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Research Motivations
Reader's guide to the monograph
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PREFACE

The purpose of this preface is to explain to the reader the inner workings of the PhDs in the Danish context (especially at the architecture schools), which may differ from other traditions in different countries[1]. The Preface is intended as a reader’s guide to the monograph.

 

 

Aarhus Architecture School’s PhD Call

 

This research is conducted from 04/09/19 to 31/12/2022 as set out by the requirement of the Danish PhD[2] model of three years. The PhD call is in the interdisciplinary fields of landscape architecture, and urban design (to a lesser extent, urban planning), with the expectation to use design-based research methods (such as research-through-design/research-by-design). The PhD call[3] sets out the point of departure in establishing the primary research question, “How can coastal cities of East Jutland utilise sea-level rise as a power of transformation that positively contributes to rethinking and informing existing urban structures?”

 

 

Realdania research network and involvement with Vejle Municipality

 

This PhD call encouraged collaboration with various stakeholders and researchers (more common in Danish PhDs). Denmark tends to foster more inter-and transdisciplinary collaboration to question the entrenched disciplinary structures, such as pre-established methods and solutions in the spatial design disciplines. I was fortunate enough to be involved with Realdania’s[4] research network through my supervisors (Professor Tom Nielsen and Associate Professor Katrina Wiberg, along with other research initiatives from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and the University of Copenhagen (KU). The Realdania research network seeks to create and share knowledge and contribute to new research on climate scenarios, risk minimisation and urban development (Realdania, 2019). The main intention behind this network is to strengthen the work across disciplines. The researchers cover many disciplines, including urban planning, architecture, engineering, economy, law, anthropology, political science and biology (Realdania, 2019). The involvement in this research network was vital in having access to numerous resources such as relevant academic reports, expert feedback from other disciplines, knowledge exchange with other researchers and stakeholders[5], various lectures/workshops related to my research, and opportunities for collaboration and networks with relevant stakeholders.

Vejle Municipality invited me to get involved with one of the pilot projects from the “Cities and the rising seawater[6]” initiative, funded by Realdania. They asked me to be involved in an open design competition to rethink coastal adaptation and protection systems in Vejle for the future (see section 1.4.1 Vejle’s ‘Kanten/The Edge’ design competition for more details). My involvement[7] and learnings from working with Vejle Municipality became part of my case study site, which was the testing ground to investigate my research questions.  

Figure 1. Diagram of this PhD’s associated research network, collaborators and case study city of Vejle (i.e. my involvement with Vejle Municipality and Kanten/The Edge design competition). My involvement and direct associations are the nodes that are coloured.

The expert peer review process and access to data

 

The work with the research network from Realdania, Vejle Municipality and other relevant encounters gave me access and exposure to “behind-the-scenes” workshops, meetings and informal peer review processes from various experts and stakeholders in the network (see Appendix 13). These encounters are not strictly like a semi-structured interview; however, they were able to provide other types of “soft” data through participating in and observing workshops and meetings. Therefore, I have had the opportunity to have reasonably frequent feedback from other experts throughout my research, which has helped in dealing with aspects of this research that I am not familiar with or an expert in. One of the key figures is the marine biologist/researcher from the Kanten/The Edge design competition with Vejle Municipality, with whom I also co-wrote a paper and an opinion article. I established good relations with a marine biologist (also an advisor to the judges), who became an informal expert advisor of marine biology for my research.

Field(s) of study in the Danish context

 

This research is based on the Danish context, focussing on the impact of water due to climate change on the Eastern coast of Jutland (the specific case study is set in the city of Vejle), embedded in its educational, institutional and commercial context. As such, municipalities, architectural practices and educational institutions work in a more integrated, interdisciplinary and collaborative manner, where, for instance, the field of landscape architecture and urban planning are relatively integrated in Denmark (Wiberg, 2018). This is due to the Danish educational system, where architecture schools like the Aarhus Architecture School train future architects, landscape architects and urban planners/designers in a hybrid format between the three. A similar thing applies in municipalities and commercial offices, where these three disciplines are less compartmentalised into silos and collaborate into one broad working field (Wiberg, 2018). Henceforth, the PhD will depart from Denmark's integrated and hybrid tradition of landscape architecture and urban design with a special focus on the interface between landscape architecture, urban design/planning and marine biology.

