that offer a solution from a social research perspective just yet. Therefore I choose to work with an constructivist epistemological approach that takes advantage of the hermeneutic spiral in order to reveal correlation and narratives in this interdependent world.

The only way to reach the higher level of consciousness is through detachment of attachment, senses and clearance of thought- similar to the buddhist approach.

Development of research approach/ design

Design structure download as pdf here


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


Week 3: 29th Feb to 4th March 2016

Activities attended:

  • Creative Research unit on practice led and practice based methods
  • UC support on setting up your blog for HDRs
  • Research Design session on qualitative data analysis (25th Feb)

Construction of Meaning

Having the right theory to guide my research is important throughout the entire process. Needs to be critical reviewed, as different theories may be supportive at different stages of the journey.

Bottom up approach useful for qualitative inquiries.

Different Memo types:

  • Method design
  • Reflective
  • Analytic

Literature notes

Always write short but precise definition. Give care and get it done early as misunderstandings can easily occur when working interdisciplinary.

Conceptional mapping is another tool for data assessment.

Mind maps on epistemological approach:



Cognitive spatial mapping graphic:


Jay Appleton, Landscape preference

Familiarity in play as an outcome of exploration. Focus on “what can I do with this?” With increasing familiarity, the mental entities become manipulable. However familiarity is essential to playful rearrangement and recombination of elements towards insights and creativity.  (p.93).

Benefits of evaluation codes (p.94):

  • facilitates decision making
  • permits people to feel right now things they have not done yet
  • allow the future to colour present feelings to dominate them


Reflection and notes from supervisor meeting

new research task:

  • Norman Blaikie,  Designing social research
  • AURIN – test
  • “habitus” concept PhD Thesis from Helen Fitt
  • Yen “case study research”

General task:

Refine mind map –> test cross connections in themes (bringing together two paradigms)

Based on my theoretical and philosophical discourse around psychology may become one stream, however PhD may likely focus on perception of play and access.

Spatial mapping tool idea: MAPS Mini Tool Method  MAPS-mini tool

construction of access

  • opportunities for play
  • definitions

So far all this leads me to the question: What are the triggers (physical as well as cognitive) in enabling access to play in a neighbourhood in an intercultural case study context?

Philosophical discourse:


The word originates from „nahe“ and „Bauer“ in other words close and farmer. However, it can be also primary be understood as bordering house or apartment where people live.

In accordance to sociological theorist Ferdinand Tönnies it can also mean „Gemeinschaft des Ortes“ translating to „Collective of place“.

Modern phenomenon is: we can have a physical place of a collective, however because of modern communication technology can associate the place physically removed from reality. Hence a disengagement with the here and now. Hence a lack of social activity of adults in the local context.

Heidegger contemplates on „dwelling” from an ontological perspective. To dwell means for him to ‚belong…within the fourfold of sky and earth, mortals and divinities’ (TT p.49, BDT p. 150) p.93. Further he argues that a dwelling place is ‚near’ to one, somewhere one is ‚in the nearness’. Heidegger refers to ‚Nähe’ as neighbourhood i.e. dwelling place.

Belonging in modern times is very much a mind-set. Hölderlins highlights in „Hyperion“ the suffering if a homely society is not welcoming if one’s mind-set developed beyond physical boundaries. This disconnect can create an imbalance, despite of the search of a point of connection, while being aware of the interconnectedness of things and in fact the universal being bounded by physical law and the limitation of the biosphere of the earth system.

I believe the suffering of modern societies is that people choose to disengage with the immediate space, as modern technology, can bridge the limitation of local places. However, humans understanding of the physical world originates from a physical engagement with all five senses. If we are reducing our engagement with the real world to one or two senses, we experience a dramatic change in perception of the local neighbourhood. It is also known that children make sense of the world through play in a local context, contributing to a sense of place and the spirit of a local place. If parent disengage with them locally prevent access to sensory experiences, then an imbalance occurs and deforms the state of health of a neighbourhood. A neighbourhood where no children are playing is an indicator for an imbalance in the mind-set and therefore perception of neighbourhood.

Acknowledging that there is not just one objective truth, rather than a perceived reality constructed out of the engagement of our minds with the world. Does that mean that if people choose not to engage with the physical neighbourhood, that neighbourhood become detached from the local context creating a newly perceived reality of neighbourhood by choice? In this virtual neighbourhood that our mind-set creates humans do not necessary require all senses. Again children may suffer.

  • 3rd March Attended the free presentation at the National Gallery on ‘Embodied Museography: Animating the Archive’ by Sarah Kenderdine