RE-DWELL Summer School #1 is taking place in Nicosia from 15 to 20 November 2021
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Transdisclipinary Research for Affordable and Sustainable Housing

Posted on 23-09-2021

A roundtable on “Transdisclipinary Research for Affordable and Sustainable Housing” took place on Thursday 23, 2021.  The session was chaired by Flora Samuel, Professor at the University of Reading, UK, and the panel members were:      David Clapham, Professor of Housing and Urban Studies, University of Glasgow    Gilles Debizet, Professor in Urban Planning, University Grenoble Alpes   Doina Petrescu, Professor of Architecture and Design Activism, University of Sheffield   Ashraf Salama, Professor of Architecture, University of Strathclyde    Roundtable Video

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The case study decoder

Posted on 28-10-2021

Case study analysis. These are the three most confusing words – at least for me. Although being an architect has taught me the meaning and principles of case study selection and analysis, I still face difficulties with grasping the true benefits of the case study, specifically from the social sciences point of view. Therefore, in this blog post, I aim to clarify what the case study is, the history of the case study, and the different methodologies for investigating the case study.   The ‘case study’ as a case study ‘There are two ways to learn about a subject: One may study many examples at once, focussing on a few dimensions, or one may study particular examples in greater depth.’ Gerring, 2016   Let’s start with the basics and ask, ‘How does one define case study?’ Let’s break this concept up into its relevant pieces. Firstly, case means, ‘A particular situation or example of something.’ This situation may be comprised of states or state-like entities (regions or municipalities), organisations (firms or schools), social groups (race or age), events (revolutions or crises), or individuals (a biography or profile). Secondly, study, means, ‘The activity of examining a subject in detail to discover new information.’ By merging both of these meanings, a broad definition of case study is reached: A comprehensive investigation of a particular case (or cases) within a specific context, both of which are determined by the investigation interests (Gerring, 2016). When investigating the meaning of a case study, several associated terminologies arise, such as argument, observation and sample. An argument denotes the focal point of study and is defined as the theory, proposition or hypothesis driving the analysis. As observations govern the behaviour and use of variables in a case study, an observation can be said to define the strict boundaries of the units of analysis. Lastly, a sample is the data that are subject to analysis, which can either be singular or a collection of data (Gerring, 2016).   The origin of the case study The debate around the origin of the case study continues. One school of thought suggests that the case study as a form of research is an ancient concept and has been used throughout recorded history. Another theory states that the case study as a method of education was invented in the 1880s by Christopher Columbus Langdell, who was the Dean of Harvard Law School between 1870 and 1895. Yet another group suggests that the case study as a methodology originated from French economist, engineer and sociologist Pierre Guillaume Frédéric Le Play around 1829, when he used this methodology to test his theories before publication. I am sure you have noticed the differences within these groups: the case study as a form of research; the case study as a method of education; and the case study as a methodology (Harrison et al., 2017). Even though there are different uses for case studies in these designations, all of these groups agree that, by the mid-to-late nineteenth century, case studies had become the norm as teaching tools for developing new theories and hypotheses. By the start of the twentieth century, industrialists began looking at using the case study to develop their own theories on efficiency, manufacturing, supply lines and so forth (Carter, 2018, Gerring, 2016, Harvard, 2016). Despite the different opinions on its origin, the use of the case study spiked in the 1970s and has only continued to grow since (figure 1). This is mainly because of the increase in attention to its approaches, including the development of several new approaches. This is in conjunction with a noticeable increase in the use of case studies in publications, both in the social and applied sciences, as case study research is considered a primary methodology in testing and proving new theories and hypotheses (Gerring, 2016).   The types Case study as a form of research has many different forms, with each dictating different approaches and deploying different instruments. Discussing all of the types would result in a very dense list, so the main four types are discussed below (Harrison et al., 2017): -  Descriptive (illustrative) case study: used to examine a familiar case in order to help others understand it. Its primary method is the description of the variables. -  Exploratory case study: used to identify research questions within real-life contexts and situations. It is often deployed before large-scale investigations, making it is very popular in the social sciences, particularly political science. -  Cumulative case study: used to gather information on the topic at hand at different times. This type is widely used for qualitative research. -  Critical instance case study: used to determine the causes and consequences of an event, and investigates one or more phenomena. A critical instance case study can also be used to test a universal assertion.   So far! In summary, it is safe to say that the case study is a method of analysis that is no longer confined to just developing theories and hypotheses. It is a technique of research that also makes a case for coming up with solutions for given problems. It is worth noting that, unlike most of the statistically-based studies, the main goal of creating a case study is to look for some new variables while you are conducting research. Simply put, the case study looks to the characteristics of the past and present to make sense of the future. Choosing which case study to analyse is usually the most important and difficult task in this research process. Therefore, a systematic framework that defines the research problems, questions and objectives needs to be created so as to make it easier to find the relevant case study that can address the research needs of the project.   References CARTER, A. 2018. The History of the Case Study – Why It’s Important [Online]. Available: https://www.improveyourwebcontent.com/the-history-of-the-case-study-why-its-important/ [Accessed]. GERRING, J. 2016. Case study research: Principles and practices, Cambridge University Press. HARRISON, H., BIRKS, M., FRANKLIN, R. & MILLS, J. Case study research: Foundations and methodological orientations.  Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 2017. HARVARD. 2016. The Case Study Teaching Method [Online]. Harvard Law school Available: https://casestudies.law.harvard.edu/the-case-study-teaching-method/ [Accessed].

