Key factors which could change people’s perceptioLnife-cycle of landmarks and shifts of people’s emotional security in urban regeneration. about landmarks

Creating new design tools to allow designers and inhabitants more say to their environments


Subject Area, Aims and Objectives

This project investigates dynamics of urban re-generation and role of landmarks, to analyse people’s perception of landmarks and how people find emotional security in them. In other words, how an object and spaces can be narrativised by its inhabitants and users. Consequently, this research project will develop a creative design tool, which can allow designers and inhabitants to have more say in their own surroundings. Hence this tool will be applicable to a wide range of design fieldsactivities, from urban planning to graphic design.



A. To analyse the whole life-cycle of landmarks to understand how they are perceived and given meanings by the audiences.

B. To open up the process of urban regeneration and to to aid co-operation between people and designers.

C. To provide new design tools based on public engagement/co-design to empower designers and users.



*A.1 To reveal a life-cycle of landmarks, Birth(dislike) – Taking down(like) – rebirth(dislike) with couple of historical examples..

*A.2 I will ask set up an opportunity for social research (could be questionnaire) at Kings Cross Neighbourhood Centre (community centre) to set up an opportunity for social research (could be questionnaire).

*B.1 To investigate the current urban re-generation at King’s Cross and role of landmarks in providing emotional security among residents and visitors.

*B.2 To investigate what and how the authoritiesy (developer and council) is are trying to change/controlengage new King’s Cross. Analysing their strategies and processes.

*B.3 Site visiting and historical/media research. Site-based reseach, also looking back at how they reported in the past.

*C.1 The tool will be shared and found by design educators and design professional, in both UK and Japan. Also it will be shared with architects and developers. Test how it can be extended to assist other regeneration projects in UK and Japan.

*C.2 I will ask how users and designers together can have more say in changing the landscape of the city.



**A.1 As a case study, people hated Eiffel Tower in Paris after construction ended, however, over time, people’s perception has changed into a more favourable attitude towards  it. I will draw on a wide range of media representation and previous studies on the image of itlandmarks to analyse this shift of paradigm.


**A.2 Investigate current life-cycle of landmarks (in King’s Cross), how it has been being narrativised by inhabitants and how the strategy for this changing is made, this is the question.?? Sorry, don’t understand this last bit! by researching both the locals and Argent.


**A.3 As a primary research, questionnaire will be written filled by local inhabitants. The target group is living or commuting in/to King’s Cross over 20 years, (before the rapid regeneration started mid 1990s – current 2012). To analyse how people’s perception has been changed in over time.

Possible target three groups

1. The main target group is living or commuting in/to King’s Cross over 20 years, (before the rapid regeneration started mid 1990s – current 2012)

2. Second group is people commuting for work.

3. The third group is the students studying at CSM.


**A.4 Visiting site research based on Kevin’s methods, analysing his research methodologies and modifying them to fit my research area, landmarks.

**B.1 Create a measuring system for how people get emotional security from landmarks.


**C.1 Elements to design the new design tools will be found through**B.2, **B.3 and **B.4, then create a design tool.

**C.2 I will withdraw on Laurel (2003), to expand designers’ knowledge about stakeholder’s need, such as an individual fulfillment of desire, pleasure and enhance capability, also in business sectors, such as sustainability and profitability.


Historical Context

  1. The Highline in New York is one of the most famous public space the design of which was led by local residents.
  2. Also, In Seeking Spatial Justice (2010) Soja describes the grassroots movement—involving various groups with sometimes contradictory aims—that led to real reforms in LA’s public transportation services.


Contemporary Context (About KX)

King’s Cross is one of the most significant transforming areas in London. Until recently, the area had a mixed reputation for both intellectual culture (with the British Library to the west and the University of London to the south) and as a cheap red-light district. However, the area is now in the midst of a transformation into a cultural hub.


Possible target three groups

1. One group is inhabitants who have lived in this area before the re-generation started.

2. Second group is people commuting for work.

3. The third group is the studentsstudying at CSM.


Furthermore, I have an access to Argent which is the main developer for the regeneration of the area through the CSM college. It is vital to analyse their strategy for community engagement and my PhD project would run parallel.


Theoretical Context

• Critical Theory

How to make a visual research is clearly outlined in Rose (2001). 1. Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual MaterialsI will derive her visual methodologies.

2. Design Research: Methods and Perspectives


• Parallel Theory

I will be drawing on Kevin Lynch’s notion of the “imageability” of urban spaces as described in The Image of the City (MIT Press, 1960). In particular, I will use Lynch’s various criteria for imageability to understand how landmarks function in the lives of urban dwellers.

