15/08/2018 Videography as collaborative methodology in interdisciplinary urban research
The research departs from the question whether Friedrichstadt today can serve as a model for contemporary urban development due to its 400-year history as a small town with its traditional block perimeter. Under the auspices of heterogeneous typologies combining functions of housing and work places, the gradual superimposition of diversifying activities and its characterisation by short-term accommodations for tourists and day visitors. In order to add to the bulk of planning literature that mostly draws on quantitative data, this project is concerned with qualitative aspects and aims to look into the usage of actual private houses and rooms in relation to common places and common usages. It is concerned with the lived experiences of Friedrichstadt inhabitants and their materialisations. The project feeds into an E-Learning platform called Hamburg Open Online University (HOOU) and aims to make a contribution to both content and methodology in urban studies. Conceiving of the room for rent as the essence of dwelling, the project raises the following questions:
How do people in Friedrichstadt live in their city, in their homes? How do they appropriate the urban form and how do they adapt their houses for future or present uses and to what ends? The study is led by the motif to uncover the hidden potentials in order to learn from the observed adaptations that its inhabitants undertake. The project attempts to uncover such transferral processes and explore the various vectors and tendencies that can be observed on different levels and scales. Data collection is undertaken through videography, photography, drawings, conversations, interviews and observations. This mixed-methods approach points to the qualitative perspective on which this project is based with a view to develop scenarios and individual case studies from which to draw conclusions as to how Friedrichstadt could strengthen its local community as well as its inhabitants in their renovation and upgrading projects. Of course, the short videos tell stories, stories of inhabitants, of buildings, of things and furniture in the houses, of architecture and adaptation, of urban processes and developments. Yet they can also be viewed with regards to particular situations in order to compare things, rooms, settings, thresholds and actions. Cropping the videos allows cataloguing entrance situations, sleeping facilities and bedrooms, eating areas and assemblages, such as window sills with plants and paraphernalia, side boards with vases, photographs and candles and image arrangements on walls, the organisation of books and personal items on shelves and tables, the arrangement of furniture, the lighting, the traces of older versions of the house’s architecture (e.g. where walls have been taken out or former garages been turned into ateliers etc.).
While these catalogues are produced from outtakes of the videos, the film material itself serves to capture the actions and activities typically undertaken in the houses, for instance washing up the dishes, opening the front door, stepping into the garden or yard, walking down a stairway etc. The focus here is on the architecture in use or even as used and as found.
Denzin, N.K. and Y.S. Lincoln (2011) Paradigms and perspectives in contention. In N.K. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln (Eds.) The Sage handbook of qualitative research. Los Angeles: Sage, 91-95.
Dr. Anna Richter
Marieke Behne MA