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Marina Hadjilouca

PhD Work

‘Active Co-existence’ Through Social Engagement in Contested Public Spaces in the South Walled City of Nicosia, Cyprus

This practice-led research investigates methods for social engagement, informed by the field of performance design, that will enable designers to act as triggers, within contested public spaces of the south walled city of Nicosia, Cyprus. Through this research, I propose the new term ‘active co-existence’ as a way of combining conceptions of agonism and ‘the political’ (C. Mouffe, 2004 ; 2006) thus enabling the use of a concept that lies between the civil and the political. The research  focuses on the democratic engagement of the actors within the urban environment. The definition ‘active co-existence’ is supported by reference to Ezio Manzini’s conceptions on social innovation and his use of the term ‘trigger’.

The scholarly research will analyse the current practice in, and discourse on, socially engaged design in the Cypriot context. It will draw from the study of Tonkiss’ writings on social life and public spaces, and Graffikin’s analysis on contested cities. The contested space of the walled city of Nicosia will be examined through its historical context and its impact on the current developments that the city is undergoing. Three comparable case studies of contested public spaces (Phaneromeni Square, Lidinis Street, Municipal Market) in the south walled city of Nicosia will be examined, as this enquiry is using practice as a main medium throughout the process of the examination and the development of its outcomes. The three contested public spaces share certain characteristics; all three public spaces have been affected by the Cypriot ethno-national conflict, are undergoing gentrification and are being faced with the fear of privatisation. 

Throughout this research project and its practice I follow iterative steps (Smith et al. 2009) and the method of triangulation (T.D. Jick, 1979). Through the analysis of extensive site research, semi-structured interviews with the users and stakeholders of each site, and temporary interventions, the case for active co-existence will be made. The tensions and conflicts between the stakeholders, the users, the residents and the local authority of the area, as a result of the recent developments and gentrification, will be analysed. This investigation intends to interrogate how the designer can act as a ‘trigger’, by developing performative interventions, that will allow the enactment of the conflicted groups. The thesis aims to create a series methods, through which the designer will activate the voice of the actors in the south walled city of Nicosia and will play an active political role. Finally, I aim to develop a manifesto for the role of the designer, in order to be used by other designers tackling contested public spaces. 


  • Hadjilouca
  • PhD


    School of Arts & Humanities


    Arts & Humanities Research–

  • Marina Hadjilouca is currently working on her PhD research, supervised by Dr Mel Jordan and Dr Socrates Stratis, under the title "Social Engagement and Active Co-existence in Contested Public Spaces, in the South Walled City of Nicosia, Cyprus". Her research focuses on the use of performative methods for social engagement, in order to encourage ‘active co-existence’ in contested public spaces.

    Marina Hadjilouca is a performance designer and the co-founder of Schedia , a design studio specialising in social engagement within the public realm, as well as one of the co-organisers of the Socially Engaged Design Conference (, held in Cyprus.

    Marina holds a BA(Hons) in Theatre Design for Performance and an MA in Narrative Environments.

  • Degrees

  • BA Theatre Design for Performance, Central Saint Martins, UAL, 2007; MA Creative Practice for Narrative Environments, Central Saint Martins, UAL, 2009
  • Conferences

  • 3rd ICSVC Conference, Speaker / Paper Presentation November 2017, Cyprus University of Technology, Limassol, Cyprus; Porous Borders Symposium, PQ 2017 Speaker October 2017,Prague, Czeck Republic; NORDES 2017, Presentation at the Doctoral Consortium 7th Nordic Design Research Conference June 2017, AHO, Oslo, Norway; Hadjilouca, M. 2015, ‘Enhancing Actve Co-existence in Contested Public Spaces, Through Co-creation and Social Engagement’, Track 17, 11th European Academy of Design Conference Proceedings.
  • Publications

  • Hadjilouca, M. 2015, ‘Enhancing Actve Co-existence in Contested Public Spaces, Through Co-creation and Social Engagement’, Track 17, 11th European Academy of Design Conference Proceedings.