The expanded field of critical spatial practice


6 October 12



International conference
TU Berlin, Institute for Architecture, Straße des 17. Juni 152, A151
October 6, 2012, 11 am – 7 pm

Makeshift is a term usually associated with a politically expedient or resourceful solution – temporary or permanent – for something missing. Here the term is also split to emphasize the two components that are key to our central theme of self-generated, informal planning agendas: namely the DIY aspects of making, and the paradigm shifts that can result from this. Makeshift also presupposes a condition of scarcity; of shrinking resources. Situated within the expanded field in question are appropriations and transformations of urban space that encompass planning, civic engagement, artistic practice and activism.

In short, a re-imagination of the city space and its potentialities.

It is against this conceptual backdrop that leading experts reflect upon Berlin's current status and situate it within the international context. Berlin's interstitial spaces, empty real estate and odd lots are no longer abundant; waiting for temporary appropriation. These are contested spaces. A growing political lobby now aims to change the Berlin government's current practice of selling publicly owned land to the highest bidder – allowing space for initiatives with less capital, but with a stronger social agenda. Berlin's initiatives and community-driven transformations of urban space already decorate the leaflets that define the city's USP for investors and its burgeoning tourist industry.

But how can they hold their own?

How can urban initiatives developed from the ground up with minimal financing and precarious legal status become anchored within the city's longer-term urban plan?
How can the players and stakeholders involved avoid being side-stepped in the face of the clear profit-driven agendas in future bids for prime real estate?
Can the human value generated by this form of spatial agency and social entrepreneurship: process-based, participatory, often deviating from planning norms – be grasped in monetary, socio-economic terms as a legitimate and increasingly vital component of urban development?
Francesca Ferguson, Urban Drift Projects

Berlin has a long history of formal planning learning from alternative critical practice. The 1984 building exhibition IBA-Alt was a direct reaction to the squatting practices protesting against top-down urban renewal. Cautious Urban Renewal as formulated in the 12 Guidelines to Urban Renewal (1982/1983) by Hardt-Waltherr Hämer and their continuation through the advisory board of City Forum Berlin (Stadtforum Berlin) shaped to a large extend the city's spatial, social and economic reality.

Today, in times of retaining public financing and state budget deficits, urban economy has become the key factor for urban development decision making. Yet, it seems we have learned little from our own history. The extent to which Berlin's urban economy and social integration is and will be shaped by urban pioneering and civil society engagement has to be reevaluated. The IBA 2020 could be the ideal framework within which to redefine urban economy and empower such critical spatial practice.
Prof. Jörg Stollmann, TU Berlin

Conference Participants include: Prof. Jeremy Till, Co-Author of Spatial Agency / Liza Fior, partner, muf architecture/art / Prof. Wouter Vanstiphout, Crimson Architectural Historians / Atelier d'architecture autogérée / Eva de Klerk / Andreas Krüger, Modulor Projekt GmbH / Prinzessinnengärten / Tempelhof Projekt / Dr. Michael LaFond, id22 / Dr. Fran Tonkiss, LSE / Respondents: Roemer van Toorn / Markus Bader, raumlabor / Jesko Fezer / Elke Krasny / Matthew Griffin / Dr. Rainer Hehl.

Conference program
Begin: October 6, 2012,11 am

11 am, Reception
Gabriele Horn (Director KW Institute for Contemporary Art)
Prof. Jörg Stollmann (Chair for Urban Design + Architecture)
Introduction by Francesca Ferguson (Urban Drift Projects)

11.30 am – 1.30 pm, Panel 1
Spatial Agency – mediation, activation, intervention
On ‚spatialising a process of negotiation through the construction of space' – Atelier d'architecture autogérée. Why engage in the lengthy, often under-financed and complex process of negotiation that is the key to spatial agency? Looking at the shifting of the role of designer, architect and urban planner. How are spatial strategies – often self-generated, temporary, informally devised – regarded and do they offer sustainable alternatives to accepted urban planning processes?

