Appropriating urban space in the TechnoSociety

Cities like Vienna or Munich are currently growing in terms of population numbers and construction activities. However, there are buildings, apartments, offices and shops that are not used over a longer period of time. Different actors, such as, different departments of the city administration, house owners, neighbours, interest groups, NGOs and researchers, hold diverging positions on this issue. They develop and apply different practices and strategies for appropriating urban space within the diverging but nevertheless related dynamics of urban growth and vacancy.

In this project, I explore practices of appropriating urban space in their epistemic, technical, material, social, emotional, embodied, spatiotemporal, and economic dimensions. Appropriation in dense urban spaces always goes along with disappropriation. Thus, it includes deeply moral and political questions: How should urban space be distributed? How could living and working be organised? What are legitimate private and public demands and how should they be balanced? Against this backdrop, knowledge and knowledge practices play a crucial role. How actors make sense of urban growth and vacancy has social and material effects – it allows for certain measures and actions and blends out or restrict others. Thus, debates and practices of appropriating urban space negotiate relations between growth, decline and displacement.

Controversies around the appropriation of urban space are not a new phenomenon (think, for instance of the occupation of vacant buildings in many German and Austrian cities in the 1970s and 80s). Yet, the question arises if appropriation of space gains a specific quality under the conditions of a TechnoSociety – including the ubiquity of technological innovations and applications as well as a redistribution of expertise and agency.

Project leader(s):
Andrea Schikowitz

since 2018

Project type:
Post Doc Project