Strategies and intervention of the production of space: relations of sites, scales and actions

Link: TISS 280.482

VO Vorlesung / Semester hours: 2.0 / ECTS 4.0

**This course will be offered by City of Vienna Visiting Professor 2017 Prof. Ed Wall (University of Greenwich) and by Assoc. Prof. Sabine Knierbein**

i. Aim of the course

This lecture course aims to introduce the central themes that will be addressed in the CoVVP 2017 Urban culture, public space and the future ¿ Urban equity and the global agenda. The lecture course will introduce theories and cases of making public spaces, specifically the relations between contrasting scales of actions, plans, strategies and operations.

ii. Contents of the course

The main theme will focus on the contested ways that cities are made, from everyday uses of public spaces to urban redevelopments directed by global economic forces. During the lectures, seminars and exercises, relations between scales of national policies, metropolitan agendas, urban designs, public spaces, activities and lives will be discussed. New urban developments are refashioning public spaces as tightly managed architectural landmarks and aestheticized forms. Additionally, competition between cities is intensely expressed in regional, city and neighbourhood geographies through planning, design and spatial actions. How architectural masterplans (for redevelopment), political strategies (of metropolitan and national governments) and economic agendas (of global organisations such as the UN) interact with smaller-scale actions that unfold in and reconstitute urban spaces daily will be of particular interest.

Planning programs, draft plans, and the everyday cultural evidence of future cities and districts seen within projects will be discussed. Considering the spaces and relations of how public spaces are made and remade will expose what is at stake for different organisations, governments, community groups and individuals involved. Issues of urban equity, in regards to access to space and resources, opportunities to participate and rights to the city, will be discussed. When critical issues such as climate change, resource distribution, and migration increasingly shape urban agendas, wide-reaching urban action is needed to develop cross-border professional approaches. These include methods of inclusive planning and open-ended design that are increasingly relevant as local sites of action are differently globalized. How planners, builders, and designers are able to adapt working methods to communicate considerations of urban equity and human rights will be considered, while relations between traditional urban development approaches and less-planned urban transformations will be discussed as they relate to cases across the globe.

„Introduction: urban strategies to daily actions“ (Lecture Unit 0, Ed Wall and Sabine Knierbein)

This lecture will introduce the key theories and cases of the course. It will focus on the contested ways that public spaces are made, from daily routines and temporalities to urban redevelopments directed by political strategies and global economic forces. The lecture will (1) discuss what is at stake when political agendas and financial ambitions for making public space overshadow smaller-scale actions and will (2) offer insights into the multiple roles of public spaces in times of urban restructuring while approaching different types of post-positivist planning theory and postmodern urbanisms that have subscribed to promote alternative approaches to the main-stream urban planning and design approaches.


  1. Madanipour, A. (ed.) 2010. Whose public space? Oxon: Routledge [pp 1-15]
  2. Madanipour, A (2014) Urban Design, Space and Society. Palgrave Macmillan. Chapter 1+2, Pp. 1-36 

„Making public spaces“ (Lecture Unit 1, Ed Wall)

Through bringing together architectural terms of public space familiar in planning and design with conceptions of publics and public sphere this lecture unit will explore contrasting frames and ambitions for making urban public spaces. Accepting the diversity of frequently conflicting definitions and conceptions of public spaces the lecture will aim to focus on the ‘publicness’ of urban spaces as they are framed conceptually and as they are formed through design, management and use.


  1. Massey, D. 2005. For Space. London: Sage [pp 9-15]
  2. Smith, N. and Low, S. 2006. Introduction: The Imperative of Public Space. In: Low, S. and Smith, N. (eds.) The Politics of Public Space. New York: Routledge [pp 1-16]

„Public Space under Siege (I). Urban restructuring and the contemporary city“ (Lecture Unit 2, Sabine Knierbein)

Contemporary cities are changing rapidly due to processes of de-industrialization, sociocultural 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. This lecture unit investigates how public spaces are used, instrumentalized and transformed into core catalysts of processes of urban transformation and capital accumulation in contemporary cities. A widening of the focus of the historical palimpsest from central public spaces to every day places situated in the urban peripheries allows a more nuanced understanding of the challenges that contemporary cities face. The double-lecture (1) addresses different interpretations of patterns of urban restructuring (e.g. postfordist, neoliberal) in connection with recent empirical phenomena in public space design. It then (2) offers a political science-inspired reading of Foucault’s theory of Governmentality as an explanatory frame for a historical analysis of urban restructuring led by rational and technocrat rationales as one facet of a historical analysis of different phases of capitalism. The line of thought developed in this first part of the lecture will find continuation in lecture 4.


