Bianca hermansen abstract

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Bianca hermansen abstract

  1. 1. BODY CULTURE IN URBAN SPACE Body Culture & Urban Space The notion of Body Culture refers to the Scandinavian understanding of sports and exercise activities as a medium of self-expression and identity creation and thus should be considered as a cultural phenomenon. The overall research question of the PhD project is: Can the organization and architecture of Urban Space facilitate body cultural activities as part of the public realm? And if so, how can this be documented? This research question is based on the recognition that this research project is a niche-project; the discussion is not a broad general discussion about public space and city life, but rather a specific discussion about a specific topic. That being; A) Apparently certain Urban Spaces facilitate a healthy active body cultural city life, whereas other urban spaces do not. B) There are indicators that the facilitation of an active body cultural city life in certain urban spaces de facto discriminates certain user groups, whereas this is not the case in other urban spaces. Which spatial parameters and city life practices influence this? In the case of both part A and B of this discussion we are primarily dealing with a documentation problem; at the moment no adequate methods are available for surfacing these city life tendencies and mechanisms. New spatial patterns of use Within the field of Urban Design exist a common disciplinary understanding of the interdependency between the build environment and the behavior of the people who inhabit it. However, within the last 20 years new ways of using urban space for exercise and street sports have emerged, all with distinct body cultural connotations. Consequently, the classic mapping methods (e.g. surveys, observation studies, questionnaires) of spatial behavioral studies do not always apply to these new activities. For instance: the mapping of a person in movement is often depicted as a line in space; the desire line. But the desire line informs us neither of the type of movement nor the character of it e.g. speed. Body cultural activities have distinct spatial expressions and physical presence. Inherently a methodological condition of this PhD project is therefore that the classic urban design mapping methods are descriptively insufficient in this regard and does in fact reduce the spatial presence of the interdependent relation of urban body culture and urban space to a mere staging of exercise in public space. Subsequently an socio-spatial combined observation study and interview study method (a triangulation of three observation and one interview techniques) has been developed with the purpose of highlighting precisely the interrelation between the presence of body, the expression of identity through bodily activities within an urban culture and how this relates to the presence of space, the expression of architectural form and landscape through city life practices and bodily interaction with urban space. In short: How does urban space facilitate and consolidate body culture, in particular; body capital* *concept developed for the conceptual vocabulary paraphrasing over Bourdieu’s concepts of social capital and cultural capital. The goal is to provide a framework that can both articulate and adequately document the new spatial use patterns of urban space. Via four Copenhagen cases: Dronning Louises Bridge, Charlotte Ammundsens Square, BaNanna Park and Amager Beach Park this methodological framework and its individual components are studied, documented and analyzed. The intention behind these four elaborate case studies is to increase identification, knowledge and overall understanding of the various individual life style and habitus-defined city life practices which are inspired, challenged and affected through associative body capital exchange, including Associative Life Style Exchange (ALE) and Associative Life Style Affect (ALA).
  2. 2. Data-Collection Framework & Decision-Making Framework The dissertation criticized the traditional urban design assumption that city life adequately can be documented via movement and stationary activity surveys and demographical user group surveys. The dissertation claim that - in particular in relation to body cultural activities – there is a need for a more socio-spatial approach which also allow for documentation of the various interpersonal, associative, non-verbal, spatial negotiations and exchanges between people in urban space. Additionally the dissertation claims – via the documentation of the socio-spatial city life practices – to verify the urban design assertion that a spatially constituted relation exists between the build environment and human behavior. Consequently a significant portion of the dissertation is concerned with 1.The development and establishment of an adequate conceptual vocabulary 2. The development of a socio-spatial city life survey method. Together these two tools provide a data-collection framework for documentation of how the design of urban space can facilitate body cultural city life. In addition to the data-collection framework the dissertation discus how this documentation can be translated into operational and applicable municipal knowledge, particularly the parameters involved in terms of translating the data-collection framework into a decision-making framework.

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