Tag Archives: layers

some quotes

I. The city as story

_ ”Memory is redundant: it repeats signs so that the city can begin to exist ” (Calvino 1972)

_ When moving through a city we are surrounded by places which have stories to tell. (…) The city is in a constant state of transformation, of change, and its places and buildings reveal to us what it used to be and what it is about to become.

_ Wim Wenders describes how the identity of a place is primarily a feeling of belonging produced out of each person`s memories. The places “talk” to us when they manage to create a connection to our experiences and memories.

_ How can a place tell a story?

IV.The architect as reteller

_  Everyone who uses a space, changes its story a bit, every new building changes the story about the city a little. The city and its stories can never be completed, it is always retold and it keeps on changing with the narrators, the users, and with ongoing processes and forces outside its realm. The dynamic state of the city is a challenge for those who take on the task to tell the new stories about it. Thus, the role of the narrator is not necessarily to tell a finished story about a place, but to create conditions for the people who live in the city to develop new uses, leave new traces and signs and take part in telling the future stories of the city


some quotes

I. Reading the city

_ “there is no one narrative of a city, but many narratives construct cities in different ways highlighting some aspects and not others” (Bridge/Watson 2000). How we imagine the city will thus depend to a large extent on what our interest in the city is and what we want to know about it (King 2007).

_ the city as a collection of stories.

II. Maps and mapping

_ “Despite the common knowledge that the city is socially heterogeneous and an uneven space that is difficult to represent, it is often neutralized and reduced to a map” (Çinar/Bender 2007)

_ The map, and also the aerial photography, gives a description of the world as seen from above, and thus offers important knowledge about the dimensions, build-up and relationship between the city’s physical elements, such as streets, squares, parks, buildings etc. However, it does not capture the atmosphere of a place, and does not record the numerous stories which lie within the physical, tangible reality it describes.

III. Cognitive mapping and dérive

_ cognitive mapping

_ Dérives involve playful-constructive behaviour and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll.” (Debord 1958). Through recording his aimless, dream-like walking through the streets of Paris, Debord made a series of “psycho-geographical” maps reflecting subjective perceptions of the everyday condition of the urban fabric. The resulting map was hence a cognitive one, rather than a mimetic description of the city (Corner 1999). The situationists, through this preference for a cognitive approach rather than a positivistic one, were making an attempt to return the map to the everyday (Corner 1996).


some quotes

_ Berlin is a city where such a fragmentation can be clearly read. Not only through the inner-city emptiness, but also because of the many crashes of different realities which can be observed all over the city.

_ the city is pieced together of fragments from several historical layers.

_ After the fall of the Wall, large inner city areas lay empty, and a heated public debate arose on possible future developments and strategies; hence how the future stories of the city could be told.

_ Oswalt continues to claim that what is missing can never be replaced by something which simulates history, and that these buildings do therefore not create the desired homogeneous image. Rather, they add yet another dimension to the conglomerate city.

”Die Simulation können das Fehlende nicht ersetzen, sondern nur  auf das Vermisste verweisen. So wird in Berlin die Heterogenität der Stadt, die eigentlich kaschiert werden soll, um eine weitere Dimension bereichert” (Oswalt)

_ new projects have “failed to project an image that Berliners could recognise” (Bisky 2006).

_ Berlin is a conglomeration of parallel worlds.

_ urban development projects initiated by the planning authorities in Berlin after the reunification do not correspond with people’s perception of the realities of the city (…) “crashes of realities”

_ Temporary use has even turned out to be “an important component of urban planning in Berlin” (Overmeyer 2007).

_ A void so filled with history and memories would lie as a reminder, telling the story of the city with its emptiness.

_ Thus, in an empty space it was easier for him to recall his memories and reconstruct the former platz in his imagination (Casu and Steingut 2006). Wenders continues with comparing the function of empty and open spaces in a city to reading between the lines in a text: “…the empty spaces in the cities work like that as well. They encourage us to fill them up with ourselves” (ibid). Perhaps this points out the most crucial quality of empty space, that it is a space of opportunities, of future stories. Thus, these places trigger our imagination; encourage us to add our own stories to the city. Because where nothing exists, everything is possible.

„Wo nichts ist, ist alles vorstellbar.” Phillip Oswalt