Pedestrianism as Floating Life - How moving by foot in the city may become important again

Authors: Ole B. Jensen*, Deptartment of Architecture, Design & Media Technology, Aalborg University, Michael Martin, Department of Architecture, Design & Media Technology, Aalborg University, Markus Löchtefeld, Department of Architecture, Design & Media Technology, Aalborg University
Topics: Urban Geography, Transportation Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: Mobility, Pedestrianism, Floating Life
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Regency Ballroom, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Walking with its average speed of 5 km/h was for a very long period of time the primary mode of moving and engaging with the immediate material environment. However, over the past half-century, the socio-technical systems of automobility as well as other forms of non-human powered mobility have changed the ways in which cities are experienced. Most recently, however, the pedestrian mode has been reprioritised resulting in a shift of emphasis, particularly in European cities, toward recognising the destructive forces of automobility. This shift has been accompanied by a variety of reprioritisation strategies including car confinement in cities as well as restricted vehicular access to particular inner city zones at prescribed times. The challenge for many cities is how to legitimately change mind-sets, from automobility to walking. This paper explores pedestrianism not as ‘infrastructure’ or an ‘intervention’ but as transitory, ‘floating life’ across space and time. We conceptualise walking as a multi-sensorial mobile engagement with the material environment. In doing so, we ask how the ‘floating life’ of pedestrianism may be reflected upon as part of the so-called ‘mobilities turn’ and in particular how theories of materiality, embodiment, design and experience interlink with walking. In conceptualising pedestrianism as ‘floating life’ the paper will reflect on initial empirics from a mixed-methods study conducted in Denmark. Here, a variety of tactics and technologies were used, including thermal camera tracking and eye-tracking, ethnographic field studies, interviews, mapping as well as design interventions to explore the spatial-temporal multidimensionality of pedestrianism.

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