Hacking Urban Furniture // Auftakt-Konferenz im ZK/U

März 18, 2017

07.04. – 08.04.2017

ZK/U Berlin Moabit


Bei der Konferenz gibt es einen workshop von mir, hier die offizielle Ankündigung für die ganze Veranstaltung:
Bushaltestellen, City-Toiletten, Bänke, Mülleimer, Infoboards… Stadtmöblierung in Kombination mit Außenwerbung bestimmt seit ca. 30 Jahren die Grammatik unserer Städte. Das Projekt “Hacking Urban Furniture” will dieses den öffentlichen Raum unserer Städte bestimmende Geschäftsfeld untersuchen: Wie können so prominente öffentliche Objekte in Zeiten von Private Public Partnerships (PPP), bürgerlichen Begehren nach mehr Teilhabe, neuen Produktionstechniken und ökonomischen Optimierungsfantasien anders gestaltet, produziert, gepflegt und ökonomisch nachhaltig betrieben werden? Wie können Beteiligungsprozesse aussehen, die prototypisch für den Umgang mit öffentlichen Raum sind?


Corporate urban furniture, space, and money. A sketch for an artistic research project

Februar 25, 2017

In lieu with the Hacking Urban Furniture Project, I will hold a workshop at the upcoming symposion XXX 7./8. of April at ZK/U.

Image: sia


The basic idea of the project is a Marx-inspired exploration of the economic logic of corporate urban furniture with a focus on exploring it’s spatial patterns. It’s not about a rigid application of the Marxian technical apparatus, but, as a start, about embracing his critical perspective on economic patterns. The first step in Marx‘ critique of political economy was a sorrow historical analysis of how economic surplus is generated: in order to be able to critique economic inequality one has first to understand the regime of capital accumulation that produces the inequality. The first volume of his Das Kapital[1] is a minute analysis of contemporary modes of the generation of economic surplus with a particular focus on Great Britain and the so-called Manchester-capitalism, as well as of then current theories of economic surplus such as e.g. Riccardo’s and Smith‘. Only after this empirico-historical analysis Marx sets out for his own theoretical description of capitalist accumulation and economic surplus in the subsequent volumes of the Capital, posthumously published (and edited) by Friedrich Engels. […]

Corporate urban furniture, space, and money

November 12, 2016

Artistic research for the project Hacking Urban Furniture at ZK/U, Berlin-Moabit
WALL advertising display on Straße des 17. Juni, Berlin, image: sia

WALL advertising display on Straße des 17. Juni, Berlin, image: sia

The basic idea is a Marx-inspired socio-economic analysis of spatial patterns of corporate urban furniture; albeit in a more empirico-practical or artistic research way. The idea is to try to break down the financial figures of corporate urban furniture to the single instances of the street furniture typology in Berlin. This could be pursued either through a systematic top-down theoretical approach or by something like a ‚financial biography‘ of single urban furniture pieces in a bottom-up fashion. The aim of the research is to think about a way – theoretically and artistically – to attach appropriate ‚price-tags‘ on the masses of corporate street furniture colonizing urban space. I’ll think along the lines of Keller Easterling’s Extrastatecraft1 approach: corporate street furniture as infrastructure in the sense of an agency involved in designing urban space. How does corporate street furniture program urban space, and who is programming?

The proposed method is to research and map the financial revenue of an urban furniture corporation onto their system of urban furniture in order to make visible their way of comodifying public urban space. The furniture is seen as a system of furniture-objects – as opposed to as a single object – in order to find a way to map their financial numbers in a differentiated manner: what are the elements and features of urban furniture systems that a corporation wants to put out in the city because they generate money, and what are the ones that it has to put out there as recompensation for the right to commodifiy parts of the public urban space? Or seen the other way around: How many dog stations do we get in exchange for giving a share of our attention to a mega advertising screen televising it’s message into public space, and do we want dog stations?

For this objective the project has two main tasks to address: (1) a plausible mapping of the corporation’s income and expenses onto their system of urban furniture, preferably type-wise and instance-wise. The main work here is the research into the buisness numbers and the price structure of ads placed via the corporation’s urban furniture system. Where hard numbers cannot be obtained, which is to be suspected given the secretive nature of buisness relations, the project can work with assumptions as it’s focus is on the system, not on the correctness of it’s quantitative evaluation. The second task is to (2) to come up with a model of the impact of urban furniture – seen still from the system’s perspective – on public space. The work here consists in building a metric to measure the spatial impact of ads vis-à-vis the additional functions they add to public space. The idea here is to employ a space syntax-inspired topological analysis of the distribution of the elements of the corporation’s urban furniture system within the city.

  1. Keller Easterling, Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space (London/New York: Verso, 2014). []

Visual rhetorics of the smart city

Oktober 19, 2015


The concept of ‚making the city smart‘ is propelled ceaslessly in the media, and sometimes even heralded as the ultimate salvation of virtually all urban problems. Under the framework of the CyberParks projekt (COST action TU1306) Catarina Patrício Leitao PhD is joining me at the faculty of architectural theory at TU-Berlin to conduct a short term scientific mission (STSM). During her stay she will research the implications Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have on the procuction und appropriation of urban public spaces, and particularly one emblematic concept: the smart city. Even though  the concept has gotten quasi-omnipresent lately, it is charged with varied and often also conflicting connotations and it all to often remains unclear what it means in concreto. Catarina intends to lay first theoretical traces by way of accessing the penomenon by way of it’s visual rhetorics that manifest in the output of different actors involced in smart city discourses.

