Project

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An interdisciplinary project on the role of relationality in urban transformation processes

Applicant Maggi Rico
Number 138105
Funding scheme Interdisciplinary projects
Research institution Istituto Ricerche Economiche Università della Svizzera Italiana
Institution of higher education Università della Svizzera italiana - USI
Main discipline Economics
Start/End 01.11.2011 - 30.09.2014
Approved amount 319'332.00
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All Disciplines (3)

Discipline
Economics
Communication sciences
Architecture and Social urban science

Keywords (3)

relationality; urban projects; stated preference experiments

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary

Background

Urban transformations involve a continuous rearrangement of relations between the people inhabiting, using and constructing the urban sphere and between places, buildings, artefacts and their meaning for people. 

The story of a city is never-ending and written by multiple hands; by the youngsters taking up an abandoned space and inhabiting it with cultural activities, by tourists walking through a still run-down neighbourhood to reach their museum of interest, by constructors, architects and planners rebuilding a transportation route and by fathers making new friendships when bringing their kids to the nursery and thus creating new emotional places.

At the same time, these fathers, youngsters, politicians, architects, tourists, and businessmen are building their stories with the evolving plot of the city. The relational web of the city, built of interactions between people, places, stories and times make certain cultural developments, business ventures and friendships possible, but not others. In other words, the continuously evolving urban space is not completely incidental, but finds direction in the relational web of the city.

Considering this, it becomes clear that it is reductive to base planning decisions only on functional and calculable criteria. It’s also limiting to read the urban space merely through its geographic dimension as represented in ordinary maps. Instead, positive urban transformation requires an understanding of the various relations configuring the urban sphere.

This necessary confrontation with the present life in a city is challenging as it needs to assure, despite all diversity, that the different actors move in a same, even if broad, direction. In view of this, it is impossible to suggest a long-term planning that is not out-dated at the moment of its realization. The project thus aims to contribute how a processual approach to urban planning can be realised.

Question

In this study, we focus on three aspects of urban relationality, namely the spatio-temporal relationality, the one between the multiple users of urban space and the one of the people ideating, financing and constructing urban space. It builds on the recent advances in urban planning, which have sustained a more relational understanding of urban transformation processes, but where it is still unclear what is needed to connect diverse urban projects among each other and to the existing urban reality.

The study is hence driven by the question how the relational texture of a city influences urban transformations and how these transformations in turn change the city’s relational web over again.

Method

We use an existing urban reality as study material. The small city of Lugano is actively involved in an important urban transformation process and offers a good opportunity to study the relations among people and between them and the existing and future built environment.

A part of Lugano’s urban environment will be documented and analysed in a more extensive way than only by its physical aspects. Because of this complexity the research integrates the knowledge of three different scientific disciplines. An urbanistic team will study the spatial character but also focus on the ways the built is perceived by its citizens, read the ways people use space and investigate what space means to them. A team of economists will study the preferences of various users of urban space whilst a team in organizational communication will observe the interactions of the various actors involved in urban transformations. The diverse disciplines work together in all phases of the research and enrich each other’s practices.

Potential result

Through a better understanding of the various relations among people and the built environment we will be able to propose ‘relational projects’ that are able to account for the specific contextual features of an urban space and support an overall positive urban development, where visionary and pragmatic projects are aligned and not rivals of each other.