Introduction by Francesca Ferguson

- Prof. Jeremy Till, co-author of ‚Spatial Agency', new Dean of Central St Martin's College of Design, London
- Liza Fior, partner, muf architecture/art: on ‚brief disobedience', mediating and renegotiating urban development commissions, and participatory urban design practice.

- Prof. Wouter Vanstiphout, Crimson Architects – Professor of Design and Politics and the TU Delft, and co-founder of Crimson Architectural Historians, Rotterdam: on the politics of spatial design strategies & spatial agency.

Discussion with invited respondents and guests.

1.30 pm – 2.30 pm, Lunch Break

2.30 pm – 4.30 pm, Panel 2
Urban Open Source
How to engage: case studies, and design processes for participation; collective design approaches, design incubators. How are urban design strategies that involve local residents and members of the public effectively managed? Are they sustainable, and can they be part of the profit-driven agendas of property development? What value is place upon spatial practice as social entrepreneurship?

Introduction by Francesca Ferguson

- Doina Petrescu, Constantin Petcou, Atelier d'architecture autogeréee: on the award-winning participatory program, Colombes, Paris. Winner of the Zumtobel Award 2012
- Marco Clausen, co-founder of Prinzessinnengärten: on participatory design processes, organic collective responsibility and ‚creating a sustainable logic of participation' within a precarious legal construct.
- Eva de Klerk, NSDM
- Andreas Krüger, Modulor Projekt GmbH
- Ines-Ulrike Rudolph, Tempelhof Projekt GmbH: on sustainably managing the urban pioneers, Tempelhofer Feld, Berlin

Discussion with invited respondents and guests.

4.30 – 4.45 pm, Coffee break

4.45 pm – 7 pm, Panel 3
On financing new models of spatial engagement and collective urban design.
On alternative urban economies, resourceful design approaches and disruptive business models.  Do bottom-up and collectively generated urban initiatives constitute valuable alternatives to top down planning, or are these forms of micro-initiative a kind of ersatz economy that fuels the neo-liberal agenda in which the state increasingly cedes involvement in the social and public dimensions of architecture and design. How can such alternative economic models be embedded in built architecture and planning?
It is time for the profession to move towards a model built on an evidence base - qualitative and quantitative; a practice focused not just on building but on creating conditions of use which make buildings everyday value-generating assets in the use economy as opposed to the transactional economy. 
- Inderpaul Johar, 00:/ Architects.

Introduction by Prof. Jörg Stollmann

- Prof. Jörg Stollmann, chair for urban design and architecture TU Berlin, founder of urban on productive public spaces, urban places of learning (Die Akademie einer neuen Gropiusstadt) and micro business models for urban design
- Dr. Fran Tonkiss, Director of the Cities Programme at the London School of Economics: on forms of ‚social capital', urban economies and governance.
- Andreas Wirz, Dipl. Architekt ETH: Architecture remixed.. Alternative development models for publicly owned land, new concepts for socially, and economically mixed housing, adaptive re-use.
- Dr. Michael LaFond, id22 and Experiment City: on sustainable urban models, alternative urban economies – in Berlin and internationally.

Final round table with participants, respondents and guests.

Ends c. 7 pm, Admission free

The conference Make_Shift: The expanded field of critical spatial practice is generously supported by the IBA 2020 and takes place in cooperation with TU Berlin, Department for Architecture, Professor Jörg Stollmann.

The conference is the culmination of a series of trans-disciplinary workshops curated by Francesca Ferguson, Urban Drift in cooperation with KW Institute for Contemporary Art on Freiraumgestaltung – literally 'free space design'. Freiraumgestaltung is supported by: Hauptstadtkulturfonds, Stimuleringsfonds voor Architektuur – The Netherlands Architecture Fund, British Council, Institut français and the Embassy of Portugal / Instituto Camões.