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Title: Mapping the inhabited urban built environment : the socio-spatial significance of the material presence of boundaries through time
Author: Vis, Benjamin Nicolaas
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis develops a comparative methodology and research practice enabling the interpretive social study of urban built environments (cross-culturally and diachronically). Its contribution to comparative urbanism is framed specifically as a method for studying the socio-spatial significance of the material presence of the composition of urban form (conceptualised as boundaries) to the interactional process of human inhabitation. This perspective results from formulating a theoretical and conceptual rejoinder to questioning the nature of the role of the built environment as emergent from the human process of inhabiting the world and the functioning of urban life and development. On that basis an empirically operational method (Boundary Line Type (BLT) mapping) for the conceptual remapping and analysis of ground level spatial data on the urban built environment (city plans) is devised, so the comparative socio-spatial study of cities from this perspective through time and across geographical areas and societies or cultures becomes enabled. This foundational development of a research process and ontology is informed by a material adaptation of a critical realist philosophy of science. The practical and technical implications of executing the mapping process on spatial data of varying nature (archaeological, historical, historically reconstructive, and contemporary maps) are comprehensively worked through. The comparative functional ability of the method is demonstrated by exemplifying two case studies, the cities of Chunchucmil (Mexico, Classic Maya) and Winchester (UK, 16th, 19th and 21st century), on the basis of which two test cases are taken forward for preliminary visualisation and analysis with the aid of Geographical Information System (GIS) techniques. The findings confirm its potential, replicating common expectations about contemporary urban life as well as laying a novel foundation for insights into Winchester’s historical development and Chunchucmil’s archaeology, from which future research and development can burgeon. These are expected to contribute significantly to the deeper understanding of urban life and urbanisation across past and present urban traditions and provide an improved appreciation of urban alternatives which could inform planning and urban design in the long term.
Supervisor: Evans, Andrew ; Bell, David ; Goodman, Penelope Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available