VO Introduction to public spaces theories

Introduction to public spaces theories I – Actors, instiutions and spatial dimensions

VO 280.032 by Sabine Knierbein

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General information

Dates and places

Wednesday 14:00 – 15:30, starting on 10.03.2010, room 268/1, Karlsgasse 13/1, 1040 Vienna

10th March 2010, 18th March 2010 (9am to 2pm, guided walk 10-4-1), 24th March 2010 (place change!!), 14th April 2010, 21st April 2010, 05th May 2010, 12th May 2010, 19th May 2010, 26th May 2010, 02nd June 2010 (guest input), 09th June 2010, 16th June 2010 (evening lecture, 9:00 pm, Zemaneksaal), 23rd June 2010

Dates for Oral Exams (groupwise 4-5 people 1 hour)
30. Juni 2010
14. Juli 2010
06. Oktober 2010

Subject of course
Since the 1970s ‚public space‘ has been promoted to be one of the central fields of action of urban and open space planning and of designing actors coming from landscape architecture, urban design and architecture in European cities. In other disciplines mainly agitating in the fields of social science such as urban sociology, ethnology or law ‚public space‘ is dealt with as self-confidently as in planning practice and in urban politics. But one discrepany is manifest: All these actors talk about very different ‚public spaces‘. Consensus on the individual meaning of ‚public space‘ is reached only occasionally. Some understand public spaces as built places, as urban morphologies whereas others deny any material expression of public spaces. But how can we imagine social spaces and built , sometimes even highly-designed spaces as two sides of the same coin?

The existing diversity of theoretical approaches from different disciplinary backgrounds shows that there are basic disquietudes regarding theories on space, the role of institutions, their mechanisms and resources as well as regarding the players involved to be found behind the meta-concept of public spaces. To put it in a more palpable and concrete way: This course asseses public spaces from a perspective that considers them as societal processes which day-to-day ’sediment‘ as constructed and designed space. Who thus influences these daily production of public space and in which ways? Where do planners, where do designers locate themselves as part of societal processes? Which strategies are they familiar with and what kind of interests on behalf of other social players are planners and designers nowadays confronted with?

Structure of course
10th March 2010 – Introduction I

Diving into complexity
I – About conceptual pitfalls and challenges in theoretical approaches dealing with public spaces
II – From Altrock to Zukin: Convergences and divergences of german and anglosaxonian debates

Reading group preparation: Zukin, Altrock and Knierbein

16th March 2010 – Introduction II (all day)

Interdisciplinary Workshop with inputs by various public actors (Magistrate of Vienna)

18th March 2010 – Introduction III
Public spaces as everyday life practice
I – Actors walk 10th district

II – Actors walk 4th district

III – Actors walk 1st district

24th March 2010 – Introduction IV
From concrete observations to theoretical reflections
I – Recent transformations of public spaces – a systematic collage of conceptual approaches
II – About phenomenology: Aesthetic changes as entry dimension to investigate social change
III – About social sculptures: Aesthetic changes as spheres for social intervention
Reading group (internet sources): Koob. Battisti and Eiselen. Roberts.

14th April 2010 – Introduction V
The production of public spaces.
A window to understand the social world within a window to understand the social world.
Reading group preparation: Lefebvre, Schmid, Shields, Knierbein

21th April 2010 – Public spaces and sociability.
Madanipour, Ali. Public and private spaces of the city.
Interpersonal space of sociability.
Reading group preparation: Madanipour. Schubert. Scharpf.

05. Mai 2010 – Public spaces, difference and social justice.
I – Watson, Sophie. City publics.
Antagonisms and difference in urban public spaces.
II – Mitchell, Don. The right to the city.
The fight for public spaces in transition.
Reading group preparation: Watson. Mitchell.

