Projects ︎ Publications ︎ Tidepool ︎ About ︎ ︎ ︎

︎︎ Dr KitKat


Living Labs & WeChat in China
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 others, my team gathered qualitative data on the everyday sociospatial innovations and actor-networks of 3 Living Labs in Taizhou, China and Thüringen, Germany. The living labs explored future possibilities for sustainable urban-rural development, with user groups including 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 we would be unable to travel to China and conduct research in the field. To address this challenge, we prototyped a digital ethnographic method for “see[ing] the ‘seeing’ of others” [Kato, 2014] on the 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 - building a test product, exploring its dynamics through user research, iterating according to feedback, and reworking it to suit the current needs. We gained rich insights on the possibilities (and limitations) of ‘making place’ alongside users, digitally.

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