The Symposium „Open Cities“ that took place on February 12th. and 13th. 2016 in Berlin, was part of the project: Community Now? Conflicts, Interventions, New Publics.The symposium focused on meaningful tools and processes of self-empowerment in the context of cities today. This page covers the invited speakers’ contributions, statements and questions raised during the workshops, as well as descriptions of projects presented during the event.
In recent years, openness, self-organization and participation have become key terms in the discursive paradigm of administrations, institutions and companies. However initiatives often struggle with the disparity between proclaimed openness and the actual possibilities for takiung part in decision-making processes. A renaissance of movements claiming their “right to the city” have formed in both countries, experimenting with alternative forms of political action and self-organization. In these movements citizens often share resources and campaign actively for development. In our understanding open cities are by nature inviting and comprehensible for newcomers, they cultivate negotiation and participation and are flexible enough to re-adjust to changing needs.
As designers, programmers, planners and scientists who work on meaningful tools to support processes of self-empowerment, our field is the intense middle ground between the various stakeholders. In times of a discursive omnipresence of participation we should frequently evaluate and reevaluate how our engagement can really contribute to a more democratic urban development.The current refugee migration is amplifying the struggles regarding openness and participation. This influx has created issues concerning registration, housing, education, security and health. Numerous innovative initiatives have stepped forward where administrations proved unable to cope with these urgent needs. Simultaneously, however, we are witnessing the rise of strong discourse that seeks to close borders and even suspend civil rights.
This situation urges us to rethink our role as researchers, designers or urbanists and the tools we are working with. Can fences, surveillance and deportation camps really go together with the image of openness? How robust are our tools and concepts of participation? Do we need to engage in re-designing open cities in order to stand the test of time?You can find the full documentation of the Project here: