Public Space
in the Time of Shrinkage

Volume 8, No. 1
September 2003


Concepts of Publicity and Privacy
Robert Kaltenbrunner   Publicity -
in between Location, Function and Appearance
Wolfgang Kaschuba   Representation in Public Space abstract
Eduard Fhr   How Is It That Cities Can Shrink? abstract
Christine Weiske   Street and Square:
On the Political Condition of Publicities
Peter Marcuse   The Threats to Publicly Usable Space in a Time of Contraction abstract
Publicity and Urban Space in the GDR
Holger Barth   Myth Prenzlauer Berg: Publicity and Urban-renewal in the GDR abstract
Shrinkage: The Spezific Situation in the Newly-formed Lands of the Federal Republic of Germany
  From the Socialist City Towards the Shrinking City abstract
Heinz Nagler
& Ulrike Sturm
  Public Space in the GDR -
Change after the Fall of Communism
Strategies and Projects 1: Consequences for the Location
Katrin Gnther
& Marietta Tzschoppe
  Model-City Cottbus - City Centre -
The Importance of the Public Space in the Process of Redevelopment
Strategies and Projects 2: Consequences for the Planning
Oliver Kuklinski   Public Space -
Situation, Call for Action, Strategies from the Practical Point of View
Gunther Laux   Open System - The City as Process abstract
Frank Schwartze   Space without City -
Future Organisational Assignments in the Shrinking City
Strategies and Projects 3: Consequences for the Space
Andrea Haase   Interlinked Spaces abstract
Beate Prof   New Strategies of the Open Space Development in Berlin abstract
Tobias Hundt
& Lars Scharnholz
  Space Meets Density -
Restructuring of Cultural Landscapes
Gereon Sievernich   Squares abstract





Concepts of Publicity and Privacy





in between Location, Function and Appearance

In critical circles it is nowadays opportune to complain about the loss of "public space". However, the mere evidence does not prove this: same as ever, sun, air and warmth attract the people to go outside. Respective city areas are publicly consumed even with great relish. Since the city marketing gradually turns towards "event-culture", the arrangement of the public spaces furthermore gains increasing importance, too. And it seems that in many places, one wants to counterbalance this structural change, which our concept of publicity has undergone for some decades, by means of an obsessive style. In case the "public space" is really endangered, then this threat is not only due to privatisation tendencies (and omnipresent vandalism), but also due to its aesthetic functionalisation and over-instrumentation.
Nevertheless, idealistic-normative settlements of planners are not equivalent to the way, a space is used and perceived: even if it is subject to a public dedication, the perception may well be a different one for example in case of a devastated municipal park that is lacking the required means for its maintenance. And on the other hand, a rightful private space may generate intense urban feelings, as the reception of the Potsdamer Platz shows. So, obviously a demand for sensuous-aesthetic space-qualities does exist. Still, the causal connection between publicity and style does not exist.


___Wolfgang Kaschuba

Representation in Public Space

A shift in the function of publicity, from the political ambit as it had to be looked at subsequently to Habermas to the cultural ambit, has to be assumed.
Today publicity appears rather as a landscape of locations that serve the cultural representation, which thereby also develop a strong symbolic effect and thus finally again gain political significance, too. How cultural self-projection and social interaction take place as specific forms of identity-politics within this publicity, is going to be demonstrated by means of specific spaces and groups. This particularly also deals with the illustration of the ethnologic perspective that considers publicity rather in its symbolic structures and effects and that regards it as being process-like and open as "scapes" and "flows".


___Eduard Fhr

How Is It That Cities Can Shrink

Over the last years the concept of 'shrinkage" has developed to a central category for urban design and planning. In this contribution its history, connotations and denotations are critically analysed.




Street and Square:
On the Political Condition of Publicities

"The street" and "the square" are metaphors, in which the political and the architecture discourse fuse. Both recourse to communicative scenic events of the municipal publicities, which are full of prerequisites. The most important conditions are the political ambitions of the city dwellers and the scenic spaces in which they present themselves. Their gathering is understood as urbanity.

The scenic events of publicity are creations that are intentionally arranged by very varied actors. The analysis of these creations leads to the communications theory and discourse analysis.

The discussion on shrinking cities and a regressive settlement system as a whole, which is carried out by experts and city dwellers, refers to the creative power of the
public in this process. The culture of the communication of the participants influences the courses of a regressive development.


