Social Behaviour and Urban Spaces: A Study of Performative Identity in Skegness, U.K.

By Kathleen Watt.

Published by The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Many coastal towns and seaside resorts in the UK rely on design or arts-related developments to underpin regeneration strategies, believing that public art or flagship buildings are beneficial in developing a sense of place and community identity. This paper challenges the assumption that arts-based interventions create a focus for public culture and thereby enhance a community’s character and sense of well-being. It argues that the current enthusiasm for design-led regeneration typically results in the introduction of new or expanded cultural ambitions to coastal communities, rather than reflecting and supporting existing cultures and ways of life. In providing elite cultural attractions new developments are often incompatible with local aspirations and identities. The research is based on the proposition that through the replication of everyday practices in specific locations a sense of identification or belonging emerges for the actors involved and the identity of a place becomes visible. A study of urban performativity was undertaken in the seaside town of Skegness in the UK utilising a range of data collection methods including participant observation, behaviour mapping and tracking. These techniques facilitate an understanding of how people interact with each other and with the built environment as they go about their everyday activities. The paper concludes that everyday performances are key determinants in shaping place identity and studies of urban performativity should be used to complement conventional urban analysis techniques for generating design initiatives in urban spaces.

Keywords: Place Identity, Urban Performativity

The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.49-68. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.077MB).

Dr. Kathleen Watt

Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design, Lincoln School of Architecture, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, UK

Dr. Kathleen Watt holds a doctorate in architectural history and theory from the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies, The University of York in the UK. She is a senior lecturer at the University of Lincoln School of Architecture, where she is a member of the Liveable Cities Research and Consultancy Group and Programme Leader for the Master of Research (MRes) course. She is author of the book 50 Buildings/50 Years: Modern Architecture in the East Midlands and other publications on the topics of cultural identity, architecture and urban development.