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«Man knows only himself in so far as he knows the world, which he becomes aware of only in himself and only in it».  (Von Goethe, 1783)


A Socio-Spatial Study on Human Mobility and Spatial Perception in Singapore´s Public Housing Estates.



Worldwide, cities have adapted to road and public transport, resulting in spatial configurations with specific building stock, path systems and urban outdoor spaces. Within this urban framework, people developed their individual and collective pedestrian behavior. If urban society now finds itself in a transformative process - away from the car-friendly city towards the human-friendly city, this work raises the question - how will we walk about and appropriate our cities in the future? To provide practical support for Singapore‘s neighborhood planning and to advance transformative scientific research, this transdisciplinary study will explore this question within the Housing Development Boards (HDB) of the City State. People live here across generations, in a highly dense and multicultural sphere. Based on the Science of Strollology by Lucius Burckhardt (1980:2016), this work examined «why landscape is beautiful» (ibid., 2015) and asked site-specifically: What will the future sheltered walkway of the HDB living area look like in view of changing human mobility (e.g. micromobility) and new lifestyles (e.g. shift work through digitalization)?

Therefore, the importance of the future urban landscape was examined. Inspired by previous research, such as that of Dr. Belinda Yuen and Emily Soh (2019) on «Seeing through the eyes of older adults», this multi-methodological research approach took into account the views of the younger generation about their HDB habitat. This was done through ’Walking Interviews’ inside the sheltered walkway, and by the Forecast Methodology, so called ’Future Workshop’, with further young HDB residents to derive the urban future more concretely. ‘Expert interviews’ with various experts from the fields of urban planning, architecture, urban space psychology and sociology as well as urban design deepens the system knowledge and substantiate the target and transformation knowledge that was to be generated by this work. Taking into account all current planning efforts for the humane scale city of tomorrow, this work introduces a review of the human-spatial position, based on the assumption that the mobility and perception behavior of the individual is a decisive prerequisite for a concrete urban future vision. 

Due to tropical climate, Singapore‘s residents have always preferred to move within sheltered walkways. Here they commute from home to work and move out into the neighborhood and the city. Inside the walkway, however, the resident can look at his immediate surroundings as if through a frame. What does he/she perceive there and how does he/she perceive his/her future home? This is connected with special research interest, since the Public Housing Estates reflect the Heartland of Singapore: People have lived here for generations. 

The design of the practical research is to be understood as Transformative Mixed Methods (MM) Research design: 


 «Transformative Mixed Methods» is a design that uses a theoretical lens drawn from social justice or power as an overarching  

perspective within a design that contains both quantitative and qualitative data» (Creswell, 2014, p. 16).

Fig. 1: Research Design, own graphic. 

Fig. 2: Distribution: Experts – Young residents, own graphic. 

In the course of the research, the view of the young participants was treated with the same value as those of the experts, 


«this is based on the assumption that the people concerned are self-reflective subjects and experts of their own life-world   

and that their reflexive abilities and topic-related competence must and can therefore be taken seriously». (Lettau et al., 2007, 

p. 5 (translated by the author).

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