Using scenography to understand the experience of urban space

Back view of woman facing a pedestrian crossing

Lead Convener: Joslin McKinney (School of Performance and Cultural Industries)

Series Co-Conveners:

Giorgia Aiello (School of Media and Communication)
Gehan Selim (School of Civil Engineering)


Relationships between people and their urban environments are crucial in understanding the resilience of cities; the affective, creative and imaginative dimension of those relationships is important but difficult to access. The covid pandemic, which has transformed cities and the way we engage with them, highlights the need to understand feelings of isolation, connection and belonging and prompts rethinking relationships between people and the built environment. Scenographic practice and theory can illuminate affective and embodied experience of space and, in conjunction with understanding about socio-spatial aspects of urban design and visual, multimodal, and material communication, could make a significant contribution to understanding to post-lockdown relationships between people and urban environments.

Using seminars and creative workshops, we will explore opportunities for interdisciplinary research between scenography, urban design, urban communication and others such as human geography and sociology to test the potential of using scenographic methods for research into urban experience and resilience.

Research Questions

What could a scenographic approach bring to interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary understanding of urban space?
How can creative, participatory methods developed in scenography contribute to empirical investigations into urban experience?

Events in the Series:

Workshop ‘Scenographic encounters with the city of Leeds’ (November 2020)

Seminar ‘Researching the sensory qualities of urban space’ (December 2020)

Online seminar: ‘Researching the sensory qualities of urban space’ (January 2021)


  • Richard Koeck, Chair in Architecture and the Visual Arts, University of Liverpool Cine-Urbanism: Scenographic and Cinematic Qualities of Cities
  • Monica Degen, Reader in Cultural Sociology, Brunel University, London - Situating Urban Experiences: making sense of different atmospheres in Smithfield Market
  • Tim Edensor, Professor of Social and Cultural Geography, Manchester Metropolitan University - Walking along the Pergola: Promenading as sensory performance
  • Greg Dickinson, Professor of Communication Studies, Colorado State University - Feeling Food and Getting Dirty: Sensory Urbanism in LA Farmer’s Markets 
  • Zlatan Krajina, Associate Professor of Media Studies, University of Zagreb - Post-cinematic screens as scenographies of everyday urban life 

Creative workshops: Using scenography to understand the experience of urban space (July 2021)

Online seminar ‘Research and practice in urban scenography’ (15 October 2021)

Pilot project working with invited participants (Autumn/Winter 2021)


Image credit: Olexy@Ohurtsov - Pixabay