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Chapter 1 Problem and research strategy
Introducing the work
This book reports on an exploration that started at the end of 2004. It explores the borders between the domain of social geography and the domain of urban and re‐ gional design and planning. The work contained in this book has been inspired by two questions that are – for me – at the heart of urban and regional design and planning (stedebouwkunde). The first of those questions paraphrases Torsten Hägerstrand, the founder of ‘time geography’: What about people in urban and regional design and planning? (cf. Hägerstrand, 1970) The second question links that question to the work of Kevin Lynch, valued theorist on urban design, who was concerned with the experi‐ ence of time in cities: What about time in urban and regional design and planning? (cf. Lynch, 1972) Asking these questions supposes a standpoint that shows concern for a lack of attention – despite ample theorisation – to these two aspects of urbanism (cf. Amin and Graham, 1997; Amin and Thrift, 2002), within the domain of urban and regional design and planning. This thesis’s starting point is that it is important to know about people’s temporo‐ spatial activity patterns when making urban and regional designs and plans. The cen‐ tral problem of the thesis is that, despite wide acknowledgment of this idea, such knowledge about people’s activity patterns does not get full attention in day‐to‐day practice of urban and regional design and planning. This is not a particularly new problem, but has been a matter of interest from the 1960s onwards in both Dutch urban planning, as well as abroad. I will make the case that, with activity patterns of people changing these days, this subject again deserves full attention within the do‐ main of urban and regional design and planning. One explanation for the occurrence of this particular problem is that there exists a so‐called applicability gap between knowledge of temporospatial activity patterns of people and knowledge of urban and regional design and planning. Therefore, the explorative work contained in this book is about the ways in which designers or plan‐ ners can ‘know’ about people’s possible and probable activity and mobility behaviour in time and space and how they can act upon that knowledge while their object of study is something different, namely the design of the built environment. In the 1960s and 1970s the answer to that problem seemed within easy reach in the do‐ main of urban and regional design and planning. Theories of people’s behaviour, of urban development and of urban planning came into confluence in a period charac‐ terised by much optimism about the future and the ability to actively shape that future. But the future proved stubborn, resisting being shaped fully to those theories. Both human behaviour and urban development proved more difficult to grasp than
imagined. The result, nowadays, is that we are left with a much more intricate prob‐ lem than the planners of the 1960s; if we still want to put people central in our ef‐ forts to shape the physical fabric of cities and urban regions. The challenge for this study was to find a way to deal with such increased com‐ plexity without backtracking into a relativism of ‘we can’t do anything about it’. At the heart of the argument lies the conviction that the shaping of the physical envi‐ ronment does play a role in providing the necessary conditions for people’s individual lives to be played out in time and space. The scientific relevance of the work lies in the fact that it bridges a gap between a social science stance and a technical science stance so that it extends the scientific body of knowledge of urban design and plan‐ ning. Though that body of knowledge will ultimately have to be ‘filled’ with substan‐ tive knowledge of what type of design principles might ‘work’ (see Klaasen, 2004), I will not provide ready‐made principles for design. I will provide a first step towards developing such knowledge by providing ideas about how knowledge about tempo‐ rospatial activity patterns of people can be embedded in urban and regional design and planning. The work is based on analysing two particular approaches to incorporating em‐ pirical knowledge of activity patterns of people in urban and regional design and planning. The approaches represent two complementary views of how one might grasp the importance of temporospatial activity patterns of people in the domain of urban and regional design and planning. One focuses on knowledge about patterns of activities and emphasises the role of empirical knowledge. The other approach fo‐ cuses on the constraints for those activities to unfold and emphasises the role of knowledge about design and planning. The work is coloured by a Dutch context, but its argument extends beyond the borders of that context. There are other reasons for the Dutch colour of the work besides being the place where the research took place. The Netherlands has a good reputation internationally with regard to the stature of the domain of urban and regional design and planning due to both the planning system as well as the culture of design. But, as this first chapter will demonstrate, this reputation is under pressure from within the domain and because the societal context in which the domain is placed is fundamentally changing. These two conditions provide for a vivid debate to take place on the domain in the Netherlands, which provides a rich source for discov‐ ering new opportunities in light of the design and planning tasks at hand. It thus pro‐ vides a gratifying setting for study. In this chapter, firstly, the background of this thesis will be provided: the way it is positioned within the domain of urban and regional design and planning and in the context of societal developments regarding the organisation of time and space in contemporary society. The chapter describes the focus of the work by providing the problem description, the key concepts used in this thesis and the main research ques‐ tion. I conclude the chapter by providing the line of reasoning by which the design and planning approaches analysed in Chapters 5 and 6 have been chosen and demar‐ cated. 2
Chapter 1 Problem and research strategy
A crisis in Dutch urban and regional design and planning?
During the 1990s, it was widely held in the Netherlands that the design‐oriented urban planning domain of stedebouwkunde (urban and regional design and planning), its theoretical basis and its practices, found itself in a ‘crisis’ and was in need of reha‐ bilitation (Nio and Reijndorp, 1997). This crisis was particularly intellectual in nature, but at times extended into the practices constituting the profession of stedebou‐ wkunde as well as, for example, into educational reform. This was not something particularly new, as this ‘crisis’ with regard to its efficiency and relevance had been proclaimed since the early 1980s, if not earlier (Boelens, 1990). Nor was it the last time that the need for rehabilitation would be called for (OCW, VROM, LNV and V&W, 2008; BNSP, 2009). The origins of this perpetual ‘crisis’ at the end of the 20th century can be traced to a number of different, converging problems such as the shift up in the level of spatial scale of urban design problems, the changing relation between the urban and the rural, the failure of the plan as an instrument for planning, the failed project of modernism in urban planning with its functional zoning approach, the re‐ alisation that the knowledge system of preparatory research feeding the design of a plan was increasingly ineffective if it ever worked at all; and the splintering of the discipline as a result of specialisation and claiming of urban and regional design and planning issues by other domains. This proclaimed crisis stirred the debate on the core of stedebouwkunde; the de‐ bate on this topic during the 1990s is particularly interesting. In this period a new body of literature on the history of the domain arose in the Netherlands (e.g. Valk, 1990; Bosma, 1993; Faludi and Valk, 1994; Somer, 2007). In planning policy circles this was the period marked by the implementation of the Vierde Nota Ruimtelijke Ordening (Fourth Memorandum on Spatial Planning) (VROM, 1990) and the prepara‐ tion of the Vijfde Nota Ruimtelijke Ordening (Fifth Memorandum on Spatial Planning) (VROM, 2001b; Werkgroep Vijfde Nota Ruimtelijke Ordening, 2000). The planning concept ‘urban networks’ became central in the preparation of the Fifth Memoran‐ dum – although as a planning concept it was rather ambiguous and not particularly new (cf. Cammen and Klerk, 2003) – while the buzzword by then was ontwik‐ kelingsplanologie (spatial development planning) as opposed to toelatingsplanologie (land‐control oriented spatial planning) (WRR, 1998). Stedebouwkundigen (urban and regional designers) were searching for their role in this new setting (Nio and Reijndorp, 1997). 1.2.2 Urban and regional design and planning: definition of its material object
As different opinions about what constitutes the domain of urban and regional design and planning exist within the domain, it is necessary here to elaborate on how I see 3
that domain. It is also important to clarify the use of this term in relation to other, particularly Dutch terms that are similar, equivalent or adjacent. This also relates to how I am using English translations of Dutch terms of ruimtelijke planning, planologie, and stedebouwkunde as I explain them below. In this thesis I will use one umbrella term that encompasses both ruimtelijke plan‐ ning and stedebouwkunde. This term is ‘urban and regional design and planning’. In translation stedebouwkunde suggests an emphasis on urban and regional design and physical‐spatial organisation, while ruimtelijke planning suggests an emphasis on urban and regional planning and societal‐spatial organisation. However, I see these Dutch terms as inseparable, concerning the same object of study in both theory and practice, despite both terms having different connotations. I do consciously separate planologie from urban and regional design and planning. What may be confusing is that planologie is often translated as ‘spatial planning’, the literal translation of ruim‐ telijke planning. However, planologie, in my view, concerns a fundamentally different object of study in both theory and practice in comparison to the coherent ‘complex of knowledge and action’ (kennis‐ en handelingscomplex; cf. Boelens, 1990: 8) that I will describe as urban and regional design and planning. I regard planologie to be a form of political or organisational science while urban and regional design and planning can be regarded as a technical, practical science (see Klaasen, 2004). On the one hand, it will be possible to see the central problem of this thesis (see section 1.3) as a substantive problem concerning the material object of urban and regional design and planning. Hidding defines the material object of ruimtelijke plan‐ ning – the term that Hidding uses – i.e. urban and regional design and planning, as ‘spatial organisation’ as the result of the ‘reciprocal adaptation of space and society’ (Hidding, 2006: 101). Models of the material object of urban and regional design and planning are at the basis of the definition of both planning and design tasks (Hidding, 2006). Such models are conceptual in nature and aim to describe the complex rela‐ tions, mechanisms, processes and elements of societal and physical reality. Hidding (2006: 100) describes how this translates into two fundamental tasks of spatial or‐ ganisation for the domain of urban and regional design and planning. Note that ‘spa‐ tial organisation’ is identified by Hidding not in terms of an end‐image, but as an intermediate result, continuously adapted in light of on‐going societal processes. The first, but not necessarily predominant, fundamental task concerns the spatial organi‐ sation of the mutual relations between people, organisations, etc. This relates to the geographical location of social (societal) activities in their relative positions as well as to the possibility to intervene, change, and adapt these relative positions. This task is that of societal‐spatial organisation. The second fundamental task concerns the spa‐ tial organisation of relations with and within the physical environment. This relates to the design, transformation, realisation and maintenance of the physical environment, responding to the characteristics, limitations and possibilities of what is already there naturally and culturally. This task is that of physical‐spatial organisation. The distinc‐ tion between the two types of spatial organisation must be seen as an analytical
Chapter 1 Problem and research strategy
distinction. In reality these are bound together and exist only in a reciprocal relation (cf. Figure 1.1). On the other hand, it will be possible to see the central problem of this thesis (see section 1.1) as a problem concerning the framing of urban and regional design and planning tasks in urban and regional design and planning practice. Frames are ‘sys‐ tems of meaning that organise what we ‘know’’ (Healey, 2007: 25). I use the term ‘framing’ to refer to the choice of ‘language’ for such models, as well as to the con‐ struction, (ab)use and adaptation of models of the material object of urban and re‐ gional design and planning in particular approaches. Such framing takes place in de‐ sign and planning processes by applying knowledge in the making of designs and plans and reciprocally by doing research to inform people who design and plan. This second view implies that, in addition to a substantive component, there are social and procedural aspects that are important for exploring the problem. Note that, though I focus on the use of empirical knowledge by designers and planners, there are many other types of knowledge that are used in the making of urban and regional designs and plans such as ideas about the nature, purpose and appropriate tasks associated with planning, ideas about the role and powers of an individual planner or group in a particular situation or ‘practice’, and ideas, concepts, facts, procedures and theories which planners and designers apply to problems and tasks (see e.g. Healey and Underwood, 1978).
