Tove Frederiksen & Thea Mikkelsen
1-Day Professional Development Workshop, PDW 11

An online urban dreaming workshop with Tove Frederiksen, based in Copenhagen, Deputy-Director at Frederiksberg Municipality, City Administration, Denmark, and Thea Mikkelsen, based in Milan, leadership consultant in the creative industries and member of the board of ISPSO.

This PDW will take place ….
Two weeks before we meet online you will receive a link to the preparation material. It is expected of all participants to have done the homework before we meet online so we have material to work with in the workshop.

“The city is made for embracing, containing, and holding our thoughts without any constraints. Here our thoughts can find their place and time: it is a suspended time, an invitation, a wait. Here our thoughts can stay on the mind’s horizon: in it, they can continue the state of starting uncertainty and thus postpone the moments in which they will obliged to be defined and become thoughts of something… In fact, the city of thoughts does not suggest only a single kind of thoughts, does not force anyone to think about meetings and appearances occurring in it or to investigate its mysteries. Light, shadow, facades, monuments, human and animal beings, and objects are so arranged that the mind can divert its attention from emotions, passions, and external influences.”  Italo Calvino on Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical cityspaces

With a reference to The Berlin Wall this urban dreaming workshop focusses on physical walls and other physically constructed boundaries in urban spaces and how they affect our inner worlds and ability to think creatively.

In 2017 we designed the method we call “Urban dreaming” about the relation between inner and outer spaces and we tested it on a two day workshop in Copenhagen at the 17th ISPSO Annual Meeting. The method is inspired by professional psychoanalytical methodologies of free association like the psychoanalytic setting, small process study groups and social dreaming but includes the physical environment where the processes take place. Instead of reflecting on thoughts, feelings and phantasies in relation to each other we wanted to create a method of working psychodynamically with the physical environment and how it affects our relationship to our own inner life and to other people.

The method has since been used as a methodology to make decisions about urban planning.

There is never a(n urban) space without a boundary.
Up through history groups, organizations and individuals construct, deconstruct and destroy physical structures that provide protection, hierarchy and identity according to their dreams, conscious and unconscious thoughts and feelings. As W. Gordon Lawrence writes: “Boundaries are necessary in order for human beings to relate not only to each other but through their institutions. If there are no boundaries, relatedness and relationships are impossible because we become one; lost in each other, lost in institutions, lost in societies. At the same time it is readily recognized that boundaries can be used and experienced as impregnable barriers. Both the wish for no boundaries and the desire to remain totally imprisoned within a boundary is an expression of madness in that there is no desire to distinguish between fantasy and reality; to take authority for what one perceives, how one sees, and why one understands.” (Lawrence, 1979, p. 16)

This PDW facilitates a process for exploring and discussing the relationship between walls and spaces. With the workshop we want to engage participants in an inquiry process into how human creativity and wellbeing are being facilitated or held back by the organised city and its history with a special focus on physical walls as well as walls within.

We will provide a theoretical framework for sharing experiences of how the construction of the outer world influences the inner world and how the inner life are given room to unfold individually and in groups in public spaces.

Content of the Online PDW:

1. Reference and presentation videos made by Tove Frederiksen and Thea Mikkelsen and send to participants before the workshop. The videos will consist of 2 parts:

One part about city planning and how walls and other constructed boundaries are used to create suitable living environments, support neighborhood identity and implement divisions.

One part about psychoanalytical thinking on architecture, boundaries, and potential spaces.

2. List of literature: Participants will get a list of literature related to psychoanalysis, architecture, and urban planning.

3. Obligatory homework: Participants will receive a pdf with a description of an assignment we will ask everyone to complete before we meet online. Here we will ask everybody to find a physical wall in the city where they live or work and follow the instructions on how to work with the thoughts and feelings the wall makes them aware of.

4. Online and synchronous 90 minutes workshop that will consist of a presentation of the Urban dreaming method and open reflections in the group on the relationship between inner and outer spaces: as well as how the perception of reflecting through the online screen helps us connect and keeps us apart and what that does to our inner creativity.

Learning outcomes

Participants will learn how to use the Urban Dreaming method.

Participants participate in the double role as informants and co-researchers. Discussions will be recorded and used for psychodynamic informed research made by Tove Frederiksen and Thea Mikkelsen. All participants’ contributions will be anonymized. By participating you conform to these conditions.

We recommend attendants to also participate in the paper presentation by Anette Jønson, Tove Skrumsager Frederiksen and Steen Visholm (PP18), “Working around the wall and under the surface – Developing a psychodynamically informed technology to study unconscious aspects of the experience of townscapes in urban planning and architecture where the workshop “Inner and outer space and objects The psychodynamics of architectural space and design objects “ we did in Copenhagen in 2017, is interpreted through the lens of Alfred Lorenzer and others. (2:30 pm, Saturday, July 10th).

Thea Mikkelsen
A native of Copenhagen, Denmark, Thea has worked as an executive coach and leadership course designer with top level managers in the private and public sector in Scandinavia in fields such as media, architecture, banking, politics and the arts for the last 14 years.
She holds MA and MSc degrees in Psychology and in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies from the University of Copenhagen. She is a Candidate in the Danish Psychoanalytical Association and since 2013 an active member in ISPSO – The International Society for the Psychoanalytical Studies of Organizations. Thea is the author of three books on professional creativity in Danish and one in English: Coaching the Creative Impulse – Psychological Dynamics and Professional Creativity (Routledge, 2020). Thea Mikkelsen lives in Milan, Italy, with her husband and two daughters.

Tove Skrumsager Frederiksen

National and regional Infrastructure and urban planning in Greater Copenhagen has been Toves work for more than 25 years. She has experience from top level leadership and management, and she is Deputy-Director at Frederiksberg Municipality, City Administration. She holds MSc in Engeneering and MSc in Organizational Psychology, former CEO of a public-private urban development partnership Koege Kyst P/S, transforming a former harbour and industrial areas in Copenhagen into a sustainable and dense town district. ISPSO member, NAPSO member.