Inspiring and experimental perspectives
Public spaces are spaces of social exchange and societal confrontation for which diverse actors and institutions have completely different requirements. They are constantly changing according to changes in society. The variety of social points of contact between urban culture and public space therefore requires a thematically organized spectrum of research on and teaching about public space. At the same time, these diverse perspectives must be brought together systematically.
The role of the Academic Teams that convene annually in Vienna is to inspire perspectives relating to the broadly conceived annual issues of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space and, in the interface between practice and theory, to move forward and to rewrite research agendas and curricula at the Faculty of Architecture and Planning. It is important to us that we leave the much quoted “ivory tower” of the academy from time to time in favor of multiple and dialogic learning processes in order to develop an accurate sense of everyday life in cities. The team therefore engages in an open, constructive, and results-oriented manner with the conflicts and uncertainties that occur in the translation between Know How (urban design and urban planning) and Know Why (urban research) in the everyday life of cities.
Topic-specific contributions by the City of Vienna Visiting Professorship Teams
During funding phase I (2009 and 2011) the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space in the Faculty of Architecture and Planning at the Vienna University of Technology (Vienna UT) invited City of Vienna Visiting Professor (CoVVP) teams (senior and junior) each year to make valuable contributions at the interface between urban research, urban design, and urban planning in cooperation with the permanent team in Vienna. In funding phase II (2012 and 2014) and funding phase III (2015-2017), the Vienna University of Technology now appoints one person annually (City of Vienna Visiting Professorship) at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space, Department of Spatial Planning, Faculty of Architecture and Planning, Vienna UT. This subject expert works as a team player with the director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space and other employees – working continuously at the Vienna UT — whose primary responsibility is to express and connect the varied perspectives on urban culture and public space over the years systematically and across subjects. Thus the change of perspectives dialectically impinges upon the continual combination of substantive complexity. The intense substantive impulses and experiences of the changing senior professorship will permanently be systematized epistemologically and translated into practice, while at the same time the dialogic team concept remains in place. Beginning in 2008/9 funds from the City of Vienna in the amount of 100,000 € per year have been made available to the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space, which will allow (co-)funding for up to three staff positions at the Vienna University of Technology. In the period 2015 -2017 a part of these funds will additionally be allocated for financing a faculty-wide platform (Future Lab ‘Public Space’), in order to embed innovative and practice-oriented approaches to public space into the faculty’s teaching curricula. Links between the corresponding annual themes of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space and the current issues of the City of Vienna will be discussed and developed in a joint discussion with the Head of the Centre, the Co-ordination Future Lab ‘Public Space’ and a representative of the City of Vienna at the beginning of the Visiting Professor’s one-year term.
Two dialogically combined research and teaching areas
Students in the planning and architecture Master’s degree program, as well as other interested undergraduate and PhD students of space-related disciplines (also including those beyond the Vienna University of Technology), are given the opportunity to investigate the characteristics of creative and planning-related negotiation processes in the area of urban research Know Why, to locate their own position in professional processes of social negotiation, and to develop a sensitive awareness of the spatial and form-related attitudes of different actors with different interests, strategies, and objectives. In the area of urban design/urban planning Know How they have the opportunity to connect the actual spatial development of urban planning in the city to planning and design activities. Such questioning of understandings of space leads to a critical reflection on different conceptions of planning (Know Why). It is important to underpin tried and true impulses with new ones and to leave behind ineffective old ways and unnecessary new trends in order to rehearse anew the roles that planners and architects take on during the planning and design of the structural arrangement of public space. Participation in the processes of the production of public space requires constant flexibility on the part of planners and designers in order to participate smoothly in social processes.