Why cities need a universal form of heterotopia: Reading the City (of Vienna) as a Meta-Collector of transforming heterotopias

Gerhard Hatz

Veröffentlichungen: Beitrag zu KonferenzPaperPeer Reviewed


Normative notions on the urban form and spaces are based on utopias of urban society, urban life styles. Urban utopias are fluid concepts of inherent chronological contexts. Fluid concepts of urban utopias follow Foucault’s
rationale of a dispositive, which is constituted by intertwined heterogeneous discursive and non-discursive elements as institutions or architecture, referring to a fluid relation of power, knowledge and space that is continuously
negotiated. When transferred into real space, urban utopias are becoming transposed as heterotopias, “effectively enacted utopias” (Foucault, 1986, p. 24).
The paper seeks to deploy Foucault’s notions on heterotopias as a
theoretical framework for reading the observed transformation of urban spaces and places in Vienna (Austria) and the contestations and constraints of city centers in their becoming perfected symbols of urban culture and urban
society in particular.
Foucault’s notions on relational power, dispositif and heterotopias are paralleled with Lefebvre’s rationale on the city as interface of the ‘near’ and ‘far order’, shaping the ‘urban’ (Lefebvre, 1996). By seizing the notions on the fluid
relations of the social order and the material realities of the city, conversions of the urban form in Vienna unfold as emerging and dissolving urban heterotopias in a heterochronical context, transforming planning schemes from
places to non-places. When reading the city according to the notions of P. Sloterdijk (2004) as an emerging ‘Foam City’, serving as a ‘Meta-Collector’ of transforming heterotopias, the historic center of the city morphs into a
‘universal’ form of an urban heterotopia.
Following the traits formulated by the six principles of heterotopias, empirical analyses dissect technologies of power and control, increasingly exerted over residents, entrepreneurs and on the visual coherence to perform the
historic city center of Vienna as a ‘universal’ form of a heterotopia by enacting symbolic perfection. The public realm of the historic center has become the most regulated space within the entire city. Openings and closings in terms of
inclusion and exclusion are analyzed by the changing functions of the city center, the ‘social design’ of the public places, the design of emotions - and its contestations. When heterotopias are linked to accumulation of time and to
time in the mode of festivals, expanding cultural institutions just as an increasing number of events in public space are scrutinized as technologies of power. The observed transposition of Historic City Centers is contrasted by the production of hegemonic, homogenized and commodified urban space, hence re-presentations of the far order of recent urban societies that point at the relational conceptualization of heterotopias. In relation to the globalized transformation of the urban form and the urban society towards a network-society of connected isolations, historic city centers in terms of universal forms of heterotopias expose normative but virtual manifestations of urban culture
and urban society.
FOUCAULT J. & MISKOWIEC, J. (1986): Of Other Spaces. In: Diacritics, Vol. 16, No. 1, 1986, p. 22-27.
LEFEBVRE, H. (1996): Writing on Cities, Cambridge-Oxford, Blackwell Publishers.
SLOTERDIJK, P. (2004): Sphären 3: Schäume, Frankfurt/Main, Suhrkamp.
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2013
VeranstaltungUrban systems of heterotopias - Technion, I. I. T. Haifa, Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Haifa, Israel
Dauer: 31 Okt. 20121 Nov. 2013


KonferenzUrban systems of heterotopias

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