Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Major Reference Work in Mobilities Design

Ole B. Jensen, Professor of Urban Theory at Aalborg University, Denmark, is well-known in the field of mobilities for his pioneering work. In his previous published work Staging Mobilities (Routledge, 2013) Jensen explored how the movement of people, goods, information, etc, were acted out and performed amidst the intricacy of their relationships. This work examined the theoretical nuances and implications of mobility concepts. In his new work Designing Mobilities (Aalborg University Press, 2014) Ole B. Jensen delves deep into the physicality of mobile sites and locations to offer a broad and far-ranging investigation that compliments his previous work. Jensen clearly has situated himself as taking his theoretical explorations forward in order to articulate the meaning of material and physical contexts. Designing Mobilities does just this by engaging with tangible designs structures and sites – such as transit spaces and systems and shopping centres – and their relations not only to mobility and space in the built environment but also culture. That is, Jensen sets as his goal the exploration of how such ‘designed’ mobilities integrate, impact, and influence upon human identity and social life. Jensen views mobility as culture, experience, performance, design, and more. To achieve his goals Jensen organizes the book by first framing the issues into designing, capturing, and the materiality of mobilities. Jensen then takes four case studies in detail to explore his issues: walking flows; cycling assemblages; train metroscapes; and car motorway assemblages. In none of these areas does Jensen’s analysis lack critical insight or perceptive articulation. Also, the book itself is visually stunning and is an aesthetic object in its own right.

Designing Mobilities, based on more than a decade of academic research, is a successful and pioneering contribution to the research field of mobilities. Jensen’s latest work will also stand for years to come as a major reference in the research area that Jensen calls ‘mobilities design.’ It is a complex engagement that addresses key issues in a diversity of research areas. As such the book will appeal to students and scholars with an interest in urban studies, urban design, architecture, urban planning, transport planning and geography, urban geography, anthropology, design studies, interaction design, and urban sociology.

Reviewer: Kingsley L. Dennis, Ph.D

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