Professor Georgia Butina Watson (School of the Built Environment, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK), as a project guest delivered a public lecture
PLACE-IDENTITY THROUGH URBAN DESIGN
Many people today, in many parts of the world believe that places we live in or visit should have their own special character, or what we commonly refer to, unique and distinctive place-identity. There are many theoretical perspectives on what place-identity means and how this quality could be achieved today, but historically it was the result of the traditional and vernacular methods of building cities, towns and neighbourhoods. Today, however, this is more difficult to achieve due to many local and global tensions as well as political, social and cultural factors.
The lecture introduces some of the key theories that deal with the concept of place-identity, explaining what it means, and what are the key challenges today for all those involved in studying, designing and managing urban settings. Through a number of illustrative case studies, drawn from different parts of the world, the lecture discusses how different groups of professionals as well as ordinary users shape and co-create different types of place-identity.
The final part of the presentation opens a discussion on the value of such interventions and conceptualizations and how we could work collaboratively to create places that are loved and valued by their users.
The lecture was held on 24 January 2017 in Kuća arhitekture ORIS, Ulica kralja Držislava 3, Zagreb.
Georgia Butina Watson BA MA PhD FRSA is Professor and Research Director of Urban Design at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK. She is also Academician and Regional Co-ordinator of the Academy of Urbanism, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, UK. Until 2015 she was Head of Department of Planning and Urban Design at Oxford Brookes University and Chaired the Oxford Brookes University Research Degree Committee. Her professional background and academic training come from History of Art (University of Zagreb), and from Architecture, Planning and Urban Design (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA and Oxford, UK). She also holds a Certificate in Non-for Profit Governance (Harvard, USA).
Professor Watson also works as an advisor and consultant for UK National and Local Government providing expertise on National planning and urban design matters and in a similar role she has advised the Council of Europe and many international governments and research councils. During her professional career she has delivered a number of high profile research projects funded by UK and international governments, research councils and other bodies. Some of the key projects were delivered in many parts of Europe (Italy, Slovenia, the Check Republic, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Russia), and in USA, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Qatar, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. She has won a number of commendations and national awards for innovative research methods, and has carried out research on perceptual and cognitive experience of places with different age groups, including elderly residents. She is presently Co-directing a number of research projects on Healthy Urban Mobility; Retrofitting Cities 2050 and Resilient Cities; Compact Cities and Social sustainability; and Healthy Cities.
Professor Watson’s professional expertise includes the study of urban history and morphology, place-identity, place-making, new towns, environmental psychology, participatory planning and urban design, sustainable urban design, public/private partnerships in planning and urban design, community development and place-identity, sustainable cities, urban regeneration and the aesthetics of urbanism. She has published a number of books including Architecture and the City, Designing Sustainable Cities in the Developing World (with Roger Zetter), Identity by Design (with Ian Bentley) , Sustaining Cities (edited by Linda Kraus), Retrofitting Cities (with Tim Dixon), and Designing Resilient Cities and Neighbourhoods (with David Sanderson). She has also published a large number of refereed journal articles, co-authored international exhibitions and has been a keynote presenter at many UK and international conferences.