Strategies and intervention of the production of space

Link: TISS 280.392

VO Vorlesung / Semester hours: 2.0 / ECTS 4.0

**This course will be offered by City of Vienna Visiting Professor 2015 Dr. Nikolai Roskamm (TU Berlin) and by Ass. Prof. Sabine Knierbein**

Aim of the course

The lecture focuses on the past, particularly on the past of modern urbanism. The thesis is that it is necessary to look behind for getting an access to the meaning of urban culture and public space – what means, to its relations, conditionality and presence for social materiality. Main topic of the course is to explore what has happened in the pasts of urbanism and what kind of truth is reversed in the historical events of such pasts.

For approaching public space and urban culture, it is advisable to undertake a history of ideas concerning some of its crucial concepts. One of these concepts is the concept of welfare. The invention of modern urban planning and the concept of welfare are strongly connected. Urban planning as an institution with its own narratives, organizations, laws, techniques and discourses (and as a distinct form of knowledge, too) arises in the second half of 19th Century. On the brink, the concept of the welfare state emerges. As one might say, the result of thinking-the-welfare-state is the reality of modern urban planning. From that point of view the object of welfare is the bridge to analyzing the urban planning past – understanding the one is helpful (or even necessary) for understanding the other.

Public space design and planning is usually very much discussed along the presence of different types of appropriations (civil society) and commodification strategies (market sphere), or in relation to idealtype public space for inclusive, democratic in just cities (projected into the future). The second part of the lecture offered by Sabine Knierbein offers an introduction to the history of relational and embodied approaches to public spaces, and thus seeks to connect to postdisciplinary ethics of positionality. While seeking to grasp the positionality of current urban planners, designers, and researchers, the basic idea is to enhance as well a historic understanding of wider processes of the production of space in the city, before a planner starts to create a plan, or an architect makes his first sketch on paper (Stadtproduktion). While at first glance, this reflects the more recent history of particular professional and project processes, it can also be transferred to a wider understanding of the city as a sociohistoric urbanization process.

Subject of the course

In different lectures, a historical overview is combined with a critical analysis. Issues are the concept of genealogy (Nietzsche, Foucault, Butler); the dispositive of `Polizei´ and the object of population; the transforming of the urban masses to the `Lumpenproletariat´; the discourse in constitutional-law-sciences about the concept of welfare; the emergence of urban planning as part of public health policies; the production of urban pathologies and urbanism as biopolitics, and others.

The lecture series includes two guest lectures in the course of the City of Vienna Visiting Professorship for Urban Culture and Public Space selection process for the annual theme 2016 “Urban culture, public space and the present – Urban solidarity and European crisis”.

I Framework History of urban planning; History of the concept of welfare state
II Cases Theories, Planning laws, narratives
III Tools Analytical access to the past(s)

Lecture units offered by Nikolai Roskamm comprise the following topics: The seminar “Welfare, Polizey and public health or: what is genealogy?” (lecture 2) will comprise a introduction to the 19th Century discourse about the welfare state and the emerging of urban planning. The lecture “Density: a spatial modus and its varied history” (lecture 6) focuses on a genealogical analysis of the concept of density. In the evening lecture “Housing for the masses, masses for the housing” (lecture 9) reports about the urban masses and the public housing concept as the attempt of materialized welfare. Lecture unit 11 is about the “Case (1): The Tempelhofer Feld Berlin: welfare and well-being” and takes a glance at the recent history of one of the most interesting developments in Berlin. In “Case (2): Görlitzer Park, Berlin Kreuzberg: Reflecting on Realities and the Real” (lecture 12) a second story from Berlin will be told; the actual conflicts of use of a central green area are issue of the unit.

Lecture units offered by Sabine Knierbein comprise six topics: The seminar “Introduction to Public Space” (lecture 3) will comprise a comprehensive introduction to the field of public space and urban cultures research in urban studies. The “Introduction to urban cultures” (lecture 7), the notion of ‘urban cultures’ as it is used in central urban development documents (case Vienna) will be deconstructed as a stretched concept with an overload of imprecise meanings, and then reconstructed with a look at different theoretical strands relating to urban cultures. “Public space and European cities in transition” (lecture 8) offers a critical debate on the previous historical relation between the national state and urban policies for public spaces, and a current reorientation to European politics affecting urban politics of public space in many cities in Europe. Finally, the lecture addresses “Embodied space, urban resistance and human emancipation” (lecture 11) and “Public space and relational perspectives: New challenges for architecture and planning” (lecture 13).

