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.


 Supervisor meeting 21st December 2016


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,


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


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.


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)


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



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.

Week 40: 14th- 18th November 2016

After the earthquake I made it back to Canberra.

On my return flight I was able to read the following paper:

Manfredini & Ta (2016) Co-Creative Urbanism: The production of plural evolutionary spatialities throuhg conflicts and complicities between public and private in the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam.

Rehearsal of the ppt- presentation for the 17th November.

Attended the Research Bites Seminar on Cross Culture Studies (notes as followed):

also known as comparable studies

Testing in different cultures if a concept is right

Lead questions in my head:

Is play culturally grounded?

What is culture?

Determine how fine grain someone wants to get (with regards to play culture in each of the units)


Individuals should construct the notion of play? Literature –> perhaps include in unstructured interview as a last question to sum up!


Hofsted –> research into business culture on the broad scale

identified four categories:

  • Power distance
  • Individualism and collectivism
  • Uncertainty avoidance (risk management)
  • Masculinity and feminity of different cultures


Best advice:

  • Acknowledging the limitations
  • Reflexivity and note taking –> on my own thoughts and worries –> snapshots of my perception.
  • issue with survey (huge data sets)
  • A definition is the end result of a battle. In relation to play we are in the middle of a battle field.

Question in relation to arrogance and history of western research (dictated doctrine globally with the nobel price as the ultimate goal). However, knowledge in non written form just as important –> indigenous lived culture for example

Plato originally implied limitations to research already in the process of writing things down. There is something pure lost while doing so.

My thought: also they were informed by their history and political circumstances at the time. Therefore it reinforces the spiral approach to knowledge with windows of opportunities to evolve and preserve aspects that can advance societies. However, by doing so through written language we are loosing some of the essence.





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 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