"Make a big gift to politics so they have to love us"

By Gernot Stangl

This is an abstract of the second part of the event that was held in the park. The panel discussion was hosted by Andreas Ruby.

Discussion panel

The common element of all the aforementioned activities is the celebration of the city. To celebrate something also implies a certain fear that you might lose it. So this determines our relationship to European cities.
Europe has a stagnation of urban growth, as opposed to Asia and the Third World, where new urban spaces are steadily emerging as virgin territories.
So the transformation of the European city lies in its redefinition.

Two approaches can drive this redefinition: a top-down strategy like a governmental initiative or the bottom-up approach that comes as a grass-roots movement. The latter is a sign of sustainable urban culture whereas the first may well result in an (undesired) 'bilbao effect'.

In real life both approaches interact and this relationship is a crucial point.

Andreas Ruby

The panel members agree that the Architektursommer Darmstadt is a good model and a direction one should take. It was possible to get cooperation in terms of sponsorship from private organizations but also from the government. The strategy was to to make a big gift to politics so they had to love the event and take initiative in the future. On the other hand a lot of people had to be activated to make this gift possible. For the first time many citizens heard about the quality of the architecture in Darmstadt.

The benefit is that this drives sustainable urban culture - even if politics may claim responsibility afterwards and say „we did it“.

A successful event like this also acts as a benchmark. hands-on experience is very useful as a reference point and opens the eyes of the participants. In the future public pressure may arise faster in order to push forward new projects.

We must not forget that if we focus on one single city we laeve out the - perhaps more important nowadays - focusing on networks of cities or regions.
So this is an antagonism and there may be a friction between the very local activities concerning the city and the more global activities that are necessary to enhance a regional network.

When it comes to fundraising experiences with policy makers show that projects can be regional but funding is only local.

So for example 'Projekt_A' was funded by the state of Austria and the country but not by the city of Graz. Graz does not see itself as a region.

We can only agree that local networking today is a phenomenon that causes unexpected side effects: old women from Graz get their hair done in Romania.
British buy houses in Slovenia because flying is so cheap.

A new term for this would be 'polycentric region'.

We see a shifting of centres today that also applies to Trieste, where the proximity to slovenia is becoming more important again.

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