Figure 1.1 The reciprocal relation between the physical urban system and urban society, accord‐ ing to Klaasen (2004: 22)
1.2.3 Two views of the core of urban and regional design and planning
This thesis is a product of the first decade of the 21st century. It needs to be seen, on the one hand, against the background of the developments within the discipline of stedebouwkunde in the 1990s. And, on the other hand, it needs to be seen against 5
the backdrop of a number of societal developments in the second half of the 20th century, partially driven by the massification and innovation of mobility, information and communication technologies. Let's first take a look at the discipline of stedebouwkunde. The starting of a num‐ ber of projects in the 1990s, rethinking the foundations of the discipline stedebou‐ wkunde, is of particular relevance here. This search for foundations disclosed some of the fundamental differences in the approach of stedebouwkundige problems and for which the Urbanism department at the Faculty of Architecture of Delft University of Technology may be seen as an illustrative example. In the second half of the 1990s two very different attempts were initiated at the Urbanism Department of Delft Uni‐ versity of Technology to rethink the foundations for the stedebouwkunde for the 21st century. On the one hand, there were those involved in the research programme De Kern van de Stedebouw in het Perspectief van de Eenentwintigste Eeuw. For this group, the design of the urban ground plan as the durable fabric of cities should be regarded as the core of the domain, to be seen in relation to (and mediating between) the spatial‐ functional organisation of the territory (read: land use planning), the physical design of public spaces and the sets of rules and regulations for building (Heeling, Bekkering and Westrik, 2001; Heeling, Meyer and Westrik, 2002). Such a perspective on urban design and planning concerns itself primarily with the composition of spatial patterns with the aim of transforming the physical fabric of cities. The physical fabric of cities from this point of view is constituted by different physical elements that can be sepa‐ rated in layers, of which the layer of the urban ground plan plays a primary role in structuring the composition of other layers (see Figure 1.2). On the other hand, there were those involved in the research programme Net‐ work Cities. For this group, the core of the domain lay in the possibility of an ‘urban‐ ism of networks’. This meant, first, to revalue planning classics that consider cities and urban regions in terms of dynamic network structures following the work of Gabriel Dupuy (1991) and, second, to consider the consequences of the introduction of new information and communication technologies at the end of the 20th century (Drewe, 2003a). This research programme has been based on the assumption that so‐ called network thinkers have long been marginalised in mainstream urban and re‐ gional design and planning, but that, with the rise of the ‘network society’ (Castells, 1996 (2000)) it is necessary to see urban design and planning problems from the perspective of so‐called operators of networks. Of particular importance is the study of the relation between operators of technical networks, the operators of functional networks and households as they constitute their own particular network of activities and their interactions with others in everyday life (Drewe, 2003b; Dupuy, Schaick and Klaasen, 2008; Dupuy, 1991) (see Figure 1.3). This view on the domain of urban plan‐ ning concerns itself primarily with the complex interaction of processes in time and space rather than just with the transformation of spatial patterns over time. The study before you has been developed in the context of the research pro‐ gramme Network Cities. In that research programme I have taken up the challenge to 6
Chapter 1 Problem and research strategy
give more substance to one of the yet seemingly underdeveloped issues in the re‐ search programme of an urbanism of networks: the way in which thinking about the networks of households in the making of urban designs and plans may be incorpo‐ rated. And this focus on the daily life of people brings us to the importance of a num‐ ber of societal developments in the 1990s in the following section.
Figure 1.2 The composition of physical patterns in the urban ground plan, public space and built‐up space central to the domain of urban and regional design and planning. Source: Heeling et al. (2001); Heeling et al. (2002)
Figure 1.3 Three levels of network operators. Source: Dupuy et al. (2008)
The context: technology, time, space and bottlenecks in daily life
The debate of the 1990s on the core of urban and regional design and planning took place in a society where many speculated about the effects of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) on the organisation of time and space in daily life and in society at large. The World Wide Web was launched in 1991 and within a dec‐ ade became a medium for mass communication. Mobile phones became appropri‐ ated by the masses during roughly the same period. Time was said to become time‐ less and spatial distance to be annihilated (see Castells, 1996 (2000); Urry, 2007). Now, only several years later, such predictions have not come true, but these tech‐ nologies – in combination with a number of other societal trends and with the adap‐ tation to contemporary society of ‘older’ technologies, such as the car and rail sys‐ tems, that were already in place – have been highly influential, directly having effects on the organisation of time and space in daily lives of people and for the temporal and spatial organisation of cities. Without attributing changes in the organisation of daily life solely to technological influence, a number of significant dynamics in the temporal‐spatial organisation of daily life can be identified: timespace compression, timespace convergence, time‐ space flexibilisation and timespace individualisation (see e.g. Janelle and Gillespie, 2004; Janelle, 1996; Harvey, 1990; Castells, 1996 (2000); Breedveld and Broek, 2003; Breedveld, Broek, Haan, Hart, Huysmans and Niggebrugge, 2001; Franck and Wegener, 2002). 8
Chapter 1 Problem and research strategy
Although I will go into more detail in Chapter 2, explaining these concepts and their implications, it is important to pay attention to these concepts here. What do they concretely mean? The first concept, timespace compression, implies that people generally have become more busy, i.e. are doing more in the same amount of time; as is the case in the Netherlands (Breedveld et al., 2001) (cf. Peters, 2003; Galle, Dam, Peeters, Pols, Ritsema van Eck, Segeren and Verwest, 2004). It also implies the idea of an increasingly faster turnover time for goods and information (Harvey, 1990). The second concept, timespace convergence, implies that new means of transportation and communication have allowed for information, goods and people to travel in‐ creasingly larger distances in shorter time spans as is the case since the introduction of the railway systems in the 19th century and is still increasingly the case with the introduction of new technologies or with adjustments to existing technologies (Woud, 2006; Harvey, 1990). The combination of these two concepts implies the idea that more and more people might experience time pressure in scheduling their daily ac‐ tivities. Paradoxically in the Netherlands, this also seems to apply to free time in which more and more activities take place (Haan, Broek, Huysmans and Breedveld, 2003). The third concept, timespace flexibilisation, implies two things. On the one hand it implies that a growth in variation of the daily pattern of activities of people can be observed. After all, not everyone can or will participate in the ‘speeding up’ of daily life. On the other hand, it implies that people might be forced to become more flexi‐ ble to ‘tune in’ to other, more dominant temporospatial patterns elsewhere. They may so become more ‘flexible’ because technologies weave together the rhythms of economic and social activities in multiple places at the same time (Castells, 1996 (2000)). That double‐sided concept of flexibilisation is connected to the last concept that I have put forward above, timespace individualisation. This concept refers to the who and with whom of activities of people. With regard to the latter, the Sociaal Cultureel Planbureau (SCP; the Netherlands Institute for Social Research) has shown that there is a trend in which people are spending less time on social contacts (Breedveld et al., 2001). At the same time, with more women on the labour market, active 55‐plussers and the emergence of task combining households – all phenomena characteristic of increasingly individual choices with regard to life style – classic notions about households seem no longer sufficient to understand and organise cities (Knaap, 2002). However, at the same time, relatively little has changed over the last decades with regard to the collective rhythm of daily life, at least in the Netherlands; the collective rhythm being a phenomenon in which the with whom of activity patterns becomes ultimately visible. The rhythm of day and night and the rhythm of life governed by labour hours are still the two dominant Zeitgeber (the cues that regulate the order of time) in the Netherlands; and the Mon‐ day‐to‐Friday and 9‐to‐5 culture of paid work proves to be very persistent there (Breedveld et al., 2001). The Sociaal Cultureel Planbureau (SCP) has claimed that a ‘multiple choice society’ is emerging; the ‘demanding society’ is the other side of this coin (Breedveld and 9
