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PhD Thesis Defense


PhD Thesis Defense “Child, City, Play: A Polyphonic Biography”
Doctoral candidate: Garyfallia Katsavounidou
Advisor: Prof. Zissis Kotionis
Department of Architecture Auditorium Tuesday, 18 December 2012, 8:00 pm
The starting point for this thesis is the issue of the child – city relationship, which is examined as reciprocal: how children “view” urban public space, on one hand, and how architecture in the urban scale has historically responded to the needs of children growing up in the modern city. By introducing the third concept of play into this relationship, the study uses the ontological definition of play in order to reposition the previous questions on a new methodological basis, that of polyphony. For this reason, the thesis establishes a new, triple “research subject”, one that expresses the wholeness of “child, city, play”, and which it calls Spielraum. In view of the current problematic relationship between the terms “child” and “city”, the biography of Spielraum aims at projecting the integration of play and creativity in handling this relationship, through both theoretical and practical examples.  At the same time, it aims to, albeit diagrammatically, de/pre-scribe an “other” world, the possibility of which is more distant today, in our assumingly “child-centered” era, than probably ever before: a world in which the spirit of play, of freedom, of creativity, exiled from the functionalistic production of the city, will acquire its own space; where the city will be designed for children, because “if cities are not meant for children, they are not cities”, to use the words of Aldo van Eyck; and where Architecture will be serving Man, so humiliatingly called “user”, and will be collaborating with pedagogy to make new values and new principles come to light, following Henri Lefebvre’s saying, that “there can be no different society without a different space”.