Author: M.Alsaeed (ESR5)

Reflections

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WS1: The First Brick Has Been Cast

Posted on 07-10-2021

Finally, it happened! The long-waited RE-DWELL ITN Lisbon Workshop, organised by ISCTE-UL, took place over three days between 22 and 24 September 2021, where there was a range of structured activities and lectures to keep attendants busy. More than 35 RE-DWELLers attended the event, including ESRs, supervisors, speakers and partners, and all were ready to engage and collaborate with one another and exchange their immense knowledge of affordability and sustainability in housing from a transdisciplinary perspective.   Day one: Getting started As expected, the opening session was well organised and very motivational. It began with the welcoming address, which was followed by an information-exchange session between the ESRs and supervisors in which ideas were exchanged and important concepts discussed. Naturally, posters and abstracts were involved! Myself, Andreas Panagidis and Dr Krzysztof Nawratek teamed up and engaged in very elaborate discussions about our projects. This was where, for the first time, I was able to understand the aims of the other ESRs at a detailed level, and I can now say with confidence that I can see the whole puzzle clearer. It is thrilling to see how our projects work together on the path to delivering affordable and sustainable housing. Although the workshop was quite motivational, the highlights of the day were the introduction of the concept of BIP/ZIP and the tour to Eco Bairro of Boavista. “BIP-ZIP is a non-bureaucratic participatory budgeting model that invites citizens to develop and implement actions themselves in their neighbourhoods, which reinforces the social and territorial cohesion of the Lisbon municipality” (UA, 2018). Essentially, BIP/ZIP is a programme designed to get more citizens’ input into the construction of cities. The tour to Eco Bairro of Boavista marked the end of the first day, with dozens of important questions answered about its planning, design, and the strategies used in achieving these goals. As a picture is worth a thousand words, Figure 1 has been included to explain this information.   Day two: It only gets better A roundtable and the subsequent open debate were the highlights of the second day. A group of experts, researchers and academics (Prof. David Clapham, Prof. Gilles Debizet, Prof. Doina Petrescu and Prof. Ashraf Salama) discussed the meanings, concepts and methods of transdisciplinary research for affordable and sustainable housing from different perspectives. According to Prof. Salama, different backgrounds is one of the reasons behind the current difficulties, as he says, “When we sit with people of different disciplinary backgrounds, the first thing we say is, ‘This is not how we do things,’ and once you say that, you establish… boundaries between us and other people… Transdisciplinarity is the notion of triangulation: looking at affordability, sustainability and lifestyles together” (Salama, 2021). During the second half of the day, several important topics were discussed in a series of lectures delivered by the Casais Group: From the concepts and role of circular economies fostering sustainability and the necessity of digital transformation, to the use of building information modelling (BIM) and the industrialisation of construction leading to effective resource management. During the tour of one of Casais’s projects, we witnessed the transformation that takes place in construction, from the pencil and block through to the use of BIM and modular design principles.   Day three: Ethics is the name of the game The third day marked the end of the workshop. Focused and dynamic lectures were delivered by Prof. Karim Hadjri and Dr Krzysztof Nawratek. Everyone engaged in a hands-on workshop to understand the role of personal qualities and self-management in developing a successful project and, ultimately, a good PhD thesis. Ethics and data management were the hot topics during the session, for which a grounding principle was presented and clarified, which helped to shape our understanding and clarify the ways in which ethical and successful projects can be achieved. And, as usual, the day ended with a tour, this time to Marvila, where the role of innovation in social housing was demonstrated.   Bacalhau à Brás Although this seems like a complicated technical term, it’s a traditional dish made from cod fish that you must try when visiting Lisbon, as I assure you that it is very delicious! So much so that it was the most popular dish at the event. So, on day three and after many dishes of Bacalhau à Brás, our first workshop came to an end. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped in organising or presenting at the event and to thank those who attended this amazing event. See you very soon at Nicosia!       References  SALAMA, A. 2021. Transdisciplinarity Research for Affordable and Sustainable Housing. Research Methodologies and Tools (Rmt1 Course). Lisbon workshop. UA. 2018. BIP-ZIP, Citizen Participation Mechanism [Online]. Lisbon: Urban Alternatives. Available: https://urbanalternatives.org/map/lisbon/bip-zip/ [Accessed October 2021].