___Peter Marcuse
New York

The Threats to Publicly Usable Space
in a Time of Contraction

The problems of maintaining public space for public uses is not one that is confined to the particular case of a shrinking economy or a shrinking population. In most countries in the industrially developed world, with the United States being perhaps the most extreme example, public space is shrinking both in extent and in use. It is shrinking along with other features of the traditional democratic welfare state in a period in which technological progress has been used to further the accumulation of wealth and power at the expense of equality and civic participation in government generally. The causes are both private market forces in the economic sphere and conservative pressures pursuing a neo-liberal agenda in the political sphere. The so-called War on Terrorism has accentuated these trends. Examples are numerous, ranging from Battery Park City and the World Trade Center site and Bryant Park in Manhattan to street booms in Johannesburg to gated communities in California and Sao Paulo to the Federal Center in Berlin. Both agonistic and legal issues are involved, and clarity on the purposes public space should fulfill has hardly been reached.


Publicity and Urban Space in the GDR




Myth Prenzlauer Berg:
Publicity and Urban-renewal in the GDR

The GDR's modern age of construction was succeeded by a countermovement in the 1970ties and 1980ties, recalling the "old city". It concerns formulated in a sociological manner dialectics of modernisation and counter-modernisation, which was balanced out in a permanent negotiation process (Engler) by social groups. Among the protagonists there were of course architects and urban planners, too, who often contributed in a "consensus of elites" to the assertion of the concrete panel construction with its pros and cons in the GDR.

Apart from the large anonymous housing estates on the outskirts of the cities, where the inhabitants were often lacking spaces for urban experiences, numerous examples can be stated that give evidence of good design proficiencies. During the 1950ties and 1960ties, not only social buildings were constructed employing means of industrialisation, but also residential areas that today still show creative qualities and that certainly developed public spaces. In the 1970ties this qualitative demand decreased like in West Germany. This was due to the fact that by means of the housing scheme the state primarily allocated the task to architects, to produce as many flats as possible in no time.

A reflexive dealing with the side effects of this modernisation started with the citizen- and protest movement, which formed in the FRG in the 1970ties and in the GDR in the 1980ties. Due to the economic pressure on the ailing city centres and a political liberalisation, the participating protagonists in the GDR successfully regained room for creative action, which had been lost under the economic primacy of the 1970ties. This allowed the architects and urban planners a higher degree of individuality and subjectivity in the processes of design and construction. Those tried to use these advantages for the purpose of urban diversity. The "complex reconstruction" of the old-building quarters in Berlin's district Prenzlauer Berg became one of the scenes, where the individual struggled with the "norm-idyll" offered by the large housing estates for his or her right to exist.


Shrinkage: The specific Situation in the Newly-formed Lands of the Federal Republic of Germany




From the Socialist City Towards the Shrinking City.

The article analyses current urban development processes, which recently started to be subsumed under the term "shrinking cities". This term has currently become an expression to especially characterise the urban development in East Germany. Catchwords like financial plight, deindustrialisation, decline in population and suburbanisation reflect the actual problems. The article particularly deals with the questions: What causes shrinking cities in East Germany? What distinguishes this process from West German developments? What features are universally applicable, as "urban development without economic growth" increasingly develops a spreading reality?

The analysis is integrated into a general discourse on the modern age (not) making shrinkage processes subject of discussion on the one hand, and into historical considerations of urban regression processes on the other hand.

Finally questions are outlined from a sociologic perspective, which comprise the consequences of the newly developing disperse and disparate semi-urban structures for the understanding of space and city.
Obviously according to the thesis the historical concept of the "European city" offers problem-adequate starting points to solve the new urban problems, only in isolated case


___Heinz Nagler
& Ulrike Sturm


Public Space in the GDR -
Change after the Fall of Communism

The article deals with the question, to what changes the central public spaces of the cities have been subject to since the Fall of Communism with respect to significance and appreciation.

Besides the known, politically characterised prestige spaces, urban spaces of demand developed in the GDR during the 1970ties. These were intended to be spaces of consumption that also served a political function in the way, as they should also deal as showcases, to demonstrate the population's good supply under socialism.

After the Breaching of the Wall, the prestige spaces and the spaces of demand were dealt with in very different manners. While the prestige spaces often became subject to substantial reconstruction processes up to their complete elimination , the fragmented structure of the spaces of demand survived in many places.

Two strategies characterised the dealing with the public spaces: the new assignation, in general with commercial utilisation on the one hand, and the restructuring in the sense of urban open space arrangement of the 1990ties on the other hand. Results of the rearrangement measures and the population's reactions are discussed within the article, making use of striking examples.

Although the question for the identity of cities in the age of shrinkage leads to a regeneration and a revaluation of arrangement, a mere "aestheticisation" of public space is not sufficient. Only a new charging with meaning, which is performed as a participation movement by the population at the same time, may create common spaces that outlast the process of shrinking.


