Magdalena Augustin

Doctoral Candidate

Doctoral Thesis

Historical Architecture and Collectivism. Self-managed Building Activities and Counterculture in Techno-Clubs of German-speaking Countries (working title)

The research project focuses on urban meeting places that combine architectural particularities, collective experiences and electronic music. Through the gaze of both art-historical and ethnographic lenses the fascination of Techno-Clubs and especially the construction process of these spaces is investigated.

Various case studies give insights to aesthetic and spatial categories of the current underground Techno Scene in German-speaking countries. The relation of architectural and decorative activists to a building and its social dimensions are the main interest of the thesis project. Therefor interviews will accompany the participating observation and the visual documentation of the places and their former history. The transformation of old buildings for the specific use of a club challenges creativity, craft skills and cooperation. It enables people to be fulfilled with physical work for a community space, where not-normative practices can be experimented and boundaries can be crossed. In this context experiences of empowerment, freedom and autonomy can arise. The theoretical background of the research refers to Antonio Gramscis theory of counterculture, as well as scientific analysis about (craft)work, alienation and otium. Methods from critical heritage studies, urban ethnography and psycho-geography are applied to grasp the connection between the specific community spaces and their associates in the Techno Scene.

In times of societal division and desolidarization the research project aims to enlighten the importance of cultural activism from below that is connected to the built environment in urban areas.  The thesis should provide a critical understanding about the role of urban countercultural and self-managed spaces and their potential to foster emancipation, identity formation and solidarity within society.