Seminar: EPUM Innovative Perspectives on Urban Morphologies – A relational-material approach

Link: 280.558

SE Seminar / Semester hours: 3.0 / ECTS 6.0

***The course is developed as part of the Erasmus+ international research project titled “EPUM Emerging Perspectives on Urban Morphologies” and has been recognized by the vice rector of TU Wien for its innovative educational concept in urban planning and architecture. Participation is invited from students of TU Wien (incl. ‘Mitbeleger’) and project partner universities in Cyprus, Italy, Portugal and UK.***

i. Aims of the course

The course aims to reach across disciplines and cultures with the aim of establishing productive linkages between analytical approaches to physical urban form and qualitative research practices engaging in social space. 

Jane Jacobs’s actions to save untidy and decaying neighbourhoods have become archetypal examples of urban activism as well as, perhaps paradoxically, gentrified urban experience. Her pleas for preservation of informality and unpredictability of street ballets against planning concepts based on the modernist principles of sanitation and increased mobility have emphasized that urban morphology cannot be grasped by and translated into Cartesian coordinates – urban morphology is also a political arena and lived social space. 

A relational-material approach engages with urban morphology as a conceptual and empirical framework for researching the complexity and the many contingencies of socially produced urban space. In view of this approach, the urban fabric is shaped by and shapes the lives of people who produce it. This means that, in turn, the urban fabric materializes not only by design and construction in various degrees of regulation and (in)formality, but also through the settling of plural dimensions of mundane everyday life, political struggle, as well as visible and invisible structural (pre)conditions. Conceptually urban morphology can be closely related to Setha Low’s concept of ‘embodied space’, which is defined as “the location where human experience, consciousness and political subjectivity take on material and spatial form” and which therefore “can communicate, transform and contest existing social structures” (2017: 94-95).

Urban morphology as a material dimension of the production of space contains sediments of past social struggles and desires. It also occupies a prominent position in negotiations on the current urban conditions as both a matter of concern and an aestheticized imaginary of desired future. A whole range of affects and bodily experiences is inherent to knowledge and perception of urban morphology. To paraphrase Sophie Watson (2006), the enchantment of dense public space of difference that provides encounter and strangeness is coupled with the disenchantment of dense experience of difference fuelled by a fearful bias towards the Other. A density of interactions and unexpected encounters in lived space of everyday life also entails notions of social constraints and structures of oppression, exploitation and struggle (which often go unnoticed). We will engage in such spaces of everyday life to explore and experience urban morphology as a process which encompasses designed and constructed space, a domain of mental production of abstract space and practices of everyday life, including bodily appropriations of space, encounters and affect. Our research will pursue a dual goal.

ii. Subject of the course

We will develop a dialectics between people’s unequal experiences of urban form and the spatial dynamics of constituting, negotiating and mobilizing difference, considering systems of class, culture, gender, ethnicity and other. However, we will also reflect on the research practice as a means for curbing or fostering people’s social, cultural and political agency to transform spatial form.

Our course will be based on locally embedded learning from/at Vienna’s urban fringe and will further elaborate a design-by-action research method, with the aim to scrutinize urban morphology at the interface between regulation of space, or lack thereof, and the struggles of diverse publics to (in)formally claim space for own needs. Participants will be invited to reflect on the established routines of researching urban morphology and to devise a locally embedded approach to their field work at the urban fringe – space that is by definition sensitive – being politically charged by a series of binaries, such as centrality/margin, exclusion/inclusion, boundary/opening etc. Participants will be introduced to previous endeavours of TU Wien’s students who have developed microscale morphologies in large housing estates in Vienna’s periphery through cooperation with local organisations (such as youth centre), while inevitably engaging with interlinked issues of regulation, provision, spatial needs and claims, innovation and informal co-creation. Participants can take inspiration or even join in to continue on developing one of such projects, exchanging experience and knowledge while designing and constructing a microscale morphology in support of local population’s spatial claims.

