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2.1.1 Semi-structured interviews and workshops with experts

[80] My supervisor Katrina Wiberg have found in her PhD research that recording the interviews and meetings with stakeholders (not necessarily researchers) have impacted the candidness of the interviewee thus, resulting in less rich conversation. Therefore, I have also been reluctant to record interviews to ensure the most earnest answers/discussions.

[81] Some of other relevant potential interviewees (stakeholders) declined or were too busy to conduct an interview such as the city architect from Vejle Municipality. However, the inspiration video by the city architect is translated in Appendix 11.

[82] See Appendix 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9 to see interview notes on seaweed as food, seaweed as an educational tool, seaweed cultivation and marine restoration with the experts.



Semi-structured interviews and workshops with experts were one of the major qualitative approaches and methods of inquiry. These interviews were important because they allowed for gathering data unavailable in the literature due to the specificity of site-related conditions. This was particularly the case with the involvement of marine biology/ecology experts. Generally, the interview questions were formulated concerning the progression of the research and the professional and academic background of the interviewee to aid in answering the research questions. Additionally, the questions were open-ended rather than closed to ensure that the interviews remained focused but not guided. The interviews and workshops took place between 15.10.2019 to 02.02.2022, both physically and online. Where possible, the interviews were recorded[80] and transcribed (refer to Appendix 2-9), and notes were taken for the interviews that were not recorded (not all interview notes are included in the Appendix as it contains sensitive material). The interviews were conducted in English, and those that could not be conducted in English were translated from Danish. Detailed information on the interviewees and their professions is shown in Table 6 to Table 9 in Appendix 2.

    Qualitative interviews with experts and stakeholders[81] were initially sought as part of a strategy to aid background understanding of the potential of seaweed as a valid actor in coastal adaptation projects. Expert interviews were used to test the validity of Kanten/The Edge competition's design ideas and my design research in Part IV. The initial research strategy was to conduct the first round of semi-structured interviews with various seaweed experts in Denmark to scope out the state-of-the-art research and practice around seaweed, as shown in Table 6 and Table 9 in Appendix 2[82]. Some of the interviews also involved an on-site tour of various facilities (e.g. the Marine Education Centre in Malmö, Sweden and Leigh, New Zealand, a workshop with Havhøst in Kattegatcentret, a public aquarium and Pure Algae’s seaweed lab in Grenå etc. – see Appendix 2 and 10 for more details).

    Then, the interviewees were chosen concerning their connection with the Kanten/The Edge design competition (i.e. the winners – see Table 7 in Appendix 2) to understand from the practitioner’s point of view the way the design field can contribute to emerging marine landscape architecture as a key part of coastal adaptation strategies. The interviews were conducted to understand how the different perspectives of the experts and participants in the design competition might illuminate the Urban Seascaping propositions. Consequently, the semi-structured interviews are based on a constructivist approach to capture the underlying ontological understandings of the different respondents and to focus on how their varying values, interpretations and meanings illuminate my study at hand (Yin, 2017). Furthermore, the interviews seek to understand any potential setbacks the participants faced while doing the competition design. Furthermore, interviews were conducted with the marine biologist present at the Kanten/The Edge design competition (as an advisor to the judges). The interviewees were told their responses would be anonymised (where appropriate) to garner more earnest discussion.

   I have worked closely with the marine biologist (Associate Professor Cintia Organo Quintana from the Southern University of Denmark) during the Kanten/The Edge design competition, which allowed the relationship to develop organically into an informal advisory role for my research (see Table 7 in Appendix 2). Cintia and I met fairly regularly (both in-person and online) as an informal meeting to get feedback on aspects of my research to ensure it worked from a marine biological perspective.

      Moreover, during my research stay at Lincoln University, New Zealand, I interviewed researchers in urban planning and law working with integrating the intrinsic value of ecosystems into the legal frameworks. The main reason for going to New Zealand was to investigate a world-renowned case of granting a river legal personhood in 2017 according to the Maori (indigenous people of New Zealand) worldview (see section 3.2.5 for more information). It was an example of a real-world state-of-the-art application of an intrinsic value proposition to a water body. Furthermore, interviews were conducted with the host associate professor, an environmental planner focusing on water-based commons and integrating intrinsic values into the local planning regulations. This interview was then supplemented with a lawyer with extensive knowledge of working with indigenous communities to grant legal protection to natural entities. These interviews sought (see Table 8 in Appendix 2) to understand whether these intrinsic value propositions might be integrated into a LUDP and planning context. Therefore, the interview questions were formulated to see if there was potential for this intrinsic value proposition to influence the ethical stance of Urban Seascaping – i.e. an alternative to the current dominant utilitarian approach to the integration and protection of ecosystems.

     Towards the latter part of the research, other marine biologists (see Table 9 in Appendix 2) specialising in cultivating seaweed in or near Vejle Fjord were interviewed to get further context-specific feedback on the possibilities of growing kelp to integrate it as part of coastal adaptation strategy. As former nature guides, the interviewees also had insights into public perceptions and knowledge of the marine life in Vejle Fjord. They understood the perceptual, economic and regulatory barriers to implementing seaweed on a larger scale. Moreover, I was able to interview the project manager and a marine biologist, Mads Fjeldsø Christensen (see Table 9 in Appendix 2), for the project “Sund Vejle Fjord” (refer to section 1.4.1), who is currently working to restore the marine ecosystem. Discussions with these marine biologists gave valuable insights into the complexity behind watersheds (catchment areas) carrying pollutants (i.e. fertiliser runoffs) impacting the water quality (Fjeldsø Christensen, 2021). The ecological health of the fjord is an important factor to consider as they greatly influence the success of any design interventions involving marine nature-based solutions.

      Furthermore, I was involved in several relevant workshops, local events, field trips, conferences and festivals in Denmark and abroad (see Appendix 10 and 12 for notes on the learnings from the workshop and events). Although the knowledge gained from these casual interactions was not as targeted in attaining a specific answer as the interviews, the learnings were nevertheless valuable to the research. During these workshops, trips and events, I could engage in conversations with various actors, which provided an informal way to test my ideas and access information I did not have access to about the marine realm. Overall, the learnings from the interviews, workshops and events highlight the importance of more direct engagement with experts and exploring the research from various perspectives, but also the importance of engaging with those who have experiences with fieldwork/on-site investigations of marine life in Denmark. Much of these learnings take the form of “soft” data, often inaccessible in academic literature. Therefore, I believe the semi-structured interviews and workshops covered a sufficient range of experts working with coastal adaptation from a design perspective, to seaweed experts working with food, education, habitat, blue carbon and wave attenuators, to experts working with marine nature restoration facing challenges associated with water pollution from anthropogenic activities.

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