Broek, 2003). This tension between the multiple choice society and strong collective time structures has meant that in particular for those households that combine a multitude of tasks, so‐called task combiners, the quality of life has come under pres‐ sure. During the 1990s it became widely recognised, in particular in social policy cir‐ cles, that there was a set of problems that needed to be tackled. The VROM‐raad in their advice Dagindeling geordend? (Planning daily routine arrangements?) (VROM‐ raad, 2000) distinguished three types of bottlenecks that needed to be solved to improve quality of life for task combining households: 1. Beschikbaarheidsknelpunten (availability bottlenecks) such as opening times which are a result of temporal organisation as laid down by insti‐ tutions, for example, providing amenities; 2. Bereikbaarheidsknelpunten (accessibility bottlenecks, i.e. to be physi‐ cally within reach) which are a result of the spatial position of services and amenities, for example in how they are positioned in relation to public transport facilities; 3. Toegankelijkheidsknelpunten (approachability and utility bottlenecks) which are related to the appropriate social‐economic and social‐cultural conditions for accessibility of services and amenities; think of services and goods being too expensive to buy or to reach, or of a mismatch be‐ tween available goods and services and desired goods and services.
Problem statement and key concepts
This study deals with an intellectual problem, a problem of theory, rather than with an empirical problem. It concerns the exploration of how, in the domain of urban and regional design and planning, to deal in a better way with a particular kind of knowl‐ edge and with a particular way of seeing urban transformation processes. In an ideal situation, urban environments are suited to accommodate the desired and desirable activities and movements of people that inhabit and visit them as best as possible for as many as possible. Urban and regional designers and planners have an important role to play in inventing new environments and adapting those that no longer suffice, so as to better accommodate those desires and desirables than before. To realise urban environments that can be sustained over longer periods of time, it is important to understand how people’s lives are organised in time and space on a daily, weekly and monthly basis (Klaasen, 2004; Drewe, 2004; 2005b). Urban and regional designers and planners would ideally base their decisions on a thorough understanding of how urban environments and their proposals for interventions in those environments would affect people’s activities and mobility. It is also important 10
Chapter 1 Problem and research strategy
that they understand how changes in activity and mobility behaviour in turn create new demands for the urban environment to accommodate. Klaasen (2004), amongst others, has argued that without such understanding errors in design and planning are easily made, resulting in difficult to use or ill‐used urban places and larger urban sys‐ tems. Knowledge on the so‐called temporospatial activity patterns of people is readily available within the domain of human geography (see Chapter 2). Two major prob‐ lems occur with using and applying such knowledge in urban and regional design and planning. One has to do with the dissimilarities between the domain of urban and regional design and planning and the domain of human geography. Fundamental differences exist between types of knowledge in the two domains There are funda‐ mental differences between the type of knowledge on how to make urban and re‐ gional designs and plans – focused on physical‐spatial interventions and changes in urban areas and regions constituted by large temporal grains (years, decades) – and knowledge about how to understand activity behaviour of people – focused on em‐ pirical knowledge of temporospatial patterns constituted by smaller temporal grains (days, weeks, months). To apply the latter to the former proves difficult: at the piv‐ otal point between these two bodies of knowledge a so‐called ‘applicability gap’ can be found (see Chapter 3). The other major problem occurs when looking at the fact that society is changing: the domain of urban and regional design and planning seems to be lagging behind in understanding those changes and acting upon them (Drewe, 2004; 2005a). Proposed interventions are often based on an understanding of patterns of behaviour of days past rather than possible and plausible patterns of future behaviour (Klaasen, 2004). It is indeed difficult to grasp activity patterns of people now that they are rapidly changing due to societal and technological developments (see Chapter 2). The ques‐ tion is if one can find new ways to propose urban interventions based on a funda‐ mental understanding of temporospatial activity patterns of people and the way these may be changing over time. If urban and regional designers and planners are not capable of answering to the question of how to accommodate, sustainably, activity patterns of people, it is likely that, within their domain of knowledge and action, they remain searching for the relevance of the domain in society. In the meantime society will have already changed again, answering to its own dynamics. If, however, it would be possible to apply knowledge on temporospatial activity patterns of people in urban and regional design and planning, the relevance of that domain in a world where those patterns are changing would increase significantly. Resolving the applicability gap problem is crucial to getting there. Previous attempts have largely failed with regard to embed‐ ding knowledge on activity patterns of people in urban and regional design and plan‐ ning (see section 1.4). This leads to the following concise problem statement for this thesis:
A gap occurs between understanding how temporospatial activity patterns of people get constituted and change, and knowing how to design and plan urban systems. This gap hinders the making of designs and plans for urban areas and regions that can accommodate plausible and probable fu‐ ture patterns of temporospatial behaviour in a sustainable manner. With‐ out understanding the ordering of time in relation to the ordering of space, this gap cannot be bridged. Nor can this problem be resolved without un‐ derstanding knowledge‐application processes when different knowledge domains have to be bridged. To elaborate this problem statement I will explain three key concepts as building blocks for the main research questions of this study. Firstly, I will identify what I think of as temporospatial activity patterns of people. Secondly, I will provide a rudimen‐ tary definition of the applicability gap concept. Thirdly, I will briefly outline the basic idea of knowledge utility studies. These concepts will be elaborated in more detail in Chapters 2, 3 and 4. 1.3.2 Temporospatial activity patterns of people
The first key concept concerns the notion of temporospatial activity patterns of peo‐ ple. The basic concept of temporospatial activity patterns of people can be under‐ stood by looking at the web‐like scheme of figure 1.4. This figure demonstrates how an individual may combine a series of activities during a limited amount of time, and how one can measure and document the relation in time and space between those activities. Figure 1.4 shows how, for example, the number of activities, the distance, i.e. moving, between activities as well as the location of a ‘home’ base are of influ‐ ence on the total amount of activities that can be undertaken by an individual in a certain amount of time. The idea is that activity patterns are constituted by both the pattern of multiple activities carried out in situ as well as by the patterns of mobility necessary to combine activities in different places. In this thesis I focus on activity patterns of people, but a similar concept may, for example, apply to patterns of ac‐ tivities of companies. I will explicate that this seemingly simple idea has large theoretical implications. The spatial reach of an activity pattern will show in Chapter 2 to be subject to a range of so‐called constraints (Hägerstrand, 1970), although people are also themselves capable of seeking ways to increase or reorganise the span of their activity patterns (Giddens, 1984). Such influence – agency – must be seen in the context of powerful mechanisms by which both societal patterns and people’s individual patterns are continuously being adapted (e.g. Janelle, 1969). Temporospatial activity patterns of people are thus no static givens, but must be seen in relation to societal processes. Such processes are characterised by both temporal and spatial order. I posit that these ‘orders’ cannot be seen apart, but must be seen in terms of temporospatial order. Furthermore, I posit that they must be seen as being dynamic, thus in terms of 12
Chapter 1 Problem and research strategy
temporospatial ordering. Such ordering is where the domain of urban and regional design and planning comes into play. Moreover, with its fundamental task of societal‐ spatial and physical‐spatial organisation, urban and regional design and planning has a significant role to play in such ‘ordering’. I will explain in Chapter 2 the workings of four major types of mechanisms of temporospatial adaptation, already introduced earlier this chapter, by which such ordering may take place: timespace compression, timespace convergence, timespace individualisation and timespace flexibilisation.