Author: M.Alsaeed (ESR5)

Workshops

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Unmethodical foreplay

Posted on 05-10-2021

“Theories become clear and “reasonable” only after incoherent parts of them have been used for a long time. Such unreasonable, nonsensical, unmethodical foreplay thus turns out to be an unavoidable precondition of clarity and of empirical success”. (Feyerabend, 2010: 11)   Invaded by mass tourism, divided by social and economic inequalities, it is easy to forget that at one point, Lisbon was the San Francisco of Europe. In fact, the Portuguese were the first European traders to reach India and held the monopoly of trade with Japan during the 16th century. Indo-Portuguese art, such as the sculpture depicted on the left is a window into a prior phase of global exchanges, one motivated by discoveries, commercial expansion and European colonisation. Today, syncretic artistic expressions drawing from Hinduism and Catholicism allow historians to re-trace a complicated past.   However, what does this tell us of research on housing affordability and sustainability? This sculpture is an example of an earlier form of world complexity, readable, in this case, through art forms and religious dogmas. It is a concrete embodiment that confounds paradigms that place top-bottom, North-South, European vs other, critical-rational divisions over our current world. In short, it muddies the clear waters of preconceived frameworks that place Christianity in a White-European context.    It is in the muddy waters that theorising gains importance. To borrow from Feyerabend, we need to fight against the method, any method. In urban studies, preconceived ontologies, conceptualisations of the world, stifle research creating what Tonkiss (2011) calls Template Urbanism. The danger of template urbanism is becoming reified, a set of common tropes that act as places for encounter but simply fall flat when confronted with social realities.   Flows of ideas and commodities, the creation of intercontinental networks, and ever-increasing complexity were a reality in the regional world of the 18th century. In the 21st, visiting Lisbon, we’ve seen informal settlements in the “Global North”, the consequences of a fascist regime that, like its Spanish counterpart, created a country of homeowners, all of that even before neoliberalism went mainstream with Thatcher and Reagan. This doesn’t fit into the one framework. These phenomena demand engagement with theories and disciplines of their own, not a one-size-fits-all approach.   Maybe just on this particular point, both sides of the spectrum in urban research, critical researchers (Brenner et al., 2011) and urban data scientists (Kandt & Batty, 2021) see theorising as key in producing meaningful research. Empiricism in the urban environment is frown upon because of its naïveté, it refuses to engage with the messiness Feyerabend talks about. On the contrary, we ought to engage with messiness to find the theoretical tools allowing us to produce meaningful scientific outputs.    References Brenner, N., Madden, D. J., & Wachsmuth, D. (2011). "Assemblage urbanism and the challenges of critical urban theory." City, 15:2, 225-240 https://doi.org/10.1080/13604813.2011.568717 Kandt, J., & Batty, M. (2021). "cities, big data and urban policy: Towards urban analytics for the long run." Cities, 109. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2020.102992 Tonkiss, F. (2011). "City analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action. Template urbanism Four points about assemblage" in City analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action.  15(5), 584–588. https://doi.org/10.1080/13604813.2011.60902

