AG Tools and paths of space production


Urban culture and public space – Tools and paths of space production

AG 280.040 by Ali Madanipour and Aglaée Degros

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General information

The workshop format course (AG) takes place in the course of module 11 „Urban culture, public space and the state: Politics of public space“ which is offered during three three-days block events by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space (SKuOR). International students as well as students working interdisciplinarily are warmly welcome. This course is held in English language.

Participants of this course are highly recommended to take part in the other courses of module 11 „280.032, 280.038, 280.039, 280.040“.

Registration for module 11 is obligatory (See TUWIS registration VU 280.038 „Group 01“). Registration for just this course can be realized during the Module 11-Kick off Meeting (4th March 2 to 4pm, Karlsgasse 13/1) or personally when visiting the SKuOR office in Karlsgasse 13/2 by subscribing to the participant list.


1st Intensive Teaching Block: 16th – 19th of March 2010

2nd Intensive Teaching Block: 26th – 29th of April 2010

3rd Intensive Teaching Block: 14th – 17th of June 2010

Subject of course

The subject of the course is to investigate an aspect of the post-fordist society that finds its expression in new design practice: the question of successful government policies. Currently discussed in terms of „good governance“. The concept of good governance that is largely accepted in the political world nowadays, is the art of finding ways to enable institutions and individuals to manage the issues and areas they have in common. Public space is actually one of these areas. It calls for planning processes that include both formal institutions and policies which can enforce compliance, as well as informal arrangements that people and institutions have agreed to or perceive to be in their interest. In developing the relationship between city politics and public space, the key question is not only why should we change our traditional approach towards the public domain by integrating the notion of good governance, but also how to find and define innovative tools and paths of space production combining centralized planning and more organic processes of spontaneous development.

Aims of the course

The aim of the course is to explore, amongst others, the following questions: How to investigate the tangible as well as non-tangible aspects of public space? (…) What are the main issues, strategies, and tactics of dealing with public spaces? What is the City’s cultural policy? What are the plans and policies for public spaces in Vienna? How are they formed and what do they aim to achieve? How to ‘collect‘ and process the opinions of government? How do people experience the public spaces of the city? How do they feel about these spaces? How do they use it ? How to achieve a common basis for communication so that the different discourses can interlink, connect and get into a dialog with each other? And what is the potential input of alternative artistic and public space practices for this dialog? What can we learn from the arts to combine top down and bottom up production of space? Therefore the students will discover by themselves their own way to process these discourses. They will combine field research and on-site interventions, with mapping of the 1st, 4th and 10th district.

Structure of the course

I. Strategies, plans and policies

Workshop 1: The state of the 1st, 4th and 10th district: How to investigate the tangible as well as non-tangible aspects of the 1st, 4th and 10th district? How to represent the public space of these districts of the city of Vienna?

Workshop 2: The state of discourse. What are methods to ‘collect‘ and ‘process‘ the discourses of city representatives/ administrations, inhabitants – fundamentally different groups, all communicating in different ways? How to achieve a common basis for communication in order to interlink and connect these different discourses? How to enable a true dialog between these groups?

Workshop 3: The state of the city’s public governance: How to ‘process‘ the discourse of the city representatives/ administrations?


Mapping the city’s public spaces

The City’s approach to public space

The governance of public space

II. Performances and images

Workshop 4: Space, policies and art: How to ‘creatively‘ interpret rules, constraints and policies of a place?

Workshop 5: Intervention in the 1st, 4th and 10th district: How could ‘creativity‘ improve the policies of the 1st, 4th and 10th district of the city of Vienna?

Workshop 6: Intervening in public space: What can we achieve by ‘creatively intervening‘ directly in public space? How effective are events, performances, installations and other manifestations in public space to re-interpret city policies?

Workshop 7: ‚Documentation‘ of an intervention in public space: How to ‘document‘ and ‘manage‘ the outcome of an intervention in public space in order to become an added value to the discussion about the planning of the city?