The lecture series includes two guest lectures in the course of the City of Vienna Visiting Professorship for Urban Culture and Public Space selection process for the annual theme 2016 “Urban culture, public space and the present – Urban solidarity and European crisis”.

Additional Information

The lecture (VO) „Strategies and intervention of the production of space“ is part of the module 11 „Urban culture, public space“ of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space. Please register for the Module 11 until 2 March 2015 in the TISS registration system (registration at VO 280.392 Strategies and intervention of the production of space). Registrations for single courses of the Module 11 (VO 280.392, UE 280.393, SE 280.394) will be possible at the Module’s Kick-off taking place on 3 March 2014 at 12.30.

Dates for the Lecture Course Units within Module 11’s Intensive Teaching Blocks (ITBs)

Intensive Teaching Block I

Module Kick-off, Tue, 3rd March, 12.30am to 2:00pm.

Lecture Unit 1, Mon, 9th March, 9am-10:30am – Lecture kick off/Getting to know each other

The lecture series offers both (a) specific insights and (b) introductory insights into international public space research as one facet in critical urban studies. Ad a) the focus is on a genealogical analysis of urban planning as revealing the production of truth. b) Here, public space is framed as place of public life and encounter, as embodied space and as realm of everyday learning about the city as a sociohistoric urbanization process. Students will be asked to present their particular interests in this lecture and to propose how the lecture should be ideally run. In the unit a general outline of the modul will be presented. Particularly the how and why of the looking into the past as method to understand the present will be explained.


Lefebvre, H. [1967] (1996) The right to the City. In: Kofmann, Elenore; Lebas, Elizabeth (1996): Writings on Cities, Oxford: Blackwell, S. 147-160.
Ruddick, S. (2004) Domesticating monsters: Cartografies of difference and the Emancipatory City. In: Lees, L. (ed) The emancipatory city. London/Thousand Oaks/New Delhi. Sage. Pp. 23-39.

Lecture Unit 2, Mon, 9th March, 11am-12:30am – Welfare, Polizey and public health or: what is genealogy?

Genealogy as a critical-historical-discursive research and analysis practice traces back to Friedrich Nietzsche’s Genealogie der Moral (1887). The lecture starts with exploring Nietzsche’s approach and focus on Michel Foucault’s elaboration of genealogical analysis as a method/theory for understanding the production of truth. Main point of reflection is Foucault’s history of governementality. Governmentality – mixing `government´ and `mentaility´ – is the name for the `art of governing´ within different forms of knowledge and power. Part of this history is the concept of welfare. This concept is one of the main discourses in 19th Century National economics debate, where the concept of urban planning comes aborning.


Foucault, M. [1971] (1977) Nietzsche, Genealogy, History. In: Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews, edited by D. F. Bouchard. Ithaca: Cornell University Press., pp. 139-164.
Butler, J. (2002) What is Critique? An Essay on Foucault’s Virtue. Cambridge University. Raymond Williams Lecture. May 2000. Reprinted in: Ingram, David. The Political Blackwell Readings in Continental Philosophy. Wiley Blackwell.

Lecture Unit 3, Tue, 10th March, 9am-10:30am – Introduction to public space

This lecture unit serves to introduce public spaces as places where public life unfolds, regarding in its social, political and material dimensions. Consumption, products and production processes have long been influencing patterns of everyday life in the city, and the dilemmas of changing macro-modes of regional and global production circuits become palpable on the micro-scale of those places where people rub along with particular rhythms and routines. How can everyday materialities be interpreted by taking public space as a special analytical and epistemic frame in urban studies? On the political level, we seek to explore how changing modes of production and consumption can be critically acknowledged and constructively dealt with in a transdisciplinary manner, by expanding the often exclusive notions of expert design and planning towards a transdisciplinary concept of collective planning and public design.


Bridge, G. and Watson, S. (2011) Reflections on materialities. In: Bridge and Watson (2011) The New Blackwell Companion tot he City. Blackwell-Wiley. pp. 3-14
Knierbein, S. and Tornaghi, C (2015) Relational public space: new challenges for architecture and planning education. IN: Tornaghi, C. and Knierbein, S. (eds) Public space and relational perspectives. New challenges for architecture and planning. New York/London, Routledge, pp. 1-12

Lecture Unit 4, Wed, 11th March, 12am-13:30am – Guest Lecture Dr. Carolin Schröder: Solidary Urban Democracies