Author: A.Fernandez (ESR12)

Workshops

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RE-DWELL Roundtable #2

Published on 16-11-2021

RE-DWELL Roundtable The design of affordable ans sustainable housing: Challenges and opportunities November 16, 2021 (16:15 – 18:15 CET +1) An open discussion on the Design of Affordable and Sustainable Housing focusing on the challenges and opportunities during the design process, moderated by Prof. Leandro Madrazo, School of Architectute La Salle- URL. With the participation of: - Darinka Czischke, Associate Professor, TU Delft - Lisa D. Iulo, Associate Professor of Architecture, Director of the Hamer Center for Community Design, Pennsylvania State University - Montserrat Pareja-Eastaway, Associate Professor, University of Barcelona Free open session. Join us at https://bit.ly/3DcL88P
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RE-DWELL Summer School #1 Nicosia

Published on 13-11-2021

The Nicosia Summer School aims to foster the exchange of knowledge across ESRs, supervisors and non-academic organisations, on the challenges and opportunities of the design process in realizing needs for affordable and sustainable housing. A programme of activities is designed to enable a follow-up on the development of ESR’s research through training activities related to the ongoing structured courses (RMT1 and TS1) and networking between the individual projects, supervisors and partner organisations. Invited speakers from professional practice, academia and local municipalities will address topics related to “Planning, design, and retrofitting of affordable and sustainable housing” from multiple perspectives. The lectures will be followed by group discussions and complemented by site visits. A roundtable to discuss “The design of affordable and sustainable housing: challenges and opportunities” will be open to the public via an online session.
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Lisbon Workshop: Roundtable

Published on 15-09-2021

On Thursday 23, roundtable on Transdisclipinary Research for Affordable and Sustainable Housing, starting at 10:00 (CET -1).  Free access to the online session. The field of housing research is characterised by siloed thinking with little debate across disciplines. The aim of this event is to consider the way in which housing is approached from different disciplinary perspectives and to think about ways in which multi-, cross- and transdisciplinary research has been carried out so far in Europe and the UK.  How can research on housing address the global challenges of climate change and of social inequalities and in the same time engage with concrete practice in architecture, engineering, planning and public policy? A historical approach to housing research and its “disciplines” will help engage this timely debate.     This event will be chaired by Flora Samuel, Professor at the University of Reading, UK. Panel members will be:    David Clapham, Professor of Housing and Urban Studies, University of Glasgow   Gilles Debizet, Professor in Urban Planning, University Grenoble Alpes  Doina Petrescu, Professor of Architecture and Design Activism, University of Sheffield  Ashraf Salama, Professor of Architecture, University of Strathclyde
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Consortium

The combined knowledge provided by experts from the different fields and domains will contribute to create a transdisciplinary research framework in which early-stage career researchers (ESRs) will develop their individual projects on affordable and sustainable housing.

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9 European countries. Spain, France, UK, Croatia, Hungary, Cyprus, Netherlands, Portugal and Belgium.

10 higher-education institutions. The universities are represented by experts from several disciplines related to housing: architecture and planning, building and construction, sociology, economy, and law.

12 non-academic partner organisations. Partner organisations include construction companies, private and public developers, local administrations, research and advocacy groups, housing associations, social and international organizations.

RE-DWELL
in a nutshell

a transdisciplinary and holistic approach about housing which cuts across disciplinary boundaries and fields

a consortium of 22 organizations covering a range of academic disciplines and professional fields working on housing

a comprehensive training programme, with network specific courses complemented with training in the PhD programmes of the host universities

a blended learning environment to integrate onsite and online activities distributed across institutions

3 Workshops in Lisbon, Budapest and Zagreb; 3 Summer Schools in Nicosia, Valencia and Reading; and 2 international conferences in Grenoble and Barcelona

25 academic supervisors and co-supervisors supporting the individual research projects

a wide range of outreach activities to engage communities and professional organizations in the research and in the exploitation of research outputs