Practicing Awkward Space in the City

Jones, Hannah. 2014. Practicing Awkward Space in the City. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

In earlier research, I defined the concept of ‘awkward space’ in cities as ‘ambivalent or unresolved spaces that are the remnants of a previous pattern of flow’ (Jones, 2007). The concept of awkward space is important because it offers designers and planners an insight into the latent affordances and informal practices that exist within the urban environment. These lie outside the realm of rational planning and design strategies. My aim in this thesis is to explore how and why we experience awkward space in the city in order to better understand how the concept could be used productively in co-design projects. My practice-based research builds upon a series of three case studies, which chart my own journey from conducting an individual and observational inquiry, to engaging in participatory design inquiries into everyday places. I stage two focused and selective literature reviews, which act as interventions to critically inform my understanding of awkward space and to help me situate and reflect upon my use of the concept in practice. I utilise a range of qualitative methods, practical mapping and design tools, and evaluative techniques. My overall conclusions are that awkward space can be used a generative concept for co-designing change agency at a local level, through framing ‘otherly spaces’ that support the emergence of a connected inhabitant knowledge. The thesis findings are primarily directed at designers and the design research community, although they are also relevant for architects, planners and community-based organisations.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Awkward space, co-design, participation, affordances, built environment, everyday life

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



23 July 2014

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

06 Aug 2014 15:07

Last Modified:

12 Sep 2022 11:09


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