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Interrogating Place: A Socio-Sensory Approach


Kelum Palipane

Melbourne School of Design, Melbourne, AU
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Many cities in emerging nations caught up in the global process of urban regeneration pursue a western model of modernity and urbanity without much consideration for its impact on social sustainability. This can result in entrenching already inequitable conditions where policies typically address the interests of elite minorities. This paper presents an alternative approach to analysing and engaging with place and its sociality to reveal nuanced place making practices of existing communities giving voice to marginalized groups and views. Presented within the context of fieldwork studies in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray, this paper focuses on a place mapping technique based on sensory ethnography to identify and analyse existing spatial practices of communities. Ethnographic data is supplemented by audio and visual recordings which are then synthesized and represented in a series of multimodal diagrams based the concept of vertical montage which explores the relationships between time, space and activity. This paper also briefly presents a design exploration of a Master of Architecture student at the University of Melbourne who adopted the mapping technique, developing a richly experiential and programmatically appropriate design for urban regeneration. The methods presented in this paper may help inform the development of regional model of ‘modernity’ that is socially sustainable and specific to place. One that attempts to address inequity in the participation process and acknowledges the importance of existing spatial practices in creating complex and pluralistic urban spaces.
How to Cite: Palipane, K., 2017. Interrogating Place: A Socio-Sensory Approach. Cities People Places : An International Journal on Urban Environments, 2(1), pp.55–69. DOI:
Published on 16 Mar 2017.
Peer Reviewed


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