  1. postfordist urban policies, birth of ‘neoliberal’ urban policies, growing urban inequalities
    Madanipour, Ali, Knierbein, Sabine and Aglaée Degros (2014) A Moment of Transformation. IN: Madanipour, Ali, Knierbein, Sabine and Aglaée Degros (eds) Public Space and the Challenges of Urban Transformation in Europe. London/New York: Routledge. Pp. 1-8
  1. political science accounts to neoliberal or postfordist city/urbanism/planning
    Huxley, Margo (2011) Governmentality, Gender, Planning: A Foucauldian Perspective

„Master plans for development“ (Lecture Unit 3, Ed Wall)

This lecture unit will explore large-scale approaches to urban redevelopments as a means for remaking contemporary cities. Despite increasing critiques of top-down and formal urban design approaches in the design of cities, masterplans are frequently employed to reconfigure contemporary public spaces. How these planning mechanisms mediate between global economic and political ambitions and smaller-scale lives are questioned through key writings and case studies.


  1. Sorkin, M. 2011. The End(s) of Urban Design. In: Sorkin, M. All Over the Map: Writing on Buildings and Cities. New York: Verso [pp 287-309]
  2. Madanipour, A. 1996. Design of Urban Space: An Inquiry into Socio-Spatial Process. Chichester: Wiley [pp 91-117]

„Public Space under Siege (II): post-positivist planning and postmodern urbanism“ (Lecture Unit 4, Sabine Knierbein)

This lecture unit builds on and further develops connections between the systematic transformation of public space as core catalyst for urbans space (urban studies), more theoretical background information (political science) developed in lecture unit 2 with discourses in planning and urban design. A second part of this lecture (3) establishes a connection particularly to post-positivist planning theories that seek to overcome rational choice models of planning and (4) links these broader shifts in planning to wider turns in theorizing urban design.


  1. post positivist planning
    Allmendinger, Philipp (2002) The Post-Positivist Landscape of Planning Theory. IN: Allmendinger, Philipp and Marc Tewdwr Jones (eds) Planning Futures. New Directions for Planning Theory. London/New York: Routledge. Pp. 3-17
  2. postmodern and integral urbanism
    Nan, Ellin (2011) Postmodern and integral urbanism. IN: Banerjee, T, Loukaitou-Sideris, A (eds) Companion to Urban Design. London/New York. Routledge. Pp.589-599

„Post-landscapes“ (Lecture Unit 5, Ed Wall)

When public spaces are reconfigured through cultural practices, such as architecture and urban design, they can be reframed as scenic landscapes. These visual concerns for the remaking of cities prioritise scenographic spaces and materials that are highly maintained and tightly controlled frequently conflicting with how public spaces are occupied and used.

This lecture unit examines specific cases of public spaces remade as landscapes and challenges approaches that reduce the potential for diverse activities, unexpected events and specific groups of people.


  1. Mitchell, D. 1997. The annihilation of space by law: the roots and implications of anti-homeless laws in the United States. In: Antipode 29:3 [pp 303-335]
  2. Urry, J. and Larsen, J. 2011. The Tourist Gaze 3.0. London: Sage [pp119-154]

„The Body under pressure. Affect, politics and urbanismo afectivo“ (Lecture Unit 6, Sabine Knierbein)

The lecture will (1) offer an understanding of embodied protest as an affective form of staging dissent and thereby shaping ‘the political’ in the city. By taking on a particular perspective from the field of radical anthropology on the embodied dimension of protest, different examples of bodily protest in public spaces will be explored and discussed. Does it make a difference to expose your body on a public street or to twitter your claims into the virtual worlds that social networks make use of? In a successive part (2) the lecture will deal with the concept of ‘politics of affect’: How does embodied action, or, as Setha Low coins it: embodied space, relate to an (analytical, interpretative) understanding of the relevance of feelings, experience and affect that is very much inscribed in theories dealing with urban cultures. How do both embodied and affective experience relate to the shaping of the political in contemporary European cities? Finally, (3) a transfer will be established between considerations linking embodied space conceptions, politics of affect and a new types of post-positivist urbanisms, i.e. performative urbanism and…