12. Mai 2010 – Public spaces and politics.
I – Low, Setha and Smith, Neil. Politics of public spaces.
Antagonisms and difference in urban public spaces.
II – Hajer, Maarten and Reijndorp, Arnold. Public domain.
Public spaces and cultural policy.
Reading group preparation: Low and Smith. Hajer and Reijndorp. Fessler Vaz et. al. Häußermann et. al. Huning.

19. Mai 2010 – Public spaces and architectural practice.
I – Lofland, Lyn. The public realm.
Control by Design. Architectural assaults and the agoraphobia of sociologists.
II – Milgrom, Richard. Lucien Kroll.
Design, difference, everyday life.
Reading group preparation: Lofland. Milgrom. Selle.

26. Mai 2010 – Public spaces and governance.
I – Carmona, Matthew. Management of public spaces.
Conceptualising public space and its management
II – Knierbein, Sabine. Governance of public spaces.
A critique to ‚partnership‘ approches.
Reading group preparation: Carmona. Knierbein.

02. Juni 2010 – Public spaces and anthropology.
The Identity of Public Spaces (Guest lecture Ao. Prof. Andrea Rieger Jandl)
An Anthroplogical Approach.
Reading group preparation: Augé, Mark; King, Anthony D.; Rieger-Jandl, Andrea

09. Juni 2010 – Repetition I

16th June 2010 – 7pm Public spaces in European cities in transition. The case of postfordist Berlin.
Evening lecture: European cities and the competition for attention.
The case of postfordist Berlin. Venue: Zemaneksaal

23th June 2010 – Repetition II

Aim of course
It is the aim of this lecture to acquaint students from the fields of planning and architecture as well as interested students from other disciplines with the diversity of approaches to public space und to sensitize their conceptual repertoire regarding a contemporary object of planning, a policy field demanded in a manifold way and regarding a challenging design task. In this sense, the interdisciplinary dialog is one of the main basic features of this course offered.

By choosing a lecture course format the lecturer intends to impart knowledge regarding the professional handling of public spaces as processes and regarding the logic of action brought in by those actors and institutions which constitute public spaces. A general reflection of our spatial understanding shall be stimulated by linking approaches to understand publics publicness and publicité to theories of space. The lecture serves as thought-provoking impulse which also contains minor exercises and stimulating debates. At the same time, this lecture shall provoke free thinking space for progressive and prospective discussions on the subject matter.

Skills to be provided during the course
– Develop reading skills
– How to analyze texts with tools of architects and planners, i.e. mainly graphics and texts.
– How to develop a critical understanding of texts by discussion inputs.
– How to realize the concrete to the abstract: From social practice in public spaces to theory on public spaces.

Teaching approach
Students are required to organize voluntary reading groups (interdisciplinary and intercultural) á 3-4 people, thus basic reading of texts can be organized jointly and distributed within the groups. You will be offered a room where you can meet on Wednesdays between 1 and 2pm (before the lecture starts) to read respective texts which will be made available there.

Material, skills needed to attend the course
Texts provided by digital reader and self organized internet and media research.
This course aims at students willing to read basic texts in preparatory manner and to contribute to discussions.


English literature

Augé, Mark, (2006 (1995)) Non-Places. An Introduction to Supermodernity, Verso, London

Carmona, Matthew (2008) Public space – the management dimension. Routledge. Oxon. Pp. 43-80, 199-214

Hajer, Maarten and Reijndorp, Arnold. In search of new public domain. NAi publishers. Rotterdam. pp. 1-17, 73-108

King, Anthony D., 2004: Spaces of Global Cultures. Architecture Urbanism Identity, Routledge, London/New York

Knierbein, Sabine (2009) Shaping central public spaces. Design-related coalitions in Berlin and in Rio de Janeiro. In: Eckardt und Elander (eds) Urban Governance in Europe. BVV Berliner Wissenschaftsverlag. Berlin, pp. 173-202.

