Experience City: Performativity in Public Spaces

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Sofie Poulsen
  • Diana Damouni
4. term, Experience Design, Master (Master Programme)
Cities all over the world are changing their identity from being based on industrial production to being based on creating knowledge and experience, and Aalborg is no exception. This thesis investigates how public spaces have developed to fulfill the demands of the consumers and to attract people. We carry out a research on how the city of Aalborg has created public spaces, which stories they tell and how they accommodate the wide variety of people who live in the city. Furthermore, this thesis investigates trends in Aalborg and all over the world, concerning both public spaces but also digital experiences. The intentions are to create an engaging and relevant digital experience in Aalborg. Therefore this thesis investigates the following questions:
How are the public spaces being used as a media? How are relevant and engaging (digital) experiences being created in public spaces?
We focus on how Aalborg uses public spaces as a media to communicate the transformation of the city and what impact is has on the consumers. Therefore this thesis has three main foci: The first perspective is the physical environment and investigates how this has an impact on what the public space communicates. The second perspective is the sociological parameters and investigates which factors the users find important in public spaces in order to research the third perspective about the experiences in public spaces. The interaction between the three perspectives provides a basis for understanding the interrelations between physical and sociological factors. Furthermore a focus on the importance on how the public space and the user perform creates an understanding of the social aspect.
The project concentrates on specific case area in Aalborg: the central and east waterfront of Aalborg and Nordkraft. These areas are an important part of the identity of the city and its transformation. The waterfront has throughout many years been Aalborg’s most distinctive feature, due to transportation of goods. Today it has been transformed to multi-functional public spaces where the users are being attracted to the experiences and recreational factors. In order to understand the physical design of public spaces and the impact on the users, we draw on theories from different sources from sociological, cultural and architectural fields. Based on theoretical discussion, we emphasize the importance of the three perspectives interaction and how they have an impact on the identity and experience of the public space. A continuous theme in the transformation of Aalborg is the interaction between the city’s old and new identity which is being communicated through its public spaces. At the waterfront old artifacts such as mooring rings have been preserved in order to communicate the harbor’s story. In Nordkraft artifacts tell the story about how it once where a power plant.
The thesis collects empirical data through a method called Oplevelsesmatricerne that seeks to investigate the user’s first impressions of the public space. Furthermore data is collected through observations and interviews. Through the empirical analysis we found that the possibility of being social plays a role in the user’s interpretations. Furthermore the multi-functionality of the public space is of great importance. A trend the thesis investigates is the matter of user involvement in experiences. The knowledge and experience gathered in the theoretical discussion and analysis of the thesis have resulted in a concept of an experience-design by the waterfront in Aalborg called Silent iPod Battle Box where user involvement and performance is in focus.
Publication date30 May 2012
Number of pages115
ID: 63441696