1.3.3 Applicability gap
Figure 1.4 A web concept for quantification of the ordering characteristics of activity patterns. Source: Vidakovic (1988: 122) as adapted by Klaasen (2004: 70)
The ‘applicability gap’ is the second key concept in this thesis. Although the term ‘applicability gap’ originates in design theory, and in particular in environment‐ behaviour studies (Hillier, Musgrove and O'Sullivan, 1972; Zeisel, 1981), the concept of a gap between knowledge and action is recognised throughout literature on plan‐ ning in general (Friedmann and Hudson, 1974) and urban and regional design and planning in particular (Heide and Wijnbelt, 1994; Klaasen, 2004). Much of the litera‐ ture focuses on one of a series of possible explanations of the applicability gap’s oc‐ currence. I identify in Chapter 3 three major categories of explanations for the appli‐ cability gap problem: structural aspects, related to the gap between professional communities amongst themselves and/or in their relation to academic communities; content‐based aspects, related to what is regarded relevant knowledge in different domains and disciplines; and procedural aspects, related to gaps in processes of plan‐ 13
ning and design. Throughout the thesis I also look at explanations for the applicability gap at a so‐called meta‐level, i.e. referring to methodological aspects of managing knowledge such as laid bare by the domain of so‐called knowledge utility studies. 1.3.4 Knowledge utility
To understand the third key concept as I use it, the concept of ‘knowledge utility’, it helps to distinguish it from knowledge use. This is the third key concept that I explain here. Both use of knowledge and utility of knowledge concern processes of knowl‐ edge being transferred or knowledge ‘travelling’ from one context to another. The use of knowledge then is a relatively neutral term without a particular normative connotation. An often‐used distinction between types of knowledge use is that be‐ tween instrumental use of knowledge, conceptual use of knowledge and symbolic use of knowledge. Landry, Amara and Lamari (2001a), Amara, Ouimet and Landry (2004) and Beyer (1997) provide in‐depth treatments of these categories. When using distinctions between different uses of knowledge another often made distinction is the one between tacit and explicit knowledge (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995), each implying different ways of using knowledge. Utility of knowledge has a different connotation. ‘Utility’ is a term originally coined in economics, but the use of the term in the context here is different from its economic meaning, though associated with the possibility to quantify and measure ‘utilisation’. Thus, a difference can be made between the use of knowledge and the usefulness of knowledge. The question of who gets to decide what is deemed useful knowledge in planning and design processes is a matter of concern, but is beyond the scope of the work at hand. It is important to note that usefulness – i.e. utility – can be defined from both the point‐of‐view of the source of knowledge as well as what could be considered a receiving end of a process of knowledge transfer. Knowledge utility studies in the context of planning are methodological in nature. Other terms used to describe these types of studies are knowledge influence, knowl‐ edge uptake, knowledge transfer, knowledge diffusion and knowledge management studies. One can distinguish between three major fields of study that comprise knowledge utility studies with a direct relevance for urban and regional design and planning. Firstly, there are those studies, grounded in the social sciences (in particular evaluation studies), that focus on the use of knowledge for policy purposes (Weiss, 1977; Weiss, 1979; Dunn, 1980; Dunn, 1983; Dunn, Hicks, Hegedus and van Rossum, 1990; Healey and Underwood, 1978; Caplan, 1979; Knorr, 1976; Innes, 1990; Landry, Amara and Lamari, 2001b; Landry et al., 2001a; Landry, Lamari and Amara, 2003; Amara et al., 2004). This category forms the largest body of work on the subject. Secondly, there are those studies grounded in the technical or design sciences, that focus on the use of knowledge for design purposes (Heide and Wijnbelt, 1994; Heide and Wijnbelt, 1996; Mey and Heide, 1997; Hamel, 1990). But in this sub‐domain most research does not refer or apply to urban or regional design, but rather to architec‐ 14
Chapter 1 Problem and research strategy
tural or to industrial design. Thirdly, there is a body of literature that works under the banner of evidence‐based policy (Davoudi, 2006) or evidence‐based planning (Krizek, Forsyth and Slotterback, 2009; Nutley, Walter and Davies, 2003). Demonstrating the possible wide range of viewpoints, Weiss (1979) outlined a se‐ ries of models of knowledge use that can be characterised as ways in which knowl‐ edge ‘travels’ in particular contexts. Extending on the work by Weiss on the Many Meanings of Research Utilisation, I will consider a generic model of knowledge utility to be built up of three dimensions; Weiss’s models providing one dimension – con‐ cerning how knowledge travels in certain contexts – plus two other dimensions of knowledge utility: strategies to improve on knowledge utility and stages of knowl‐ edge utility (see Chapter 4).
Between 2000 and 2002 the Wetenschappelijke Raad voor Regeringsbeleid (WRR, Scientific Council for Government Policy) published a series of reports on the chang‐ ing relation between cities and countryside in the Netherlands (Mommaas, Heuvel and Knulst, 2000; Knaap, 2002; Scheele, 2001; Asbeek‐Brusse, Dalen and Wissink, 2002). That series of reports demonstrates how relevant it is – in light of the set of disciplinary and societal problems as set out above – to pay more attention to knowl‐ edge of the daily patterns of activities and mobility of households within the domain of urban and regional design and planning. The WRR demonstrates that the relevance of a study on that subject lies mainly in the fact that changing activity and mobility patterns of people provide multiple challenges for contemporary urban and regional design and planning in terms of: The growth of the leisure industry and its spatial consequences (Mommaas et al., 2000) (see also Haan et al., 2003); The need for new spatial concepts and steering mechanisms for spatial dy‐ namics in light of changes in activity and mobility behaviour of people and companies (Knaap, 2002) (see also Boelens, 2009; Klaasen, 2004); The need to change municipal spatial policies in light of societal changes, particularly with regard to the mismatch between the low level of scale of municipal policies in contrast to the relatively higher level of scale of peo‐ ple’s and companies’ activity patterns (Scheele, 2001) (see also Hoog and Vermeulen, 2009); The changes in the way different scientific disciplines regard the relation be‐ tween societal dynamics and spatial dynamics (Asbeek‐Brusse et al., 2002).
