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Title: Attitudes to redevelopment in Birmingham's city centre : an examination of architectural interpretation
Author: Hubbard, Philip James
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 1993
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This thesis approaches the problems of commercial redevelopment in commercial cores by examining the impact of redevelopment in Birmingham's City Centre between 1988 and 1991. The impact of redevelopment is considered not in terms of its social or economic consequences however, but in terms of its aesthetic impact on the townscape. This was investigated by studying the attitudes to fifteen redevelopments held by local citizens. These attitudes were contrasted to those of planners working for the local authority, and also student groups, in an attempt to study the effect of experience and expertise on aesthetic responses. These questions were considered in the light of a review of the various approaches to the study of architectural assessment emanating from environment-behaviour researchers. This review suggests that it is impossible to study the aesthetic quality of the built environment without reference to the meanings it symbolises, as townscape is functional, and aesthetic qualities cannot be abstracted without a consideration of these functional aspects. Thus it was argued that the assessment of the built environment is a function of people's cognitive representation of that environment and the meanings they attach to it. Therefore this was a study of attitudes in the broadest sense, being a study of how people looked at, made sense of and generally felt about these redevelopments. A research design was developed for the study of these issues based around the categorisation of photographic stimuli of fifteen redevelopments into groups in openended sorting procedures, and also through preference rankings. A total of one hundred and ten interviews were completed with five groups of respondents. The interview data was analysed through a combination of content analysis, inferential statistics and multiple dimensional scaling procedures. The results of the analysis revealed both commonalities and differences in the assessment of the redevelopments between respondent groups, with the differences particularly pronounced between the planning and lay public groups. These differences seemed to be caused by the fact that the groups tended to judge architecture according to different, but overlapping criteria. This was found to affect the way in which they conceptualised and categorised the redevelopments, which in turn affected their assessment. Planners tended to judge the redevelopments according to technical and design criteria, whereas non-experts appeared to be less concerned with physical criteria, instead emphasising the meanings and actions associated with the redevelopments, and more existential criteria, for example, whether a building created a 'sense of place'. These differences were related to differences in expertise and experience. In general the most successful designs in this study were found to be those redevelopments which were adjudged successful according to very different sets of criteria. It is argued that this study has increased our understanding of the relationship between expertise, attitude, assessment and decision-making in the context of townscapes. The implications of this research are discussed with reference to townscape management and the redevelopment of Birmingham city centre, and also in respect of theoretical issues in the study of environmental meaning and environment-behaviour research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available