 

 

Research motivations

 

The initial inspiration to answer the PhD call came from a personal and intuitive place of rethinking how we landscape the boundary between the city and sea from the perspective of marine lifeforms. As a researcher and a practitioner, I have always wondered why there was a strong emphasis on landscaping our cities with trees, flowers and plants but very little, if at all, has been done with seascaping with marine lifeforms such as seaweed, eelgrass and mussels in urban contexts. I was fascinated with the potential of seaweed as the representative “seascaping” element to re-envision how we think about our edge conditions and educate and create awareness about the numerous qualities of seaweed, both instrumental and intrinsic, especially to tackle the current climate and biodiversity crisis. I believe that coastal cities are a critical site of intervention as urbanisation continues to increase because first, this is where most of the impact will be to bridge the interface between humans and nonhumans; second, this is the epicentre of the need to address our current unsustainable habitation for the future.  

Moreover, having grown up and lived in various countries with a strong attachment to the coast due to its proximity to the sea (i.e. South Korea, New Zealand[8], United Kingdom and Denmark[9]), I questioned our current dominant superficial and overt instrumental relationship to the sea and its continual exploitation. Nevertheless, my Korean heritage inspired me to place a particular emphasis on and fascination with seaweed as it has had a strong holdfast on Korean cuisine and culture. I saw the potential of reviving seaweed in the European context, where these cultural traditions around seaweed have been somewhat lost and forgotten. There was a unique opportunity to contribute to original research by exploring the potential of seaweed as a catalyst for urban transformation on the coast.

 

 

For whom is the monograph written, and on behalf of whom?

 

This PhD monograph tries to represent the perspective of seaweed (and the sea) as much as possible in its potential contribution to urban transformation; however, it inescapably is from the human perspective – particularly, myself as a researcher in the field of landscape architecture, urban planning and design. The intention of this research is for those who influence the way our urban coastal shorelines are developed, be it municipal regulators (who in turn communicate with citizens, developers and politicians) or practitioners (landscape architects, urban planners and designers) or fellow researchers and educators (for teaching and research). Although this is still an academic endeavour that needs to fulfil certain criteria as a PhD dissertation, I wrote with the stakeholders in mind, who may use the document to rethink our current B-A-U practices and normative values to instil more alternative solutions. Thus, the academic jargon or technical terms have been defined as footnotes in the section: “Definition of Key Terms.” It is to ensure that non-experts can also approach the research.   

Finally, the monograph intends to capture and filter the immense complexity and richness of the topic at hand while facilitating different points of departure for readers, who can then follow this research journey from hypothesis through analysis to possible future strategies.

Reader’s guide to the monograph

The overall structure of the monograph is in five parts, as outlined below, following a well-established IMRaD format (Introduction, Methods, Results (analysis) and Discussion as the organisational structure of the research, albeit modified slightly.

PART I: INTRODUCTION (RQ AND CONTEXT)

Introduction to the context and the research questions addressing the main wicked
problem of climate change on coastal cities and harbourfront/waterfront developments.
Identifying the research gap through the hypothesis “Urban Seascaping” with seaweed.
A single case study site is established as the city of Vejle with the involve
ment of
the design competition called Kanten (translated to “The Edge” in English).
This section sets the research scope and limitations.

 

 

 

 

 

PART II: METHODOLOGY

The case study site of Vejle is established to employ mixed methods, especially research-through-design methodology, via mapping to investigate the research question at hand. The research is embedded in a transdisciplinary context with expert advice from marine biologists (in the form of interviews and workshops). The section addresses the approaches

behind knowledge creation, which consists of a mapping tool that can consolidate and curate the

different disciplinary knowledge and mediums of representation and analysis via

a networked online mapping tool.

PART III: STATUS QUO AND ALTERNATIVES
A detailed investigation into the current wicked problems of coastal urban development. This is followed by the state-of-the-art analysis of the alternative emerging practices and modes of thinking that depart from the current status quo of coastal protection and adaptation. A literature review of the various theories and frameworks referred to in this

research is presented.

PART IV: URBAN SEASCAPING (RESEARCH-THROUGH-DESIGN)

Combination of territorial and network mapping as analysis for Vejle and Kanten/The Edge design competition entries.
The research-through-design multiscalar and temporal-projective mapping is used to generate future projective
landscape, urban planning and d
esign of seascape strategies.

PART V: CRITICAL REFLECTIONS

Discussions on the learnings from Urban Seascaping with seaweed in Vejle, Denmark. The section critically discusses the shortcomings of the research and its contributions to research. Future research avenues are indicated. Finally,
conclusions on the summary of the main findings.