These challenges have already led, in practice, to the definition of a number of design tasks within the domain of urban and regional design and planning. In the Nether‐ lands, in particular, this needs to be seen in the context of a general shift, around the turn of the century, from a focus on urban expansion towards the design and plan‐ ning task being focused on intensified use of built‐up areas, the mixing of functions, and, particularly, the focus on transformation of urban areas rather than on greenfield development (see Cammen and Klerk, 2003). One example is the task of designing public space and spatial concentrations of urban services from the perspective of multiple, diverse and intensive land use (cf. BSIK‐programmes Habiforum 2000‐2004 Meervoudig Ruimtegebruik – Multifunc‐ tional and Intensive Land Use, and Habiforum 2004‐2009 Vernieuwend Ruimtegebruik – Innovative Land use) (Habiforum, 2009; Gouw, Hillebrand and Zantinge, 2006; Nio and Reijndorp, 1997: 238; Coolen, 2004; Lagendijk and Wisserhof, 1999a and 1999b; Tummers, 2002; Harts, Maat and Zeijlmans van Emmichoven, 1999; Rodenburg and Nijkamp, 2004). Another example is the task of designing places around public transport nodes so as to provide possibilities for synergy between functions and possibilities for activity chaining for households – or in more general terms, in answer to the increasing diver‐ sity of mobility and activity patterns, the design of so‐called ‘mobility environments’ (e.g. Bertolini and Dijst, 2000; Cammen and Klerk, 2003: 378; Boelens, Sanders, Schwanen, Dijst and Verburg, 2005; Rooij and Read, 2008). A third example is con‐ cerned with designing regional visions for networks of cities (e.g. VROM, 2001b). For each of these design tasks it is necessary to include thinking about people’s temporo‐ spatial activity and mobility patterns while designing the physical and programmatic fabric of cities. All this coincides with a revival of attention to the ‘everyday’ (het alledaagse) in the domain of urban and regional design and planning – although this can not be considered a mainstream discourse in the domain of urban and regional design and planning (Karsten, 2009). Exemplary of that revival is a series of theme‐issues by the Dutch professional magazine Stedebouw & Ruimtelijke Ordening (S&RO) (NIROV, 2007a; 2007b; 2007c); as well as the re‐appreciation of Jane Jacobs’ work, exempli‐ fied in the Netherlands by the first Dutch translation of Death and Life of Great American Cities (Jacobs, 1961 (2009)). The work by Arnold Reijndorp continues to highlight the importance of everyday life, which seemingly escapes the attention of urban designers and planners (Reijndorp, Kompier, Metaal, Nio and Truijens, 1998; Hajer and Reijndorp, 2001; Dudok, Teeffelen and Reijndorp, 2004; Reijndorp, 2004; Nio, Reijndorp and Veldhuis, 2008). Also the work of Marion Roberts draws explicit attention to everyday life and in particular its peculiarities or hidden aspects such as the night economy (Roberts and Eldridge, 2009). The temporal organisation of society also receives ample attention in popular architecture and popular design, exemplified in publications such as by Sep and Verheije (2004) and Maas (2006). And although these searches – for ‘better’ urban and regional design and planning – provide some interesting openings, they are symptomatic of the problem rather 16
Chapter 1 Problem and research strategy
than exemplary for the emergence of a solution to the necessary adaptation within the domain of urban and regional design and planning to contemporary processes of timespace (re)organisation. Luuk Boelens explains that ‘we planners have failed to translate the more behavioural, collaborative or relational, post‐structural planning theories into convincing, decisive and sustainable practices’ (Boelens, 2009: 185). In light of these design tasks, the societal developments as I described them above cannot and should not be seen separate from the debate on the core of stede‐ bouwkunde. This is not only because the organisation of time and space in contempo‐ rary society is changing and transformations in contemporary cities are unavoidable as a result. In my view, the physical layout of cities cannot be meaningfully separated in urban planning from the patterns of use of urban places in both time and space. It is to accommodate temporospatial activity patterns that urban designers and plan‐ ners concern themselves with the physical layout of the city. But that temporal di‐ mension has been largely neglected in urban design and planning (Klaasen, 2004; Klaasen, 2005b; Nio and Reijndorp, 1997; Bonfiglioli, 2004). To contribute to liveable cities, knowledge of the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly temporal and spatial pat‐ terns of use in urban environments needs to be embedded in the body of knowledge of urban and regional design and planning more than it is now. 1.4.2 Fundamental questions on people, time and space
As introduced at the start, two fundamental questions provide the intellectual start‐ ing points for this thesis. The first question was raised around 1970 by Torsten Häger‐ strand, a geographer: What about People in Regional Science? (Hägerstrand, 1970) The core of his argument was that it was necessary to develop a detailed understand‐ ing of people’s day‐to‐day behaviour – in terms of their temporospatial patterns of activity and mobility – as a basis for planning rather than generalised economic or sociological theories (cf. Pred, 1977) (see Figure 1.5; see Chapter 2). The second ques‐ tion was asked by Kevin Lynch, urban designer and planner, in 1976: What Time is this Place? (Lynch, 1972). The core of his argument was that, within the domain of urban and regional design and planning, it is necessary to pay attention to the rela‐ tion between time and space as perceived by people and the temporal organisation of spaces as they are inscribed in urban environments. I argue that the two questions put forward by Lynch and by Hägerstrand need to be related to each other as well as be valued for the complexity of their implications. I also argue that this has so far not been done sufficiently within the domain of urban and regional design and planning. Still, I will not be the first in the domain of urban and regional design and planning to grapple with the problem of time and people in terms of temporospatial activity patterns. I will summarise three previous attempts to do just that below. Firstly, Boelens’ work demonstrates the importance of theoris‐ ing and conceptualising about time and space as done by, for example, Anthony Gid‐ dens, Nigel Thrift, Manuel Castells and David Harvey (Boelens, 2009; Boelens, 2010) (cf. Asbeek‐Brusse et al., 2002) (see Chapter 2). But such theorisation does not neces‐ 17
sarily brings one closer to finding ways to embed time more firmly in urban design thinking – apart from raising awareness and raising a sense of urgency that some of the core ideas about cities in the domain of urban and regional design and planning that have been prevalent over the last decades will not suffice for the 21st century. Despite developing an interesting framework for innovating practices in the do‐ main of urban and regional design and planning, Boelens fails to fundamentally inte‐ grate time and space in his theory on planning. While he provides in this sense highly relevant case material from practice – in particular the case of the Stedenbaan (Boelens, 2009: Box 5.1; Boelens et al., 2005) (cf. Klaasen and Radema, 1987; Radema and Klaasen, 1986), he refrains from returning to the question of time and space in the substantive portion of his theory.
Figure 1.5 Hägerstrand’s timespace cube concept provides an annotation system to visualise the complex relation between temporospatial behaviour of people and the physical environ‐ ment. Source: Parkes, Thrift and Carlstein (1978)
Drewe in contrast highlights the theoretical importance of time in relation to space as he finds a notion of time integral to theory on network urbanism, building on the work by Gabriel Dupuy (Drewe, 2004; Drewe, 2005b; Drewe, 2005a; Dupuy, 1991; Dupuy et al., 2008). Drewe argues that to understand the complexity of cities in the ‘network society’, it is important to highlight the temporal dimension of urban sys‐ tems in terms of time use of individual people as well as in terms of the collective structures of time in society. However, his work remains on an abstract level and as a result regrettably remained to occupy an academic niche in urban planning in the Netherlands. Still, he points the way for further research to the work of Sandra Bon‐ 18
Chapter 1 Problem and research strategy
figlioli (Bonfiglioli and Mareggi, 1997), who has vividly argued since the 1980s to see cities as ‘temporal objects’. She has suggested to conceptualise cities in terms of chronotopes, literally time‐places. Her work has been identified by others as well for having potential (Nio and Reijndorp, 1997; Graham and Healey, 1999), but the work has seemingly remained somewhat parochial and has only been translated into Eng‐ lish to a limited degree. Although her approach has been institutionalised in Italian time policies and dispersed in a European network of researchers, her approach has not been able to really influence mainstream urban planning. Still, we might draw more lessons from her work than so far has been done. (See Chapter 6) In the Netherlands Margot Mey was the first, and one of few to date, to attempt a concrete translation of research on time use to making urban designs for neighbour‐ hoods in an attempt to overcome the apparent ‘applicability gap’ (the gap between research and design) (Mey, 1994; Mey, 1996; Mey and Heide, 1997). Her work should be seen in the context of a body of work grounded in the theory of time geography (see Chapter 2). Time geographical theory has had quite some follow up in Dutch academic research (e.g. Vidakovic, 1980; Vidakovic, 1981; Vidakovic, 1988; Dijst and Vidaković, 1997; Dijst and Vidakovic, 2000; Droogleever‐Fortuijn, Hietbrink, Karsten and Rijkes, 1987; Dijst, 1995; Dijst, 1999; Arentze, Dijst, Dugundji, Joh, Kapoen, Krygsman, Maat and Timmermans, 2001; Dietvorst, 1995; Dietvorst, 1994). However, time geography was and is seldom used by urban designers or in the context of urban design tasks. Mey developed and defended the argument that it is possible to trans‐ late empirical studies on time use to a concrete urban design – by developing typical user profiles – in her PhD thesis (Mey, 1994) and a research report for PRO (A then Dutch institute for programming policy research) (Mey, 1996), but her work has not been followed up since. As far as is known, only Luuk Boelens has attempted one other such study in Dutch urban planning (Boelens et al., 2005). In addition, for the domain of tourism and recreation planning there are some examples to be found based on the tourist‐recreation‐complex concept developed by Adri Dietvorst at Wageningen University (Dietvorst, 1989). However, these concern product develop‐ ment for tourism or management of tourist areas rather than physical‐spatial design and planning. Acknowledging both the desirability as well as the apparent difficulty of embed‐ ding knowledge of temporospatial activity patterns of people in urban and regional design and planning, Ina Klaasen has argued that, to deal with that difficulty, it is necessary to literally ‘put time in the picture’, amongst other factors (Klaasen, 2005b). Her argument is that the ‘invisibility’ of such knowledge for urban designers and planners might be located in the fact that urban designers and planners primarily reason from spatial models; these can only indirectly depict time. And that claim may indeed be valid, though it is embedded in a much wider problem, as Chapter 3 will demonstrate. However, Klaasen’s solution of embedding knowledge of temporospa‐ tial activity patterns of people in spatial organisation principles (see Klaasen, 2004) remains at the surface of what incorporating time in notions of space may implicate (see Chapter 2). Moreover, in recent years, some criticism has also arisen on the use 19
