Eleanor Downs

ALLBORGARRÄTTEN  (A SWEDISH RIGHT TO THE CITY)

| Stockholm, Sweden | Unit 21 | 2017

Awarded Distinction for Design & Distinction for Thesis
Longlisted for RIBA President’s Awards For Research

 

 Click to see Thesis

“The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanization. The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights”
David Harvey on Lefebvre, 2012 Extract from ‘Rebel Cities’
Participation and the right to the city is investigated, through the lens of tracking physical activity and measuring collective engagement. A new civic hall in the centre of Stockholm is proposed as a testing sight for a physical manifestation of this investigation. The architectural proposal takes the form of a mechanised building requiring energetic input from participants. A system of components is built up to form a catalogue of parts that can be applied to the spatial and functional requirements. In this way the tension of the value of the process (participation) and the product (a public space democratically designed to meet the public’s needs) is raised.

 

How can successful participation be defined and measured?
What is a ‘right to the city’ for today?

The new Medborgarhuset is a frenzy of participation, an exploration into the joy of effort. I expect it to spiral out of control down darker avenues of state control, surveillance and manipulation; as I described with the initial fitbit ‘stuga’ prototype. However, I believe it demonstrates some of the tensions at play in public design today, in the uses and usefulness of participation: (see Thesis). My argument was simply to open the debate about participation so that we can freely speculate and investigate its advantages and disadvantages without being silenced in light of rejecting associated ideals such as freedom and democracy. The building demonstrates the noble aim of ‘Allborgarratten’ (right to the city) yet hints at more complicated, and perhaps sinister, undertones.

 

 

 

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