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Title: Customisation and urban design : evaluating the role of informal street user modifications in the distribution of static activities and perceptions of streetscape settings
Author: Timmerman, Richard Martin
ISNI:       0000 0004 7659 8635
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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Since the mid-twentieth century, the urban planning and design practices have battled to counter their association with the creation of dead urban spaces. This deadness is conveyed in their lack of pedestrian activities - conviviality, spatial interactions - and negative perceptions of such spaces. In a variety of ways, urban design theorists have suggested that the negative impressions of planning are connected to the system's inability to acknowledge the opinions of those subjected to it. The process of producing public spaces often result in inflexible scenarios that fail to acknowledge constantly changing end-user requirements. In several narratives, planning processes are compared to the monotony of mass-production processes - a linear process that limits participation and variety in designs by their end-users. Today, manufacturing processes offer mass-customisation as an approach towards diversifying end products, devolving design powers to customers who informally modify and optimise their products. Mass-customisation allows for end-user modifications throughout a product's creation and post-construction. While collaborative design is embedded into many urban design processes, comparable flexibilities and successes observed in mass-customisation are not apparent. Through the empirical study of three London retail high streets, with contrasting population demographics, the impacts of informally customised streetscape features on the distribution of static pedestrian activities are scrutinised. Evidence is tested against the opinions of a selection of pedestrians distributed in streetscape regions with varying intensities of customisation. This research finds that an increased presence of customisation results in increased pedestrian activities, vitality, and positive spatial perceptions. It also finds that there is an optimal level of complexity associated with informal modifications, corresponding with past studies concerning the negative impacts of over complexity on human responses to spatial settings - a theoretical threshold. Therefore, moderate implementations of customisation are linked to the increased clustering of static activities and satisfaction across varied demographics and spatial settings.
Supervisor: Marshall, S. ; Hickman, R. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available