Transforming urban space part III

Time: 09:30 - 11:00, Thursday, October 28
Room: Periferien, Holbergs gate 1, 4th floor

This subpanel is part of the four-part session “Transforming Urban Space: Design, Democracy, Dwelling and Pandemic urbanism”. The four-part session argues that attending to the multiple social and ecologically crises the earth is currently facing requires different kinds of relationships between citizens and the spaces we design, construct and inhabit. 

This concern is addressed in four subpanels: design, democracy, dwelling and last, but not least, the impact of covid-19 on how we plan and inhabit public space.  

This subpanel focuses on the question of design.  

Dominant and mainstream definitions of design since European modernism have tended to emphasize the creative capacity of individuals to make novel solutions by manipulating material resources, organizing information, or delineating space.

Celebrated forms of architecture tend to focus on the creative genius and the iconic status of detached and autonomous buildings, with little concern for the messy, destructive and unequal futures that urban design has contributed to producing. As a consequence, architecture is sometimes built on a tabula rasa claim, a deeply colonial mechanism that annihilates nature and everyone and everything that existed on and with the land previously.

The question, then, is how can architecture and urban design move from being practices characterized by detachment and independence to practices committed to the ongoing relations of care with and within the urban environment? 


  • 9:00-9:15: Introduction by Matthew Dalziel and Even Smith Wergeland
  • 9:20-9:35: Digital Zoning: Case study in participatory urban planning with youth ages 14-16 through augmented reality (AR) technology, Kai Reiver
  • 9:40-9:55: Sculptural Puzzle: Model Making as a Collaborative Process in Contemporary Architectural Practice, Mara Trübenbach
  • 10:00-10:15: Flow Feelers – Applied Ecofeminism for Men, Tomas Laurien
  • 10:20–10:40: Discussion
  • 10:40–11:00: Questions


Paper 1: Digital Zoning: Case study in participatory urban planning with youth ages 14-16 through 
augmented reality (AR) technology, Kai river

Increasing public participation in urban planning is a widespread political goal, especially within discourses about the so-called ‘smart city’. An equally important goal is to combat climate change, notably by planting trees and other greenery. Since participation in such types of planning relies upon media and communication, changes in technology necessarily change the means of participation.

A new form of media which has arrived in recent years is Augmented Reality (AR), which allows for 3d models to be placed and interacted within the physical environment.

We argue that AR requires more research into potential use cases, especially in regards to allowing youth populations to to digitally participate in the built environment with a medium that could be more intuitive to their everyday digital lives.

The case study in the paper involves using AR to digitally plant trees around Oslo with youth groups from local city districts, in order to realize the plan for 100 000 new trees in Oslo by 2030. We show how the work has been conducted over the past two years, showing results, findings, and methods.

A conclusions component looks at some of the many issues concerning technology development, climate change, the rights to participation, and the influence and rights of youth groups in the city and the digital economy at large. 

PAper 2: Sculptural Puzzle: Model Making as a Collaborative Process in Contemporary Architectural Practice, Mara Trübenbach  

In this paper I present one specific action i.e., a remote ethnographic study within the dissertation project Material Orbit. A Rendering of Rituals, Decay and Trails of Dust in the Architectural Design Process at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design.

The PhD is embedded in the network “TACK: Communities of Tacit Knowledge: Architecture and its Ways if Knowing” and contains a practical secondment at a partner of the network.

This paper hopes to create a platform for discussion around researching, observing and mediating material in a completely changed communication in architecture practice due to the worldwide pandemic since March 2020. Like many other architectural offices worldwide, the London-based architectural firm HaworthTompkins (HT) has faced new conditions and met challenges in the design process since March.

Due to Corona, the research was forced to re-calibrate adapting it to current circumstances and deferred projects in which the dissertation should have been involved in. As the collaboration with HT initially began with bi-weekly online meetings from May 2020 already, the survey has been carried out digitally and turned out to be a powerful new research tool.

The conduction of ethnographic study at Haworth Tompkins, relates to two approaches of the research: material systems and the issue of how architecture is valued via mediated concepts. It builds upon HT’s in-house model maker and the firm’s understanding of material. What is real material in relation to mediation in the end?

By engaging with the case study, the research takes into account the environment surrounding the material matters i.e., implications and agencies of material application. The remote ethnographic study hopes to bring aspects of tacit knowledge in contemporary architectural practice to life with material.

PAper 3: Flow Feelers – Applied Ecofeminism for Men, Thomas Laurien & Kennet Öhlund, Göteborg/Borås, Sweden

“On an empty playground in a sleepy residential area, eight men meet after work. Tonight’s meeting point is not randomly chosen. Embedded in concrete and soil, beneath their feet, flows the interest of the men: a watery body who was forced into a man-made pipe almost a century ago. After having listened to an invited senior woman, living nearby, sharing stories about her father playing with frogs in the brook as a child, they spread out and form a thirty meters long line across the playground, holding a thick string between them that runs through hedges and playground equipment. They now stand brook together, trying to bridge the gap between representation – a thin and forgotten line on a map – and lived experience.” *

Daylighting is the practice of opening up urban culverted brooks as part of mitigating climate change related flooding. In the openly normative, process based, artistic and environmental humanities project “Flow Feelers”, we explore the possibilities of daylighting a specific culverted brook in the city of Borås, Sweden.

Through a study circle in applied ecofeminism for men, we try to relate to the brook as a person and as a multispecies entanglement that we too are part of. Daylighting then becomes the practice of bringing life into socially dead beings. We are thus trying to challenge the rationale for daylighting, shifting focus from fixing a broken part in a machine to telling a story about past, present and future relations between human beings and the nonhuman subjects and entities that we all depend on.

“Flow Feelers” is part of the ongoing project “Shimmer and Entanglements in the River Basin of Viskan” (, initiated by Thomas Laurien & Theo Ågren.

  • Excerpt from a chapter in the forthcoming Palgrave Handbook of Critical Posthumanism.


  • Matthew Dalziel, AHO
  • Even Smith Wergeland, AHO