Haydn, Florian and Robert Temel, Eds.: Temporary Urban Spaces: Concepts for the Use of City Spaces.
Temporary Urban Spaces: Concepts for the Use of City Spaces.
Berlin: Birkhauser, 2006.
Henri Lefebvre argued that for ideas to have meaning they must have space. Although referring mainly of the written word, his claim certainly applies to expressing individual freedom and collective political action outside of the permanent venues we build. Time matters. Events--temporary though they may be--not only identify places but also imprint our minds as to how we can and should act and plan.
The authors in this book want planners to play a role in creating such "temporary spaces," which are shown as central to cultural expression, not merely coincidental. They mainly see the city as a dynamic set of capitalist spaces rather than being static spaces: The capitalist economy spatially sustains a class system, and many planned spaces in the European city are joint public-private ventures that have become privileged space. Temporary urbanism is positioned as a spatial means to reveal and to counter the class interests of capitalism and its contradictions to meet public needs. Events in temporary spaces can offer a challenge to dominant political outcomes: Rebellions and demonstrations come to mind, but there are festivals and parades that enable citizens to experience political alternatives.
In their essay, Rudolf Kohoutek and Christa Kamleithner note how German cities have long outgrown their classical sites, and that citizens need urban spaces for popular events, play areas for children, club activities, and other occasions. Peter Arlt distinguishes between long-term, strategic planning for urban space and tactical planning for interim uses of space. He argues that Berlin's squatter housing is a demonstrable example of temporary space meeting people's needs. The interim user and the guerrilla have much in common because the guerrilla: "... is the classical tactician. He draws his strength from his surroundings because he does not take the side of state power, he fights it." In this case, meaning is temporary because the guerrilla's ability to exert power over space cannot be timeless.
Florian Haydn explores these contradictions, identifying the mono-functional, static spaces that the capitalist economy creates to sustain the city as a product. Then the potential for open space to be places for political action, leisure, or other purposes is explored. Temporary spaces provide an experimental opportunity for an urban platform for democratic action and human expression. Haydn encourages planners to look beyond the city's fixed boundaries so that citizens can participate in the creation of temporary spaces, rather than being automatons in fixed spaces that planners negotiate with private development.
Mirko Pogoreutz claims that temporary uses are limited in time of their own accord whereas outside planning sanctions interim uses of space to fulfill other goals. He argues that temporary uses cannot be planned, and one must conclude that these spaces are politically freer than interim uses, which are easily appropriated uses that sustain the political economy.
The remainder of the book is less theoretical and more experiential. Elke Krasny, Andreas Spiegl with Christian Teckert, Ursula Hofbauer with Friedemann Derschmidt, and Barbara Holub with Paul Rajakovics provide brief stories and commentaries as to how temporary spaces play an important role in our cities. They tell about: 1) witnessing a street performance; 2) recounting being in a place temporarily; 3) setting up breakfast in a square with passersby encouraged to partake; and 4) planners serving the role of "wish consultants" to provide space for events that citizens want. The remainder of this book is a series of short commentaries with visual documentation to illustrate the creation and use of temporary urban spaces.
Temporary Urban Spaces is a revealing book to help us reconsider how we can see and use our city space to encourage democracy. Although primarily about the German condition, editors Haydn and Temel have provided all planners a text to reflect upon how we can re-conceive the potential urban space, temporary as it may be.
James M. Mayo
University of Kansas
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|Author:||Mayo, James M.|
|Publication:||Canadian Journal of Urban Research|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2007|
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