In the Image of the city, Kevin mentioned that his aim is analysing the mental image of a city which held by its citizens, and research about particular visual image, then these are unified as clarity/legibility (imageability) of the city scape. Going beyond Kevin’s methodology, my consideration will be to focus on landmarks and people’s emotional security.


• Projective and Generative Theory

Also, to create a democratic design approach, I will analyse Edward Soja’s idea about spatial justice in the Seeking Spatial Justice (University of Minnesota, 2010), to figure out connections between politics, design and environmental factors.


To generate a design tool, another important fact could be people’s emotional and cognitive process about designed objects. Noman (2005) says “Emotions are judgmental, and prepare the body accordingly”. (Emotional design, A. Norman, 2005). People are more likely to see the forest than the trees in positive affect, to prefer the big picture (forest), rather than focusing on minor problems and details (trees). However, when people are irritated by or worried about a design, users are more likely to see the trees before the forest. , the details before the big picture. Thus as a surface design, implicating cultural code could be an important factor for “Smooth orientation” and their imageability (the quality in a physical object which gives it a high probability of evoking a strong image in any given observer.) iscould be the important factor for designing.


Interviewing with locals

Also based on Kevin’s methods, I will modify and apply these to my research project.


Example of Kevin’s questionnaire:

• Descriptions • Locations • Sketches • Performance of imaginary trips • Photographic recognition tests etc…

To test a design tools


The following bullet points are the current ideas and main questions for the workshops

•  What do people think about a change? Extracting people’s thoughts.

• If “a re-generation project” was locally/ democratically led, what has happened?

• By collecting local people’s opinions/images, or demands,  I will then create another fictional story and masterplanmaster-plan for a site/object/landmark with collaborative process.

• As a possibility, interview research can be combination of written questionnaires + drawing.


Prediction of the Form of the Final Presentation 

It will be an exhibition and a bound book with images for the creative and educational industries that are looking for new approach to design activities. Currently, there are some possibilities to hold collaborative workshops at Japanese universities with my project. Also, the generated methods will be demonstrated during the exhibition as a participatory workshop.


Ethical Dimensions of the Research

1) Workshops: I will obtain written consent from all workshop participants for the following:

a)         Consent to record and transcribe relevant discussions held at the workshops;

b)         Consent to include ideas and materials developed in and through the workshops in my thesis and exhibition.  

Whenever views or ideas expressed by workshop participants are included in subsequent materials, the presenter of those views or ideas will be clearly indicated. Furthermore, workshop transcriptions will be made available to all the participants, who in turn will be given the chance to review and revise their own comments before any end-products are publicly submitted or published. 


2) Interview Research: I will obtain written consent from all interviewees a) to record and transcribe the interviews, and b) to include their views and comments in subsequent materials such as the project’s end product and future publications.


Work Plan

  1. Case studies and historical research, for half a year.
  2. Analysis and Theorization, for half a year.
  3. Application of theories, for one year.


  1. 4.  Evaluation for creative industries and education, for one year.
  2. As a conclusion, the thesis writing will be included in parallel, as the verification of the new creative design tool.












Main Study List and Bibliography

Park, Robert E., E. Ernest, W. Burgess., and Roderick, D McKenzie., editors.(1967) The City. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.University of Chicago Press, 1925.


Hoyt, Homer. (1972) The Structure and Growth of Residential Neighbourhoods in American Cities. Washington, D.C.: Scholarly; Reprint editionFederal Housing Administration., 1939.


Soja,  EEdward W. (1989) Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory. London: Verso, 1989.


Soja, Edward W. (2010) Seeking Spatial Justice. Volume 16 of Globalization and Community Series. University of Minnesota Press. 2010.


Lynch, Kevin. (1995) City Sense and City Design: Writings and Projects of Kevin Lynch MIT Press


Lynch, Kevin. (1960) The Image of the City. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1960.


Lefebvre, Henri. (1991) The Production of Space. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991.


Boyer, M. Christine. (1994) The City of Collective Memory. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press., 1994.


Finnegan, Ruth. (1998) Tales of the City. Cambridge University Press, 1998

Transforming King’s Cross / [John McAslan + Partners, Arup, Network Rail].


Rose, G. (2001) Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials. London: Sage Publications Ltd


Laurel, B (2003) Design Research: Methods and Perspectives. London: MIT Press


David, J. Hammond, R. (2011) High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky : Farrar Straus Giroux


Merrick, J (2012) Transforming King’s Cross. London: Merrell [Hardcover]

Brenda Laurel (Author)















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