Solidarity and democracy are fundamental basics of today’s European societies. Both are normative concepts that evolved in specific socio-cultural contexts. In consequence, they manifest in various forms: We can observe representative, direct or liquid democracies and non-democratic  structures. In addition, families and friends, co-operatives, national welfare systems,  European laws and manifestos regarding the Eurozone crisis and global climate protection networks – just to name a few – are based on different notions of  solidarity. And they all provide different options and limitations for individual and collective action – and both solidarity and democracy can either be inclusive or exclusive. Based on the assumption that different forms of solidarity and democracy can be found at the same time, this contribution is dedicated to exploring their relations in the urban context from a practical, cross-disciplinary perspective: What actually happens if they „meet“ in practice? Provided that different forms of solidarity and democracy co-exist, overlap, reinforce, and restrict each other: Which direct or indirect effects on cities, urban societies and urban spaces can be perceived? And how and to what extent do these patterns change in times of multiple crises and societal transformations that European societies and cities face today?

Lecture Unit 5, Thu, 12th March, 12am-13:30am  – Guest Lecture Prof. Dr. Sybille Frank: Neighborhoods in the tourist trap? New urban tourism and public space.

For several months now, a debate has raged in numerous international metropolises about the so-called ‘touristification’ of inner-city residential areas. It is true that residential space has increasingly been turned into hostels and vacation homes in many urban neighborhoods over the past years. While the real estate and tourism industries are reaping the profits of ‘new urban tourism,’ the rapid changes in some quarters have triggered objections, protests and even open xenophobia on the part of residents. Drastic rent increases in ‘trendy’ urban districts and the ‘tourist-friendly’ reconstruction of public space are symptoms of a social upheaval which raises questions about life in the 21st-century city. How must the ideal of ‘mixed neighborhoods’ be reinterpreted in spatial planning and design in an age of diverse mobilities? How can the interests of residents be reconciled with those of the tourism and real estate industries when it comes to shaping public spaces? And what are the fundamental assumptions underlying present, often dismissive, public discourses on tourism and tourists? This lecture will try to find some answers to these questions, and it will open up to further important themes at the intersection of urban culture and public space.


Fainstein, S. and Judd, D. R. (1999) Global forces, local strategies, and Urban Tourism. IN: Judd, D. R. and Fainstein, S. (eds) The tourist city. New Haven and London. Yale University Press. Pp. 1-20.
Zukin, S. (1995) The cultures of cities. Malden/Oxford/Victoria. Blackwell. Pp. 1-58.

Intensive Teaching Block II

Lecture Unit 6, Mon,18th May, 9am-10:30am – Density: a spatial modus and its varied history

Density is currently a very prevalent topic within urban-development discourse. Similarly, the term is also attracting significant attention in current urban-sociological debate so that, here too, it may be considered an actual Renaissance of density. Noticeable, however, is how only very little explicit information can be found on the concept of density itself at the congresses, in the anthologies, or in the special editions bearing this term as a title. Of course density is thematized in the respective prefaces and introductions to the topic, but while the concept’s complexity, contradictoriness, or vagueness is regularly referenced, this allusion is rarely explored in more detail. Yet density is itself an interesting subject for analysis: in many disciplines, density is not just an expression used or an interchangeable category; it is truly a concept, a concept with its own history, with particular character­is­tics, and with specific functions. In my line of thinking, contemplating the application of the concept of density in a more fundamental way is a worthwhile undertaking: exploring the ways in which density is construed and also what is constructed with density. To this aim, a critical-historical overview of the provenance of this term is topic of the lecture, with the many discourses where density has played (and continues play) a decisive role and the contexts in which these discourses have unfolded likewise highlighted. The objective of this genealogy is to better understand and evaluate not only the concept of density itself but rather also the once again so popular stagings thereof.


Roskamm, N. (2014): Taking Sides with a Man-Eating Shark. Jane Jacobs and the 1960s `Density Turn´. In: D. Schubert (ed.): Contemporary Perspectives on Jane Jacobs. Reassessing the Impacts of an Urban Visionary. Burlington: Ashgate, pp. 83-95.
Roskamm, N. (2012): Der Begriff Dichte/The Concept of Density. In: U. Hirschberg (Hg.): GAM.08 Graz Architecture Magazine. Wien: Springer, pp.130-142.

