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Dr Jan van Duppen

Profile summary

Professional biography

I am a Research Fellow in the Design Group, which is part of the School of Engineering & Innovation at the Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics. I work across the disciplines of cultural geography, design and urban studies. My research interests encompass play and work in post-industrial societies, urban green spaces, encounters, mobility and travel, and participatory design.

Previously, I was an ESRC postdoctoral research fellow in Geography at the Faculty of Arts and Social Science, The Open University. This research project ‘Working the Playground: Urban Gardens and Sustainable Futures?’ discussed gardens in cities as spaces of play and work and examined their potential for contributing to sustainable urban futures. During the fellowship, I initiated crossovers between cultural geography, architecture, urban planning, local governance and urban gardeners. I worked with muf architecture/art studio on themes of sustainability, community and the public realm in London. In addition, I visited the Chair for Urban Design and Urbanization at the Technische Universität Berlin to compare urban gardens in Berlin and London. I also presented my work during a research visit to the Department of Human Geography at Stockholm University. Furthermore, I co-organised the interdisciplinary symposium Play and its Potential Publics, which was hosted by the Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL, London.

Earlier, I was a post-doctoral research associate on the Next Generation Paper project, for which I conducted a travel media ethnography to analyse how material/virtual interfaces re-constitute the travel experience. In 2018, I have worked with Adam Kahn Architects to study and produce a film of children’s play practices at the ‘Plot 10’ youth centre in Camden. For muf architecture/art, I have indexed the multiple values of a community garden, mapped the social relations between local shops and the local community, and analysed the management of urban change by local government. Additionally, I have contributed to the Stockholm University research project ‘Border Topologies’, which compared non-EU labour migration in the UK and Sweden. In collaboration with the Centre for Architecture Utrecht – Aorta, Casco, Utrecht University, and the Treaty of Utrecht Foundation, I have set up the interdisciplinary project Urban Trajectories on the embodied experience of cycling and urban fragmentation, which resulted in an exhibition, website and publication. I have published a book on the inhabitation of the ‘IBB’ student housing complex in Utrecht, and have researched the temporary informal use of a wasteland in Berlin.

Research interests

  • Play and Work in Post-industrial Societies. Free time, voluntary work and affective labour; the ludic in the urban; playgrounds; workplaces; children and youth spaces.
  • Public Space & Participatory Design. Conceptions of place and space in collaborative design processes; community engagement; sociality and living with difference in cities; public realm.
  • Urban Green Spaces. Allotment, community and guerrilla gardening; urban nature; embodied practices; enchantment and creativity; more-than-human geographies.
  • Mobility and Travel. cycling; infrastructure and urban fragmentation; sensory and embodied knowing of the city; ride alongs and GPS-mapping, tourism, creative walking practices.
  • Digital & Visual Cultures. visual research methods (film, photography); collaborations with fine art, architecture, and design; digital ethnography.

Teaching interests

I have taught geography and ethnographic research methods at the MA Architecture Cities and Innovation Unit at Central Saint Maris; the MA and BA Architecture at the Architectural Association School of Architecture. I have also contributed to the DD213 Environment and Society module development at The Open University.

Impact and engagement

Professional Affiliations

Member of the Design Group

Member of the RC21 – Research Committee on Urban and Regional Development

Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society

Member of the Open Space Research Centre

Publications (selection)

(see also the 'publications' tab at the top of this page for open access versions)

van Duppen, Jan. 2019. Picturing Diversions: The Work/Play of Walking on London Pavements. Roadsides, 2, 51-60. DOI:

Corrigan-Kavanagh, E., Scarles, C., Frohlich, D., Revill, G., Beynon, M., van Duppen, J. 2019. Explorations on the future of the book from the Next Generation Paper project. Publishing History (in press)

van Duppen, J. and Spierings, B., 2013. Retracing trajectories: the embodied experience of cycling, urban sensescapes and the commute between “neighbourhood” and “city” in Utrecht, NL. Journal of Transport Geography, 30, 234–243. DOI:

van Duppen, J. 2016. Reflections on the Cuvrybrache and Berlin’s urban development. In: N. Rollmann, Der Lange Kampf: Die ‘Cuvry’-Siedlung in Berlin. Berlin: Bunter Hund, 68-69.

van Duppen, J. 2014. Images from a stroll. In: B. Choi, S. Demircan and B. van der Heide, eds. Group Affinity. Berlin: Bomdia Books, 86-87.

van Duppen, J., 2012. “Gewoon op de fiets” - Een studie naar routes, gedrag en beleving [“Simply on the bike”- A study of trajectories, behaviour and experience]. Research Report written for Aorta - Centre for Architecture Utrecht.

van Duppen, J. and Aorta, A., 2012. Urban Trajectories – Concept and content for website.

Seghers, A., Seghrouchni, Z., Duppen, J. Van, and Spierings, B., 2012. Tussenruimten in de Tilburgse spoorzone [Indeterminate spaces in Tilburg’s railway zone]. AGORA, 4, 18–23.

van Duppen, J. and Spierings, B., 2011. Betekenisvolle leegte in Berlijn: de Cuvrybrache [An empty space full of meaning: the Cuvrybrache]. Geografie, 28–30.

van Duppen, J., 2011. My Way to the Library: Retracing an Urban Trajectory. In: D. Berndt, E. W. Ho, F. Lazaridou-Hatzigoa, eds. rePLACE BERLIN. Berlin: Program, 28–35.

van Duppen, J., 2010. The Cuvrybrache as Free Place: The diverse meanings of a wasteland in Berlin. Master Thesis: Utrecht University. Available online:

van Duppen, J., 2009. De Muur: aanwezig in afwezigheid [The Wall: Present in Absence]. Geografie, (November/December), 45–47.

