WTZ research cooperation Austria-Argentinia

Challenges for the politics of public space in Buenos Aires and Vienna: Cultural practices and social innovation. Movements, dynamics and mechanisms.
of cooperation
Binational project between Vienna Technical University in Austria and the Centro de Estudios Urbanos y Regionales CEUR-CONICET in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Research (BMWF, Austria) and the Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación productiva (MINCYT, Argentina).
Basis Urban politics in Vienna and Buenos Aires are currently driven by new challenges, such as fundamental changes in cultural diversity caused by very different migrations. In particular, public spaces appear as new objects on the political agenda in both capitals. However, and this is the central hypothesis of this project, in Vienna and Buenos Aires we are dealing with a qualitatively new generation of the politics of public space – initiated in the last decade in various cities in Latin America and Europe – in comparison to political programs and interventions dealing with public space.
Approach The binational project team understands these public spaces as an analytical point of entry to empirically explore the risks, but also in particular the potential of this new cultural diversity for urban development across disciplines. In this context, we use the normative concept of social innovation. By this we mean all those changes in urban social action that improve or attempt to improve the quality of life in a socially inclusive and socially equitable manner. Social innovation is not intrinsic to products but rather is intrinsic to processes, so the spatial-theoretical analyses with relational concepts of space offer themselves as ideal for the methodological reflection on and theoretical interpretation of the results of empirical case studies.
Epistemological interest
To what extent do urban politics in Buenos Aires and Vienna recognize, promote, and use public space as a strategic spatial sphere to foster social innovation potential in the cities? To operationalize this central research question, which will be worked on binationally in a highly organized work program within a two-year project, we will empirically explore which cultural practices are currently gaining momentum in public space, and to what extent they spur social innovation or harbor the potential to do so. As part of the analysis of contemporary urban development measures that cut across political alliances, we ask how these socio-cultural changes are materially expressed through shifts in urban design? Vice versa, in addition to an interest in insight, our research project is shaped its potential application in terms of a policy, planning and design guidance: in dialogue with the relevant stakeholders, we aim to disseminate the results of our circular research process in urban society, such as in the form of an interactive, dynamic guide.
Period 06/2011-05/2013