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Urban Rhythms: Habitus and emergent spatio-temporal dimensions of the city

Neuhaus, F; (2013) Urban Rhythms: Habitus and emergent spatio-temporal dimensions of the city. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis focuses on the creation of space as an activity. The argu¬ment draws not only on aspects of movement in time, but also on a cultural and specifically social context influencing the creation of the spatial habitus. The aim of this thesis is to reconsider existing theories of time and space in the field of urban planning and design and develop an updated account of spatial activity, experience and space-making based on time. Recent developments in spatial practice, specifi¬cally those related to the development and widespread use of new technologies such as hand-held devices, make this an important and timely task. Integrating spatial-temporal dynamics into the way we think about cities will aid the implementation of sustainable forms of urban planning and design by activating the individual urban context. Repetition and pattern are properties of such a time-based ur¬ban environment. These properties result from activities guided according to time windows. For instance, we all experience the syn¬chronised and collective activities of the morning or evening rush hour, the lunchtime run to the restaurant, or a walk in the park on a Sunday. This orchestration of thousands of fellow urban dwellers is a time-related and spatial phenomenon. Urban habitus, or these types of everyday repetitive cycles of activity, is interpreted in this thesis as the factor linking the social and spatial organisation of the urban environment. While such patterns have been understood to be an important factor for understanding urban existence, there have been few ef¬fective methods for activating such patterns at both the larger scale and the scale of the individual. This thesis develops an innovative methodology for the description of spatial narratives in the context of urban living. This telescoping methodology, moving between the general patterns of the macro-scale and the lived-experience at the micro-scale, is developed in tandem with a re-conceptualisation of the city in time and space. The study is composed of two parts using two different cases. The first case is based on fieldwork tracking individual movement and the spatial extension of everyday routines. GPS technology is deployed, together with interviews and mental maps as the main method of investigation into spatial experience, the creation of per¬sonal space, and the orientation and organisation of spatial practice. The second case utilises online social networking data mined from the micro-blogging platform Twitter. The data of thousands of users is analysed regarding temporal patterns across urban areas. This method is used as a complementary investigation of urban tempo-rality on the level of the collective. Along the shifting locations and moving patterns of activity, the temporal morphology of an urban centre, a city, is visualised, thus revealing the constitution of urban space as a product of the collective. One of the key elements in the conclusion to this thesis is the definition of temporality as a status rather than a transition. This proposition deviates from the usual approach of merging time and space as time-space, whilst preserving both spatial and temporal qualities. Temporality is defined as the dimension of activity that has its own comprehensiveness involving time and space. It is no longer just something ephemeral or fleeting. Nor is it simply a Kantian container for activity. Through repetitive practices, time has presence and agency in our everyday lives. KEYWORDS: time, space, rhythm, cycle, temporality, habitus, urban, city, GPS tracking, social networks, Twitter data

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Urban Rhythms: Habitus and emergent spatio-temporal dimensions of the city
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed from ethesis.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1396239
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