Listening for Layers: Exploring Place through Walking and Talking

Matt Novacevski1

1The University Of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC

 

This paper explores the development of layered walking, a research method that builds on walking interviews to gain a deeper understanding of places and how they are made. Layered walking is a three-stage process. Firstly, researchers conduct an observational field session, which frames the second phase, a series of one-on-one walking interviews with people that have a particular connection with the place being studied. The third phase uses coding techniques to collate emerging themes. The practice bridges phenomenological and relational ways of knowing place, understanding places as irreducible wholes that comprise interconnected layers of meaning, experience, interpretation, stories and interaction. Layered walking is phenomenological because it interrogates the experience of place, and relational because it explores and provokes interactions between researchers, place and people. The method allows for a real-time emergence of stories that illustrate places as palimpsests, revealing peculiarities, prospects and processes. This paper reflects on the evolution of layered walking in researching a bayside walking trail in Geelong’s industrial north. While various field interview methods have been used to study relationships between places and people, this paper positions layered walking as a method that brings particular depth and clarity to place-based inquiry.


Biography:

Matt Novacevski is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne. His work focuses on exploring how western and Indigenous ways of knowing place can inform an Australasian approach to evaluating placemaking activity. Alongside his teaching and research, Matt has worked as a planner and placemaker in local government. His Masters thesis on peri-urban place identity won a commendation from the Planning Institute of Australia in 2016.

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