UNSETTLED – Urban routines, temporalities and contestations

International Conference, 29 – 31 March 2017, Vienna, Austria

Host Institution: Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space, Department of Spatial PlanningFaculty of Architecture and Planning, TU Wien, Karlsgasse 13/2, 1040 Wien

Conference Venue: TU Wien Sky Lounge, 11th Floor, Getreidemarkt 9, 1060 Wien

Conference Programme 29 – 30 March 2017

Book of Abstracts

The Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space at the Faculty of Architecture and Planning, TU Wien, invites participation in the conference Unsettled: urban routines, temporalities and contestations. The conference aims to explore conditions and conceptions of the unsettled. Urban life is characterized by diverse manifestations of instability which continuously stretch or redefine the social order and community infrastructures of cities: everyday struggles related to the capitalist system of production, revolutions in political life and political system overthrows, quests for dominance and their oppositions in political, social, economic, ecological or cultural domains. These unsettling practices simultaneously challenge and nourish a variety of idea(l)s of the city as an inclusive place of liberation, cooperation, equal opportunities and shared (better) futures. The goal of the conference is thus to (1) understand the uncertainties, disturbances, inconsistencies, residuals and blind fields which constitute the urban both as lived space and the political idea(l), and (2) foster an inquiry into the socio-political potentialities of unsettling and re-settling urban routines, temporalities and contestations.

The conference explores different notions of unsettled, and thus invites contributions reflecting one or more of the following aspects:

  • unsettled as a condition or pre-requisite for urban change, where established political practices are challenged by (voices aiming at) incremental or more radical change;
  • unsettled in the sense of the uneven making of public space through contrasting relations of power across daily routines and transformative urban strategies;
  • unsettled as a state of mind which results from practices of unsettling which affect individuals and groups in both constructive and destructive ways;
  • the acceptance of unsettled as a description of urban realities which are socially produced in and of material space – such as where people are displaced from their homes through warfare or economic and urban restructuring;
  • and finally, of unsettled as a paradox, where the city is understood as both a place of settlement of buildings and populations while also a site of unsettlement through trajectories of constant change.

We look forward to original contributions that examine these dimensions considering the past, present or future of the city, urban societies and urbanization processes. During the conference we will discuss such urban realities in the context of unsettled places, conditions, structures, actors, collectives, populations, routines, realms and situations of the city.

Embedded in the City of Vienna Visiting Professorship Programme at TU Wien, the conference works across urban practice and urban theory. In this context, the conference will emphasize urban culture and public space as areas for intersecting research and action which explores notions of the unsettled in contemporary cities. We invite interdisciplinary public from universities, research institutes, offices, public authorities, activists, consultancies, and others to present critical, subversive, reflexive, interventionist, activist and visionary research, ideas and practices concerning notions of the unsettled.

Keynote Speakers

Prof. Dr. Mustafa Dikec, Professor of Urban Studies, Ecole d’Urbanisme de Paris and LATTS, France
Keynote Speech Mustafa Dikec: audio record

Prof. Dr. Sophie Watson, Professor of Sociology, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, Open University, UK
Keynote Speech Sophie Watson: audio record

Opening Words

Rector of TU Wien, Prof. Dr. Sabine Seidler: audio record

Dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Planning, Prof. DI Rudolf Scheuvens: audio record

Head of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sabine Knierbein: audio record


The conference is organized into three themes:


Session Chairs: Sybille Frank and Tihomir Viderman

This theme puts urban routines centre stage for their intertwinement with both (settled) urban social order and (unsettling) revolutionary or subversive moments. Urban routines are constituted, conceived of, celebrated, contested, dismissed and curbed with regard to an infinite range of their respective material occurrences: from the ordinariness of everyday life, such as kids skateboarding in front of town halls, to grand historical events, such as disruptions of political celebrations by civil opponents. They are sets of doings, sayings, tasks and projects through which individuals, collectives and institutions tacitly or purposefully engage in the unsettled urban conditions. Urban routines also emerge as thought-through and consciously produced (institutional) practices. We may think of routines of how a city is governed and administered, how economies are organized and performed, or how performative acts shape public places. Urban routines could also be considered in respect of involved practices of arts producers, strategies and tactics of political activists or means of how the city is imagined, conceptualized and planned by professionals. All of these routinized practices may be unsettled. If unsettled, routines become reflexive. Acknowledging that routines are commonly established under reoccurring and reliable (thus settled) conditions, but can also be an adequate answer to continuous unsettlement (e.g. as routines of war or financial crisis), we invite contributions that investigate how urban routines are being unsettled, reintroduced or invented anew in conditions of unsettled.


