In Touch with Debate. Physicalizing Negotiation of Contested Urban Open Space

?, 2016
Area Civic Urban Development Housing Real estate Berlin Social Justice, Conflict Medium Information Visualization Physical Installation Type Research Student

In recent years urban open space has increasingly been under threat of being developed: One example is Gezi Park, one of the last remaining green spaces in central Istanbul, which is subject to redevelopment plans since 2013. Other well-known cases are the park that had to make way for the railway project Stuttgart 21, Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City or Tempelhofer Feld in Berlin. Cases like these repeatedly become a flashpoint for debates on private development, on the value of urban green space, on housing deficit ? to name a few causes. The research project ?In Touch with Debate? intends to trace such an urban controversy as it unfolds. It aims at capturing the complexity of today?s urban transformation process and at making it graspable.

Mauerpark (or ?Berlin Wall Park?), an eight-hectare public park located on a part of the so-called ?death strip? along the former Berlin Wall, served as a case study. In the early 1990s this piece of land has been transformed from a no-man?s land into a meeting and recreational space popular with locals and tourists alike. In 2012, plans emerged to build a residential complex with more than 700 apartments at the northern edge of the park. This proposal sparked a vigorous debate, which also surfaced on the internet. This research project intends to map this controversy and explore how the issue has been negotiated on the internet during the years 2013 through 2015.

Within the scope of this project the controversy data is transformed into physical three-dimensional network structures. Physical data visualization serves as an analytical tool as well as a communication aid to observe, study, grasp and communicate such a complex negotiation process involving diverse stakeholders. For the implementation of this approach a modular connector system was developed.



  • Schirner, Anne Köln International School of Design (KISD)