YU Small Grants Scheme 2020/21 Recipients!

Congratulations to the ‘Small Grants Scheme 2020/21’ Recipients!

This year we received great ideas and proposals, ranging in originality and diversity. We are pleased to announce the recipients of the Small Grants Scheme 2020/21 and we look forward to the findings!

Congratulations to our Young Urbanists recipients Franca Carassai, Diana Dobrin, Pauline Niesseron, Cecile Poullain, and Giorgia Scognamiglio!

Learn more about the projects of your fellow Young Urbanists!

Small data: Uncovering the experience of young ethnic minorities in London.

Young Urbanists: Franca Carassai, Diana Dobrin, and Giorgia Scognamiglio.

The discourse around child-friendly cities has recently been on the rise with some first efforts towards a more inclusive city making process for young people. However, some groups such as adolescents and/or ethnic minorities are often overlooked or ignored, with the consequent risk of making assumptions or excluding their voices from urban and policy debates. Especially at this time when the lives of many of London’s young people have been severely impacted by COVID-19, it is important to better understand their relationship with the city and how their experiences and desires might have changed in the last months. 

This research identifies the need to look at the less engaged and focus on young people aged between 15 and 19 years from different ethnic backgrounds, living in London and offer them a free space to express themselves through creative engagement tools. While information around young people’s is mainly visible through statics and the majority of the current engagement approaches are based on quantitative data or focussed on specific development initiatives, this project will research the small data – the stories, lived experiences and observations of the everyday life that sometimes get overlooked but are often fundamental to uncover a deeper spirit of a place and reveal the realities of life. The Young Urbanists who are leading this project recognise that these types of insights provide an important resource especially when planning for the city’s recovery. 

In line with the aims of the Academy and guided by Jane Jacobs’ principle that the urban experts are the citizens themselves, we aim at accessing the knowledge of places directly from those who live them. The ultimate desire is to share the results to promote better understanding of the city and how we can provide better spaces for all.

What’s in our mind (maps) today? Revisiting Kevin Lynch’s image of the city in the digital age.

Young Urbanists: Pauline Niesseron, Cecile Poullain.

Since the mid-nineteenth century, the emergence of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has disrupted our lives in cities from the apparition of transportation with new infrastructures up to the emergence of the Internet. Transportation and infrastructures have radically changed our approach to distance and the scale at which many people lived their lives (Cairncross,1997). More recently, the internet and the development of individual smartphones introduced new ways of reading and navigating the urban environment. 

While cities look broadly the same physically, the way we experience cities has changed with the apparition of digital platforms, geo-referenced information, transport optimisation and place rating. Our vision of a city’s geography and our spatial orientation have been affected by geo-referenced information providing options and directions to optimise transportation time. Social behaviours are also being influenced by the emergence of new interest-focus online networks and communities altering the dynamic of social relationships in cities and influencing us in the places we visit (DeWaal,2014). These technologies contribute to create a different experience of our urban life which culminates today in the interest for smart cities. 

Through workshops and surveys, this project seeks to understand how digital tools shape differently the collective image of cities. With the emergence of digital tools, physical space in cities is no longer the only dominant source of information about our urban environment. Research has demonstrated that digital information provides valuable support for making sense of the city (Offenhuber & co, 2013) challenging Kevin Lynch’s work about what makes a city legible. Some have questioned whether Lynch’s argument that visual and spatial forms of oururban landscape is sufficient to solidify a city’s identity and navigability (Offenhuber&co, 2013; Morello&co, 2009). In other words, in the era of digital information, is the public image of the city based solely on the legibility of its paths, nodes, districts, edges and landmarks still sufficient nowadays?

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