AG Paths and tools of space production

Urban culture and public space – Paths and tools of space production

AG 280.040 by Tore Dobberstein and Sophie Watson

TISS: Link.

Virtual seminar room: Link.


General information

The workshop format course (AG) “Urban culture and public space – paths and tools of space production” takes place in the course of module 11 “Urban culture, public spaces and markets: Economy and Innovation” which is offered during three three-to-four-days block events by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space (SKuOR) in Vienna and Budapest. The Budapest workshop will take place between 08th and 13th of May 2011. Financial support for travel and accomodation expenses (partly) will be granted by Vienna UT.

Master students (late Bachelor or early PhD), international students as well as students working interdisciplinarily are warmly welcome. This course is held in English language, therefore english language skills are required, readings will be groupwise in English and partly German. Participants of this course are highly recommended to take part in the other courses of module 11, namely 280.032, 280.033, 280.038, 280.039. Please register for module 11 via TISS registration (registration at VU 280.038) until 9th of March 2011 (2 pm) and send a short 1A4 page statement of motivation to Single-course registration directly at the Kick off Meeting on 8th of March (starting 4 pm) or personally at SKuOR office after 7th of March.

– Kick off Meeting: 8th of March 2011, 4-6 pm, Sem 268/1, Karlsgasse 13/1.
– 1st Intensive Teaching Block: 21st to 24th of March 2011
– 2nd Intensive Teaching Block: 09th to 13th of May 2011 (excursion to Budapest)
– 3rd Intensive Teaching Block: 27th to 30th of June 2011
– Final presentation: 30th of June 2011


Subject of the course

In recent years, Vienna and Budapest have been hubs for urban interventions in public spaces. The general public reacts usually positive and recognizes the relevance for the local urban culture. Also planners discover interventions as planning tools with the potential to stimulate or escort participation and the change of development paths. Due to the difficult to classify urban interventions a broad variety of projects with different intentions and strategies is subject to the course, ranging from temporary and artistic to regular and more commercial interventions.

The aim of the workshop is to examine practical challenges of activities in public spaces. One focus addresses tasks like financing and insuring the projects. Another focus refers to the question, how the interventions address (and/or include) different groups of the population. This reflects on gender issues as well as on the inclusion of minorities and different age groups. Practically these issues have a great impact on the projects and may define how they are perceived by citizens, and by experts.


Aim of course

The course gives students a practical “know-how” understanding of different economic activities in public spaces. Exemplary interventions are studied and debated to understand different financing strategies and strategies of communication to target groups in urban projects. This includes the analysis of the tangible as well as non-tangible in- and outputs of urban interventions.

Important questions are:
– What kind of social, economical, political or other goals could be accomplished?
– What are the main issues when acting in public spaces?
– What effect do funding schemes have on interventions?
– Is there a pre-selection of target groups? If yes, what are the intentions and impacts of such pre-selections? What are the city’s funding policies regarding urban interventions?


Skills to be provided during the course

Students will develop a profound awareness regarding interventions in public spaces and gain practical knowledge on different projects and typical challenges of (inter)acting in public spaces. The group work allows participants to exercise their research, analysis, and presentation skills. Important tasks such as documenting projects in urban space will be addressed.



20%: active participation throughout the whole course of the workshop
research existing/finalized project cases and informal presentation (show and tell) it in the course

80%: final presentation
a documentation of an intervention, based on an existing or fictional intervention project. The format of the documentation may be defined by the students – film, interview, presentation, website, model, brochure… etc. The documentation will be presented and should address the crucial subjects of the workshop (target groups, finances) and the theoretical inputs on “Urban culture, public space and markets: Economy and Innovation” from both learning field critical urban studies (Sophie Watson) and exploratory planning (Tore Dobberstein).

The evaluation is based on the quality of the following aspects

– the descriptive and narrative quality of the documentation
— is the idea of the documented intervention comprehensible and constructive?
— does it address and summarize the core issues that were debated in the exercise?

– the aesthetics and the technical quality of the documentation
— does the documentation follow a consequent communication concept?
— is it easy to read/understand/watch?

– the presentation skills of course participants



Klanten, Robert (Hg.) (2010): Urban interventions. Personal projects in public places. Berlin: Gestalten.

Hahn, Annegret (2004): Hotel Neustadt. Berlin: Alexander.