Exploring lived space of new build urban environment through photovoice interview

The case of Donau City in Vienna



urban quality, redevelopment project, lived space, experience, photovoice interview


Contemporary urban design practices and new build redevelopment projects are strongly influenced by economic, social and cultural practices, as well as by new forms of management. These different parameters play on the quality production of open spaces. Investigating the place study of Donau City, a mixed-use neighbourhood located in Vienna (Austria), we look at the relations between the new build environment and the daily users. We aim at analysing the intrinsic qualities of this specific urban environment by understanding how residents and users perceive and decode it (emic perspective) and how they make sense of everyday practiced and lived space. In order to do so, we followed a citizen science approach, using photovoice interview with thirteen residents and workers. Commenting the photographs they took on a one-day walk, the users revealed their daily life of their surrounding through design and planning elements associated with personal stories. We analyzed the corpus via inductive coding which helped us conceptualize the users’ lived space (Lefebvre, 2000), perceptions and interactions. Discussing the results, we contribute to a deeper understanding of the role forms, functions and scales play on open spaces’ quality in new build redevelopment projects by bringing in a bottom-up and sensitive approach. We show that social and spatial fragmentation could be mitigated by paying more attention to the emic perceptions and intangible values in spatial conception.


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