Figure 2. A general structure of the PhD dissertation/monograph for the reader to follow.

The online format of the research – Website and Kumu map

 

The PhD monograph is presented in two mediums – static (paper format) and interactive (website format). The static version is presented in accordance with the rules and regulations of the PhD programme at Aarhus Architecture School. However, in this particular research, due to the use of an interactive website-based mapping tool (i.e. Kumu), the static medium is reductive in representing the complexities and nuances of the mapping tool developed for this research (refer to section 2.3 for more details on the network mapping tool). Therefore, to view and interact with the online mapping tool developed for this research, a website version of the PhD dissertation is also published for viewing and assessment. This online format is particularly relevant for the Part IV chapter, where the online Kumu maps are “embedded[10]” (hosted) into the website to allow the reader to interact with the Kumu maps directly. It allows the reader to click and engage with the many interconnections between different nodes in the multi-scalar and temporal maps, which is the purpose of making this type of map (e.g. the nodes can be isolated to highlight certain connections – see Figure 3). Because this type of direct interaction is not possible in a static medium, I would highly encourage the readers to engage with the website version of the monograph (especially Part IV). Most images (figures) shown throughout the monograph are embedded in the Kumu map, which has been extracted to be represented in the static format[11]. Therefore, the readers are encouraged to view the online format of the PhD, especially in Part IV of the research, where the contents from the Kumu maps are used the most.

     Furthermore, the website format of the monograph enables direct hyperlinks to sources, such as direct access to videos and audio material created for teaching and dissemination throughout this PhD.

The online and interactive format of the research is curatorial and representational as a research-for-design outcome, reflecting the complexity of information and the digital age. The online format is a way to visually address the need to think in systems and networks as a curatorial tool and as a way to synthesise different material from different sources, scales, and periods. The website aspect of the PhD also becomes more than just a medium of submission but a curation of Urban Seascaping. The website is an ontological and visual narrative, with each “node” representing a different part of the Urban Seascaping story.

 

The basic “how-to” of navigating around Kumu is explained in Part II and Part IV of the dissertation and on the MAP1, MAP2, and MAP3 on the contents page. For any pages that may have images or content that are sensitive information, there is a password lock on that page to prevent it from being publicly searched. Use the password: tang for access.

www.urbanseascaping.com - password: tang (or the original WIX URL: https://ateliersoo.wixsite.com/urbanseascaping).

Figure 3. The PhD monograph intends to be read in digital format, especially for Part IV – research-through design via network Kumu mapping.
(Top image) - The screenshot of the main PhD monograph as a website version.
(Mid and bottom images) – The screenshot of the three Kumu maps developed for this research.

 

Articles written (and published) during the PhD

 

Moreover, during the PhD project, I published two peer-reviewed articles. Some of the contents of the articles have been based on the monograph.

 

  • Ryu, S.J., 2021. Urban seascaping: Seaweed as a catalyst for urban shoreline transformation in the age of the Anthropocene. Linc. Plan. Rev., Lincoln Planning Review 11, 3–35.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/358834353_Lincoln_Planning_Review_Volume_11

  • Ryu, S.J., Quintana, C.O., 2023 (T.B.C). Seaweed as the denizens of the new commons in the Anthropocene, in: Critical Plant Studies, Algae. Brill (yet to be published).

 

Other online dissemination materials

 

Other non-academic digital (i.e. a podcast, an opinion article and short videos) dissemination was conducted throughout the PhD. They are embedded into the website version of the PhD.

  • Inspiration video for the competition entrants of Vejle Municipality’s Kanten/The Edge design competition on Urban Seascaping - 24th of April, 2020

https://vejle.citizenlab.co/da-DK/projects/idekonkurrencen-kanten

  • Interviewed for the podcast “Talking in this Climate” (as part of the 2021 Sustainable Living Festival in Australia) - 17th of February, 2021

https://anchor.fm/titc/episodes/Ep-7-Below-the-surface---language-of-maps-and-nature-e1k3oo0 

  • The Aarhus School of Architecture video of Urban Seascaping - 13th of June 2022

https://aarch.dk/en/inviting-the-sea/

  • A three-part interview with Arka Video platform - 23rd of June 2022

https://arka.video/articles/why-should-we-only-design-cities-for-human-benefit-soo-jung-ryu

https://arka.video/articles/water-walls-and-seaweed-fences-soo-jung-ryu

https://arka.video/articles/the-meeting-zone-between-water-and-land-soo-jung-ryu

  • Opinion article for Byrummonitor.dk (in Danish) written with Cintia Organo Quintana, titled: “Arkitekt-ph.d. og biolog: Vi skal væk fra de hårde havnebydele, der ødelægger kysten” – 12th March 2021

https://byrummonitor.dk/Debat/art8088476/Vi-skal-v%C3%A6k-fra-de-h%C3%A5rde-havnebydele-der-%C3%B8del%C3%A6gger-kysten

