Profile of Miss Helga von Breymann Universidad de Costa Rica

Helga von Breymann

General research interests

Urban transformation processes and different ways environments are used and perceived.
The cognitions and valuations arising in people product of their experiences with the built environment.
Public policies and the understanding of the effects of urban phenomena over environments.

PhD/Postdoctoral Research Title


PhD Abstract

The fast and continuous urban transformations that current major cities experience, have generated important changes in the way in which we live, experience and perceive life in them. These transformation processes, sometimes result of rapid growth of urban environments, of their heterogeneity, of their economic dynamics, of the confrontation of social differences amongst its population or just as a product of new ways environments are used, have led to a growing interest in understanding the effect that a given urban context has on the individual and vice versa. In other words, it’s sought to understand the relationship between human beings and the environment. Thus, more recently, the attention of many studies have also focused in the patterns of use of space, which are accompanied by a multitude of cognitions and valuations arising in residents product of their experiences with the built environment. Within the development of those investigations, there have been a great variety of concepts that have been identified due to the importance they have on the relationship between the individual and the context, among which are the concepts of identity, appropriation of place, sense of community and residential satisfaction.
This work, based on these four concepts, has been concerned with understanding how they relate to a series of socio-demographic, physical and cognitive variables in an urban dimension, in order to assess the power of these constructs —and related variables— with urban transformation processes. The purpose of that analysis is based on being able to identify how these factors are taken into consideration in planning, in order to recognize different options to mediate or influence on these variables from public policies, urban planning or urban project. This then, is on the understanding that the planning practice has the option to intercede on a number of issues that directly affect the welfare and quality of life of people, so the absolute understanding of the effects of urban phenomena like these have over environments, is of great importance to the discipline.
Therefore, this research has collected and analyzed, using different statistical tools, lots of data obtained from a survey performed in a neighborhood of the city of Madrid, which enabled it to identify the variables that have more weight in urban processes that lead in higher identification, appropriation, sense of community and residential satisfaction in the individual. This first step, then allows investigating, with the help of a panel of expert planners, on the possibility of the discipline to mediate or intercede on these aspects, which ultimately enabled us to achieve some results and conclusions that allow evaluating the options of different scales of urban intervention and challenges for the future of work on this subject.