Developer, show yourself in 3D
February 25, 2015
Sea City for Public Activity – Community Planning Workshop
May 29, 2015
Show all

StructView at Rediscovering the City | Katowice | Poland


On March 20, we participated in the first Polish conference on the role of new technologies in the process of creating and studying the city.

Speakers’ appearances were not divided into topic panels. Organized by Medialab Katowice, the conference purposefully directed the attention on the genesis of root grass processes of shaping the urban space – as witnessed now in modern cities. The discussion was thickened by throwing in surnames of Lefebvre and Harvey and adding the notions of hegemony and the right to the city (the fact that the building of Theology Faculty has been chosen as the location was itself thought-provoking).

The questions of “why?” and “what for?” were showing up in between consequent case studies aiming to show “how”. Technology is not everything – and in words of Adam Greenfield – “don’t fetishize the data.”

The questions of “why?” and “what for?” were showing up in between consequent case studies aiming to show “how”. Technology is not everything – and in words of Adam Greenfield – “don’t fetishize the data.”

Up-to-date technologies open the doors to the smart city, of which the embodiment is a vital element of the neoliberal discourse. Projects such as Masdar city (Adam Greenfield’s first slide) nowadays are for the humanity what a philharmonics building is for a small city borough, in the sense that – as Artur Celinski put it – it devours the whole budget for culture in the name of simply showing off rather than focusing on real cultural needs of the citizens. The cost of maintaining such projects on the world scale is put on the shoulders of the majority of us. We are stuck in the system, with eyes fixed on city interfaces, through which we were guided by Martijn de Waal.

Fab labs, urban gardening and building co-operatives are examples of hacking the system as within them, we are trying to make the distribution of power more horizontal. This is made possible thanks to the global spread of the Web and, its offspring, crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is what is really creating the quality of the word smart in dynamically developing cities. It denotes the community as a collectiveness that shares and systemizes data and in itself shows different possibilities. This is why Smart Citizen Kit, presented by Tomas Diez from Fablab Barcelona during SensLab workshops on the night before the conference, changes little – unless it is installed in an existing system (as a result of cooperating directly with the city, a web of such appliances has so far been only installed in Amsterdam).

The ideas of transparency and open data need the impact of power. The cases of Gdansk (by Magdalena Siwanowicz) and Warsaw (by Paulina Sobieszuk) show that in Poland the goodwill of clerks is made only by a superior disposition. Also mapping itself is entangled in politics, a phenomenon well-illustrated by Bogna Świątkowska who spoke about the process of mapping empty buildings in Warsaw.

The only thing that was missing in our opinion, was a wider reference to the role of education on the way to a lasting change, although there was a lot of discussion about actions in practice and a splendid introduction to the issue was made by Krzysztof Nawratek.

The conference was really inspiring to us. On the one hand it proved that StructView FRA_ME for City is enormously needed by cities but on the other hand it also showed that its implementation will be a big challenge.