(January 2010) Abstract:Aalborg Øst- from suburb to part of the future city

Abstract:Aalborg Øst- from suburb to part of the future city image
As part of the urban clearances and redevelopments during the 1960's and 1970's a number of new urban developments sprung up on the outskirts of many Danish towns and as a result there was a flight from the run down inner city neighbourhoods to the suburb. Modernist functional architecture inspired these developments and characteristically for their time, work, living and recreation were spatially and functionally segregated (Fainstein, 2002:453; Nielsen i Bjørn, 2008:26). The new developments offered spacious, wholesome and modern housing supplemented with vast green, recreational spaces, where the resident could recharge the batteries before heading off to work by car or the suburban railway.

Despite the fact that modernist planning and architecture significantly improved the living standards for many people in post-war Denmark its underlying ideals and values has been critically scrutinized from many sides-nationally like internationally (Healey, 2009: 7; Holsten,1998:39-48; Bech Danielsen in Bjørn, 2008:94). The spatial and functional segregation of the built environment has proven inflexible and thus grown obsolete in its responses to the changing needs and demands of residents and citizens.

From a planning perspective the modernist paradigm has been criticized for its rational, scientific and technocratic disposition. The planner and planning is perceived as value-neutral and apolitical, seeking to advance society towards a common good. Meanwhile, social, political and economical changes in society has made planning as a unitary project an anachronistic and questionable approach (Sandercock in Douglas and Friedmann, 1998:170).

Due to the challenges and critiques outlined above there is a growing need to create evidence-based knowledge about how "the good life" is perceived amongst residents of housing estates and local urban neighbourhoods. Thus, the project outline is proposing a GPS based tracking of young people's uses of out-doors public spaces in Aalborg Øst, a neighbourhood modelled after a typical modernist ideal in the mid-1960s.

By investigating how public spaces are actually used and experienced this research project will contribute with valuable knowledge and recommendations to the design and development of liveable public spaces that are relevant to residents and communities.

GPS based mapping is the key methodological starting point of the project. When using GPS and GIS technologies it is important to apply a methodological awareness to the role these technologies play in producing space (Propen, 2009:121). The project will employ a constructivist approach by using Harraway's embodied experiences as an analytical framework.