KNIERBEIN, S. and VIDERMAN, T (2018): Public Space Unbound: Urban Emancipation and the Post-Political Condition.New York/London, Routledge.

Through an exploration of emancipation in capitalist urbanization, this book argues the political is enacted through the everyday practices of publics producing space. This suggests democracy is a spatial practice co-constituted by residents, places and practices rather than an abstract professional field organizing people and movements.

Public Space Unbound brings together a cross-disciplinary group of scholars to examine spaces, conditions and processes in which emancipatory practices impact the everyday life of citizens. We ask: How do emancipatory mo(ve)ments relate with public space under ‘post-political conditions’? In a time when democracy, solidarity and utopia are in crisis, is it still productive to claim future progress by urban revolution, or shall we rather look at small emancipatory mo(ve)ments that characterize present everyday life? More information.


HOU, J. and KNIERBEIN, S. (2017): City Unsilenced: Urban resistance and public space in the age of shrinking democracy. New York/London, Routledge.

What do the recent urban resistance tactics around the world have in common? What are the roles of public space in these movements? What are the implications of urban resistance for the remaking of public space in the “age of shrinking democracy”? To what extent do these resistances move from anti- to alter-politics?

City Unsilenced brings together a cross-disciplinary group of scholars and scholar-activists to examine the spaces, conditions and processes in which neoliberal practices have profoundly impacted the everyday social, economic, and political life of citizens and communities around the globe. They examine the commonalities and specificities of urban resistance movements that respond to those impacts. They focus on how such movements make use of and transform the meanings and capacity of public space. They investigate their ramifications in the continued practices of renewing democracies. A broad collection of cases is presented and analyzed, including Movimento Passe Livre (Brazil), Google Bus Blockades San Francisco (USA), the Platform for Mortgage Affected People (PAH) (Spain), the Piqueteros Movement (Argentina), Umbrella Movement (Hong Kong), post-Occupy Gezi Park (Turkey), Sunflower Movement (Taiwan), Occupy Oakland (USA), Syntagma Square (Greece), 1DMX (Mexico), Miyashita Park Tokyo (Japan), 15-M Movement (Spain), and Train of Hope Vienna (Austria).

By better understanding the processes and implications of the recent urban resistances, City Unsilenced contributes to the ongoing debates concerning the role and significance of public space in the practice of lived democracy and lived space. More information.

cover public space and relational perspectives  

TORNAGHI Chiara, KNIERBEIN Sabine (2015) Public Space and Relational Perspectives. New Challenges for Architecture and Planning. New York/London, Routledge.

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 book presents conceptual, practical and research challenges and brings together findings from activists, practitioners and theorists. The editors provide 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. More information.

Cover image: KARO* architekten

Book Review by Christine Mady, in Urban Studies Journal.

Press Release  by TU Wien


MADANIPOUR Ali, KNIERBEIN Sabine and DEGROS Aglaee (2014) Public Space and the Challenges of Urban Transformation in Europe. New York/London, Routledge. English. 232 pages.

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 13 case studies from across Europe, written by active scholars in the area of public space and organized in three parts

  • strategies, plans and policies
  • multiple roles of public space
  • and everyday life in the city.

More information.

Book Review by Pedro Gomes, in Urban Research & Practice.

Book Review by Erik Meinharter, in Derive – Zeitschrift für Stadtforschung.

Book Review by Joaquín Villanueva, in Urban Geography.


HOU Jeffrey, Editor. (2013) Transcultural Cities. Border-Crossing and Placemaking. New York, Routledge. English. 336 pages. ISBN: 978-0415631426

Transcultural Cities uses a framework of transcultural placemaking, cross-disciplinary inquiry and transnational focus to examine a collection of case studies around the world, presented by a multidisciplinary group of scholars and activists in architecture, urban planning, urban studies, art, environmental psychology, geography, political science, and social work. The book addresses the intercultural exchanges as well as the cultural trans-formation that takes place in urban spaces. In doing so, it views cultures not in isolation from each other in today’s diverse urban environments, but as mutually influenced, constituted and transformed. More information.


KNIERBEIN Sabine und MEGYERI, Matthias (2011) Private Public. London: Lost Books. English/German. Limited Edition. 104 pages with 20 images added, ISBN: 978-3-9814930-0-9, also available in French (ISBN 978-2-910036-68-3). Lost Books.

Privatisation of public space – two perspectives on one phenomenon published by Lost Books

What are the mechanics of private sponsorship in public space? Can there be art at the border between private and public? The publisher Lost Books shed light on this topic in a new format with two intriguing perspectives, one scientific with a text by critically acclaimed urbanist Sabine Knierbein (Vienna) and one artistic with a photo series by internationally recognised artist Matthias Megyeri (Stuttgart/London).

As our attention span is measured and commodified, and as private sponsorship becomes the most visible cultural influence in our cities, we have to ask ourselves: just how public is our public space? How is it possible that a handful of companies define the cityscapes throughout Europe driven by the rules of commerce? When will it be outspoken that our attention is being commercially fought for, not only through home media, which we can switch off, but also in public space, where we can’t escape it anymore.

A purely scientific view on this urban development is given in this meticulously researched essay by Sabine Knierbein, which builds up on her PHD thesis about the production of central public spaces in the age of attention economy. Matthias Megyeri’s work puts the phenomenon into an artistic context with his photographic series “Public-Private – Private-Public”, which shows public installations where the artist manages to create an intriguing tension between private and public. The combination of both, Knierbein and Megyeri’s contributions offers enriching insights on how equally powerful science and art both can deal with current affairs. The publication is beautifully produced in a limited edition with outstanding details like a very tactile embossed cover and glued in original photographic prints. More information.

Private Public
Sabine Knierbein | Matthias Megyeri

Co-published by: CEAAC, France
Pages: 104 with 20 added images
Format: 155 mm x 210 mm
Binding: Layflat with embossed cover
Limited Edition: 350
Price: EUR 36,-

Language: English/ German
ISBN: 978-3-9814930-0-9
Available through

  BRIDGE Gary and WATSON Sophie (2011) The New Blackwell Companion to the City. Blackwell and Whiley. ISBN: 978-1-4051-8981-1. Hardcover. 784 pages. Wiley-Blackwell. Malden. More information.
  MADANIPOUR Ali (2010) Whose public space? International Case Studies in Urban Design and Development. ISBN: 978-0-415-55386-5. Paperback. 274 pages. Routledge. London. More information.

KNIERBEIN Sabine, RIEGER-JANDL Andrea and BANERJEE Ian (2010) Information. Communication. Attention! Exploratory urban research beyond city branding. Foreword by Georg Franck. IVA Verlag. Vienna.

Changing relationships among information, communication, and attention produce new urban phenomena. With this book, various authors contribute to an investigation of these phenomena in an explorative way by means of places and processes. These indicate a wide range of controversial interactions between institutions and actors who occupy anew various niches in this area of tension. Topics touch on the effects of city branding strategies and the role of various actors such as urban curators, media strategists, and branding experts. As such, it is about these actors, interests, and  characteristics of the discursive as well as the material design of contemporary cites, that play very different roles in the urban competition for attention. More information.