Public defence doctoral thesis: Lieve Custers

Lieve Custers has the pleasure to invite you to the defence of her doctoral thesis: "Experiential evaluation as a way of designing with experiences and values."

Prior to the defence, you are invited to Meet The Jury.

08 maart 2024
13h00 - 19h00
Refugiehuis, Maastrichterstraat 100, 3500 Hasselt

Dit event is reeds afgelopen

Friday March 8th 2024 | 13h00 - 14h30:

Meet The Jury

  • Brian Dixon
    Brian Dixon is Belfast School of Art’s Research Director for Art and Design (UoA32), as well as Course Director for MA UX and Service Design, a programme he established in 2021. Alongside this, he is also Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded Design Innovation and Land Assets project, which forms part of the UKRI’s Landscape Decisions Programme.

    He received his PhD from Central Saint Martins, investigating how digital maps could be designed to support urban tourists’ and walkers’ situation awareness. His research interests now span a number of domains, including: design philosophy; contemporary design research methodologies; and the potential role of design in policy-making and community-based decision-making.

  • Chiara Bassetti
    Chiara Bassetti is Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology and Social Research of the University of Trento. An ethnographer and ethnomethodologist, often working in interdisciplinary teams, she is interested in social interaction, cultural phenomena and collaborative practices. She explored collaboration in several contexts including grassroots initiatives for socio-economic innovation, performing arts, and the workplace.

  • Tim Devos
    Tim Devos is professor at the Centre for Mobility and Spatial Planning (AMRP) at Ghent University. After working as a researcher for ‘Steunpunt Ruimte & Wonen’ at the Department of Urban planning & Architecture at KULeuven, he completed his PhD research at the Social Geography Department at KU Leuven, focusing on participation and co-production in spatial planning processes.

    Tim has a research interest in socio-spatial issues, participatory planning and the role of the urban planner, designer in a changing field. He co-founded and manages Endeavour, a team of architects, urban planners, and social scientists that aims to make the way we design and plan our cities more inclusive and sustainable through research and innovation.

Friday March 8th 2024 | 15h30 - 17h30:

Pubic defence of doctoral thesis Lieve Custers: "Experiential evaluation as a way of designing with experiences and values"

The abstract

Experiential evaluation is an approach developed within the research of Lieve Custers. Experiential evaluation is a way of designing with experiences and values and looks at how the situated knowledge of multiple actors can be included in participatory planning processes, a decision-making process about everyday life in neighbourhoods. Today, everyday life is in transformation because we live in challenging times with crises such as wars, migration, pandemics, and ecological challenges such as heat waves, floods, storms, periods of droughts… We are all concerned about these challenges and spatial planning, as the practice that is concerned with geo-territorial issues, plays a leading role in facing socio-ecological challenges. However, when the government is dealing with these challenges and is trying to undo mistakes from the past, this can lead to resistance and protests. This is because dealing with these challenges is undoing the privileges that people have built up.

This research departed from the hypothesis that in order for the decision-making in participatory processes on these matters, like densification and mobility, to have more impact, that they should depart from everyday practices. They should depart from staging a dialogue on their matters of concern because the participants in the processes were more driven by their values and their everyday experiences than their rational needs. Therefore, from my perspective, experiential evaluation is rather an engagement with situated knowledge (why are people participating) than a matter of style (i.e. how are people participating). This position made it possible to define experiential evaluation as a way of designing with experiences and values, and a framework to engage with the field as a design researcher from a value-based perspective. Therefore, experiential evaluation as a way of designing with experiences and values is a matter of designing with vulnerability in light communities. For me, designing with vulnerability comes without a moral judgement of the rightfulness or wrongfulness of a certain approach. However, it indicates an awareness that on multiple occasions, when engaging with relational values or with rational needs, there can be a risky situation and you as a designer are not always in control because it depends on everyday politics. In the same way that you as a designer are also not in control about how the tools and strategies that you provide are used and perceived by the actors within these processes, because you engage with light communities where the personal engagement of each person is balanced with the desire to do something together (Manzini, 2019) or not when they disagree. This approach on vulnerability departs from the idea of openness (Cipolla, 2018). It is a way of opening up to risky situations. From my perspective, it is the role of the designer to create these risky situations by staging events that offer a potential for learning to be affected in new ways, and by doing so, create a safe space and the opportunity for more democratic and just decision-making processes.

In this reworlding seminar, we invite the speakers to reflect on the approach of experiential evaluation and the concept of designing with vulnerability with light communities from their own research practice and experience.

Cipolla, C. (2018). Designing for Vulnerability: Interpersonal Relations and Design. She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation, 4(1), 111–122.
Manzini, E. (2019). Politics of the everyday (R. A. Coad, Trans.). Bloomsbury Visual Arts.

Committee members

  • Prof. dr. ir. arch. Oswald Devisch (promotor)
    Oswald Devisch is an Associate Professor in Urban Design at UHasselt, Faculty of Architecture and Arts. He obtained a doctoral degree at the Technical University of Eindhoven on spatial simulation models. He is coordinator of the research line Spatial Capacity Building, exploring themes such as collective learning, casual participation, autonomous transformation processes and the gamification of participation.

  • Prof. dr. Liesbeth Huybrechts (co-promotor)
    Prof. dr. Liesbeth Huybrechts is an Associate Professor and works in the areas of participatory design, design anthropology and spatial transformation processes in the research group Arck, University of Hasselt. Her main case study in the past years is the project Noord-Zuid Limburg, a large-scale participatory process on sustainable mobility (infrastructure) transition in Belgium. In general, she has developed a research interest in the "politics'' of participatory design processes which she explores in several research and educational projects.

  • Michiel Dehaene (additional jury member)
    Michiel Dehaene (1971) is associate professor at the department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Ghent University, where he teaches courses in urban analysis and design. After his Architecture studies at KULeuven in 1994, he obtained a Master's degree in Urban Design from Harvard University in 1997.

    He completed his doctoral studies at KULeuven in 2002 with a dissertation on the British survey movement. He was an assistant professor in urbanism at Eindhoven University of Technology from 2004 to 2011 and taught classes in Urban Design in the European Master Program in Urbanism at KULeuven from 2002 to 2011. His work focuses on the epistemology of urbanism, dispersed urbanization and the interrelation between urbanization and design.
Register here for Meet The Jury and/or the defence of Lieve Custers

Date and location:

  • Friday March 8th 2024
  • 13h00 - 14h30: Meet The Jury
  • 15h30 - 17h30: defence Lieve Custers
  • 17h30 - 19h00: Reception
  • On campus: Refugiehuis, Maastrichterstraat 100, 3500 Hasselt


You can register for Meet The Jury and/or the PhD defence of Lieve Custers via this Google Form.

Please fill in this form before March 1st.

More information

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