of such spatial organisation principles in urban and regional design and planning as ‘givens’ (see e.g. Healey, 2007: 228, denoting them as ‘spatial ordering principles’). Although that critique – in my view – does not disqualify the possibility of developing such principles, the critique does provide ground for examining how knowledge em‐ bedded in those principles gets positioned within the body of knowledge of urban and regional design and planning. 1.4.3 Scientific relevance
Although Mey, Boelens and Klaasen have thus developed approaches for applying knowledge of temporospatial activity patterns of people in the domain of urban and regional design and planning (Mey, 1994; Mey, 1996; Boelens et al., 2005; Boelens, 2009; Klaasen, 2004; Klaasen, 2005b), these approaches have not been appropriated in mainstream urban and regional design and planning. So, although it is in principle possible, knowledge of temporospatial activity and mobility patterns of people just simply does not get translated into urban and regional design and planning practice. Two areas of particular interest emerge. On the one hand, there is no large body of literature on temporospatial activity and mobility patterns as an intricate compo‐ nent of urban and regional design and planning. On the other hand, there seems to be a problem of applicability of empirical knowledge of such patterns in the making of urban design and plans. I aim to contribute to both these areas of interest. To do so, I base the theoretical foundation of this thesis on two elements of the work by Ina Klaasen on developing urban and regional design and planning as a science (Klaasen, 2004). Firstly, I adopt her idea that the adherence to a creative‐craft approach to urban and regional design and planning cultivates a so‐called ‘applicability gap’ which hinders the development of a scientific body of knowledge in urban and regional design and planning. The term applicability gap was labelled by Hillier, Musgrove and O’Sullivan to describe the gap between empirical research and the synthesis of knowledge, the latter being characteristic of designing (Hillier et al., 1972). Klaasen considers the applicability gap as one aspect of her broader theoretical work on de‐ veloping a scientific body of knowledge of urban and regional design and planning. Her use of the concept of the applicability gap is based on hypotheses on the behav‐ iour of designers as they have been developed in particular in research on design processes (e.g. Cross, 2001; Hamel, 1990). Secondly, I adopt the idea that the struc‐ turally lacking temporal dimension in the language and cognitive schemes of urban designers leads to the underestimation of the relevance of the temporospatial char‐ acteristics of activity patterns of people (Klaasen, 2004: 63; Klaasen, 2005b). Klaasen develops the idea that this is for an important part due to the difference between the static spatial models that designers use and the dynamic reality governed by space and time in which they operate. Another aspect that Klaasen identifies, is the differ‐ ence in the dominant grain of observation of time in transformation processes (years, decades) and the dominant temporal grain of observation for activity patterns of people (days, weeks) 20
Chapter 1 Problem and research strategy
Where Klaasen consequently focuses on the development of substantive content for a scientific body of knowledge for urban and regional design (Klaasen, 2004), I will focus on exploring and theorising these two interrelated, but in my view less devel‐ oped elements of her work. On the one hand, this is because Klaasen’s work initially refrains from approaching the problem of the applicability gap in all its complexity (see Chapter 3). On the other hand, this is because her work – in my view – misses a comprehensive framing of the implications of putting the notion of activity patterns in a central position in her notion of timespace (see Chapter 2). This thesis will aim at extending the scientific body of knowledge for which Klaasen sketches the outline such that it will be inclusive of these notions.
Aim and research questions
The general aim of this thesis is to explore new possibilities for embedding knowl‐ edge about temporospatial activity and mobility behaviour of people in the domain of urban and regional design and planning. With this exploration I want to contribute to the scientific body of knowledge of urban and regional design and planning as set out by Klaasen (2004). I aim to do so with the help of two major building blocks. On the one hand, based on an intricate understanding of the applicability gap problem (Chapter 3), the work operationalises the applicability gap problem in terms of the use and utility of knowledge (Chapter 4). On the other hand, I operationalise the – substantive – relation between temporospatial activity patterns of people and the temporospatial organisation of urban areas and regions (Chapter 2). 1.5.2 Research questions
Following from the problem statement the two main interrelated research questions are: In what way can the temporospatial ordering of urban systems – in particular of temporospatial activity patterns of people – be understood so as to act upon that understanding in the domain of urban and regional design and planning? and What is the potential of particular approaches to contribute to resolving the applicability gap problem; approaches that aim to provide an understanding of temporospatial activity patterns of people from a design and planning per‐ spective? 21
In the next section I will explain how I will use the analysis of two particular ap‐ proaches to explore the central problem. The main research questions are unravelled into a series of sub‐questions that need to be answered in the analysis of particular approaches that at first sight show potential to resolve the applicability gap problem: Which approaches, at first sight, show potential to contribute to resolving the applicability gap problem by bridging knowledge domains considering the ordering of time and the ordering of space respectively? Which strategies to embed knowledge of temporospatial patterns of people are put forward by particular approaches combining activities of research, planning and design? In what way is the ordering of timespace considered in the framing of design and planning tasks within particular approaches? What aspects of the applicability gap problem are tackled by particular ap‐ proaches? Combining the answers to the three questions directly above, can lessons for tackling the applicability gap problem can be derived from particular ap‐ proaches? If so, which lessons? Which aspects of the two approaches help and which don’t help to tackle the applicability gap problem? Working from the findings on the approaches, what further research is nec‐ essary to embed knowledge of temporospatial activity patterns of people in the making of urban and regional designs and plans? The first sub‐question is answered in this chapter; the following three sub‐questions are addressed in the conclusions of the descriptive Chapters 5 and 6. The remaining series of questions are addressed in Chapter 7.
Research strategy and selection process
The principle behind selecting approaches to study
Over the last decades, several approaches that show potential for resolving the appli‐ cability gap problem have emerged. Two of those approaches that emerged in the 1990s and early 2000s have been selected for analysis in this thesis. The description of the way in which they have tried and the degree to which they have succeeded – and why they have or have not – to embed knowledge of temporospatial activity patterns of people in urban and regional design and planning forms the core of this thesis. I have chosen to study two approaches that exemplify particular problem‐solution sets for embedding knowledge of activity patterns of people in urban and regional design and planning: the application of tracking studies in urban and regional design 22
Chapter 1 Problem and research strategy
(Chapter 5) and the so‐called times‐of‐the‐city approach (Chapter 6). Both these ap‐ proaches show, on first sight, potential to provide lessons for embedding such knowledge in the practices of the domain of urban and regional design and planning. The two approaches represent two different viewpoints on knowledge of activity patterns of people. Both show how the focus on spatial patterns in urban and re‐ gional design and planning may be extended so as to include the notion of ‘time’. The one viewpoint focuses on knowledge about the particular web‐like and rhythmic patterns of activities and emphasises the role of empirical knowledge about them. The other approach focuses on the constraints within which those activities may unfold and emphasises the role of knowledge about design and planning. These viewpoints are expected to offer rival strategies for tackling the applicabil‐ ity gap problem. These may complement each other, but may also demonstrate each others weaknesses. As such, the compiling of the findings from the two approaches, and viewing them against the theoretical framework built in Chapters 2, 3 and 4, provides a plausible base to suggest further research on improving the use of knowl‐ edge of temporospatial activity patterns of people in urban and regional design and planning. 1.6.2 On the search process and the structuring of findings
The results of this study have emerged from an iterative, explorative search process. The entry point for my search was the body of empirical knowledge on the relation between physical urban structures and activity patterns of people. I found several bodies of literature, the largest was that on the relation between urban form and travel behaviour, which tried explicitly to link characteristics of the layout of cities to how activity patterns of people get constituted. However the question then emerged ‐ why such knowledge was hardly used already while it was readily available? To address that question, and setting the base line for the study, I identified the ‘applicability gap’ problem (see section 1.3 and Chapter 3). I initially focused my re‐ search on instruments that might help in bridging the gap. The so‐called ‘medium shift’ got my particular attention: the moment of ‘translation’ of numerical or verbal information into visual information as a crucial step in design processes. By revisiting the body of literature on theory and practice of the domain of urban and regional design and planning I realised that the applicability gap problem I had been dealing with was fundamental to that discipline and profession. The gap between empirical knowledge and the making of urban designs and plans was treated in a particular body of literature linking organisational theory, design theory and planning theory: knowledge use studies or knowledge utility studies. I chose to build the study primarily around a more qualitative method of research based on literature study. This literature study I supported by interviews and group meetings to collect information on particular topics. Theory on urban and regional design and planning as well as on timespace came to play a much more important part in the study. I searched for a level of analysis on which I could show the intrica‐ 23
