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AG2183 Public Life Studies and Tools for Urban Analysis 3.0 credits

Course offering missing for current semester as well as for previous and coming semesters
Headings with content from the Course syllabus AG2183 (Autumn 2015–) are denoted with an asterisk ( )

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

Subjects in the course will encompass the elements and patterns of city form, visual imaging and photography, morphology of the city, analysis of ideal public spaces, static and dynamic forces of social life that compose and shape the urban realm. Dynamics of nature and culture, social encounters, urban narratives, architectural ensembles, and urban settings will be elements that are studied in-depth throughout this module. This course will be based on the reintroduction of the utilization of “observational urbanism” as a method and tool for studying the public realm and social life therein. This course is fundamentally about researching the city which will include tools for analysis of public space using mental mapping, behavior mapping, critical city walks, photography methods, and space syntax analysis. Course will conclude with the analysis of a selected problem in the particular locality with the participants oral presentation within the closing colloquium that will include invited critic guests.

Intended learning outcomes

After completing the course requirements, students should be able:

  • To use and understand the main tenants of obeservational urbanism, especially the Public Spaces & Public Life Studies utilized by Jan Gehl and Studies of Public Space and The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces methods by William Whyte.
  • To critically adapt and use qualitative methods in complex studies related to urban form and human behavior where careful observation with stringent data collection, analysis, and deduction are employed.
  • To work with the facilitation of public life in public spaces in urban planning and design, often pushing the boundaries beyond common studies and understanding of the public realm with a deeper understaning of life between buildings.

Course disposition

The course consists of combinatory modulets - theoretical and methodological training (literature review, analysis of case studies in literature related to publis spaces), field trips and data collection (practical training of research techniques and tools) and basics in observational urbanism, city walks, visual mapping, space syntax, transect studies, link and task analysis and public participation. 

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

Three years of studies in city urban planning, architecture, town planning, urban design or landscape architecture. This course is not open to international exchange students.

Recommended prerequisites

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How to Study Public Life: Methods in Urban Design, 2013, Jan Gehl and Birgitte Svarre, Washington DC: Island Press

The Social Life Of Small Urban Spaces, 1980 William H. Whyte, New York: Project for Public Spaces Inc.

Exploratory Research in the Social Sciences (Qualitative Research Methods), 2001 Robert A. Stebbins, London: Sage Publications, Inc.

Measuring Urban Design: Metrics for Livable Places (Metropolitan Planning + Design) 2013, Reid Ewing, Washington DC: Island Press

How to Turn a Place Around: A Handbook for Creating Successful Public Spaces, 2000, New York: PPS

The Wisdom of the Cities, 2005, Henry L. Lennard and Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard, Carmel: Gondolier Press.

Examination and completion

If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.

Grading scale

A, B, C, D, E, FX, F


  • PRO1 - Project, 1.5 credits, grading scale: P, F
  • PRO2 - Project, 1.5 credits, grading scale: P, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

Other requirements for final grade

Project 1, (PRO1; 1.5 credits) Pass
Project 2, (PRO2; 1.5 credits) Pass 

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

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Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

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Profile picture Tigran Haas

Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Course web

Further information about the course can be found on the Course web at the link below. Information on the Course web will later be moved to this site.

Course web AG2183

Offered by

ABE/Urban and Regional Studies

Main field of study

Built Environment

Education cycle

Second cycle

Add-on studies

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Ryan Locke