The methodological conceptual framework encompasses a broad range of inquiries into lived space, which is understood as an embodiment of a plurality of particular memories, cultures and experiences, which might be institutionalized, contested, discriminated against, marginalized or rather invisible. Lived public space is introduced as a key sphere for exploring, conceptualizing and shaping the emerging patterns and materialities of urban morphology. It will build on the analysis and reflection on the situational occurrence of public space (e.g. everyday routines, protest, planning practice, design of spaces) by taking into consideration often ‘hidden’ structural processes, such as poverty, exclusion, mobility or spatial displacement. Our methodology will, in particular, take on the challenge of expanding notions of urban morphology centred on rationality and visual representations by emphasizing affect and bodily experiences as very parts of structural determination of urban morphology. We will learn with and from a variety of methods, including, but not restricted to methods of ethnographic and social research, design graphic tools, incomplete mapping, participatory strategies, hands-on approaches, and experiential research methodologies.

Blended learning

During the course, participants will also be introduced to approaches to urban morphology which are developed and applied by other project partners. Information about other approaches will be provided in the format of short online lectures (max. 10min) and seminar readings. 

iii. Additional Information

The course language is English.

Students of TU Wien register in TISS until 5th March 2018; students of other universities confirm interest in participation by email to Katharina Höftberger (administrative member of TU Vienna EPUM team): katharina.hoeftberger@tuwien.ac.at

iv. Dates

Course Structure

The course is structured in three parts:

Part 1. 09.03 – 12.03 Theoretical foundations: Towards methodology by place and for place.

Participation of Vienna-based students in the class + assigned reading and online attendance by students of project partner universities

Part 2. 12.04 – 16.04 New insights: Testing methodologies in lived space

All students in Vienna – shared learning experience
[guest students from EPUM partner institutions are welcome to extend their stay till 20.04 and participate in lectures during the intensive teaching block at the Centre. There might be an additional option that they can receive further credits on successful completion of the lecture “Strategies and intervention of the production of space” (optional)]

Part 3. 07.06 Back to theory: Reflection and international experiences

Participation of Vienna-based students in the class + online attendance by students of project partner universities

Detailed schedule

EPUM Slot 1. 09.03.2018 from 09:00 to 10:30
[Viderman/Knierbein]

Introduction to the course + get together

EPUM Slot 2. 09.03.2018 from 11:00 to 12:30
[Viderman]

Urban morphology: a variety of disciplinary approaches (input and seminar reading)

Bibliography

  • Tonkiss, F (2013) Cities by design. The social life of urban form. Polity Press.
  • Jones, P., Isakjee, A., Jam, C., Lorne, C. and Warren, S. (2017) Urban landscapes and the atmosphere of place: exploring subjective experience in the study of urban form. Urban Morphology 21(1): 29-40.
  • Scheer, B.C. (2015) The Epistemology of Urban Morphology. Urban Morphology 19(2): 117-134.

EPUM Slot 3. 09.03.2018 from 14:00 to 15:30
[Viderman]

Inputs by project partners (teleconference): Nadia Charalambous, University of Cyprus, Cyprus
Vitor Oliviera, Universidade do Porto, Portugal (tbc)
Guiseppe Strappa, Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza, Italy (tbc)
Kayvan Karimi / Eime Tobari, Space Syntax Ltd, UK (tbc)

EPUM Slot 4. 12.03.2018 from 15:30 to 17:00
[Viderman/Pizzo]

Reflection on approaches to urban morphology – How to do research in urban morphology studies?

Bibliography

  • Hou, J., ed. (2010) Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary Cities. New York: Routledge. [selected chapters]
  • Kesby, M., Kindon, S. and Pain R. (2007) Participation as a form of power: Retheorising empowerment and spatialising Participatory Action Research. In S. Kindon, R. Pain and M. Kesby (eds.) Participatory action research approaches and methods: connecting people, participation and place. London: Routledge, pp. 19-25.