Significance

The research will inspire and sustain projects whose planning will take dynamic relationalities into account. This allows both a more human centred and context specific approach to urban planning, which is of relevance beyond the city of Lugano.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Il Consumo di attività culturali: un'analisi del contesto luganese
Scagnolari Stefano, Gogov Aleksandar (2014), Il Consumo di attività culturali: un'analisi del contesto luganese, in Dati - Statistiche e società, A XIV(1), 39-49.
In search of lost space. The process of space planning through remembering and history
Petani Fabio James, Mengis Jeanne, In search of lost space. The process of space planning through remembering and history, in Organization, 23(1).
Multiple perceptions as a framing device for identifying relational places
Scholz Claudia, Brandberg Realini Louise, Multiple perceptions as a framing device for identifying relational places, in Marzot Nicola, Komossa Susanne , Berghauser Pont Meta, Cavallo Roberto, Kuijper Joran (ed.), IOS Press , Amsterdam, 790-795.
Multiple perceptions as framing device for relational places
Scholz Claudia, Brandberg Realini Louise, Multiple perceptions as framing device for relational places, in Design Research Journal, 2012(2), 38-45.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Louise Brandberg Realini Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Aleksandar Gogov Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Stefano Scagnolari Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
10th World Congress of the Regional Science Association International (RSAI) Talk given at a conference The role of urban landscape perception for ancillary spend of visitors to cultural institutions 26.05.2014 Ayutthaya, Thailand Maggi Rico;
Global Tourism & Hospitality Conference and Asia Tourism Forum Talk given at a conference An Image-Based SP Experiment to Measure Willingness to Pay of Residents and Tourists for Improving Quality of Urban Areas 18.05.2014 Hongkong, Hongkong Maggi Rico;
14th Swiss Transport Research Conference Talk given at a conference An Image-Based SP Experiment to Measure Willingness to Pay of Residents and Tourists for Improving Quality of Urban Areas 14.05.2014 Ascona, Switzerland Maggi Rico;
14th Swiss Transport Research Conference Talk given at a conference The role of urban landscape perception for ancillary spend of visitors to cultural institutions 14.05.2014 Ascona, Switzerland Maggi Rico;
PhD seminar at the University of Oslo - Department of Informatics Individual talk The role of sociomateriality in coordination 25.04.2014 Oslo, University of Oslo, Norway Mengis Jeanne; Petani Fabio James;
International Conference on Organizational Learning, Knowledge and Capabilities (OLKC 2014 Theme: Circuits of Knowledge) Talk given at a conference Value-mediated coordination in the construction of a cultural center: how pragmatic tests recursively justify knowledge through “moral” organizational lessons 22.04.2014 BI Norwegian Business School, Nydalen (Oslo), Norway Mengis Jeanne; Petani Fabio James;
EPI DAY 2013 - Faculty of Communication Sciences Poster The role of space and values in coordination practices: justifying a culture-driven public architecture projet 04.12.2013 Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland Petani Fabio James;
Research seminar at the Instute of Marketing and Communication Management (IMCA) Individual talk Measuring and evaluating space: rejection tests in planning and construction practices of public projects 09.10.2013 Università della Svizzera italiana (USI), Switzerland Petani Fabio James;
29th Colloquium of the European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) Subtheme 13: Creativity, Aesthetics and Business: Explorations in Markets, Organizations and Institutions Talk given at a conference What absent spaces tell us of the aesthetic business of creating a center for the arts 04.07.2013 HEC Montréal and Université de Montréal , Canada Petani Fabio James;
5th International Symposium on Process Organization Studies (PROS). Theme: The emergency of novelty in organizations. Talk given at a conference Space as a processual test: novelty emergence (and submergence) seen through absent spaces 20.06.2013 Chania, Crete, Greece Petani Fabio James;
13th Swiss Transport Research Conference Talk given at a conference Relationality in Urban Processes: How Cultural Projects Makes Connections with the Human and Physical Reality 24.04.2013 Ascona, Switzerland Maggi Rico;
SGKM Conference 2013. Theme: Transdisciplinarity in communication and media research - a return on investment or a complete waste of time? Talk given at a conference The sociomaterial mediation of interdisciplinary communication 12.04.2013 Institut für Angewandte Medienwissenschaft der ZHAW, Theaterstrasse 15c, Winterthur, Switzerland Mengis Jeanne; Petani Fabio James;
Research seminar at the Institute for Marketing and Communication Management (IMCA) Individual talk Orders of worth at play in creating a center for the arts. Agency of unrealized spaces in coordination of inter-professional work 12.12.2012 Lugano, Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland Petani Fabio James;
Swiss Design Network SDN Conference 2012: "Disruptive Interaction" Talk given at a conference Surfacing the Invisible-Multiple perceptions as framing device for identifying relational places 09.11.2012 Lugano, Switzerland, Switzerland Scholz Claudia;
EAAE/ISUF International Conference 'New Urban Configurations' 2012 Talk given at a conference Surfacing the Invisible - Multiple perceptions as framing device for identifying relational places 16.10.2012 Delft, Netherland, Netherlands Scholz Claudia;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Two-day expert workshop 'Area Palazzo Congressi' 04.09.2013 Lugano, Switzerland
Workshop LAC 13.06.2013 Lugano, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Dialogo creativo Talk 08.12.2013 Mendrisio, Switzerland
Longlake festival Lugano Talk 03.07.2013 Lugano , Switzerland


