An IMAGE Case Compilation: Researching the City: Mapping Imaginaries

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Abstract

Talking and discussing with many partners during the way has brought us to the most original meaning of Teaching as ‘fostering learning’. The present Teaching case is the result of all those discussions and considerations united by the convincement that doing research is an essential part of that just mentioned fostering learning. Besides a Case to work on, the current Teaching Case includes a series of guidelines plus a body of thoughts and considerations to be taken into account when conducting research on places in all their complexity. In the end
we have all agreed on the importance of becoming more knowledgeable and better informed. It all implies a commitment to do so!

The MAGE Case illustrated in this Teaching Case compilation has been mainly the product of an already existing interest in learning more about specific areas in our cities, often the areas in which new venues of our universities have been built. Working with partners in real life cases we experienced an increasingly sense of being part of the whole. We stopped calling the companies and institutions we were working with as potential ‘clients’ and started to build on a partnership’s cooperation narrative. Next steps in this trajectory have been to take the time to better establish the implications of seriously adopting this partnership narrative as a way of working together in research and education. In this sense, it has been indispensable to review terms such as co-creation, design thinking or teaching case and to come to grips by incorporating them as concepts in a case glossary.

In terms of context, it is relevant to know that the current IMAGE Case as described in these pages has been elaborated in three different editions during the academic years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022. In each edition, we have been working with an international intercity cooperation from and within the cities of (in alphabetical order) Amsterdam, Barcelona, Lisbon, Paris and Vienna. The different schools and faculties are all part of higher education institutions in the cooperating cities and have a location in the focus areas of the case. Our districts and neighborhoods in the partner cities: Amsterdam -Zuidoost-; Barcelona -El Raval-; Lisbon -Carnide-; Paris -La Defènse-; Vienna -St. Marx-. During these two years we have been working together with students coursing different subjects and mostly in the bachelor courses. Lecturers and all kind of local partners have been closely involved in the process of making the case happen. The case description in this compilation shows intentionally the dates of the 3rd edition that took place in the second semester 2021-2022. This last edition helped to improve and re-see the Case after a period of lockdowns because of covid-19 pandemic regulations.

Operating between the specific years of 2020-2022 has been an extraordinary experience in the literal sense of the word. The Covid-19 pandemic became an exceptional situation even for online intercity cooperation at a distance. Despite the longer experience built on online working together at a distance with international partners, the truly limitation of offline face-to face meetings at all levels, together with the experiences of being ill and even losing loved ones, has obviously had an impact. In terms of conducting research and collecting first-hand
data, the restrictions have been clearly visible as well. Looking at the footage elaborated by the different students’ teams during the first and second edition one sees at once the emptiness of the streets, to name an example.

The trigger for the current Case IMAGE Researching the City Mapping Imaginaries was mainly born from the increasing awareness that our look at cities' reputations (and at the reputations of areas within cities) could use a more diverse lens. Without denying the relevance of by now referential iconic places, there is a need to go beyond the already established and towards a new positioning for cities to capture a broader and more substantiated city map-- a map which contributes to seeing beyond the obvious towards the less generally known.

This need is urgent. Even before Covid-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis, many European cities were facing various challenges from mass tourism, to gentrification and decreasing livability in some urban areas. Despite city campaigns, which insist on spreading residents and visitors through all over our cities, cities tend themselves to concentrate attention, and investments, in areas that are already considered referential. But the crux is then, why not extend our view on how reputations and attention is built and really contribute to a more informed city mapping including a larger diversity of areas and centres of interest? Or as some creative entrepreneurs have put it: Instead of everybody aiming to be in a place that is already successful, wouldn't it be better to find new ways of making more places successful? (Bures, 2012b, 2012a)
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages42
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

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