Guest Lecture: Christian Dimmer

Between Collaboration and Contestation: New Urban Common Worlds and Public Space in Post-Growth Tokyo

9th of November 2015, 12.15-13.30, main building, Vienna UT (Karlsplatz 13, 1040).


When Walter Lippmann famously called the public a phantom in 1925, he meant to stress it’s fragile, provisional nature — ceasing to exist, once no longer upheld, or re-assembled. Similarly, public space has a performative and ephemeral quality; only existing in such instances when a public sphere is temporally supported, or even convened into being by a physical setting. In such a moment a public space turns into more than just a state-owned setting of accidental, amorphous sociability and begins to take on a broader collective, sometimes political relevance. This presentation is interested in the transformative potential of such public spaces and urban common worlds and it examines the large spectrum of such newcommons in Tokyo, having recently sprung up in the form of collective houses, artist, or activist communities, creative neighbourhoods but also through new forms of counter-hegemonic protests. Here people are testing new modes of sharing time, goods, skills and spaces beyond state and market — prefiguring new models of post-consumerist society often in privately owned settings. Although neither explicitly political, nor fully public, arrangements like these create new affordances, and social capital that may later become pertinent; transforming society in many small, quotidian, pragmatic steps.

Christian Dimmer 857881_10200745566916592_952903546_o-2
Christian Dimmer is assistant professor for urban design at the University of Tokyo. As adjunct professor for urban studies he teaches also courses in Sustainable Urbanism, Planning Theory, Theories of Public Space, and Global Urbanism at Tokyo’s Waseda as well as Sophia University. Christian is partner of the architectural practice Frontoffice Tokyo and co-founder of the post-disaster civil society organisation Tohoku Planning Forum.


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