  1. Embodied space: role of civil society, role of embodied action, body-politics
    Moore, Sheehan (2013) Taking Up Space: Anthropology and embodied protest. Radical Anthropology. Vol. 7/2013. Pp. 6-16. URL: http://radicalanthropologygroup.org/sites/default/files/journal/ra_journal_nov_2013_6-16.pdf (latest access 05/02/16)
  2. Space, Affect and Politics
    Hardt, Michael (2007): Foreword. What Affects Are Good For. In: Clough, Patricia T./Halley, Jean (eds.): The Affective Turn. Theorizing the Social. Duke Univ. Press. Pp. Ix-xiii
  3. Performative urbanism and urbanismo afectivo
    a. Wolfrum, Sophie (2015) Performative Urbanism. Generating and designing urban space. In: Wolfrum S and v. Brandis N. (eds) Performative urbanism. Generating and designing urban space, Jovis. Pp. 5,6,11-16.
    b. Knierbein, S, Krasny, E and Viderman, T (2016) Urbanismo afectivo. Concepts and critique of the production of space. TU Wien. Pp. 11-13 und 17-19.

„Urban texts“ (Lecture Unit 7, Ed Wall. Public Evening Lecture)

This lecture unit discusses how written political initiatives (such as urban policies, manifestos, design codes and guidelines) translate into the designs, spaces and experiences of urban developments. The lecture unit explores how priorities for human rights, equality, social justice and equity, which are inadequately defined in design drawings, can become effectively embedded in the policies of metropolitan and national governments and in global agencies (such as UN Habitat). Through the selected readings the lecture unit examines how written manifestos can also be effectively employed to express utopian visions for cities and public spaces.


  1. Sorkin, M. 1993. Local Code. New York: Princeton Architectural Press [pp 11-32 & 127-128]
  2. Lehnerer, A. 2009. Grand urban rules. 010 Publishers [pp 57-69]

„Contested everyday space and social non-movements. On critical urbanism“ (Lecture Unit 8, Sabine Knierbein)

International Public Space Research offers (1) a plethora of approaches to adopt, appropriate and act in public space through changing everyday practices (e.g. everyday urbanism, ordinary city, insurgent planning, insurgent public space, etc.). Their importance of places of everyday life in the city is once again stressed by reconsidering lived space dimensions (e.g. in planning and architecture). While (2) the focus of this stream of thought rests on marginalized groups and those parts of the urban society that do not feel integrated into mainstream society and hegemonic governance, a growing critique of (bourgeois) social movements (and their failures) gains momentum. The lecture will (3) establish a link between these recent ways of challenging architecture and planning education through the focus on the everyday dimension of urban space, and will offer an introduction to more criticially informed currents in neoMarxist urban design theory.


  1. Everyday urbanism
    Crawford, Margaret (1999) Introduction. IN: Chase, John, Crawford Margaret and John Kaliski (eds) Everyday urbanism. New York. The Monacelli Press. Pp. 8-18
  2. Social non-movements, alternative paths of counter space/publics through everyday practices
    Bayat, Asef (2010): Life as politics: how ordinary people change the Middle East. Stanford. Stanford Univ. Press. Pp. 14-26, 56-60
  3. Critical urbanism
    Kanishka Goonewardena (2011) Critical urbanism. Space, design, revolution. In: Banerjee, T, Loukaitou-Sideris, A (eds) Companion to Urban Design. London/New York. Routledge. Pp.97-108

„Between infrastructural forms and informal actions“ (Lecture Unit 9, Ed Wall)

This lecture unit explores frequently described dichotomies of planned/unplanned and formal/informal and how these relations can manifest in urban space. Unbalanced relationships between politicians and planners with power and marginal communities whose lives are disproportionally impacted are discussed. The lecture unit expands the scope of these discourses often more associated with Global South cities to include a range of cases across the globe that are examined in the context of wider policies and agendas (government, NGO, etc) with a specific focus on what is at stake for people inhabiting unplanned urban spaces.