Workshop 8: Spaces of sociability, Visual culture and the city, Art in public places

III. Trajectories and experiences

Workshop 9: Representation of the use of public space: How to record the way people truly use public space? Observations of how people behave in public places and how public places are used for personal performance and interpersonal exchange.

Workshop 10: Trajectories within public space: How to trace trajectories of users and inhabitants in public space? E.g. GPS technology can document people’s movements throughout the spaces of the districts.

Workshop 11: State of discourse: How to process the discourse of the inhabitants?

Workshop 12: The daily use of the 1st, 4th and 10th district: How to challenge the policies of these districts based on the actual daily use of the inhabitants?

Workshop 13: Reflections on the state of the 1st, 4th and 10th district: How to reflect on art and politics in these districts based on the opinions of the inhabitants?




Who controls the crossroads?

This course is set up to train know-how skills in the field of „Urban culture, public space and the state: Politics and planning“. How can you translate theoretical concerns and relational space conceptions into planning practice? How can planners, architects, how can sociologists, landscape planners and artists get involved in mutual understanding processes that on the one hand provide knowledge on process or governance design in a normative sense, on the other hand put process orientation in connection with outcomes in terms of ‘produced‘ space in its various dimensions.

Skills to be provided during the course

The participants of the course will learn to develop research and analysis skills in understanding city policies as well as in understanding the people’s discourse about public spaces. These skills will be developed through a detailed exploration of the public space policies of specific districts of the city of Vienna, as well as of the people’s perceptions of these districts. To overcome the „sectorisation“ of planning processes the skills to record, translate and compare these aspects will be developed literally by going beyond disciplinary boundaries. Participants will gain a general understanding of alternative art and public space practices. They will develop skills of creative reading of policies as well as people’s discourses.

Output, assessment, evaluation and criteria

The results of this creative reading could take form in an installation (mock up) as well as a (audio)visual production.

Possible expected outputs:
– a critical evaluation of the city’s plans and policies
– a written critique of how public spaces are used by different actors
– a written critique of the management of boundaries
– an exhibition of people’s diaries

Teaching approach

The skills will be learned ‘in the field‘ as well as in an ‘atelier‘ way of working. Dialog will be one of the key issues. Participants will not only record the intervener’s discourse but will also make an attempt to graphically translate this discourse to facilitate communication about it. This will work as a basis to enable the participants to get to a creative reading of their findings and discoveries during the process. The process will be teamwork.


Artgineering, N4 Towards a Living Infrastucture!. Brussel: A16 Editions, 2007

Artgineering, Bergilez, J.D., Brunetta, V., Patteeuw, V., Artgineering, Territoires équivoques /
Blurred Boudaries. Brussels: A16 Editions, 2006

Bielanka, J., Birne, T., Ecktardt, F., Fraueneder, H., Kálmán, R., Mennicke, C., Meijer zu
Schlochtern, T. (Urban Potentials). Berlin: Jovis, 2008

Borasi, G., Zardini, M., Actions: Comment s’approprier la ville. Amsterdam: SUN, 2008

Certeau, M. de, L’invention du quotidien 1. Arts de faire. Paris: ADAGP, 2002

Chase, J. Crawford, M., Kaliski, J., Everyday Urbanism. New York: The Monacelli Press, 1999

Haydn, F., Temel, R., Temporary Urban Spaces. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2006

Koolhaas, R., Boeri, S., Kwinter, S., Mutations. Barcelona: Actar, 2001

Lash, S, Another modernity, a different rationality, Blackwell, Oxford 1999.

Miessem, M., Basar, S., did someone say participate, MIT, 2006

Movie recommendation

Petterson, J., Huiskamers en bolwerken, portrayed the inhabitants and politics of the
bulbgrowing area in Holland . This documentary contributed to the Cutural project “ Geeste and grond“

General Requirements

Open to Master’s degree students from related disciplines (late Bachelor and early PhD are also welcome).
The skills required are affinity with drawing and field research. English as working language