EPUM Slot 5. 12.04.2018 from 09:00 to 10:30
[Viderman/Knierbein]

Introduction to research field “emergent and innovative morphologies” and shared learning process.
Introduction of case study “Youth Centre in Hirschstatten – Space Researchers”

EPUM Slot 6. 12.04.2018 from 11:00 to 12:30
[Knierbein]

Public Space as Relational Counter Space – Scholarly Minefield or Epistemological Opportunity?

Bibliography

  • Knierbein, S (2015) Public Space as Relational Counter Space – Scholarly Minefield or Epistemological Opportunity? In: Tornaghi, C and Knierbein, S, eds. (2015) Public space and relational perspectives: New challenges for architecture and planning. New York: Routledge, pp.42-64.
  • Moore, S. (2013) Taking Up Space: Anthropolgy and embodied protest. Radical Anthropology 7: 6-16.
  • Low, S. (2003) Embodied Space(s) Anthropological Theories of Body, Space, and Culture. Space and Culture 6(1): 9-18.

EPUM Slot 7. 12.04.2018 from 14:00 to 15:30
[Viderman]

Site visit (actors’ walk): walk to Vienna’s fringe. Meeting local experts for inputs on site.

EPUM Slot 8. 12.04.2018 from 16:00 to 17:30
[Viderman]

Site visit (actors’ walk): walk to Vienna’s fringe. Meeting local experts for inputs on site.

EPUM Slot 9. 13.04.2018 from 09:00 to 10:30
[Viderman/Knierbein]

Discussion with students on experiences from the walk and conceptualization of research projects

EPUM Slot 10. 13.04.2018 from 11:00 to 12:30
[Knierbein]

Relational-material approach (input and seminar reading)

Bibliography

  • Esposito de Vita (2018) How to Reclaim Mafia-Controlled Territory? An Emancipatory Experience in Naples. In S. Knierbein, S. and T. Viderman (eds.) Public Space Unbound. Urban Emancipation and the Post-Political Condition. Routledge.
  • Mady, C. (2018) Public Space Activism in Unstable Contexts: Emancipation From Beirut’s Postmemory. In S. Knierbein, S. and T. Viderman (eds.) Public Space Unbound. Urban Emancipation and the Post-Political Condition. Routledge.
  • Athanassiou, E. Christodolou, C. Kapsali, M. and Karagianni, M. (2018) Hybridizing ‘Ownership’ of Public Space: Framings of Urban Emancipation in Crisis-Ridden Thessaloniki. In S. Knierbein, S. and T. Viderman (eds.) Public Space Unbound. Urban Emancipation and the Post-Political Condition. Routledge.

EPUM Slot 11. 13.04.2018 from 14:00 to 15:30
[Viderman]

Work space: Individual group consultations.

EPUM Slot 12. 13.04.2018 from 16:00 to 17:30
[Viderman]

Discussion with students on research project concepts and peer-to-peer feedback.
Collective discussion on research methodologies and definition of further steps.

EPUM Slot 13. 16.04.2018 from 09:00 to 10:30
[Viderman]

Emancipatory pedagogy – reacting to troubles and needs of doing research in lived space [input and discussion].

Bibliography

  • Augoyard, J.F. (2007) Step by Step. Everyday Walks in a French Urban Housing Project. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. [PLEASE READ the Afterword, pp.193-219.]
  • Kesby et al. (2010) Participation as a form of power. In S. Kindon et al. (eds.) Participatory Acton Research Approaches and Methods. Milton Park, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Merrifield, A. (1993) Place and Space: A Lefebvrian Reconciliation. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, New Series 18(4): 516-531.

EPUM Slot 14. 16.04.2018 from 11:00 to 12:30
[Viderman]

Work space: Individual group consultations.

EPUM Slot 15. 16.04.2018 from 14:00 to 15:30
[Viderman]

Collective reflection on research process and definition of the formats for the presentation and application of results.

EPUM Slot 16. 16.04.2018 from 16:00 to 17:30
[Knierbein/Pizzo]

Students’ presentations on project results and feedback.

