Lorena Felicia Axinte
Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN Early Stage Researcher
I am one of the 15 early stage researchers brought together by SUSPLACE, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Network. I started working at the Sustainable Places Research Institute in April 2016 on the project called 'Sustainable City Regions'. The aims of this research project are to find pathways through which the economic drivers of city-region development can be balanced by broader priorities of sustainable place making at regional scale. Theoretically grounded in the regenerative development paradigm, the project departs from the idea that mere sustainability is no longer sufficient considering the multiple crises that societies go through today.
The empirical research focuses on Cardiff Capital Region, where decisions regarding the development of the city-region are critical at this point. Considering the highly acclaimed 'Well-being of Future Generations Act', it is essential to continue the national conversation that informed the legislation and also take it further, purposely involving the younger generations in the governance structure and turning them into active stakeholders. The programmes designed now on their behalf will affect their lives and, they have, thus, the right to be part of the forum that identifies problems, develops solutions and creates policies and strategies.
My research will try to answer: (a) what are the youth’s values, aspirations, needs and/or expectations from the city region in the coming future and (b) how do these match or differ from the ones perceived (and translated into action) by the city region frontrunners. Connecting the different theoretical streams of collaborative governance and regenerative development, this study will then explore (c) whether expanding the network of active stakeholders can contribute to a more progressive definition and development of the city region, possibly changing priorities, reconciling and balancing between the economic drivers and the wider social, political, cultural and environmental aspects.
The study focuses on only one group of citizens (aged 16-24), deliberately chosen since they represent the ‘future generations’ often mentioned in the Welsh development plans and legislation. Besides, representatives of the Welsh Government – who are non-academic partners in the project, talked about the need to investigate methods suitable for youth engagement in governance. Lasting until April 2019, the project will test several methods throughout the ten local authorities that form the city region, combining both traditional ones, such as interviews and focus groups, as well as more creative ones, such as Photovoice, participatory mapping and scenario development.
My academic background is rather multidisciplinary, combining training in geography, international relations, as well as European and urban studies. Being part of the 4Cities joint master of six universities, I had the opportunity to experience four different urban settings (in Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen and Madrid) which inspired me to focus on the temporary use of vacant spaces as a central theme for my master thesis. My research followed the transformation of what used to be a bottom-up, informal activity, into a legitimate urban planning tool formalised by authorities under different arrangements in two specific contexts: Copenhagen and Barcelona.
- ‘4Cities’ Master of Science in Urban Studies
- Bachelor in International Relations and European Studies
- Bachelor in Geography of Tourism
Project Reports and Outputs
- May 2017: Cardiff Capital Region Youth Profile
- September 2015: Formalising the informal temporary use of vacant spaces (MSc master thesis)
- Fall 2014 (Published March 2015): Choreography of a Copenhagen Corner. Desire Line Analysis of Søtorvet & Dronning Louises Bro in Copenhagen
January 2017 - Sustainable Places Research Seminar Series, Perspectives of SUStainable PLACEshaping in Cardiff Capital Region - a participatory mapping exercise, Cardiff University, Wales
October 2016 - Project presentation at EWRC Masterclass 2016, Brussels, Belgium
October 2016 - Project presentation at European Society for Rural Sociology Autumn School on ‘Researching Globalization in Rural Contexts’, Aberystwyth University, Wales
Septermber 2016 - SUSPLACE Roundtable at UK-Ireland Planning Research Conference – Planning for Future Generations, Cardiff University, Wales
July 2016 - Poster presentation at MEDOW Open day and Energy Exhibition – Cardiff School of Engineering, Wales