AESOP Thematic Group on Public Spaces and Urban Cultures

REPORT on the group’s meeting in Vienna, Austria, held within the framework of “UNSETTLED – Urban routines, temporalities and contestations” International Conference in Vienna, organized by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space (SkuOR), 29-31 MARCH 2017 at TU Wien.

The working meeting of the AESOP TG Public Spaces and Urban Cultures took place during the “UNSETTLED – Urban routines, temporalities and contestations” International Conference in Vienna in March 2017. Under the theme of "Unstable Geographies - Dislocated Publics" AESOP Thematic Group for Public Spaces and Urban Cultures proposed meetings in Beirut, Lebanon (10th/11th November 16), Vienna, Austria (29/30th March 17), Ljubljana, Slovenia (25th/26th May 17), Lisbon, Portugal (July 17), Rome, Italy (fall 2017), Wageningen, The Netherlands (fall 2017/spring 2018) and Nikosia, Cyprus (spring 2018).

The conference aimed to explore conditions and conceptions of the unsettled, across urban practice and urban theory. In this context, the interdisciplinary conference speakers reported from experiences in Amsterdam, Berlin, Birmingham, Chicago, Dubai, Ghent, Hanoi, Seattle, Tel-Aviv, Texas, Thessaloniki, Toronto, Vienna, Whitechapel (London), and Zataari (Jordan) emphasizing urban culture and public space as areas for intersecting research and action. The contributions presented critical, subversive, reflexive, interventionist, activist and visionary research, ideas and practices concerning notions of the unsettled

Continuing and expanding the debates of the conference, the TG meeting in Vienna took place on the add-on day, consisting of a workshop and excursions to different sites in Vienna: 31 March 2017, 9.00 – 11.30 (Workshop); 12.00 – 15.00 (Excursions).


The workshop under the title “Our Unsettled Geographies” hosted by the AESOP TG for Public Spaces and Urban Cultures was divided into two parts.

The first part was intended to introduce the Thematic Group’s values, structure and activities to all interested parties. The opening was made by Sabine Knierbein, TU Wien, Austria and Gabriela Esposito de Vita, CNR and University Federico II Naples, Italy, giving a concise presentation on the Group’s general aims, group organisation and proceedings as well as a short description of the current umbrella topic “Unstable geographies - Dislocated Publics”. The presentation was followed by a short summary of different experiences within the Thematic Group given by Katarzyna Bartoszewicz from Gdansk University of Technology, Poland and Elina Kränzle and Tihomir Viderman from TU Wien, Austria. After the presentation the time was given for workshop participants to ask questions and exchange views and ideas on the topic of the group’s functioning and goals. The TG Public Spaces and Urban Cultures invited all interested participants of the workshop to join the structures of the group, and opened up the discussion on new modes of cooperation in the future.

The second part of the workshop was devoted to the presentation of research of the following speakers:

Marleen Buizer (Wageningen University, The Netherlands) The ‘right to challenge’ – settled or unsettled business, settling or unsettling practice;

Sahar Khoshnood (TU Darmstadt, Germany) Revisiting Historical Public Spaces as ‘Everyday’ Heritage (in the case of central Tehran);

Shahed Saleem and Sarah Milne (UCL, UK) Migrant Constructions of Identity and Belonging: Whitechapel’s German and Muslim Religious Buildings;

Anna Richter, Bernd Kniess, Dominique Peck (HafenCity University Hamburg) How to do things with research.

After the research presentations a discussion followed regarding different notions of unsettled, locally-embedded perspectives on the city, urban societies and urbanization processes, public space accommodating diverse cultural values. Participants reflected on presented research, projects and programmes as well as urban policies and practices in the light of conference‘s debates with a special focus on broadening understanding of the paradigm of the unsettled in urban cultures and public spaces.

During the debate members of the research networkTracceUrbane joined the workshop, introducing the next event to be held in Rome (December 11th-13th, 2017).

Finally the introduction was made to the AESOP Annual Congress 2017* in Lisbon and an invitation to join the formal AESOP Thematic Group Meeting to be held on Thursday 13th July 2017.


The excursions following the AESOP TG Public Spaces and Urban Cultures workshop were open to all the conference participants and offered insights into specificities and approaches in urban practices in regard to community strengthening, negotiations, transformations as well as conflicts and contestations in public spaces of the city of Vienna:

Community Cooking is a Caritas Wien project that has been running since 2015, offering a kitchen to the neighborhood surrounding the Brotfabrik Wien. Lisa Plattner & Sam Osborn

Logic of the Open Space - On Design Processes and Negotiation Practices in Public Space
, Local Urban Renewal Office GB*7/8/16 & GB*9/17/18. Barbara Jeitler & Manfred Schwaba & Amila Širbegović

Spaces of contestation in a “settled” City, INURA Vienna. Justin Kadi & Bettina Köhler & Johannes Puchleitner & Mara Verlic

Report by Katarzyna Bartoszewicz, Gdansk University of Technology, faculty of Archictecture, department of Urban Planning, Gdansk, Poland