EPUM Slot 17. 07.06.2018 from 09:00 to 10:30
[Viderman/Pizzo/Knierbein]

Doing research in urban morphology [inputs by teaching team on insights and experiences from various European countries]

EPUM Slot 18. 07.06.2018 from 11:00 to 12:30
[Pizzo/Viderman/Knierbein]

Final presentation of students’ projects

EPUM Slot 19. 07.06.2018 from 14:00 to 16:00
[Viderman/Pizzo/Knierbein]

Situated learning experiences and development of citizen-empowerment perspectives: Collective reflection on research process and insights.

v. Examination modalities

Work for this course will be collaborative. The assignments include seminar readings, conceptualization, implementation and presentation of a research project and a reflection essay.

Participants will receive 6.0ECTS for successful completion of the course.

vi. Bibliography

  • Augoyard, J-F. (2007 [1979]) Step by step: everyday walks in a French urban housing project. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Freire, P. (1996 [1970]) Pedagogy of the Opressed. London: Penguin Books.
  • Hiernaux, Nicolas, D (2004) Henri Lefebvre: del Espacio Absoluto al Espacio Diferencial. Veredas 8. Primer semestre de 2004, pp. 11-25.
  • Hillier, B. and Hanson, J. (1984) The social logic of space. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hou, J., ed. (2010) Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary Cities. New York: Routledge.
  • Hou, J., ed. (2013) Transcultural Cities: Border-Crossing and Placemaking. New York: Routledge.
  • Jones, P., Isakjee, A., Jam, C., Lorne, C. and Warren, S. (2017) Urban landscapes and the atmosphere of place: exploring subjective experience in the study of urban form. Urban Morphology 21(1): 29-40.
  • Kesby, M., Kindon, S. and Pain R. (2007) Participation as a form of power: Retheorising empowerment and spatialising Participatory Action Research. In S. Kindon, R. Pain and M. Kesby (eds.) Participatory action research approaches and methods: connecting people, participation and place. London: Routledge, pp. 19-25.
  • Knierbein, S (2015) Public Space as Relational Counter Space – Scholarly Minefield or Epistemological Opportunity? In: Tornaghi, C and Knierbein, S, eds. (2015) Public space and relational perspectives: New challenges for architecture and planning. New York: Routledge, pp.42-64.
  • Knierbein, S. and Viderman, T., eds. (2018, forthcoming) Public Space Unbound. Urban Emancipation and the Post-Political Condition. Routledge.
  • Lefebvre, H (1991) The production of space. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Lefebvre, H (2014 [1947, 1961, 1981]) Critique of Everyday Life – The one volume edition. London, New York: Verso.
  • Lehtovuori, P. (2010). Experience and Conflict: The Production of Urban Space. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Low, S. and Smith, N. (2006) The Politics of public space. New York: Routledge.
  • Low, S. (2017) Spatializing Culture: The Ethnography of Space and Place. London: Rotledge.
  • Madanipour, A. (2003) Public and Private Spaces of the City. London: Routledge.
  • Murdoch, J. (2006) Post-structuralist Geography: A Guide to Relational Space. London: Sage.
  • Porta, S., Latora, V., & Strano, E. (2010). Networks in Urban Design: six years of research in Multiple Centrality Assessment. In E. Estrada, M. Fox, D. Higham and G. L. Oppo (eds.), Network science: complexity in nature and technology. London: Springer, pp.107-130.
  • Scheer, B.C. (2015) The Epistemology of Urban Morphology. Urban Morphology 19(2): 117-134.
  • Shields, R (2013) Spatial Questions: Social Spatialisations and Cultural Topologies. London: Sage.
  • Smith, N (2008 (1984)) Uneven Development: Nature, Capital, and the Production of Space (4th edition). London: Verso.
  • Tonkiss, F. (2013) Cities by Design: The Social Life of Urban Form. Cambridge: Polity.
  • Tornaghi, C and Knierbein, S, eds. (2015) Public space and relational perspectives: New challenges for architecture and planning. New York: Routledge.
  • Watson, S. (2006) City publics : the (dis)enchantments of urban encounters. London: Routledge.

 

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