Session Chairs: Sabine Knierbein and Ed Wall

The second theme will focus on relations between notions of unsettled and urban temporalities. In the contexts of constant construction and cyclical rhythms of redevelopment and everyday life in contemporary cities – accelerated, disruptive and faltering on one side, and stabilizing, routinizing and socialising on the other, we aim to explore narratives, conceptions and visions of what urban temporalities entail. Urban design, which aims to realise new plans, frequently dismantles historic forms and displaces activities. Ambitions to complete architectural spaces can be understood to restrict the necessary temporal conditions of public spaces as sites of contested discourse and action. In contrast, practices of unsettling can also open up moments for innovative ideas, spaces and ways of life to emerge. They can be employed to question existing power structures and nostalgic claims of urban order, territorial divisions and political hierarchies. Unsettling can provide the foundation of migrant narratives, departures, journeys and shared trajectories entwined with hopes for more stable futures. Yet unsettling through the use of the politics of time can be a tool for disruption, displacement and dispossession. We welcome contributions, which highlight the critical concerns for what is lost or gained through practices of unsettling that work with different, sometimes colliding, versions of speed, velocity, acceleration, break, pause, periodization and time in general.


Session Chairs: Elina Kränzle and Nikolai Roskamm

The city is a place of conflict and contestation, and as such, it constantly enters into conflictual and ambiguous – or unsettled –  relations with its institutional form. It is in the city, that unsettled publics have continued to contest power relations and hegemonic rule demanding economic, social and environmental equality, across various political spectres and scales. In the context of the economic crisis, urban movements called for their right to the city, against the imposition of the state’s austerity policies. City governments and citizens alike contest the rise of nationalist and racist sentiments that have come to the surface in recent national elections. In cities around the world, urban dwellers and citizens contest the on-going mega-development of increasingly segregated urban neighbourhoods in their struggle against displacement. Contestation, by definition political, emerges out of changing urban realities and opens the field of the possible. It may help to overcome latent crises and challenges hierarchies, centres of power, and static forms of bureaucratization. Looking at cities as the contact points for social and political transformations, the theme discusses the role of conflict in cities, and the continued negotiating and (un)settling of social order. In this third session we aim to stress forms of critical and reflexive contestation. Both, theoretical approaches (for instance, concepts of antagonism, agonism, violence, conflict, spontaneity) and reports from contested urban realities are welcome.

ADD-ON-Day Programme, 31 March 2017

For the third day of the conference we have invited colleagues at universities, as well as institutional and non-institutional actors in Vienna and beyond to organize workshops and excursions. In various sites in the city of Vienna these workshops and excursions will create a space of exchange on design, research or performative strategies and programmes as well as urban policy in connection with broader theoretical and practical debates concerning the unsettled. The organisers of the Add-On-Day workshops, excursions and workshop-excursions offered on 31 March (“Add-On-Day”) are in charge of the contents and organization of the workshops. The team of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space, along with the Scientific Committee of the Conference, support the organisers by taking care of the registration modalities for these workshops.

Participants of the conference are invited to register for either 1) a workshop (W1-3) in the morning and an excursion (E1-3) in the afternoon, or 2) for one workshop and excursion combined (WE1, WE2). The events are designed for 10-25 participants and might be rearranged according to the number of participants. Find more information on workshops and excursions here:


The Association of European Schools of Planning’s Thematic Group Public Spaces and Urban CulturesFuture LAB Öffentlicher Raum as well TRACCE Urbano, Urban Research Network and INURA Vienna will organize events as part of the Add-On Day. Furthermore the Endowed Professorship for Research in Visionary Cities, the local urban renewal offices GB*3/11 & GB*2/20 and GB*7/8/16 & GB*9/17/18, as well as the Caritas Project Community Cooking will offer insights into their work in workshops and excursions.

Scientific Committee

Sybille Frank – Prof. Dr. for Urban Sociology and the Sociology of Space, TU Darmstadt, Germany, City of Vienna Visiting Professor 2016, TU Wien

Sabine Knierbein – Assoc. Prof. Dr., TU Wien; Head of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space, TU Wien

Elina Kränzle – Univ. Ass. MSc BSc, TU Wien

Nikolai Roskamm – Prof. Dr. phil. habil. for Planning Theory, Urban Design History and Sustainable Urbanism, FH Erfurt, Germany, City of Vienna Visiting Professor 2015, TU Wien

Tihomir Viderman – Univ. Ass. Dipl-Ing MSc, TU Wien

Ed Wall – Academic Leader Landscape, MUP, University of Greenwich, UK; City of Vienna Visiting Professor 2017, TU Wien


Doctoral Seminar “Doing Urban Studies”

The participants of the Doctoral Seminar “Doing Urban Studies” engaged in the documentation of the various speakers’ contributions throughout keynote speeches and the three thematic sessions on urban routines, temporalities and contestations. read more

Exercise “Mapping a Conference”

A group of bachelor and master students involved in the course “Unsettled. Mapping a conference” produced two short movies, which have been displayed in the course of the Evening Reception at AzW. These are available via the following links:

Day 1 Short Movie

Day 2 Short Movie

Sponsoring and Partners

City of Vienna (Visiting Professorship Programme), Vice Rectorate for Research and Innovation, TU Wien; Faculty for Architecture and Planning, TU Wien; Department of Spatial Planning, TU Wien; Architekturzentrum Wien Az W.