Olalekan Jeyifous calls his partly dystopian-looking collages, which deal with urban transformation processes, visual conversations. By exaggerating existing situations, he aims to increase the visibility of those people and settlements who often go unheard in planning and fall victim to urban development. He sheds light on the intertwining of hegemonic structures, shows how architecture perpetuates the power structures of colonialist ideologies and then itself becomes ammunition in the arsenal of colonial power. These different perspectives and narrative strands are also reflected in this collage of the European city. After the systematic exploitation of its colonies, it stands here as a colonized entity itself that not only tells of these systems but also of greener futures and stories.
An Afrofuturist Vision
The work of photographer and filmmaker Jan Dirk van der Burg shows trails: narrow and unpaved paths created by being walked or ridden over again and again. They follow the organic movements of people who move through the world on foot or by bicycle. In this way, they call into question the sharply and clearly delineated spaces created on the drawing board by infrastructure and city planners. Here, trails represent resistance, small gestures of civil disobedience. They protest against this will to order and design, which blankets everything and yet makes no sense in daily life. They appear wherever the planners of the still car friendly world did not reckon with people who have a mind of their own.
About sixteen years ago, two skaters found a plot of fallow land in Hanover-Linden’s industrial area. They start to clean up and build a small skate park. In 2009, they form an association, negotiate an interim use contract with the owner together with the city council’s support, and reach a lease agreement for one euro per year, which is still valid today. In 2013, another association is created: Platzprojekt aims to create a space for initiatives, a place for self-help, for mutual support offering knowledge, tools, and craftsmanship. Research funds and state subsidies enable the establishment of long-term participation structures for young people who want to discuss their cities in self-organized spaces and actively shape them.
A City Displaced
The small town of Kiruna in Sweden, with a population of almost 18,000, is to be moved. The reason for this is a magnetite ore mine. The city could collapse if the earth is hollowed out. Plans have been developed to partly demolish and partly rebuild the houses at a location about three kilometers away. This unusual move should be completed by 2033. Many, including the city administration, see a town developed on the drawing board as a potential new beginning. However, not everyone seems happy about the plans, which are closely linked to the company’s economic development. What would happen, for example, if the global market price for magnetite ore fell and the relocation of Kiruna, which has already begun, could not be fully implemented?
Critical Mass for Freedom and Movement
Every last Friday of the month, cyclists meet in both large and small cities to take to the streets in convoy and as sheer mass. The principle of this gathering uses a rule of the road traffic regulations according to which a group of at least twelve cyclists is considered a vehicle and can, therefore, pass through a traffic light that turns red. Those who cycle in front decide where to go. The cyclists want to draw attention to the fact that even today, the car-friendly city from the last century is still a reality in many places. Thus, Critical Mass is a peaceful and solidary protest against the hegemony of motorized traffic in urban planning worldwide.
All-Around Service for Urban Mobility Needs
Whim is a concept designed to completely rethink mobility for the growing Helsinki metropolitan region. It is a result of broad-based cooperation between stakeholders from the private and public sectors, as well as universities. The idea: an all-round service for the complex mobility needs of everyone who uses the city. The plan: the development of a universal app for smartphones, designed to make the use of many different, mainly shared, or more sustainable transport offers easier, more intuitive, and cheaper. The immediate goal: to make choosing and using public transport as attractive as possible. In the long term, the target is to abolish the private car.
How Residential Areas Become Car-Free
In Barcelona, the idea of the superblock—an urban area made up of several smaller city blocks and bordered by large streets—has been reinvented in recent years. It promises solutions for cities with high emission levels caused by motorized vehicles. The reduction of traffic means that the value of public spaces increases or that a space becomes truly public for the first time, and existing uses are increased or new ones made possible. Six such superblocks have been realized in Barcelona to date. Fears that the retail trade would suffer as a result of reduced access for cars have not come true. Instead, the number of trips made on foot or by bicycle have gone up and the air quality has improved. In recent years, other cities have also begun to implement the model since its potential becomes apparent everywhere when you look at the city from the perspective of those who walk instead of drive.
In the works of Matthias Wermke and Mischa Leinkauf, everyday situations, practices, and regulations are playfully, almost incidentally, questioned. The swing, which appeared at various locations in Berlin and then moved on again, hung from street signs, scaffolding, and structural elements. It continuously appropriated small parts of the surrounding commercialized and privatized city, making them its own. For just a moment, however brief, a new (public) space came into being—where there previously was none. By occupying squares, niches, sites, and objects that normally serve other functions, it reconquered the city gently and quietly, but no less emphatically. Thus, the mobile swing can be read as a warning. Because if public space disappeared completely, will everyone who wants to swing have to bring their own swing with them?
The City as a Skate Park
Skateboarding is a performative critique of the constructed world, some say. This still relatively young sport, whose main settings were and are urban non-places, develops new understandings and other interpretations of space. This world—whether gigantic infrastructures, sidewalks, empty swimming pools, enormous house-lined streets, tunnels, or other concrete deserts of the modern age—is revealed by photographer and skater Rubén Dario Kleimeer in his images. Kleimeer unlocks multi-layered meanings of space through the navigation and appropriation of built structures. In doing so, he is not looking for answers or solutions to urban planning or social problems. Instead, he invites us to search with him, ride with him, and then think together—from unfamiliar perspectives—about what the city of the future could look like, what it could be, and how it could be navigated.
Modified Street Furniture
Artist Jeppe Hein modifies conventional park benches. As a result, sitting, along with all other activities that normally take place on park benches, is often made almost impossible. Because the altered park benches have kinked surfaces. Sometimes the seating area is missing. Some benches have such long legs that you would need a ladder to sit on them. However, others are usable or even more useful than conventional benches, for example, if they enable a conversation with eye contact. Still others invite comparisons to playground equipment. As a result, the modified forms of the ordinary park bench instigate discussions and conversations about the design of public space. Also, about for what and for whom public space is, or should be, designed.