Strategies and Projects 1: Consequences for the Location


___Katrin Gnther
&  Marietta Tzschoppe


Model-City Cottbus - City Centre:
The Importance of the Public Space in the Process of Redevelopment

By way of introduction the article gives an overall view of the demarcation of the redevelopment area and the Model-City Scheme and its promotion mechanisms. By means of the balance plan it will be demonstrated, what results have been achieved after 12 years of urban renewal. On the hand, the measure concept and the redevelopment plan illustrate the still unsettled and difficult tasks of the second redevelopment phase. Subsequently, the "model-like" brainstorming procedures for the alteration of public spaces in the redevelopment area city centre is discussed in detail. These procedures are in particular:

  • dialog-oriented planning for the redesigning of the Altmarkt,

  • planning workshop "Heron-Vorplatz" and Idea Contest "Fountain",

  • workshop "Stadtpromenade",

  • urban planning idea contest "Spremberger Strasse",

  • planning workshop "Berliner Platz / Stadtpromenade".

The article is to illustrate the special planning culture of Cottbus with regard to way, public space is dealt with in the inner city.


Strategies and Projects 2: Consequences for the Planning




Public Space -
Situation, Call for Action, Strategies from the Practical Point of View

Basically the article describes the results of a research project that is to be understood as a preliminary study of the currently starting Experimental Housing and Urban Development-Research Field "Public Space". This project was carried out by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Klaus Selle, Dipl.-Ing. Ulrich Berding, Chair of Planning Theory and Urban Planning at the Aachen University of Technology and Dipl.-Ing. Oliver Kuklinski, PlanKom, Hannover.

In the scope of this research it became obvious that a varied view results from the scientists' perspective, as well as from the perspective of the interviewed communal practicians, with regard to the different public spaces and that, what takes place within them.

Assumed tendencies like the increasing emptying of public spaces, or their endangerment by privatisation, were investigated in the course of this study. Doing so, knowledge deficits and problems, but also numerous chances in and for public spaces in German cities became apparent. Finally the focus turns towards the options for action of the Federal Government and the Laender and to the current communal strategies, and thereby to the manifold potentials for the development of public spaces, too. As these represent the central field of action for urban and open space planning after all.

In the end, a short illustration of the objectives and the working method in the Experimental Housing and Urban Development-Research Field "Public Space" is given.


___Gunther Laux

Open System - The City as Process

Since the 1990ties, many cities have noticed a massive decline of constructional development. The picture of the city has changed fundamentally. Distinguishing features are inoccupation, demolition, areas of dereliction, a missing utilisation context, shrinkage and perforation.

A new city type has developed, which seems to be hardly controllable by means of the conventional planning instruments. This is due to the fact that the changing social needs cause a permanent innovative process of urban spaces at the same time. While the traditional public space is characterised by stability, the present-day demands are variability and flexibility. This necessitates new means for control by the activation of the available potential for the flexibilisation of processual developments.

The strategy for the implementation of this objective-setting is formulated as "open system" and intends the reversion of the traditional urban planning:
Instead of a formulation of buildings, a net of open spaces is being fixated according to the reverse-principle in a planning manner. The structured open space formulates the architectural fabric for the benefit of a maximum flexibility of architectonic fillings.

The open space planning thereby deals as a control element of publicity, which in its interlinked structure becomes an extendable and changeable, partial-space effective, determining ordering system.

A new model, or even a new city type? The planning model rather represents a method that reacts to social phenomena and that formulates these in a city-spatial manner. Doing this, the traditional, European cityscape is not abandoned, it rather changes and is furthermore extended by another facet.




Space without City
Future Organisational Assignments in the Shrinking City

The urban planning situation of the German-Polish border town Guben-Gubin may be interpreted as a radical exaggeration of the expected consequences of the structural crisis in the East German cities: functionless buildings, empty and cleared city centres, settlements drifting apart and a continuous retreat of inhabitants from the town. The question for the public urban space in both towns reveals a rough network of spaces without public, public locations without space and idealistically associated empty spaces, onto which the desire for public is being projected.

Making use of the Guben-Gubin example, the article investigates two questions that are paradigmatic for the question on the relevance of the public space in the East German cities.
Do the cities need a public space that can sensuously and spatially be experienced as an identity creating element for the future? Guben's four decades lasting, unfinished quest for a new centre and the articulated lack of "urban" life suggest this impression.
How are the newly arising "open" spaces of the city going to be dealt with, which will come into being due to the termination of use, clearing and so forth? A clear differentiation to the public urban space seems to be indispensable to enable the development of adequate strategies.