  1. Tonkiss, F. 2014. Cities by Design: The Social Life of Urban Form. London: Wiley [pp 91-112]
  2. Sassen, S. 2005. Fragmented urban topographies and their underlying interconnections. In: Brillembourg, A, Feireiss, K & Klumpner, H. (eds). 2005. Informal City: Caracas Case. Munich: Prestel [pp 83-87]

„Urban emancipation and the post-political city. On inclusive and democratic urbanism“ (Lecture Unit 10, Sabine Knierbein)

Debates over emancipation, albeit not always explicitly outlined as the subject of planning and design discourses, have been providing valuable impetus to both urban research and practice, ever since the linkages between emancipation and the city have been affirmed in the philosophical foundations of social sciences. Throughout the 20th century a series of emancipatory spatial practices as well as accompanying scientific debates rendered urban spaces a liberating ground of opportunity and possibility, cosmopolitanism and freedom from a multitude of political, cultural, social and economic constraints. Although design and planning disciplines have been revising their practices to render the making of cities a more emancipatory process, the city as an artefact was to a great extent dominated by the Eurocentric narrative of modernism. Following the critique of the modernist approaches to conceiving, perceiving and living urban spaces raised in urban theory, the turn of the century witnessed the final rejection of the grand narrative of modernism as a mere relic of Western imperialism. This paradigm shift has freed up space for a plurality of responses carved along different strands aiming at the production of places of emancipation, which equally rely upon theoretical and practice-based approaches to the making of cities. This lecture (1) introduces the concept of the “post-political” thought in urban theory, (2) links it back to earlier thinkers who have stressed the importance of dissent and agonism to constantly revive democracies in practice and (3) outlines current strands in urban design theory that deal with democratic underpinnings of urban design theory in connection to wider critical debates on urban governance and the post-political condition. The lecture will give insights into a new book project that has been initiated through new innovative forms of transdisciplinary teaching the practice and theory of urban emancipation at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space in 2014.


  1. The Post-Political and its Discontents
    Wilson and Swyngedouw (2015) Seeds of dystopia: Post-Politics and the Return of the Political. In: Wilson and Swyngedouw (eds) The Post-Political and its Discontents. Edinburgh. Edinburg University Press. Pp.1-24
  2. Politics of dissent
    Mouffe, Chantal (2013): Agonistics. Thinking the world politically. London: Verso. Pp. 1-18.
  3. Inclusive and democratic urban design?
    Madanipour, Ali (2014) Urban Design, Space and Society. Palgrave Macmillan. Chapters Inclusive Urbanism and Democratic Urbanism, Pp. 127-154, 191-219.


„Untrained but informed“ (Lecture Unit 11, Ed Wall)

This lecture unit explores approaches to researching and redesigning cities through open-ended design techniques. Discussions challenge traditional urban design methods that frequently attempt to fix time (in phases of history and development) and complete space (through physical construction and written legislation). The lecture unit explores potential relations between professional architectural designers and less-trained individuals and how more dialogical approaches to design can generate site-specific knowledge and unexpected, open-ended ways of reconfiguring cities.


  1. Awan, N., Schneider, T and Till, J. 2011. Spatial agency: other ways of doing architecture. Oxon: Routledge [pp 26-52]
  2. Hughes, J. and Sadler, S. (eds.) 2013. Non-plan: Essays on freedom, participation and change in modern architecture and urbanism. Routledge. [pp 138-154] 

„City Unsilenced and urban resistance. On worlded urbanism“ (Lecture Unit 12, Sabine Knierbein. Public Evening Lecture)

Cities have long been the sites of social and political struggles. As the manifestation of social organization, power, and politics, urban settings are also places in which those relationships are contested and sometimes overthrown. In 2011, urban resistance returned to the headlines of global news media through global incidents such as the Arab Spring protests and the Occupy Wall Street Movement. In Brazil, rounds of Free Fare Movement protests joined by thousands of young people, students repeatedly forced the local governments to cancel the increase of bus fare. In Taipei, university students took over the country’s Parliament building and occupied it for 24 days in protest against the passage of a trade pact with China that would further erode the nation’s economy and democratic institution.  Yet as well cities in Europe increasingly witnessed the resurgence of emancipatory struggles and practices of resistance: In Greece, Portugal, and Spain, the indignados movements organized demonstrations against austerity policies. In Stuttgart, protestors demonstrated against the redevelopment of the city’s main railway station by occupying the public park that would be vastly destroyed by the redevelopment. In Istanbul, citizens protested against the proposed urban design project foreseen for Gezi Park near Taksim Square by setting up encampment on the park. These recent acts of urban resistance share many things in common. In addition to the popular use of social media and the adoption of a horizontal structure for mobilization, many of the protests have re-introduced public space, in forms of streets, squares, parks, and parliament buildings, as the stage for political struggle. This re-centering of focus on public space is particularly significant as it comes at a time when public space, understood as the embodied geography of the public sphere (Low and Smith 2005) have been undermined after decades of corporatization, privatization, commodification, enforcement of hyper-security in many parts of the world. This lecture is an attempt to better understand that the current waves of urban protests are inherently linked to rapidly changing structural conditions and the decline of (national) democracies. It (1) offers an insight into the post-occupy struggles in public space against a new tech-led gentrification (San Francisco), (2) emphasises recent political theory accounts that seek to explain the omnipresent democratic deficits of state governance and (3) establishes a link to what Ananya Roy has coined as worlding cities, a post-colonial perspective for research and theory that might be transferred to more practical steps of worlded or worlding urban design as well.


