M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentBrokman Noam
SubjectUsage of Action Research Methodology to Mediate Knowledge
in Urban Renewal Processes Downtown Haifa as
a Case Study
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisors PROF. David Behar
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


In this study, I examined how designers can use action research methodology to communicate knowledge on the background of urban regeneration processes. Downtown Haifa was the study case.

Action research is a method in which the researcher takes an active part in local change. In this sense, the researcher is not an objective character, positioned outside the field of the research. On the contrary, here the researcher is a subjective character, actively positioned within the field of the research and taking a stand. The method of action research is such that it continuously repeats four moments: plan, action, observation and reflection. The reflection allows the researcher to conclude. This conclusion is used to plan the next action. Each four moments form a stage, and the progression between the stages forms the progression of the research.

The field of the research was downtown Haifa. This area has been going through urban renewal processes in the past few years. Those processes were encouraged by the municipality of Haifa and by the active assistance of its Downtown Administrator. The Downtown Administrator acted in collaboration with private-entrepreneurial bodies to encourage the arrival of new residents and new businesses to the area. However, during the initial stages of my research, the Downtown Administrator completely ignored the existence of veteran residents and businesses. Preliminary research indicated that the veteran population did not know the plans or the planning policy for the area. I therefore decided to hold events in the public sphere, in which it would be possible to communicate knowledge related to the processes of urban renewal.

To create those events, a series of preliminary actions had to be taken. These actions included entering the field, studying local knowledge, studying the valid plans of downtown Haifa, creating a short animation to communicate knowledge, examining artistic means to communicate, planning a wagon and a gradual return to the field. Only after completing those preliminary actions, I could have created those events. Each one of these actions was recorded via still images, videos, and by voice. The record of every action was used to reflect and to conclude toward the next action.

This research is probably the first action research, done in Israel, that used designers' tools in the context of urban renewal. Therefore, a considerable amount of the thought and research described here relates to the very use of the method itself. In this sense, it can be addressed as a technical action research. In addition, the study was practiced in the second person - it dealt with a group of participants. Yet, it was voiced in the first person, since the main line of thought concerned the means that the researcher should take. Therefore, unlike many other social science studies that investigate what has already happened, that is, the past, this study examines what can and what should be done. In other words, it examines the emergent future.