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Confron-Ti Turismo 17.06.2014 Bellinzona, Switzerland
Idee per lo spazio pubblico di Lugano 25.09.2013 Lugano , Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: radio, television Modem Rete UNO Italian-speaking Switzerland 2014
Media relations: radio, television Turnè 22.02.2014 'Quotidiano' RSI Italian-speaking Switzerland 2014
Media relations: radio, television Cittadini e territorio Rete Uno Millevoci Italian-speaking Switzerland 2013
Media relations: print media, online media Die unsichtbare Stadt: Forschungsprojekt zum kollektiven Entwerfen in Lugano. DETAIL online German-speaking Switzerland International 2013
Media relations: radio, television La seconda pagina - Attualità culturale, interviste attorno ad un tema Rete Due Italian-speaking Switzerland 2013
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Relazionalità dei Progetti Urbani: un approccio economico Italian-speaking Switzerland 2012
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Urban relation web International Italian-speaking Switzerland 2011

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
162733 The Role of Spatiotemporality in Identity Translation Work: A Processual Account 01.04.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)
116523 Effects of Neighborhood Choice on Housing Markets: a model based on the interaction between microsimulations and revealed/stated preference modeling 01.05.2007 Interdisciplinary projects
152272 Justification practices in a public architecture project for the arts: the complex process of coordinating space and values 01.02.2014 Doc.Mobility

Abstract

In the last decade relationality has become a growing issue of urban transformation processes, both in practice and in research. Whilst the concept has been mainly understood in spatial terms (geographical connectivity) we propose that an interdisciplinary investigation on the subject will help us to identify how urban transformation projects also rearrange relationships in time and between different user groups and stakeholders. The proposed project thus aims to inquire into three dimensions of relationality - spatio-temporal, stakeholder, and user relationality - and asks what makes an architectural project ‘relational’ from an economic, organizational and urban planning point of view. It thereby embeds urban design into the very process of its generation and shows how both the coordination processes of its development and the means by which the architectural object is perceived and appropriated by users, define the architectural project in its relation to the urban space. For a better understanding of this idea we draw on three disciplinary fields: urban design and architecture (design processes), organizational communication (coordination across professional boundaries), and economics (user behavior). Through these perspectives relationality can be understood as 1) the ways in which projects make connections with other urban transformation projects and with the physical urban reality more in general as well as the ways in which urban projects enact linkages between past-present-future, 2) the ways in which projects connect and actively engage a variety of stakeholders, 3) the ways in which projects attract and actively involve a variety of end users or population groups, such as citizens and tourists.The empirical context of the proposed study is a small city (Lugano) that undergoes a considerable transformation process re-orientating itself nationally and internationally. For this purpose the city seems to have embraced an urban strategy frequently discussed under the term ‘Guggenheim effect’, hoping to achieve a catalytic effect with one large investment, e.g. LAC project. We will take this iconic project and interrogate it in regards of its relationality. We will apply a sequential explorative strategy and combine in-depth case studies with a survey and an experimental design. In the first phase, we will analyse three urban projects in the cultural domain of Lugano and, in a second, design and conduct an experiment of two hypothetical relational projects. This allows us to explore how relationality plays out in its three dimensions and examine how these specific aspects of relationality interact.The overall contribution of the proposed study is to develop in the urban discourse an empirically based framework for relationality that gives equal weight to the architectural object, its spatio-temporal context, its development process, and its use.
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