Lecture Unit 7, Tue, 19th May, 9am-10:30am – Introduction to urban cultures

Through the example of Vienna, the concept of urban culture will be positioned in reference to public space. The point here is to direct our view beyond high-cultural approaches towards an understanding of urban culture that emphasizes everyday cultural practices in the city. Where the social structure of the city has changed considerably in recent decades due to migration, economic globalization, and the Europeanization of law (e.g., labor migration through the opening of national labor markets), new and changing lifestyles in urban society are formed (emergent urban cultures). It is worthwhile here to extend the rational and pragmatic view of cultural inscriptions in the living spaces of the city to the effect that, in addition to used and necessary public spaces, wider perspectives are integrated into urban planning and design: those of the loved and lived public spaces, an emotional-affective dimension of urban residents’ connectedness with those places in the city that enable them to have a positive urban experience. Yet urban culture, for sure, encompasses as well everyday struggles mediated through acts of urban resistance and social movements and more generally urban strives for human emancipation, which shall be addressed as well.


Bridge, G. and Watson, S. (2011) Reflections on Affect/ Reflections on public and cultures/ Reflections on Division and Difference. In: Bridge, G. and Watson, S.(eds) The New Blackwell Companion to the City. Malden/Oxford Wiley-Blackwell. Pp. 275-287/377-389/499-510.

for German readers:
Stadtentwicklungsplan StEP Wien 2025, Langfassung
Stadtentwicklungsplan StEP Wien 2005. Langfassung

for English and German readers:
Stadtentwicklungsplan StEP Wien 2025, Kurzfassung
Urban Development Plan Vienna 2025. Short Report
Stadtentwicklungsplan StEP Wien 2005. Kurzfassung
Urban Development Plan Vienna 2005. Short Report

Lecture Unit 8, Wed,20th May, 9am-10:30am – Public space and European cities in transition

European cities are changing rapidly in part due to the process of de-industrialization, European integration and economic globalization. Within those cities public spaces are the meeting place of politics and culture, social and individual territories, instrumental and expressive concerns. Public Space and the Challenges of Urban Transformation in Europe investigates how European city authorities understand and deal with their public spaces, how this interacts with market forces, social norms and cultural expectations, whether and how this relates to the needs and experiences of their citizens, exploring new strategies and innovative practices for strengthening public spaces and urban culture.

These questions are explored by looking at 3 case studies from across Europe, written by active scholars in the area of public space and organized in three parts: 1. strategies, plans and policies, 2. multiple roles of public space, 3. and everyday life in the city.


Madanipour, A., Knierbein, S., and Degros, A. (2014) A moment of Transformation. In: Madanipour, A., Knierbein, S., and Degros, A. (eds) Public space and the challenges of urban transformation in Europe. New York/London: Routledge. Pp. 1-8.
Watson, S. (2006) City publics. The (dis)enchantments of public encounters. New York/London, Routledge. Pp.1-19 and 159-173.

Public Evening Lecture Unit 9, Wed,19th May, 6:30pm-8:00pm – Housing for the masses, masses for the housing

‘Housing for the masses’ is a town-planning concept of modernity and urban reality in many cities all around the world. It represents the intertwining of the emergence of modern urban planning on the one hand and the academic and popular discourses on the masses on the other hand. The lecture addresses both notions. The main concerns are: the constitution of the masses in written tractates (e.g. the emergence of ‘mass psychology’ at the end of the 19th century); the building of public housing itself, and its economic and architectural conditions; the hegemonic process which put the concept on the political agenda; the permanent production of urban reality in different forms (the everyday occupancy of the housing for the masses by the masses). With the elements outlined, the lecture follows a transdisciplinary approach and creates a proposal for organising critical urban research. By regarding at the same time and on the same level the material and the discursive production of ‘housing for the masses’, the lecture shall intercede into the false dichotomy between ‘material’ and ‘discursive’ (and into other mistaken dualisms like ‘object and subject’ or ‘theory and practice’). The object ‘social housing’ is suitable for this aim because the discursive and the material elements are immediately evident (and therefore accessible): housing for the masses is of course a concept/an idea; it is also a built substantiality of stone and cement; and it is a social reality.


Stallybrass, P. (1990) Marx and Heterogeneity: Thinking the Lumpenproletariat. In: Representations 31, S. 69-95.
Le Bon, G. (2002)(1895) The Crowd. A study of the popular mind. Mineola: New York. (Introduction, Chapter I)

Intensive Teaching Block III

Lecture Unit 10, Mon, 15th June, 9am-10:30am –Embodied space, urban resistance and human emancipation

The lecture gives an inside into a recently evolving stream of relational pedagogy of public space, where theory of space is informed by anthropological perspectives and abstractions taken from bodily encounters in space. Taking the example of embodied action in relation to the face-to-face politics of urban resistance and social movement in public space, this lecture provides a link between debates around embodied conceptions of space, contemporary urban resistance, the differentiation between urban resistance and social movements, as well as a general introduction to aspects of human emancipation in the city, with all its pitfalls, struggles and ambivalences.


