European November Conference:

Public space and the challenges of urban transformation in Europe: politics and culture

EUROPEAN NOVEMBER CONFERENCE 2010, Vienna, Austria hosted by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space and the City of Vienna Visiting Professor for Urban Culture and Public Space 2010, TU Vienna


European cities are changing rapidly in partial response to the processes of de-industrialization, European integration and economic globalization. Public spaces of these cities, as essential ingredients of the urban image and experience, are increasingly playing an important part in this transition. A key question concerns the role that public spaces are expected to play in political, economic and cultural transformation of cities, and the impact of these transformations on the nature of public space as a shared resource. How are public authorities addressing the challenges of provision and maintenance of public space both as a catalyst for change and as a common good? Public spaces are broadly defined as crossroads, where different paths and trajectories meet, sometimes overlapping and at other times colliding; they are the meeting place of politics and culture, social and individual territories, instrumental and expressive concerns. The conference investigates how 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. The questions that will be explored revolve around three sub-themes: strategies, plans and policies; multiple roles of public space; and everyday life in the city. Strategies, plans and policies: How do public authorities address a growing pressure on public spaces? What are the issues, strategies, and tactics of dealing with public spaces, and what do they aim to achieve? Who are the state and non-state actors involved in setting the conditions for public spaces? How are they organized and what are the relationships between different actors? How are policies initiated, formulated, implemented, reflected and finally, how do people perceive and react to such policies?How do design and planning professionals contribute with their projects to the changing conditions of public spaces? How can innovative practices contribute to redefine approaching public spaces? Multiple roles of public space: Public space is where public life unfolds: art works are displayed, commercial messages transmitted, political power is displayed and social norms affirmed or challenged. How do these different processes take place? How do public spaces accommodate these multiple roles? How are conflicts of interest addressed? Which new phenomena of social transformation do emerge in public spaces? How do contemporary design and planning interventions renegotiate the boundaries of public space? What is the (changing) position of arts within public space as an actor between politics and people? Everyday life and sharing the city Public space is the realm of sociability. How do public spaces address people’s everyday needs and expectations? How are the boundaries between public and private spheres set, and how does this affect people’s daily life? How are cultural differences and social inequalities addressed in public spaces? How is local everyday life knowledge taken into account by professional disciplines planning, developing and designing public spaces? Which latent social needs get visible in public spaces? How can a fair sharing of public spaces be arranged? How do designers deal with the involvement of people in the process of producing public space? How do city representatives handle the ‘voices of people’?


Reviews and Retrospectives: WTH Aachen – STARS journal vol.07/2010, p. 19-21.

Awards: Student Award Winners European November Conference 2010: During the European November Conference 2010 a committee consisting of 13 members granted student awards within 3 categories for outstanding performances.