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This dissertation aims to answer, "What is Urban Acupuncture and how can if create sustainable strategies to regenerate cities?"

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Before | After - minimal intervention using urban acupuncture techniques and phased design


The urbanization of the planet is irreversible; therefore it is essential to formulate methods for urban planning and regeneration which allow cities to grow and adapt with current circumstances. Cities are complex energy organism, much like the humans themselves who create them. Cities, like humans are alive, meaning they also can fall to illnesses caused by over population, urban sprawl, and industrialization. By viewing the urban skin in micro-components planners and designers have the capacity to design solutions with a bottom-up approach. This dissertation aims to define the theory Urban Acupuncture and discover how it can be developed into a design framework, allowing it to become more accessible as a collaborative tool between professionals and the public. Urban Acupuncture is a bio-urban theory which describes the city as a skin and suggests methods for intervention to promote healing via urban regeneration with micro interventions that have maximal impacts. The theory was pioneered by architect and urbanist, Manuel de Solà-Morales, as a theory for urban regeneration. This method is contrary to large-scale regenerative planning as it focuses on small-scale and localized resources.

Multiple methods were used to first study the concept and evolution of Urban Acupuncture and then to discover strategies which inform a guided framework. Qualitative research was collected via observational research inspired by research methods of autoethnography. The methodology makes recommendations for how to contextualize urban spaces in order to identify sensitive spots to pinpoint Urban Acupuncture interventions.

The research resulted in a holistic guided framework which has the potential to integrate and elevate urban planning and design practices. Unlike similar frameworks addressed in the study, the Urban Acupuncture Framework provides a step-by-step process for applying minimal interventions for wider impact with relevant tools. It provides professionals and citizens with the tools to face urban deficiencies to promote future-proof interventions. Ultimately, this framework diverges from traditional planning and cultural norms by analyzing socio-spatial relationships in cities to create lasting impact and empower communities through collaboration, all while following a minimally strategic approach.

Designing the Framework

Design Proposal to regenerate Leith, Edinburgh

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