Projects ︎ Publications ︎ Tidepool ︎ About ︎ ︎ ︎

︎︎ Dr KitKat


Living Labs & WeChat in China and Germany
Urban-Rural Assembly
Technical University Berlin
Dept of Intl Urbanism & Design


Digital ethnography
Actor-network mapping
User research
Design probes
As a senior researcher on the project Urban-Rural Assembly with Technische Universität Berlin, UN Habitat and other partners, my team gathered qualitative data on the everyday sociospatial innovations and actor-networks of 3 Living Labs in Taizhou, China and Thüringen, Germany. These living labs explored future possibilities for sustainable urban-rural development in each region, which we imagined alongside diverse user groups which included entrepreuners, farmers, migrant workers, planners, policymakers, scientists and students. 

As the Covid-19 pandemic spread across China and Germany from 2019–2022, it soon became clear that many of our researchers would be unable to enter China to conduct field research. To address this challenge, we prototyped a digital ethnographic method for “see[ing] the ‘seeing’ of others” [Kato, 2014] on China’s WeChat (Weixin 微信) platform, which integrated photovoice, design probes, interviews, actor network mapping, surveys and other approaches for facilitate intercultural exchange and dialogue between users of the living labs in China and Germany. We worked with an experimental two-stage prototype model commonly implemented in user-centered design settings - building a test product, exploring its dynamics through user research, iterating according to feedback, and reworking it to suit current needs. We gained rich insights on the possibilities (and limitations) of how such an approach can be implemented to ‘make place’ across borders in times of crisis.

More info about our research methodology and process can be found in the following papers: 
Braybrooke, K. & Xiao, G. & Lynam, A. 2023, ‘Living Lab, interrupted? Exploring new methods for  (post)digital exchange on WeChat with urban-rural Living Labs in China and Germany during COVID-19’, Journal of Science Communication.
Braybrooke, K. & Xiao, G. & Lynam, A. & Huang, H. 2022, 'Everyday sociospatial practices across borders? A photowalk between Huangyan, China & Thüringen, Germany with WeChat Group "URA 照片共享群"', In A. Lynam & H. Huang & Y. Guiqing (eds), URA Periodical 1(2), Universitätsverlag der TU Berlin, DE.

Photos by project collaborators. Credits here.

“I want to dance for the renewal of the world.” - robin well kimmerer