As we shape our cities, they shape us in return. Cities are not just conglomerations of buildings but living social networks, vibrating with life and dynamics. Pursuing the highest possible living quality within our urban environments is a task for which we all are responsible, but in order to achieve this, social flows need to be guided and communities connected. That’s where architecture comes in. Three speakers at our city 2.0 event in September gave insights into their architectural approaches.
City 2.0 in wonderland: Daniela Patti and Levente Polyak
Architecture has become much more than designing pretty buildings, it’s about the context in which buildings should be integrated, spaces should be used and about how to connect these to their environments, not only from an aesthetic perspective but also from a socially functional one. Patti and Polyak are board members of Wonderland Platform for European Architecture and have experienced such recent shifts in the profession of an architect: Therein the role of an architect is now not only being the designer of a building anymore, but also the conceiver of processes, the mediator between a wide range of stakeholders and the initiator of local collaborations. Within their project spaces, Patti and Polyak are doing exactly that by not designing but communicating first. They start off with communication campaigns where they gather professionals, stakeholders and citizens and bring them together to create a platform and to exchange ideas about how the space should be used and improved. It’s only after that, they’ll start to experiment with the space and the ideas for it. When experimenting, failures are unavoidable, but that’s part of the whole process or even a further motivation to try out new things and make improvements. Should it all work out, you’d think it’s done. But it isn’t. The role of a designer is far more than creating a product and then leaving it behind. What else is needed? I’ll let them explain to you:
Cities of access: Stefan Gruber
Stefan Gruber, principal of STUDIOGRUBER and professor at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, once as a child noticed a strange phenomenon at home: the dining room was being used only occasionally for Sunday suppers while its size was even larger than his bedroom. Unused, inefficiently allocated resources. Like in many other areas today as well, Gruber points out: For every car in the US, there are eight parking spots, taking up space which is 12 times more than the minimal green space per capita recommended by WHO. Additionally, every car is parked 23 hours per day, completely idle. Considering our huge energy consumption, it isn’t a very clever way to allocate resources, is it? It’s a symptom of our materialistic time. It seems that egoistic ownership trumps common interests. The costs for it are not only a huge waste of energy but also less incentive for building up and strengthening local communities. That’s what Stefan Gruber is aiming to counteract through architectural design in a broader way. Unused buildings and empty spaces shall be reclaimed as venues and platforms for social activities, architecture shall be designed to foster the local social spirits, to blend them together and to encourage the use of shared resources. In addition through such processes and platforms he wants to challenge the basic idea of ownership versus common interests. How exactly and what successful projects he already initiated you can watch here:
If you enjoyed our City 2.0 talks, you should consider attending our main annual conference TEDxVienna 2013 UNLIMITED on November 2nd in Volkstheater Vienna. 16 international speakers, the live performance of the Viennese Vegetable Orchestra and a lot of other interactive experiences are going to challenge your perception of limits. Speakers like Dr. Auma Obama, Carl Djerassi, Michael Stevens aka Vsauce and Elif Bilgin are only some of the personalities rocking our stage. Make sure to book your seat now as tickets are selling out rapidly! Looking forward to meeting you there!