Like many students I began my thesis process with a completely different topic, namely Coastal Urbanism. Since I am originally from Hawaii I felt a deep connection to beach culture and therefore wanted to study its usage and zoning in an urban environment. The more I began to study this topic, the more I began to realize that what I really wanted to study was not just the usage of coastal land but all urban land in general. I took a step back and drew connections between the land and the people the live on it.
I found that this connection extended way past parks, schools and business districts; it intertwined with everything that defines urban life in general. This is where I began the bulk of my thesis research. I first had to find out what it really meant to be living in an urban environment and what made it so different from everything else. Then once I found this out I began to look at the people that live in this environment and examine what it takes for a population to successfully grow in it. By studying the impact that the built environment had on the population living and interacting with it, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of what exactly makes a livable city. This is where my thesis Living Urbanism exists.
By researching in the fields of urban planning, zoning, the new urbanist movements, gentrification, developer practices and neighborhood boards I was able to gather data from multiple fields. When all the data was compiled I then took to the streets to document the research I had found in real time. I compiled this data into a unifying kit of parts that included a set of books, a Lego community planning kit, an advertising campaign, iphone altered reality application and an identity system. With this kit people from both sides of the urban planning movement can come together with the same data and speak the same language, eliminating some of the misunderstandings that come with discussing such a complex subject.