Visual Work (selection)

Documentary photography of the collaborative art project ‘Group Affinity’ at Kunstverein München. In: B. Choi, S. Demircan and B. van der Heide, eds. Group Affinity. Berlin: Bomdia Books, 10-168.

Contribution to group exhibition ‘Urban Photography Summer School’ Goldsmiths, University of London. London 31 August 2013.

Photographer, visual editor and co-initiator of the book Van Leeuwen, M., Van Duppen, J., and Woudstra, I., 2012. Het IBB-boek: Vijftig jaar wonen in studentenflats aan de Ina Boudier-Bakkerlaan [The IBB-book: Fifty years of living in studentflats at the Ina Boudierbakkerlaan]. Utrecht: Stichting de Plantage.

van Leeuwen, M. and van Duppen, J., 2012. Gezelligheidsdier zoekt woning en huisgenoten [Student searches a room and flatmates]. AGORA, 5, 16–19.

Design, concept and content for exhibition ‘Wasted? – Stories from a free place’ at the art gallery Artitude Kunstverein. Berlin, 26 and 27 June 2010.

van Duppen, J. and van der Heijden, S., 2009. Nederland in beeld: Markt op het Afrikaanderplein [A view on NL: The street market at Afrikaanderplein]. Geografie, (September), 2009.

Conference Papers and Presentations (selection)

‘Ambiguous Play: Re-Thinking Encounters in London Allotment, Community and Guerrilla Gardens’ invited to present at the seminar series of the Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University, Stockholm, 26 November 2019.

Chair and organiser of the interdisciplinary symposium ‘Play and its Potential Publics’, in collaboration with Freya Field-Donovan (UCL), Dr Andrew Murray (OU), and Catalina Pollak Williamson (UCL), at The Institute for Advanced Studies, UCL, London, 14 September 2019.

‘Un)making Boundaries: Urban Gardens as Paradoxical Spaces’ invited to present a paper at the Chair for Urban Design and Urbanization, the Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin, 19 June 2019

“‘Getting your hands dirty’: Sticky Soil and the Playfulness of Garden Work”, paper presented at RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, RGS, London, 28 – 30 August 2019.

‘Touching upon Print & Screen: How media and technology reshape tourism’ paper presented at The School of Hospitality and Tourism Management – The University of Surrey, Guildford, 4 December 2018.

‘Working the Playground: Urban Gardens as Paradoxical Spaces’ paper presented at RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, Cardiff University, Cardiff, 31 August 2018.

‘Grilled Academics & Sandwiched Socialities: A Critical Review of Food Convivialities at the RGS Conference, Cardiff’ paper presented at RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, Cardiff University, Cardiff, 31 August 2018.

van Duppen, J., Revill, G., Scarles, C. ‘From postcards to Instagram: Re-imagining tourist landscapes’ paper presented at RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, Cardiff University, Cardiff, 29 August 2018.

“ ‘Improving the Image of Construction’: Walking & Diverting London” paper presented at Work Processing - A Forum for the Sharing of Live Practice, hosted at Chisenhale Dance Space and supported by TECHNE, London, 1 December 2017.

‘Stories of Entanglement in Urban Gardens’ paper presented at Workshop: The Micro-politics of Planting, Arts Catalyst, London, 27 October 2017.

‘Diversions: Being a Pedestrian in London’ presented at RC21 Conference 2017: Rethinking Global Urban Justice, University of Leeds, Leeds, 11 -13 September 2017.


[Book Review] The Botanical City (2021-06)
van Duppen, Jan
Urban Studies, 58(8) (pp. 1746-1750)

Explorations on the future of the book from the Next Generation Paper Project (2020-11)
Corrigan-Kavanagh, E.; Scarles, C.; Revill, G.; Beynon, M. and van Duppen, J.
Publishing History, 83 (pp. 35-54)

Seeing Patterns on the Ground: Reflections on Field-based Photography (2020)
van Duppen, Jan
Open Arts Journal, Winter, Article 6(9) (pp. 71-90)

Picturing Diversions: The Work/Play of Walking on London Pavements (2019-09-07)
van Duppen, Jan
Roadsides, 2 (pp. 51-60)

The Cornwall a-book: An Augmented Travel Guide Using Next Generation Paper (2019)
Frohlich, D.; Corrigan-Kavanagh, E.; Bober, M.; Yuan, H.; Sporea, R.; Le Borgne, B.; Scarles, C.; Revill, G.; van Duppen, J.; Brown, A. W. and Beynon, M.
The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 22(1)

Retracing trajectories: the embodied experience of cycling, urban sensescapes and the commute between ‘neighbourhood’ and ‘city’ in Utrecht, NL (2013-06)
van Duppen, Jan and Spierings, Bas
Journal of Transport Geography, 30 (pp. 234-243)

Daydreaming of Ping-Pong Publics – The Rhythms, Sociality & Play around a Table (2021)
van Duppen, Jan
In: Christodoulidou, Marina; Savvides, Era; Vanezis, Evagoras and Varnavas, Nasios eds. Anachoresis: Upon Inhabiting Distances (pp. 101-105)
ISBN : 978-3-948212-75-9 | Publisher : Archive Books | Published : Berlin