cies of the applicability gap problem. I found this level of analysis in the identification of different approaches of which I selected two to study in more detail. These ap‐ proaches, as distinguishable entities, also form the core chapters of the thesis itself. 1.6.3 The choice of approaches
The approaches analysed in this thesis are chosen so that they cover two fundamen‐ tal properties of the concept of temporospatial activity patterns of people: the tem‐ porospatial patterns themselves and the constraints to which people are subjected in ‘producing’ those patterns. These roughly match with two fundamentally different viewpoints within studies of activity behaviour: the choice‐based approach and the constraints‐based approach (see Chapter 2). Moreover, these two viewpoints also enlighten the two sides of the applicability gap problem, each starting on ‘the other end’: empirical knowledge about activity behaviour on the one hand and design and planning on the other. The final choice of approaches has been the result of an itera‐ tive, explorative research process (see sections 1.6.2 and 1.7). The first approach centres on an only recently – in the last ten years – developed approach for the collection and processing of data on temporospatial activity and mobility behaviour: the use of tracking technologies such as GPS (Global Positioning System) and mobile phone positioning. Tracking technologies, offering state of the art research techniques, is a logical choice for this study as research into the workings of activity systems is at the base of thinking about people’s temporospatial activity and mobility behaviour in the context of urban and regional design and planning (see Chapter 2). The major concern in the chapter on tracking technologies is if this novel approach enables researchers and designers to get beyond the applicability gap prob‐ lem. The approach can be considered novel for it extends beyond being just another research technique that replaces paper diaries for studying activity behaviour. I posit that the introduction of tracking technologies may fundamentally change something in the epistemology of activity behaviour research. How and to what degree, though, is a matter of debate. The second approach picks up on the suggestion that the so‐called times‐of‐the‐ city approach, which conceptualises cities as ‘chronotopes’, may provide ways for‐ ward in urban and regional design and planning for embedding a concern for the small grains of time such as days and weeks. Such grains are characteristic for peo‐ ple’s activity and mobility behaviour. The approach, primarily developed through French, German and Italian action‐research practices, is analysed with regard to its theorisation of problem‐solution sets being considered as planning endeavours and the analytical and action‐oriented research, design and planning strategies that con‐ stitute the approach. The selection of this approach is primarily, although not exclu‐ sively, based on Paul Drewe’s expectations of the approach: it seems to deliver an important step forward in bringing activity patterns of people to the fore in urban and regional design and planning (Drewe, 2004): 24
Chapter 1 Problem and research strategy
It provides starting points for the development of new spatial concepts based on the underlying concept of the post‐industrial city (i.e. based on a service‐based and knowledge economy); It provides a framework for multidisciplinary scientific reflection on contem‐ porary urban design and planning leading to an innovative problem formula‐ tion based on a temporal description of spatial phenomena; and It provides concrete methods for local political processes such as so‐called multi‐partner tables of co‐design, mobility pacts and a visual language sup‐ porting these processes in the form of so‐called chronotopic maps Demarcating the approaches
Rather than demarcating the approaches by a concrete situated practice, I have cho‐ sen as a first step to define the approaches by episodes characterised by the intro‐ duction of a new way of framing and/or tackling an urban and regional design and planning problem – an ‘approach’ – that illustrates the problematic of the applicabil‐ ity gap. Such an episode can be analysed by looking at the constellation of practices and publications that are associated with the approach. The period from 1990 on‐ wards is of particular interest as was demonstrated at the start of this chapter and the approaches are selected from this period. The second step to demarcate the approaches is in terms of their ‘relational map’ of knowledge, i.e. the network of knowledge experts involved (see Chapter 4). But involved in what? The approaches have been identified by networks that are organ‐ ised around an identifiable research, planning and/or design approach that is of rele‐ vance to the problem statement. Often ‘approaches’ get reduced to ‘discourse’ or ‘stories’, i.e. language‐based endeavours largely stripped of substantive aspects. But such a conceptualisation would not allow for a broader mapping of the subject at hand. It is more helpful to define ‘approaches’ indirectly in terms of the network of experts supporting the ‘approach’, as well as directly in terms of what could be called the ‘program’ of the approach. In particular, I am choosing as a starting point net‐ works of experts that organise themselves around certain knowledge strategies oc‐ cupying only parts of the knowledge domain of urban and regional design and plan‐ ning, i.e. within the ‘relational’ knowledge scheme (see Chapters 3 and 4, Table 3.3). In both approaches of Chapters 5 and 6, a group or network of professionals is com‐ mitted to changing some fundamental property of the knowledge domain by refram‐ ing the type of knowledge and/or manner of dealing with knowledge of activity and mobility behaviour of people. However, not all networks of experts are the same. Peter Haas’s distinction be‐ tween different types of networks of experts is helpful here (Haas, 1992). Note that Haas’s aim was to distinguish ‘epistemic communities’ from other groups. ‘Epistemic communities’ are ‘networks of professionals with recognised expertise and compe‐ tence in a particular domain, and an authoritative claim to policy‐relevant knowledge 25
within that domain or issue‐area’ (Haas, 1992: 3). Based on distinguishing groups of experts according to the degree to which they share so‐called causal beliefs, princi‐ pled beliefs, interests and consensus on their knowledge base, he distinguishes be‐ tween five types of groups: (a) ‘Epistemic communities’ (cf. the concept of policy communities; see Healey, 2007: 177‐178), (b) Interest groups and social movements (cf. the concepts of ‘regime’ networks; Mossberger and Stoker, 2001), (c) Disciplines and professions, (d) Legislators and bureaucratic agencies. (e) Bureaucratic coalitions. I am excluding from my analysis the groups consisting exclusively of legislators and agencies. The group of bureaucratic coalitions is the odd one out in Haas’s work; the concept ‘communities of practice’ (Wenger, McDermott and Snyder, 2002) concern‐ ing a similar type of network is more apt here. Such communities and ‘epistemic communities’ help here in demarcating the approaches, while (b) and (c) will show to be related to particular strategies for enhancing knowledge utility within the ap‐ proaches. 1.6.5 What would have been alternative research strategies
Several directions for research have been considered to tackle the research question and its sub‐questions as alternatives to the research strategy finally chosen: Using empirical research results on temporospatial activity patterns of peo‐ ple and applying this in a concrete urban design so as to update Margot Mey’s approach to contemporary activity patterns; A research‐by‐design approach (as defined by Klaasen, 2004) focusing on the development of spatial organisation principles derived from knowledge of temporospatial activity patterns of people; A design research approach that focuses on studying (measuring) the ways in which individual designers or a team of designers deals with a pre‐defined design task (cf. Hamel, 1990); A knowledge utility approach studying the types of and the ways in which knowledge is being used in the making of an urban design or plan. I will briefly address the central weaknesses and strengths of these alternative strate‐ gies and reasons why they have not been chosen. The first direction has not been chosen for a number of reasons. Although the research strategy has been tested before and it is seemingly possible to produce results in terms of urban designs, it is 26
Chapter 1 Problem and research strategy
not likely that this strategy would now lead to a higher degree of appropriation of knowledge of temporospatial activity and mobility patterns of people by urban de‐ signers than after the first attempts. Moreover, the problems associated with the applicability gap are not fundamentally being solved by this strategy. A better under‐ standing of people’s activity patterns and of the relation between these activity pat‐ terns and the structure of the built environment do not automatically lead to the appropriation of such knowledge by urban designers. A more design‐based strategy to tackle the problem as suggested by the subse‐ quent two options – research‐by‐design or design research – would possibly provide results that would be more easily appropriated by urban designers. However, before it would be possible to tackle the problem at hand as either a design research prob‐ lem or a research‐by‐design problem, it is first necessary to answer a number of questions about what actually to appropriate then. Such questions might be developed and possibly answered using an explorative strategy based on a research strategy akin to that of knowledge utility studies. Knowledge utility studies are an eclectic field of study and have emerged after the comprehensive, cybernetic approach to urban and regional design and planning proved to collapse under its own weight at the end of the 1970s (see Chapter 3). Knowledge utility studies concern themselves with the way in which knowledge ‘travels’ from one domain to another. There are several reasons why this strategy seems more apt here than the other strategies described in this section, but there are some critical remarks to be made as well. In knowledge utility studies researchers generally try to answer their research questions by observing the use and transfer of knowledge in a practice‐based case environment. This allows for clear demarcation of cases in terms of case study meth‐ odology. However, it is difficult to assess the use of a particular body of knowledge in such a setting and most studies therefore rather focus on the classification of types of knowledge used. Moreover, few examples of practices are actually available in which to study the integration of knowledge of activity patterns of people in urban and regional design and planning. As it is difficult to identify if such integration will take place in a practice case, it was therefore necessary to choose and delimit units of study in another way than is custom in knowledge utility studies.
