Right to the city - Assembly

Christina Schraml

As Grande Finale of the Social Design theory course on The Right to the City the Social Design Studio hosted a public assembly at Nordbahn Halle in January 2018 to initiate a platform of exchange between international activists and critical thinkers, who claim and actively exercise a right to the city.

“The right to the city is not merely a right of access to what already exists, but a right to change it.” (David Harvey).

In the Social Design theory course “The Right to the City: What right? Whose right? What city? And how to exercise it collectively?” we reflected on our common right to access, reclaim, use, shape and (re-)make the city and our urban surroundings. Key figures and positions in the right to the city and urban commons debates, ranging from Henri Lefebvre to contemporary voices and activists, were introduced and collectively discussed. The input was complemented by international guests, movies and a reality-check in Vienna’s history, i.e. an on-site visit to Vienna’s Planquadrat Park.

As a Grande Finale of the course we initiated a public Right to the City | Assembly #1, which was attended by international activists and critical thinkers, who claim a right to the city on a collective basis. The initiatives varied in regard to their major motifs, from a demand for affordable housing, access to resources and public space, up to a cry for social inclusion of oppressed or marginalized groups, who are deprived of basic legal rights.

What are the potentials and challenges of citizen-collectives to take control of the conditions of their own existence by means of artistic, social and political action? What conditions does it need for a group of citizens, who are discontented with life as they see it around them, to get active rather than wait for the local administration to solve issues in the city? For an entire day we exchanged experiences and discussed the methods developed and applied to trigger actions and interventions, respectively to trigger a change of mind-sets in a bottom-up manner. We shared the potentials and challenges of various movements, which have already had or are about to have a long-term effect, and which are motivated by a critical or rebellious view on societal power structures, capitalism and established politics.

Participants of Assembly #1: Daniel Aschwanden, China Endangered Culture Protectors, Design Harvest: Urban-Rural Interaction, Destructive Creation collective (Sofia), Habitat, Barbara Holub, Nik Hummer, Jane’s Walk, Adrian Judt, Kaiserwise für Alle!, Hameed Khasawnih, Raphael Kiczka, Bettina Köhler, Sylvi Kretschmar, Precious Plastic Vienna, Terra e Partecipazione, The Chipko Movement, Florian Schmeiser, Treibstoff, Wikihouse

January 2018
Sarah Borinato
Qing Deng
Eylem Ertürk
David Grüner
Deniz Guvensoy
Silvan Hagenbrock
Magdalena Hubauer
Poojitha Lal
Pavel Naydenov
Shirin Omran
Ivan Pantelić
Gerald Reyes
Bernd Rohrauer
Neshat Roshanzamir
Bana Sa`adeh
Katharina Spanlang
Carina Stella
Gabriela Reyes
Raphael Volkmer
Lukas Weithas
Zuzanna Zajac
Anne Zühlke
supported by Brigitte Felderer and Christina Schraml