Milgrom, Richard (2008) Lucien Kroll. Design, difference, everyday life. In: Goonewardena, Kipfer, Milgrom and Schmid: Space, Difference, Everyday Life. Routledge. London, pp. 264-282

Lofland, Lyn (2007) The public realm. Exploring the city’s quintessential social territory. Transaction publishers. London, pp. 1-24, 179-227

Lefebvre, Henry (2009 (1974)) The production of space. Blackwell Publishing. Malden

Low, Setha and Smith, Neill (2005) Politics of public space. Routledge. New York. Pp.1-16

Madanipour, Ali (2003) Public and private spaces of the city. Routledge. London. pp. 1-5, 108- 135, 229-241

Madanipour, Ali (2010) Whose public space. International case studies in urban development. Routledge. London. pp. 1-16, 237-242

Mitchell, Don (2003) Social justice and the fight for public space. Guilford Press. New York. pp. 1-41, 227-237

Rieger-Jandl, Andrea, 2006: Architecture and Culture. Building in the Tension of Increasing Global Interaction, NWV, Wien/Graz

Shields, Rob (1999) Lefebvre, Love & Struggle. Routledge. London. Pp. 1-7

Watson, Sophie (2006) City publics. The (dis) enchantments of urban encounters. Routledge. London, pp. 1-19, 169-173

Zukin, Sharon (1995) The cultures of cities. Blackwell. Oxford. Pp. 1-48

German literature

Altrock, Uwe und Schubert, Dirk (2003) Öffentlicher Raum. Einige Klarstellungen und Entwicklungsperspektiven. Jahrbuch Stadterneuerung 2003. Universtitäts-Verlag der Technischen Universität. Berlin.

Knierbein, Sabine (2010, in process of publication) Die Produktion zentraler öffentlicher Räume in der Aufmerksamkeitsökonomie. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Wiesbaden.

Schmid, Christian (2005) Stadt. Raum und Gesellschaft. Henri Lefebvre und die Theorie des Raumes. Franz Steiner Verlag. München.

Schubert, Herbert (2000) Städtischer Raum und Verhalten. Zu einer integrierten Theorie des öffentlichen Raumes.Leske + Budrich. Opladen.

Fessler Vaz, Lilian, Knierbein, Sabine und Welch Guerra, Max (2006) Der öffentliche Raum in der Planungspolitik. Studien aus Rio de Janeiro und Berlin. Verlag der Bauhaus-Universität. Weimar. pp. 9-17, 137-146

Häußermann, Hartmut, Läpple, Dieter und Siebel, Walter (2008) Stadtpolitik. Suhrkamp. Frankfurt am Main. Pp. 301-312, 331-361

Huning, Sandra (2006) Politisches Handeln in öffentlichen Räumen. Leue Verlag. Berlin

Selle, Klaus (2003) Was ist los mit den öffentlichen Räumen? Analysen, Positionen, Konzepte ; ein Lesebuch für Studium und Praxis. Dortmunder Vertrieb für Bau- und Planungsliteratur 2003.

Scharpf, Fritz W. (2006) Interaktionsformen. Akteurszentrierter Institutionalismus in der Politikforschung. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Wiesbaden.

Roberts, Brian (2008) Performative Social Sciences. Forum Qualitative Social Research. Volume 9, No. 2, Art. 58
May 2008. URL: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/377/822 (latest access 08/03/2010)

Battisti, Martina and Eiselen, Tanja (2008). Insights Through Performative Approaches. Volume 9, No. 2, Art. 44
May 2008. URL: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/378/824 (latest access 08/03/2010)

Koob, Dirk (2008) Sachen gibt’s …?! Ein Survival-Kit für angehende Phänomenologinnen und Phänomenologen. Forum qualitative Sozialforschung. URL: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/426/922 (latest access 08/03/2010)

General requirements + further comments
80% of presence required
addressed to master students (as well as late bachelor and early Phd students) in the fields of planning, political science, landscape architecture, sociology, geography, cultural studies, etc. working language is English, yet reading groups shall be formed where German language texts also will be dealt with.