On research method and technique
For the description and analysis of particular approaches to research, planning and design I have used a technique akin to a technique generally used in case study re‐ search; even though this study can not be characterised as such. To analyse the two different approaches the same protocol was used: (a) structuring the approaches along the lines of aspects of the applicability‐gap; (b) evaluating them against time‐ 27
space theory, and (c) evaluating them against the three dimensions of knowledge utility. Theory building and the use of theory as a framework for evaluation has played an important role in setting up this protocol (see section 1.7.2). The study is akin to an embedded, multiple case study as each analysed approach contains multi‐ ple projects or cases embedded in the approach. However, as I also evaluate the global nature of the two approaches the research design of the study has also ele‐ ments of holistic case study design (Yin, 2009: 46). The study is not meant to be a comparative study of the two approaches. They are both evaluated against the theo‐ retical framework, not against each other. Still, they do complement each other and in Chapter 7 I will therefore draw conclusions based on the compiled findings of both analytical chapters. The method is based largely on the systematic study of documentation on each particular approach and the evaluation of their principles and use in practice against the theoretical framework. The literature study – desk research – has been combined with participation in the set‐up of empirical research and educational pilot projects led by others (see section 1.7.3). Rather than the empirical work, the set‐up and de‐ velopment of projects subsequently served as embedded ‘cases’ within the analysis of, in particular, the tracking‐based approach. The study is thus a‐typical in the sense that it does not contain empirical fieldwork. 1.7.2 On the use of theory
The theoretical framework of the study has two major components: theory on the applicability gap problem and theory on timespace, or more particular temporospa‐ tial ordering. These components can be seen as representing, respectively, theory of urban and regional design, and planning and theory in urban and regional design and planning (cf. Faludi, 1973). I hold that these components cannot be meaningfully separated and need to be seen in relation to each other. This point of view is sup‐ ported by referring to theory on the so‐called ‘material object’ of urban and regional design and planning (Hidding, 2006; see section 1.3). The theory on the applicability gap problem needs to be seen as an explanatory theory. It explains why knowledge on temporospatial activity patterns of people is difficult to use in urban and regional design and planning. My aim here is not to test the theory directly, but to examine approaches with regard to the degree to which they pay attention to different explanations. The supposition here is that there is not one simple explanation to the applicability gap problem, but that there is always an amalgam of explanations. The theory on timespace that I use in this study leans on ‘grand theory’, in par‐ ticular social theory with a geographic component. For this thesis such theory helps to identify links between societal processes and transformations in the physical‐ spatial organisation of cities; and thus, to identify which role the domain of urban and regional design and planning may play in accommodating (changes in) societal proc‐
Chapter 1 Problem and research strategy
esses. Again, my major concern is the degree to which approaches deal with the intri‐ cacy of timespace that the theory demonstrates to be relevant. Extending on the theoretical framework on the applicability gap, theory on knowledge use and knowledge utility plays a different role in this thesis. From such theory I have derived a conceptual model of how the use of knowledge ‘works’ on three dimensions of knowledge utility: (a) how does knowledge ‘travel’ in certain contexts, (b) which strategies to enhance knowledge utility are used, and (c) which stages of knowledge utility can be distinguished. To evaluate the approaches of Chap‐ ters 5 and 6, I confront them with this three‐dimensional model of knowledge utility. The bodies of theory on the applicability gap and on timespace deliver indicators and criteria for that evaluation. The first two dimensions of the knowledge utility model are combined in a conceptual grid. That grid is used to draw conclusions in each chapter on a particular approach. Based on these conclusions, in Chapter 7, which contains general conclusions, the third dimension is used to identify strengths, weaknesses and ways forward. 1.7.3 On the search for and treatment of source material
As the use of tracking technologies in urban and regional design and planning (Chap‐ ter 5) concerns a relatively new field of study – in particular the search for its rele‐ vance in the domain of urban and regional design and planning – there is relatively little documentation available. The documentation that is available often shows the experimental, trial‐and‐error type of attempts developed outside disciplinary or aca‐ demic constraints and thus does not necessarily always answer to academic or highly professional rigor. Still, I have attempted to rely mostly on those accounts that do display some rigor and signs of external review. In examples where these are absent I rely on less formal accounts and reports of experiments using tracking technologies. As the people and projects within the domain of information visualisation have a large online web presence, I have relied on finding accounts on tracking visualisations for a large part through online searching and networking. I have avoided delving into the body of literature that solely attempts to solve technical issues of tracking studies, although I have included some accounts that primarily focus on technical issues but do display a direct interest for the domain of application at hand. The sources that present an account of pilot studies using tracking technologies, in which I have been directly or indirectly been involved, consist mostly of finalised research reports or student reports, but due to time constraints I have also used draft reports and preliminary research results to fill in some of the gaps. Credits for much of that material should go to those people that have been involved in this research, in particular Stefan van der Spek, Frank van der Hoeven, Otto Trienekens, Remco de Haan and Peter de Bois. When I was directly involved – in the pilot studies in particular – I primarily contributed to the shaping of the research questions and research set‐up. Lastly, one other source needs to be made explicit. The qualitative material resulting from round‐table and plenary discussions at the Urbanism on Track 29
event contributed much to an initial framing of the analysis (Schaick and Spek, 2007; Schaick, 2008; Schaick and Spek, 2008); it is included in section 5.2 on indicators of structural aspects of the applicability gap problem. With regard to the times‐of‐the‐city approach (Chapter 6) I am not the first to study its potential. Several in‐depth studies focusing on situations in particular coun‐ tries have been published (Bonfiglioli and Mareggi, 1997; Mareggi, 2002; Belloni, 1998; DATAR, 2001; SZW, 2002; Keuzenkamp, Cloin, Portegeijs and Veldheer, 2003; OCW, 2007), as well as several comparative studies based on the state of the art in the 1990s (Boulin and Mückenberger, 1999; Mückenberger, 2001). The same goes for some explorative studies in more recent years of best practices and their transferabil‐ ity (Horelli, 2005; IERMB, 2008; OCW and Dehora, 2009; Mairhuber, 2001; Mairhuber and Atzmüller, 2009) and of case studies in which particular planning instruments are developed (SURE‐consortium, 2006). This material has been used as secondary source material. The body of literature on time‐oriented urban planning and design on which this chapter is based originates largely from the period between the mid 1990s and mid 2000s. Some theoretical literature originates from the 1980s. I distinguish two types of sources on which my analysis has been based: (1) documents (co)authored by core members of the epistemic community on time‐oriented urban planning and design; these are partially planning documents and partially articles and compiled volumes on planning practices; (2) documents in which the epistemic community is referred to by authors from outside the core network; most of these are explorative documents to see if there are lessons to be learned from past practices. The fact that there are several different language domains involved – in any case Italian, German, French, Dutch, and English – translation of terms might in some cases lead to loss of hidden and culturally dependent meanings. For that reason, I will often give the original term together with an English translation.
Plan of the book
In this chapter I have introduced the central problem of this thesis. I have shown how that problem requires a combination of a methodological and a substantive approach, resulting in an explorative, largely theoretical study. I have explained that I have cho‐ sen to use a research strategy that is akin to knowledge utility studies that are a methodological type of studies. In addition I have explained the reasons for my choice to study two different approaches to incorporating empirical knowledge of temporospatial activity patterns of people in urban and regional design and planning. The following Chapter 2 will focus on the definition and conceptualisation of time‐ space on the border between the domains of time geography, of social theory and of urban and regional design and planning. The subsequent two chapters will develop the concepts of the applicability gap and of knowledge utility to serve as a further theoretical and methodological framework for the thesis. Those three chapters will 30
Chapter 1 Problem and research strategy
provide the basis on which to draw conclusions from the analysis of the three ap‐ proaches. Figure 1.6 presents an overview of the outline of the thesis. The core of the thesis is formed by the analysis of two approaches each elaborated on in a descriptive ac‐ count of the approach in a single chapter. Each of the two chapters treating a particu‐ lar approach is built up along the lines of the three major aspects of the applicability gap problem plus meta‐level aspects. In these chapters firstly I aim to identify possi‐ ble indicators of the applicability gap problems for the approaches, and, secondly, to explore possible and plausibly effective strategies to overcome the applicability gap. The first of the two core chapters revolves around the introduction of tracking tech‐ nologies such as GPS (Global Positioning System) and mobile phone tracking in the domain of urban and regional design and planning. In this chapter I search for ways in which research using these technologies may help in – literally – putting the time‐ space characteristics of people’s behaviour in the picture within the domain of urban and regional design and planning. The second of the two core chapters revolves around the introduction of time‐planning policies with a spatial component, in par‐ ticular so‐called territorial time plans, in several European countries with an emphasis on planning practices in Italy, Germany and France. These practices have been said to provide interesting exemplars for embedding knowledge of temporospatial activity patterns of people in practices of urban design and planning (Drewe, 2005b; Nio and Reijndorp, 1997; Mey and Heide, 1997). I search in this chapter for the degree to which this potential is realised. The conclusions on the findings regarding each of these approaches are for the most part included in the two descriptive chapters. In Chapter 7 I put the compound findings in the context of the theoretical framework as set out in Chapters 2, 3 and 4. I will also reflect there on the main research questions and I will identify avenues of future research.
Figure 1.6 Structure of argumentation and outline of the thesis
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