Language use

 

 

Active and personal voice of the researcher

 

Unlike the typical science-based writing styles where personal pronouns, careful use of personal voice and creative expressions are discouraged, spatial design disciplines like LUPD can accommodate a more active and personal voice of the researcher. The researcher’s voice is particularly relevant when dealing with qualitative research methods and ethical contexts, such as responding to the climate crisis or exploring the inclusion and representation of nonhuman/more-than-human agencies (such as marine life forms) in our coastal cities. Therefore, where appropriate, I express my agency as a researcher by writing in an active voice through personal pronouns and intend to be clear about my research intentions and values.

 

 

Use of terms in the thesis

 

The research acknowledges the current discourse on the use of normative terms that have contributed to perpetuating current binaries and dualistic thinking, such as the term “nonhuman” rather than the emerging term “more-than-human” (or “nature” rather than “ecology”). These discussions emphasise the need to address more inclusive and systems thinking – i.e. the interrelationship and entanglements of different systems rather than a more delineated, hierarchical and reductive way of understanding the world. While these discussions on language use are important, this debate is far from settled, and I have decided that it is more productive for the purpose of this monograph to use the more recognised terms that are more familiar to the general readership, which still plays an important role in establishing a common conception to the reader. Therefore, this monograph will use these terms interchangeably, with the intention that these terms refer to both. For instance, when I use the term “nonhuman”, it is with the term “more-than-human” in mind (see definitions page for more details). 

 

 

Keywords/search terms for this dissertation

 

Urban Seascaping, coastal adaptation, sea-level rise, East Jutland coastal cities, climate change adaptation, blue infrastructure, blue urbanism, coastal urbanism, blue urban commons, seaweed, marine landscape architecture, nature-based solutions, hybrid mapping, network mapping,   

 

miro.png
meso mapping DIAGRAM.jpg

[1]

For a text-based dissertation, the length of the written part of the dissertation, excluding footnotes, appendices and bibliography, should be in the proximity of 100,000 words.

Furthermore, if anyone should feel their rights of ownership to any of the images used have been violated, please contact me at: sooryu1984@gmail.com

[1] For a text-based dissertation, the length of the written part of the dissertation, excluding footnotes, appendices and bibliography, should be in the proximity of 100,000 words.

Furthermore, if anyone should feel their rights of ownership to any of the images used have been violated, please contact me at: sooryu1984@gmail.com

[2] The conditions for a PhD at the Aarhus School of Architecture involve 420hours of teaching, 420hours of dissemination, 30 ECTS points from PhD courses, and research stay at a foreign institution for a minimum of three months as a requirement that usually needs to tie in with the research.

[3] This PhD was a call with a specific research question that the participants were asked to address as part of their proposal.

[4] Realdania is a private charitable association in Denmark which supports projects in the built environment through architecture and urban planning. It was established in 2000. See their website https://realdania.dk/ for more information.

[5] See Appendix 12: Realdania network.

[6] There are seven pilot projects as part of the “Cities and the rising water” initiative from Realdania started in 2018 to address the increasing threat of sea level rise in Danish coastal cities. There are many other similar coastal adaptation initiatives happening in various risk cities in Denmark under the Realdania sea level rise pilot project (Realdania, 2019; Realdania and KU, 2020).

[7] The majority of the meetings with Vejle Municipality were conducted in Danish, and due to my limited Danish language skills, there was content that was lost in translation.

[8] I have a South Korean heritage and a New Zealand nationality (I have also grown up in the UK) with seven years of experience in architectural practices, and I have been based in Denmark since 2017.

[9] Although my Danish language competency is limited (Level: Danskprøve 3 – Beginner to intermediate level) and my understanding of the Danish context, I hope to contribute my broad international experience both in practice and in academia to bring “new” perspectives and approaches to the Danish landscape architecture and urban design.

[10] Embedding refers to the integration of links, images, videos, GIFs and other content into web media. Embedded content appears as part of the website and supplies a visual element that encourages increased click-through and engagement.

[11] Therefore, the maps developed via Kumu have numerous information that is not showcased in this monograph.

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