טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
Ph.D Thesis
Ph.D StudentShmueli Orit
SubjectThick City - A Phenomenoloical Research of the
Experienced Urban Space
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor Professor Iris Aravot
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


Abstract

The ThickCity research is an applied phenomenological exploration of the structure and components of the urban experiential space from the position of the rambler, an attentive and participatory walker.

Following the phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty the research moves away from the division between the user as subject and city as object in favor of cohesion between person and world. In Merleau-Ponty's terms, the lived engagement between the rambler and the city is an interplay between the urban visible (the tangible) and the invisible (meaning). This interplay is referred to by ‘thick urbanism’?a neologism proposed by the research. Thick urbanism is the quality of urban space, as interplay between the visible city and the invisible city. The significant influence of perceived excess on the lived engagement between the rambler and the city was revealed during the course of the research, and consequently the research aim was rephrased. This research studies the structure and components of the interplay between the urban visible and the urban invisible and the role of urban excess in shaping this interplay.

Interpreting the phenomenological descriptions of urban space - mainly from Mumbai and Delhi, India, and Jerusalem, Israel - the research identifies, names and articulates three constituents of experiential urban space in relation to excess and deficiency of the urban visible and invisible: accumulations, excavations and inversions. They are not the constituents of the city or of the self. Neither things nor concepts, they depict the way by which urban space becomes visible and meaningful through the agency of our situated embodiment. These findings from the empirical parts of the research are the realization of the visible and invisible interplay particular to the extreme excessive conditions of urban space. 

At the outset, the ThickCity research aimed to explore the constitution of experiential urban space, and indeed this is its first and major contribution - depicting the structure of experiential urban space along the three key constituents. Positing these findings in the context of urban design theories (UDT) suggests new perspectives on the conceptualization of urban space in regard to excess, the unknown, binaries, embodiment and the poetic moment. The theoretical exploration also illuminates the role of visual images sedimented in UDT in mediating experiential space. Another theoretical contribution is the outlining the excessive aspects of Merleau-Ponty’s visible and invisible phenomenology. In regard to method, the ThickCity research presents a framework for the production of knowledge by interpretive manipulation of photography in dialogue with the established verbal interpretation. This is especially valuable in regard to the ineffable aspects of space that evade linguistic representation but may be captured by the visual image. Employing the interplay between the visible city and the invisible city, and attuning to the creative and poetic potentials of urban excessive experience criticizes contemporary professional and academic discourse concerning “the good city” and urban “well-being” and offers a new perspective by which to reflect on the city and its theories, and therefore a different way to create within it.