14 SES 04 A, Multidisciplinary Approaches to Learning in and from Urban Spaces: The City as a Learning Experience - Part 1
Socio-spatial research and knowledge about urban spaces is growing. Urban sociology is established as a multidisciplinary field of research by authors such as William Whyte, Jane Jacobs and Jan Ghel. Studying the relationship between spatial behaviour and architectural design, these authors question the traditional thinking on urban planning and suggest to reverse the triple strategy: buildings – urban spaces – urban life. Gehl defines urban space as the communication process between buildings and urban life(Gehl 2010; Jacobs 1992; Whyte e.a. 1988). Therefore cultural scholars would neither read urban space from the perspective of buildings, nor from the perspective of urban life, but study it as a layered communication process . Barthes speaks of the city as a discourse which structures urban life, De Certeau suggests a more bottom up reading of everyday practices in the city, but urban spaces as communication process however, are little researched (Barthes 1997; De Certeau 2011). Building on literature of performative urbanism and the performative turn in social sciences, this presentation will elaborate on a theoretical framework for learning urban spaces (Dirksmeier en Helbrecht 2008) Based on this framework, University College Ghent organised a student project ‘storytelling in urban spaces’. Students had to analyse the everyday in urban spaces, by reading the five elements space, movement, time, text and media(Makeham 2005; Lehmann 2006). The aim was to support students in reflecting on multiple meanings of urban spaces, and getting to know the ‘unseen’(Rancière 2003). Drawing to a close, students were asked to organize an intervention in urban spaces, which had to expose the learning opportunities within, for and with urban spaces. Illustrative data from this student’s project will be included in the presentation.
Barthes, Roland. 1997. “Semiology and the urban”. In Rethinking Architecture: A reader in cultural theory. London: Routledge. De Certeau, Michel. 2011. The Practice of Everyday Life. Univ of California Pr. Dirksmeier, Peter, en Ilse Helbrecht. 2008. “Time, Non-Representational Theory and the ‘Performative Turn’—Towards a New Methodology in Qualitative Social Research”. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research 9 (2). http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/385. Gehl, Jan. 2010. Cities for People. Washington, DC: Island Press. Jacobs, Jane. 1992. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Vintage Books. Lehmann, Hans-Thies. 2006. Postdramatic Theatre. 1 edition. Abingdon, England ; New York: Routledge. Makeham, Paul. 2005. “Performing the City”. Theatre Research International 30 (2): 150–60. doi:10.1017/S030788330500115X. Rancière, Jacques. 2003. “The thinking of Dissensus: Politics and Aesthetics”. Whyte, William Hollingsworth, Municipal Art Society of New York, Street Life Project, en Direct Cinema Ltd. 1988. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. Los Angeles, CA: Direct Cinema Ltd.
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