Urban design for mobilities – towards material pragmatism

Ole B. Jensen 1
  • 1 Department of Architecture, Design and Media Technology, Aalborg University, Denmark


The aim of this paper is twofold: firstly, to present a critique of mainstream transport thinking based on the so-called ‘mobilities turn’, and secondly to connect this to a design perspective. The aim is thus to establish this reflection based upon a theoretically informed discussion. In this paper, we shall explore the potential for a better understanding of contemporary urban challenges through the cross-disciplinary approach of ‘mobilities design’. The paper investigates how this notion is based on an understanding of materialities and social action that is framed under the heading of ‘material pragmatism’. The paper critically discusses transport versus mobilities and uses the combination of urban design and mobilities not just to argue for a pragmatic approach to urban transformation, but also to illustrate how such a different frame of understanding is better suitable for the ‘kind of a problem a city is’ to paraphrase the well-known urban scholar Jane Jacobs.

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