The Performativity of Urban Space as Instrument: Culture-Led and Social Design Processes

Riccarda Cappeller | Lecturer and PhD Researcher, Institute of Urban Design and Planning, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany

Context Departing from the idea that public spaces are common places for cultural production,
political organization and social togetherness, reveals the aim of co-creating space following the
philosophical idea of democracy. Thriving for political equality (Allen 2020), a multiplicity of uses and
contrasting possibilities as well as a continuity in the transformation of existing spaces, adapting them
to the Everydaylife taking place within, questions how to deal with this complexity. It is an interrogation
towards the spatial agency, architects and urban designers as spatial facilitators or skilled understanders”
(Ward 1996, p. 17), their approaches and modes of creation for a future habitat.

Concept  “Cooperative Architecture” in this context is used as a conceptual idea in the field of
“architectural urbanism” (Wolfrum 2015), that brings together multiple topics of the urban context and
through the analysis of three selected projects (Can Batlló in Barcelona, Exrotaprint in Berlin and
Granby Four Streets in Liverpool), highlights assemblage thinking, a situated knowledge creation and
creative (co-)production as important aspects of a culture-led and social design. Derived from the latin
verb “cooperari”, it points out the active doing of architecture as an act of collaboration, Also, inherent
is the wording is “opus”, understood as a musical, artistic, literary or scientific work, labour or
composition – an abstract, conceptual, but at the same time interpretative and intuitive compilation of
knowledge. This refers to architecture as a work of art or product of labour that manages complexity
and thrives for the creation of processes, networks and happenings, rather than finished objects.

Perspectve As Moholy-Nagy argues, vision is itself a way of thinking, bringing together vision,
perception and thought (1947). It is a tool that moves between architectural, anthropological and
artistic methods and intuitively enters a process of “wild thinking” (Levi-Strauss 1968) that is able to
transport spatial experience. The idea is to apply it in the essay film, using space itself as tool to
further research, developing a language that opens up to individual imagination and interpretation,
transmitting the hidden value and cultural capacity of space and questioning new directions for the
agency of architecture / urban design.