designing places of emancipation?


Aiming to understand and change the social world through participation, action and research in public space.

The summer school  explores possibilities and limitations of participatory action research as an empowering catalyst for the constitution of city publics.

On behalf of the local Scientific team Theresa Schütz in cooperation with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space (SKuOR) and the Centre of Local Planning (IFOER) at the Department of Spatial Planning, Faculty of Architecture and Planning of Vienna University of Technology, organized a 7-days summer school directed at international Master’s and PhD students, as well as early-stage researchers and practitioners dealing with public urban space.

The summer school develops participatory action research concerning the Gasworks Leopoldau, a partly abandoned gas production plant in Vienna’s 21st district. The huge area has been partly vacant since 2006, transforming its meaning from a place of manufacturing into industrial heritage. At this place two seemingly opposite planning approaches meet: One concerns a city-led cooperative planning strategy aiming to develop a post-Fordist housing vision, the other is produced through the tactics of Viennese activists who seek to empower local voices and emancipatory practices related to everyday life.

The summer school takes this situation as an opportunity to integrate situated learning experiences and a citizen-empowerment perspective in order to induce spatial changes that are meaningful for the local dwellers and civil society. It aims to enhance the capacity of public space to mediate between different fields of knowledge.

undisciplinig the disciplines…

The transdisciplinary research project brings together different perspectives on multiple roles of public space in contemporary urban transitions in a transdisciplinary dialogue, including urban theory, urban intervention, performative planning, civic design, as well as architecture, planning, the humanities, social sciences and cultural studies. The school is conducted in five teams, each engaged in one of five learning fields. Each team of six students will ideally be supported by a local actor, a keynote speaker, a member of the local scientific team and an European scholar.




Emancipative spatial practices beyond participatory process and discourse

Theresa Schütz  focus on individual, collective and public acts of (self-)liberation in the city rests on the hypothesis that in urban planning disciplines we have to think beyond participatory discourse and process, redefine our role in a social city – and take action. We are the city!

Tracing on the emancipative promises of spatial practices I aim to explore the issues of making public space from three different perspectives: first, thinking as an urban design scholar and on behalf of the organizing local scientific summer-school-team, second, acting as an urban activist attached to CIT Collective, a Vienna based trans-disciplinary initiative for urban Commons, that struggles for public access to the former gasworks Leopoldau since 2011, and third, practicing as an artist in urban public spaces aiming to change the neo-liberal urban fabric from within. I take my viewpoints regarding the making of public spaces as integral elements of our public society, doing experiments in collective social reassembling and expanding my individual field of art towards the public space both as interface and set-up for participatory research in action.


2013-2014 Transdisciplinary Research Project on Public Spaces in Transition, International Summer School “designing places of emancipation?” 30 August – 5 September, SKuOR and ifoer, TU-Vienna

Sponsoring: WWTF Wien – Wiener Wissenschafts- Forschungs- und Technologiefonds, Ko-Sponsoring Department of Spatial Planning, Faculty of Architecture and Planning of Vienna University of Technology

Co-Investigators: ifoer – Fachbereich örtliche Raumplanung (DI.Dr. Emanuela Semlitsch, DI Theresa Schütz) and SKuOR – Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space (DI Tihomir Viderman, Principal-Investigator Dr. Phil. Sabine Knierbein)

LINK: SKuOR, Summer School

VIDEO: coming soon


2015 ongoing postproduction, Book Projekt by the post-academic research collective (Sabine Knierbein, Angelika Gabauer, Theresa Schütz, Emanuela Semlitsch, Tihomir Viderman, Anna Vukan and Students from the Summer School) on Emancipation and the City