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YOUrban is a research project at the Institute of Design, Oslo School of Architecture and Design into social media, design and the city. It investigates tools and means to creating engagement and a sense of ownership and responsibility towards our physical, social and cultural world.

Key concerns

YOUrban explores how social media may be used to help foster agency and power in both creating and transforming our urban surroundings. This is signalled in the project’s title. In YOUrban we investigate tools and means to create engagement, ownership and responsibility towards our physical, social and cultural world. The city of Oslo’s the setting.

Our central research questions are: How may multi-perspective social media discourses be designed and applied within a variety of urban contexts to enable and motivate participation in our daily lives in cities? How might the design of social media for urban settings be informed by our performative discursive enacments in them?

Three strands

The concept performativity connects these three strands. It’s supported by perspectives on cultural planning in urbanism together with sociocultural approaches to interaction and communication design. The project’s organised around three intertwined strands:

STROLL investigates innovations in community-driven urban social media on the situated meaning of the every day by means of mobile urban probes and narratives enriched by the humanities.

OVERLAY examines via social media the polyvocal discourses of urban change by multiple stakeholders in a major waterfront development project in the ‘mediational city’. In part it employs Origo, an exiting social media service and platform developed in Oslo.

PLAYUR engages in interaction in urban spaces, experimenting with emerging social networking and locational services that facilitate play, annotation of multiple and relational views in narratives of city life and engaged practices.

Interdisciplinary inquiry

Overall, we engage in design-oriented, humanistic research with technologists into related layers of social media:

– infrastructural: maps, middleware, location awareness, databases, mobile phones, basic support for communities
– interactional: enactment, performance, composition, navigation in mixed realities
– social: meaning making, sharing, expressions and impressions.

The project strands involves a variety of designers and researchers, based in Oslo and supported by a wider network of partners. Together, this brings a rich mix of competencies and interests to the project. Our goal’s to build a strong interdisciplinary understanding of how to enable and study social media in urban settings to that it may be useful to dwellers, to citizens and to processes of planning and development.

Context, funding & partners

YOUrban is based at the Institute of Design, The Oslo School of Architecture and Design. It’s part of a wider research by design project portfolio, and a leading contributor to the soon-to-be-launched Centre for Research by Design (RxD).

YOUrban’s a full, formal research project, funded by the VERDIKT programme, Research Council of Norway. It’s also supported through AHO via a related PhD project. The overall YOUrban budget is NOK 12M and the project runs from Sept 2010-Sept 2013. The project leader is Prof. Andrew Morrison.

The main partners, in addition to the Institute of Design at AHO, are colleagues in the Institute for Urbanism and Landscape, along with ones at InterMedia, University of Oslo.

Outcomes & outreach

We’ll publish in established academic venues, but presentations and online mediation will be central. A variety of social media will also be used and reference will be made to related projects and developments. Knowledge from the project will be linked backto teaching on our master’s and doctoral programmes.

YOUrban is open to dialogue with similar projects and to initiatives from outside its research boundaries. Do contact us with serious suggestions for collaboration, aware that there’s limited funding for activities not already budgetted in the research proposal.



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