PhD defence (virtual): Hanne Wiemann Nielsen

Hanne Wiemann Nielsen defends her thesis,

Big Cities – ‘Quiet’ Places
A quantitative and qualitative case studynvestigating relations between material and immaterial qualities of urban space in Amsterdam and Copenhagen

Video link

Professor Gertrud Jørgensen, IGN
Professor Ellen Braae, IGN

Assessment Committee:
Professor Emeritus Niels Albertsen, Arkitektskolen Aarhus
Professor Emeritus Willem Salet, University of Amsterdam
Associate Professor Trine Agervig Carstensen (Chair), IGN

This PhD thesis aims at examining relations between material and immaterial qualities of urban space. By investigating ‘quiet’ places’ in the context of big cities it highlights the importance of the urban environment for stimulating resonance, attunement and flow. In European countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands, the compact city is seen as a sustainable city model. Because of its density and intensity, livability is seen as a precondition for its success, and a generally agreed conclusion about living in high density urban environments is that it needs to be supported by a provision of high quality public open space. The city model however, is under pressure due to changing premises, including emergent discourses questioning dichotomies such as nature-culture as a premise for sustainable urban development. Primarily associated with environmental, recreational and health considerations, notions of quiet have attracted attention, and while relationships between green spaces and restorative qualities for humans have long been acknowledged, this thesis investigates other types and aspects of urban space, not focusing on ‘green’ or dB ratio, but on relations between material and immaterial qualities.
To study this, I defined four spatially distinct and comparable case study areas in Amsterdam and Copenhagen and designed five thematic lenses. I conducted a quantitative and qualitative case study, results from which show noticeable differences between the four typologies, including differences between similar types in the two cities. Results point to profound relations between human beings and nature, which can also be found as abstractions of nature in terms of the built environment, architecture and everyday life routines.
The PhD thesis offers a comprehensive investigation of relations between material and immaterial qualities of urban space and their potential for stimulating resonance, attunement and flow. It illustrates spatial conditions that bring these about and offers first recommendations for ‘quiet’ places’. It introduces the contours of a new typology thinking, by which relations between material and immaterial qualities of space are taken into account and touches on the potential for informing spatial parameters and scale. Not just on the level of urban space, but on the level of urban form and structure.

A digital version of the PhD thesis can be obtained from the PhD secretary Anne Marie Faldt