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Title: Becoming place : analysis of impacts of urban laboratories on place making in western tradition of urban design
Author: Onyango, John Odhiambo
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: Glasgow School of Art
Date of Award: 2012
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The importance of high quality urban design in place-making can be seen by the increased interest in design control tools such as design guides and policy statements. In addition, there has been an increase in the number of organizations known as the Urban Design Laboratories that promote and campaign for better place-making. Fundamental to the approach of the urban lab is the utilitarian idea that design becomes the vehicle for transforming the social and economic conditions of the citizens and also provide the panopticon to continuously look at the performance of the built environment and related spheres as well come up with solutions collaboratively with other professionals. There are arguments to whether these organizations are effective vehicles in promoting the production of high quality built places through training of designers and empowering of communities. There is thus the need for evidence to support their claims in theory, policy and practice. This dissertation is an examination of how urban laboratories as vehicles of knowledge generation contribute to an enhanced place creation process in the built environments. It begins by looking at what historical circumstances fostered the constitution of urban design laboratories since the 1960s, followed by examination of the reasons for their inception in the USA and continental Europe. A time-line illustrating their developments and relationships was carried out to identify three established and active laboratories in the western world and their corresponding predominant theories and examined in detail. Four themes were used: the historical contexts; the participatory design processes; the strategies and tactics and the consequences of their methodologies, and what role the laboratories take in the training of architects, students and community. In addition a correlation if any to some of the ethical issues that rise out of participation in the design processes and policy decisions were interrogated and how these affects outcomes of the projects so undertaken. The study revealed that the historical, economic, and political events were not as important to the formation of the urban laboratories as had been assumed, however, their methodologies and tactics developed from the local contexts. The ethical role of a designer as a citizen as well as the citizen as an expert in the local contextual knowledge was crucial hence training of future designers on the role of advocacy was important. It also revealed that participatory process does not need to be explicitly embedded in the process as a strategy to result in better-designed communities, however, community empowerment has ethical connotations as it bring the participants to the recognition that actions that affect them should be informed by knowledge and understanding of the causes that are locational and contextual.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available