DESIGNING PLACES OF EMANCIPATION? // 2014

emancipation // participation // collaborative planning // urban periphery // activism // cultural practices // communication

WWTF summer school organized by SkuOR, an Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space at TU Vienna, exploring the possibilities and limitations of participatory action research as an empowering catalyst for the constitution of city publics. We worked in five teams, each engaged in one of five learning fields revolving around participatory processes, cultural and emancipatory practices and everyday life, relations between material, mental and lived space. In the course of the workshops we were encouraged to overcome our preconceptions and biases towards urban peripheries by exploring the outskirts of Vienna, Floridsdorf and the former Gasworks Leopoldau.

Two seemingly opposite processes were at play at the site of the Gasworks: the city-led cooperative housing planning strategy and the emancipatory practices of a group Viennese activists aiming to empower local dwellers and promote cultural agendas. Our team was supported by Anton Lederer of and met with active groups in Floridsdorf, such as Wilde Rauke, CIT Collective, spacelab, and representatives of GB*21. We engaged with issues of collective production of public space, local everyday cultural practices, social innovation, solidarity and fair resource distribution. We deconstructed the case based on the parties involved and the connections and modes of communication between them. In fieldwork, we identified certain gaps and misconceptions between institutions, activists and citizens, and organized our findings in a collage of quotes and images for the final public discussions.

Photos by Esra Balik