Low, S. M. (2003) Embodied Space(s) Anthropological Theories of Body, Space, and Culture. Space and Culture 2/2003: 9-18
Simonsen, K. (2013) In quest of a new humanism: Embodiment, experience and phenomenology as critical geography Progress in Human Geography Vol 37/1, pp. 10-26. 

Lecture Unit 11 Nikolai, Tue, 16th June, 11am-12:30am – Case (1): The Tempelhofer Feld Berlin: welfare and well-being

Tempelhofer Feld’ is the name for an almost 400 hectare terrain of the former airport Berlin-Tempelhof, centrally located inside the Berlin city-railway-ring. The Tempelhofer Feld is a specific space: concerning its texture, quality, usage and materiality. But it is, too, a specific space concerning its discursive representation in the public sphere. About the future of the terrain there has been a big and ongoing debate for a long time. That dispute became very lively after the closure of the airport, particularly during the 18 months when the huge free space was hermetically locked. In these debates – and this is already one of the particularities of the Tempelhofer Feld – some fundamental points and questions were brought into the discussion: questions about the future of the urban, about the making of the public, about the conditions of the political and about the production of space. The lecture approaches this specific space. My thesis is that the peculiarity of the Tempelhofer Feld has something to do with its emptiness. The huge location is almost empty, without buildings (just with some small barracks), without streets and cars, without noteworthy topography, even nearly without trees. This state as an empty space is the result of a complex history. And this emptiness is, too, a link to some theoretical concepts of the urban and the space.


Laclau, E. (1990). New reflections on the revolution of our time. London: Verso, pp. 3-18.
Roskamm, N. (2014) 4.000.000 m² of Public Space.. In: A. Degros; S. Knierbein; A. Madanipour (eds.): Public Space and the Challenges of Urban Transformation in Europe. London/New York, pp. 116-138.

Lecture Unit 12, Wed, 17th June, 11am-12:30am – Case (2): Görlitzer Park, Berlin Kreuzberg: Reflecting on Realities and the Real

Görlitzer Park in Berlin Kreuzberg is a symbol for global social and political problems becoming local. It is a place of multiple assemblage: Migrants particularly coming from African countries, tourists watching the wild life in Kreuzberg and local residents fighting for keeping the place as their own recreational sphere come together in a conflictual space. However, it is a space with a history. The lecture addresses first that history. Starting as a railroad area at the end of 19th Century, transforming to a wasteland in post-war West-Berlin, becoming an important part of the Kreuzberg-Utopia in the 1980s, growing an urban landscape park in the 1990s, being one of the Berlin-feeling hot spots after the year 2000 and finally getting a final destination for refugees from all over the world in recent days. The concept of welfare (welfare for whom) is challenged in such a surrounding with different demands and possibilities.


Gunder, Michael (2010): Planning as the ideology of (neoliberal) space. Planning Theory 9(4): 298-314.
Hillier, Jean (2003) ‘Agon’izing over consensus – Why Habermasian ideals cannot be ‘real’. Planning Theory 2(1): 37–59.

Public Evening Lecture Unit 13, Wed, 17th June, 6:30pm-8:00pm – Public space and relational perspectives: New challenges for architecture and planning

Traditional approaches to understand space tend to view public space mainly as a shell or container, focussing on its morphological structures and functional uses. That way, its ever-changing meanings, contested or challenged uses have been largely ignored, as well as the contextual and on-going dynamics between social actors, their cultures, and struggles. The key role of space in enabling spatial opportunities for social action, the fluidity of its social meaning and the changing degree of „publicness“ of a space remain unexplored fields of academic inquiry and professional practice. Public Space and Relational Perspectives offers a different understanding of public spaces in the city. The aim of the book is to (re)introduce the lived experiences in public life into the teaching curricula of those academic disciplines which deal with public space and the built environment, such as architecture, planning and urban design, as well as the social sciences. The lecture presents conceptual, practical and research challenges and brings together findings from activists, practitioners and theorists. It provides eight educational challenges that educators can endorse when training future practitioners and researchers to accept and to engage with the social relations that unfold in and through public space.


Tornaghi, C and Knierbein, S. and (2015) Public space and relational perspectives. new challenges for architecture and planning. Chapters 3 and 10 (conclusion).