My research in the context of design research

By positioning myself (during this master) amidst a group of skilled designers of different areas, I stumbled over my assumed lack of desiger-skills and had to find out if what I was doing made sense and to whom.

What do I as a scenographer have to offer the developments towards a sustainable city? I handed myself a few outlines; I wanted to take time, work offline and outside and I wanted to return to my drawing skills.

Mapping values mentioned by participants during workshops on the value of their community or allotment garden.

Now that I look back at my question I realize that especially my training as a scenographer and maker is offering ways to do research and contribute to urgent questions. My research is focused on the values of meaningful places in the daily life of citizens. I organize attention to make these soft values tangible and visible; for the people involved, civil servants, decision makers and/or politicians. I do this in cooperation with the people and others I meanwhile met.

The transition we are in, asks for new strategies. Former strategies based on efficiency and economic growth are outdated, but are still infecting our perspectives. We all are in need of another mindset, weather aware, afraid or still in denial. While coping with the climate changes that are already happening faster and faster, mitigation, adaptation or reparation is only possible in close cooperation with civilians and other inhabitants in the city. I want to develop an ecocentric perspective while staying with the trouble; the unstable situations we are in.

Manifest for myself at the start of my research


Note: the quote above isn’t translatable since it plays with the verb imagine, voorstellen in Dutch, saying something like: I propose, I make a performance to introduce an area.

Urban Scenography

Rendering visible or tangible what is often unseen as a result of distance, lack of time, assumptions or interests, this is my expertise and my field of interest. I am developping my practice as urban scenographer, bringing tools and strategies from theater and arts into the field of city development.

Theatre and arts are skilled in specific ways of communicating with audiences, often starting or enhancing dialogues on uncanny subjects, proposing radical opportunities to open up fixed positions and perspectives or outdated processes.

The form of the communication follows the research and can take many shapes in which scenarios always play a role. At the moment I am working with a multidisciplinary team, making a certain area visible as city-nature by staging it as a park called Stadspark West. We do research in the field and organize different meet-ups and tours to make this area experiential.

A delegation strolling the city landscape
Down under the fly over is the perfect place to invite family and friends for a baby shower.
Steven plays the trumpet improvising with traffic noises

As an analytic tool, the concept of urban scenography reveals the interconnections and everyday scenarios that take place in urban settings. On the practical level, the concept of urban scenography as a dynamic set of city elements (which includes even temporal and accidental items) appears to be a tool applicable for revitalisation of underused public spaces.  

Lavrinec, Jekaterina. 2013. “Urban Scenography: Emotional and bodily experience.” Limes: Borderland Studies 6(1): 21-31. 

Traces of activities and communities living here

Not-Not Designing

Experienced as scenographer and artist I entered the landscape of (social) design at the Master Design, not expecting I would soon feel a stranger. This position helped me a lot to understand my own way of working and my expertise much better. As a scenographer, my research starts in the fields, discovering what is already present, focussing on the dynamics between bodies, space and matter.

I figure myself a mediator between on the one site already existing social, cultural and ecological qualities of certain area’s, the value and meaning they contain for inhabitants and on the other site audiences. The latter can be politicians, stakeholders, decision makers, designers or anybody with ideas about interventions or changes. I create awareness and sensitivity for what is already existing and happening in an area. I’m making this tangible, visible in an urgent search for new ways to co-create sustainable and valuable cities for and with all living species.

Me as a maker

When I was a kid, nobody told me the difference between believing and truth. I always had to tell the truth as a kid, but in the church I had to believe in a (for sure) existing god and I saw my parents playing a good marriage. In the years after the Berlin wall was torn down I started to understand truth doesn’t exist, it is one’s own truth that creates realities, a matter of perspective. Meanwhile I still cannot stop discovering realities by unraveling others, maybe still searching for something like naked truth?

When I would be able to let you look through the window of my eyes into the landscape of my soul, you immediately would feel the temperature go down and the air getting thinner and thinner. Don’t be afraid getting cold because you are climbing a mountain on a summers day till you reach the passage above the valley of Angeloga (IT). There it is that I saw my inner self reflected in a landscape and started to cry immediately as proof. I didn’t expect coming home at this place, recognizing the bare and merciless plain. No trees, no shadow only greyish green stones and rocks, the sound of the wind, singing birds and marmots. No chance to hide, no attempt to cover up, just bare landscape not awaiting any comment, only an invitation to stay, to endure and admire nature.

Anne Karin ten Bosch







LinkedIn Stadspark West