My doctoral project is looking at processes of place-making. I argue, critically, that these processes currently operate within logics of gentrification and (soft) exclusion: beautifying public spaces, while pushing communities out, through somewhat-exclusionary textbook consultation processes and activities. I want to propose play and playful-design, as tools and methods—that planners and communities can use—to make these placemaking processes (and resulting urban projects) more inclusive and diverse, and in turn create more just and resilient cities.

My focus is Montreal, for which I will look at a couple of case studies, namely Daily Tous Les Jours (makers of the Balancoires 21 in the UQAM esplanade), and La Pepiniere (makers of Jardins Gamelin, Village au pied du Courant, Little Florida in the champ des possibles). These two studios care about community involvement, and explicitly talk about their participatory methodologies—plus, what they do (and how they do it) is kind of hands-on playful and interactive.

Of course, this doctoral project requires to look deeply at notions of ‘place.’ As well, as placemaking as a practice (it’s emergence, current trends, implication, and future directions)—among other things. And for the focus of this class, to try to answer what sort of research methods can help me with this doctoral project?




an introduction to place

This research catalogue exposition, becomes, then, an exploration of place/place-making via critical reflection and engagement with methods. A review of placemaking from a personal perspective and narrative, from a site-responsive practice that involves walking, sound, and poetry.

An exploration with a particular focus on (which) methods (to be used), and in how those methods can answer a set of salient research questions, such as:


    •    What does my creative practice has to do with place?

    What is my (performative) creative practice doing for generation a sense of place?

    •    How can i incorporate walking, autoethnography, and other research-creation methods—alongside qualitative research methods, such as interviews, archival work, field observation, [auto]ethnography— to tackle this doctoral research project?   

    •    Is it a good idea?

    •    Who benefits from the current practice and trend of place-making?
    •    Can play be a method?
    •    How can I incorporate play and playful design into my research process? (Interaction Design & Games as research-creation courses)
    •    How do I understand—and articulate—place?
    •    Who leads these placemaking processes and how?
    •    What can be learned from Daily Tous les Jours and La Pepiniere? And, why them as case studies?
    •    Why does it matter? (This  project, its lens/theoretical foundations, and its goals)
    •    Can we improve the living conditions of our city without increasing rents and pushing communities out? Are there any success stories and interesting case studies?
    •    What is the context of the neighbourhoods these projects occur? Are there any necessary preconditions or factors that facilitate placemaking?
    •    What are ways to resist placemaking projects?
    •    Have communities appropriated placemaking projects and affected the process/outcome? (Understanding that initially, placemaking was community-driven, but today not so…)

Today, practices known as 'placemaking' are transforming our urban spaces. With words like human-scale, green, community-based, and participatory. With accompanying realities like displacement, gentrification, and rapid change/loss—a vortex of demolition/erasure.

Since it inception in the 1970s, placemaking has become an interdisciplinary concept/practice. It has brought attention to the importance of social dynamics in space, the effect of urban design to the well-being of a community, as well as a focus on the process of decision-making. In other words, it has facilitated a transition from urban planning marked by the imposition of top-down visions (product-oriented), to an empowering and enabling tool for communities and agents to have a say, and to collectively build/transform their living environments (process oriented) (CITE styrdom, puren, drewes, 2018, check p.#175?? check).

However, recent critical takes on placemaking.... (use HUANG)