Her report on the visit can be found here: http://cyberparks-project.eu/stsm/visual-rhetoric-smart-cities-between-theoretical-approach-and-artistic-practice

Urban grassroot projects — Flussbad Berlin

August 3, 2015

© Flussbad Berlin / realities:united

© Flussbad Berlin / realities:united

This course is conceived as examination of the Flussbad project in Berlin. For details of the project see: http://www.flussbad-berlin.de/en/

We will analyse the context of the project in theoretical and historical perspective, split up into research task groups, collect empirical data, and produce collective micro contributions for the project. Besides and in addition to our academic perspective on the project, we have the opportunity to get to know the team behind the project and participate in the actual planning process.

The original announcement of the summerschool can be found here: https://www.tu-berlin.de/menue/summer_university/summer_schools/grass_roots_urban_design_projects_flussbad_berlin/parameter/en/

Cyberparks: workshop Barcelona

Dezember 2, 2014


End of November the Cyberparks research group held it’s third meeting at the Department de Geografia at Universitat Autonoma in Barcelona. It was a fruitfull meeting, the organizers managed very well to combine a dense schedule with a tentative exploration of the city. The app with which we intend to research the influence of digital media on urban spaces has made big leaps forward, we were already able to use it for the exploration of two case study areas in Barcelona.

The conceptual reflection-group in which I work has further refined it’s research objectives and it’s collaboration with the other working groups. The analysis of  the relation of digital media and material space through the conceptual trias space (urban parks) — society (network society) — technology (digital media) is still our center of attention, but the focus at the Barcelona meeting was more on the issue of how to install a sort of interface between the conceptual reflection the work in the other working groups. This is naturally a time consuming issue in a research group that diverse, but it’s also a sine qua non. So, with the working groups better geared together we are looking forward to the next meeting in Bristol, UK.


Cyberparks: workshop Lisboa

Juli 1, 2014

whiteboard skribble
I am part of working group 3 ‚conceptual analysis‘ of the european research network Cyberparks. The research project investigates the influence and the entanglement of the proliferation of information and communications technology (ICT) and public spaces, chaired by Carlos Smaniotto Costa from Portugal.
My working group, led by Michiel de Lange, is concerned with the construction and provision of a fluid, common terminology within the project. Not as some prescriptive ‚guardians of language‘, but as curious philosophic therapists in the sense of the later Wittgenstein, we try to compile the central concepts that develop in the course of the project, aiming at a fluid, constructive understanding between the different participants and disciplins involved. Metaphorically speaking, we are translating between differnt parties in order to understand a third party, a party that has not yet formulated its scientific apparatus. […]

Briquettherstellung aus Paranussschalen in Amazonien

Februar 10, 2014

gefördert durch:

Forschungsprojekt mit Workshop, mit Sabine Schulz Blank und Wolfgang Ramisch, Projektwebsite (english/portugês) hier. Der Workshop fand am 27. und 28. November in einer Halle der Exportadora Florenzano statt. Die Exportadora Florenzano ist eine Fabrik, in der die im Dschungel gesammelten Paranüsse verarbeitet werden. Die Firma ist Teil des Forschungsnetzwerks NoPa Puxirum.

Paranüsse wachsen im amazonischen Regenwald. Sie werden ausschließlich wild gesammelt, da die Bäume nur in ihren Ökosystemen (castanhals) im Regenwald wachsen. Deshalb ist es schwer, sie für Plantagen zu kultivieren. Das Energy and Nuclear Research Institute in São Paolo hat in einer Analyse gezeigt, dass ungefähr eine Paranuss zu ungefähr 35% aus Lignin besteht; betrachtet man nur die Außenschale, kommt man sogar auf einen Wert von etwa 60%1. Der durchschnittliche Anteil von Lignin Holz liegt dagegen bei nur 18-30%2. Lignin ist der Stoff, der pflanzlichem Material Festigkeit verleiht hält. Unter Druck wird er plastisch, solange der Druck anhält. Dies ist die Grundlage der Briquetteproduktion: Man presst organisches Material zusammen, komprimiert es so und bringt es gleichzeitig in eine geeignete Form. Da Paranüsse einen extrem hohen Anteil an Lignin haben, und nur extrativistisch produziert werden, könnten sie ein idealer Kandidat für eine nachhaltige Briquetteproduktion sein.

  1. del Mastro, Nelida Lucia, Patricia Yoko Inamura, Felipe Henrique Kraide, Maria J. A. Aguirre, Marcos A. Scapin, and Esperidiana A.B. Moura (2011): Characterization of Brazil Nut Shell Fiber. Symposium Biological Materials Science. TMS Annual Meeting & Exhibition []
  2. Pettersen Roger C. 1984. ‘The Chemical Composition of Wood’. In The Chemistry of Solid Wood, 207:57–126. Advances in Chemistry. American Chemical Society []

k67_Urban Router

August 2, 2012


The k67_Urban Router is a project initiated in collaboration with ParaArtFormations (Miodrag Kuc). It is a mobile plattform for urban investigations and actions, based on an upgraded Yugo kiosk from the 70ies. The k67 has its own WLAN-Intranet which is open, i.e. publicly accessible on the site. […]