280.A77 Right to the City and Spatial Planning Focus: Urban Cultures
This course is in all assigned curricula part of the STEOP.
This course is in at least 1 assigned curriculum part of the STEOP.

2023W, VU, 2.0h, 3.0EC, to be held in blocked form


  • Semester hours: 2.0
  • Credits: 3.0
  • Type: VU Lecture and Exercise
  • Format: Hybrid

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of the course, students are able to

  • identify and differentiate urban cultural phenomena
  • critically examine urban space and how it accommodates culture
  • reflect on a set of theories and concepts related to urban culture, as well as lived space and intersectionality
  • assess the role and relevance of cultural activities in the city 
  • understand the relations between urban culture and urban planning
  • identify research problems, frame research questions and conduct field research

Subject of course

Urban space not only consists of the built environment and the social structures of a given urban society. It is also an inherently cultural space: everyday culture as well as artistic practices shape cities just as street grids or urban development plans do. However, not all cultural practices are equally prestigious in public perception. Resources and capital are unequally distributed and not everyone who lives in the city has the same access to spaces of culture, or is actively involvement in cultural practices, and related spaces. Different mechanisms of marginalization are at play and create asymmetrical power relations when it comes to accessing or participating in cultural spaces and processes of urban cultural production.

In this seminar we will take a closer look at allegedly small and negligible elements of urban space that are still too often overlooked by planners. Those are, for example, cultural venues, cultural spaces, grassroots cultural activities or the people involved in alternative culture and unpaid sociocultural work. Beyond the technical world of planning, we’ll explore urban culture in all its layers, including historical as well as practical perspectives from the field of urban culture. Thus, we’ll trace the interrelations of planning and culture as well as its effects on city and society. 

We will look for the niches and gaps that allow us to appropriate and shape spaces according to our individual and collective wishes, that allow for joyful or unexpected encounters, that allow us to perceive the city and ourselves differently to what we are used to. This will help us understand the role urban cultural life plays in right to the city movements and discourses. 

Thematic blocks:  

  1. Role and relevance of culture in the city 
  2. Role and relevance of urban culture in planning 
  3. Urban Culture and Right to the City 

Research sites:

Arena Wien, 1030: 

Arena is primarily known as an alternative music venue today, but it has a long and complex history in terms of of urban planning, architecture, industrial production, social and cultural initiatives as well as political activism. Both the site itself as well as the wider area offer many insights into how the politics of urban planning have changed direction multiple times over decades, creating a peculiar and rather sobering picture of how ‘the periphery’ is treated in planning. Arena also gives us insight into the relation of urban space and self-organized cultural activities, the history of social movements and the appropriation of space. Together with people involved in Arena past and present, we’ll discuss the changing conditions of grassroots cultural production in Vienna.

Zukunftshof (ehem. Haschahof), 1100:

In the center of an ongoing urban development target area the Zukunftshof is a melting pot of projects and initiatives of all kinds, including social and cultural actors. Also a space for musical events and club culture is located there and attracts people from different areas of the city. With a long history both architecturally and politically the Zukunftshof tells stories of Viennas urban development strategies and governance practices. And it also provides insights to a newly remodeled space that is run collectively and should serve as an ideal playground for a certain cultural practice.  

Tüwi (Türkenwirt), 1180: 

Being an interesting conglomerat of alternative cultural activism and university building the Tüwi has a long-standing history related to self-organization, its struggle for existence and spatial changes. After the demolition of the old Tüwi Building and moving in the new space many conditions changed. Different architecture, aesthetics and regulations challenge the organizational and creative possibilities. Visiting the place and following up the last years with the insights of involved persons should allow insights to difficulties and dependencies of a self-organized space in Vienna. 

We will also meet experts on theory and policies related to the topic of the course to complete the picture.  

Teaching methods

  • Introduction to concepts on urban culture(s) and right to the city
  • Joint debate along the readings and inputs
  • Independent review of texts and presentation of key points and concepts (group or individual work)
  • Joint explorations in urban space with a focus on urban cultures and right to the city
  • Independent field exploration
  • Guideline on writing final paper 

Mode of examination


Additional information

The Kick-Off of the Elective Module 5: Society, Everyday Life and Space will take place on October 3, 2023, 10:00 - 12:00 am together with course instructors.

We invite all students to participate:

Tuesday, 3.10.2023 | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm | Room BA 02B




Course dates

Fri10:00 - 13:0013.10.2023Seminarraum 384 Unit 1
Fri10:00 - 14:0020.10.2023 tbaUnit 2: Excursion
Fri10:00 - 13:0010.11.2023Seminarraum 363 Unit 3
Fri10:00 - 14:0024.11.2023 tbaUnit 4: Excursion
Fri10:00 - 14:0015.12.2023 TüWiUnit 5: Excursion
Fri10:00 - 13:0012.01.2024Seminarraum EBEG-2 - RPL Unit 6
Fri10:00 - 13:0019.01.2024Seminarraum EBU1-2 - RPL Unit 7
Course is held blocked

Examination modalities

  • Active participation in live debates
  • Preparation of readings and presentations
  • Joint field visits
  • Independent field exploration
  • Final paper: reflection on the role and relevance of urban culture in planning and right to the city discourses, incl. references to personal experience

Course registration

Begin End Deregistration end
15.09.2023 09:00 30.09.2023 09:00 08.10.2023 09:00


Study CodeObligationSemesterPrecon.Info
066 440 Spatial Planning Not specified
066 440 Spatial Planning Not specified


No lecture notes are available.

Previous knowledge


Bridge/Watson (2011): Reflections on Publics and Cultures, in: dies. (Hg.): The New Blackwell Companion to the City, Chichester (u.a.): Wiley-Blackwell, S. 379-389 

Fischer-Lichte, Erika (2015): Performativity and Space, in: Wolfrum, Sophie / Brandis, Nikolai Frhr. v. (Hg.): Performative urbanism. Generating and designing urban space, Berlin: Jovis, S. 31–38 


Hall (1997): Introduction, in: Representation. Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, London: Sage, S. 1-11

Landau-Donnelly, Friederike (2022): (Un)Settling Urban Cultural Politics, in: Frank, Sybille / Knierbein, Sabine / Kränzle, Elina / Roskamm, Nikolai / Vidermann, Tihomir (Hg.): Unsettled Urban Space. Routines, Temporalities and Contestations, New York: Routledge, S. 224–235

Knierbein/Tornaghi (2015): Relational public space. New challenges for architecture and planning education, in: dies. (Hg.): Public Space and Relational Perspectives. New Challenges for Architecture and Planning, Oxon/New York: Routledge (= Routledge Research in Planning and Urban Design 5) 

Millington, Gareth (2015): The right to the city (If You Want It): Marshall Berman and urban culture, in: Journal of Urban Cultural Studies 2: 1+2, pp. 177–185

Suitner, Johannes (2015): Imagineering Cultural Vienna. On the Semiotic Regulation of Vienna’s Culture-led Urban Transformation, Bielefeld: Transcript


  • Attendance Required!