  1. Political movements against rising urban inequality
    McCleave Maharawal, Manissa (2016/7) San Francisco’s Tech-led Gentrification: Public Space, Protest, and the Urban Commons. In: Hou, Jeff and Knierbein, Sabine (2017 forthcoming) City Unsilenced. Public space and urban resistance in the age of shrinking democracy.
  2. Urban resistance, horizontality, “presentist democracy”
    Lorey, Isabell (2014): The 2011 Occupy Movements: Rancière and the Crisis of Democracy. In: Theory, Culture & Society, December 2014, vol. 31, 7-8: pp 43-65.
  3. Worlded urbanism.
    Ananya Roy (2011) Post-colonial urbanism. Speed, hysteria, mass dreams. In: Roy A and Ong A (eds) Worlding cities. Asian experiments and the art of being global. Wiley-Blackwell.

Summary of lecture units (Lecture Unit 13, Ed Wall and Sabine Knierbein)

iii. Assessment of students’ performance

Participants of the lecture are asked to read the indicated texts prior to the lecture sessions. They are moreover required to either prepare an individual scientific essay of 6-8 pages or to take an oral group exam of 60 minutes (which will be marked individually).

The scientific essay should draw connections between one input offered by Ed Wall (including texts) and one input offered by Sabine Knierbein (including texts) and develop cross-disciplinary perspectives on at least one of the current challenges for contemporary cities, in particular with a focus on urban cultures and public spaces. Submission deadline for the individual essays is 22nd June 2017. The oral exam will be offered during the 3rd teaching block (22 June 2017).

For the oral group exam students are required to revise all lectures and the assigned literature.

iv. Further information

This lecture „Strategies and Interventions of the Production of Space: Relations of Sites, Scales and Actions“ is part of the module 11 „Urban culture, public space“ (consisting of three courses, VO 280.482, SE 280.483 and UE 280.484) which is offered during three five days intensive teaching blocks (ITB) by the Interdisiciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space (SKuOR). This module compiles a set of integrated courses dealing with „Urban culture and public space“ at the interface of the fields of urban studies and urban design/urban planning. In 2017, the main focus will be on „Urban culture, public space and the future: Urban equity and the global agenda“.

The courses mainly address master students (late Bachelor or early PhD), especially from spatial planning and architecture are invited to take part. Yet we explicitly welcome students coming from other Viennese universities in related disciplines, such as urban studies, urban design, geography, sociology, landscape architecture, cultural studies, … as well as ‚Mitbeleger‘.  The course language is English. We support students‘ active participation in debates and interactive teaching formats, and encourage you to bring in and develop your own ideas and critical perspectives. We seek to create an international level of debate and exchange and welcome students from all countries and cultures. Just contact us (info@skuor.tuwien.ac.at).

Students interested in this course are highly recommended to take part in the seminar (SE 280.483) and the exercise (UE 280.484).

To take part in all three courses of the module 11 please register for module 11 until 1st of March 2017 (9.00 am) via TISS registration for the course, VO 280.482. Further course registration will be carried out directly at the kick-off meeting on 1st of March 2017, 11am in Augasse 2-6, 2nd floor, WD02B21

Dates of the Module 11

The main body of teaching will be delivered during three intensive teaching blocks (ITB), preceded by an organisational kick-off meeting.

Kick Off 1 March 2017, 11am

ITB 1.  6 – 10 March 2017 9am – 5pm

ITB 2.  8 – 12 May 2017 9am – 5pm

ITB 3.  19 – 23 Jun 20167 9am – 5pm