As a consequence of the analysis of both questions it becomes apparent that the constitution of public space is not a question of an urban planning project. Furthermore it is plead for an acceptance of the reduced demand for architectonic and urban planning action in the shrinking cities and for an open mind with respect to urban projects that do not only approach the consequences of the shrinking city from a creative and social point of view, but also in its dimension as a challenge for a new municipal policy. However, for this kind of policy there are currently only very few protagonists and there is only little awareness, too. This way the necessity for a comprehensive municipal policy concept for the shrinking East German cities becomes more and more apparent.


Strategies and Projects 3: Consequences for the Space


___Andrea Haase
Aachen / Dessau

Interlinked Spaces

The article aims at the promotion of individual and collective acquisition of private land without serious restrictions concerning land utilisation and to strengthen the structural conditions for a continuable renewal of city by means of "interlinked spaces" and to introduce a "reverse integration" of functions in local conditions thereby. Initially it introduces to the understanding of "interlinked space", then sums up the results from a historical cut through the development of East and West German spaces during essential periods of the development of the industrial city since the Middle Ages and finally shows existing social-spatial and urban economical condition of interlinked spaces in the case of the cities of Halle, Dessau und Magdeburg in relation to centres, perimeters and intermediate zones. The cut makes use of Lefebvre's theory on the "production of space" in a freely interpreted form, by sketching the space utilisation, as well as spaces of imagination and representation for the different periods in their connection or separation. Perspectives for interlinked spaces are demonstrated for the connection of built and lived spaces.


___Beate Prof

New Strategies of the Open Space Development in Berlin

In the scope of the preparation of the "Stadtentwicklungskonzept Berlin 2020" (Concept of Urban Development), which is going to demonstrate the long-term set-up conditions of urban development policy and formulate the focuses of action, measures and projects, the future open space development plays a special role. On the background of the lack of financial and human resources for the maintenance of the existing public greenery and the assumption that the amount of open spaces to be maintained by the public authority is going to increase in the coming years, altered strategies for the development and maintenance of public greenery become necessary.

Among other things, it is going to be an objective to examine the equipment standards of new gardens and to set altered priorities with respect to the maintenance of existing parks, according to the respective location and arrangement quality. Doing this, also legal requirements of the habitat connectivity, as well as the population's leisure-time demands need to be taken into account. Furthermore new institutional models shall increasingly be put to the test, which strengthen the civil engagement and the responsibility of other institutions (e.g. investors, housing associations, citizen and district initiatives).


___Tobias Hundt
& Lars Scharnholz

  Cottbus / Grorschen

Space Meets Density -
Restructuring of Cultural Landscapes

Already for a few years, urban- and landscape planning in East Germany have appeared to be a strange task. The reasons for this are directly connected to the extensive process of shrinking, which concerns all Eastern German states. While the planners in the West still find themselves largely confronted with increasing settlement growth and a related increasing area claim, the problem in the villages and cities of the newly-formed German states appears as a massive trend reversal.

In the framework of the European research project REKULA (Restructuring of Cultural Landscapes) the Internationale Bauausstellung IBA (International Exhibition of Architecture and Construction) currently investigates the dealing with emptying and area excess mainly in towns and villages of southern Brandenburg. In the scope of the REKULA subproject "Space Meets Density", planning approaches are identified by means of concrete examples in the transition zones in-between remaining settlement centres and new open spaces.

First provisional results are available and show ambitioned possibilities of the intensive and extensive after-use. To continue the started exchange of ideas and experiences in the framework of REKULA, the East German development will be investigated in the coming three years in a pan-European context. Further REKULA partners are the Veneto region with the Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche (FBSR) in Italy, as well as the municipality of Zabrze with the Silesian Technical University in Gliwice, Poland.


___Gereon Sievernich


Sometime in the 1960ties, Bernard Rudofsky wrote that he did not find one title on streets and squares within the whole Library of Congress. Meanwhile this might have changed a little, however, it is conspicuous how seldom one still addresses the "intermediate", this is to say, those places which determine the communication in a city. The enormous planning- and destruction power of the post-war architects in Germany for example, who created a "car-adjusted city" in the devastated cities, is seemingly still today of an unchangeable dominance. The forming of a square or a street just does not belong to the prime disciplines of the architects. This has not always been the case: one should call to mind the street at the Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro, arranged by Burle Marx, one should recall the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rom that was designed by Michelangelo, one should remember Siena or the "theatre streets" in Palladio's and Scamozzi's Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza. In this article, an attempt is made to approach this subject matter.


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