The public sphere can be defined as the realm where strangers imagine and discuss the shape and character a society could assume. The thesis is concerned with the role of imagination in the emergence of public spheres and whether territory can be a productive framework for processes of imagination to this end.
While in the past decades (see Habermas 1991 [1962]; Sennett 2017 [1977]; Flusser 2008 [1990]; Craig Calhoun 2012) the public sphere and its various manifestations have been discussed concerning spatial, medial and political environments, the relation to design was predominantly focussed on formal and programmatic aspects of public space. The hypothesis put forward in this work is that apart from form and program, processes of imagination are a crucial ingredient to the emergence of public spheres. Moreover, that design processes can serve as blueprint for this ingredient.
The author has conceives and tests such processes in experimental workshops with societal actors. The workshops are based on two principles. Firstly, they focus on the creative process, based on the elements of play (Huizinga 1952) as instead of on purely rational discussion. The core characteristics of play are always present: the workshops are spatially and temporally limited, they follow strict rules and employ devices such as ‘boards’. In the tested workshop formats, boards take the form of maps or models. Secondly, territory (Corboz 2001) is the primary category of these formats. All formats are anchored in questions of spatial development, i.e. the naturalisation of rivers, newly constructed railway lines, development of village centres or the transformation of neighbourhoods.
Back to Top