Module 11

Urban culture, public space and markets: Economy and innovation

Dialectically, the interdisciplinary team, consisting of Dr. Sabine Knierbein (Head of Interdisciplinary Centre SKuOR/European Urban Studies, Open Space Planning, Landscape Architecture), Prof. Dr. Sophie Watson (City of Vienna Visiting Professor 2011 – Senior [Know Why]/Sociology), Dipl.-Kfm. Tore Dobberstein (City of Vienna Visiting Professor 2011 – Junior [Know How]/Business studies, urban development), DI Roland Krebs, MBA (External Expert 2011/Urban planning and design, international development activities in developing countries, project development and management) and Levente Polyák, Master (External Expert 2011/ Urban studies, sociology, architecture)will provide critical urban studies perspectives on the one and apply economic sciences on the other hand.

That means, considering public spaces and urban culture as two utterly vulnerable fields of societal interaction characterizing contemporary cities. Particularly market actors and institutions often seem to be able to realize their interests more powerfully than state or civic actors do as they basically possess core resources. Topics such as privatization and its manifold expressions, commodification, economy of symbols or economy of attention play a core role in these ways of understanding public spaces. Furthermore we aim at trying to understanding why and how private individuals and companies relate to the public realm and to urban cultural aspects. Classifying public space and urban culture as “public goods”, we will learn that indirectly both fields have been subject to economic research throughout history. To reconsider these views with an urbanistic perspective could be particularly fruitful for urban planners, researchers and designers because contemporary economic research is focusing on an understanding and regulation of social interaction phenomena.

Besides strongly supporting the common critical tenor as regards the risks of market intervention in public spaces, we share a number of rather proactive questions that as well drive our enquiry: Are there long-term socially sustainable market mechanisms in public spaces? Are there vanguard urban practices that offer a more nuanced interpretation of what particular markets and their actors can contribute to ‘sustainable’ urban development? Which ones are the resources that state and civil society can pool with in processes of public space production? Which roles do local, municipal, migrant or ethnic cultures play in the formation of markets? To what extent do urban designers, researchers and planners have to deal with changing economic rationalities in the informal and intangible spheres and how are these related to the tangible aspects of space production?

Module 11 formally consists of a bundle of five different courses:

VO 280.032 Theories of public space I – Actors, institutions and spatial dimensions by  Sabine Knierbein
AG 280.033 Creative processes in urban development and urban research by Roland Krebs and Levente Polyák
VU 280.038 Urban culture and public space: Strategies and interventions of space production by Sophie Watson and Tore Dobberstein
SE 280.039 Urban culture and public space: Concepts and critiques of space production by Sophie Watson and Tore Dobberstein
AG 280.040 Urban culture and public space: Paths and tools of space production by Tore Dobberstein and Sophie Watson

(For further information please go to the course related sub-sites)