At the center of the research and teaching project »The Invisible City« was the idea of how design can open up new and alternate ways of civic participation in society and the urban space. The project raises the crucial question of how urban concepts, experiments, and actions by local initiatives can be made accessible for general public urban development. It appears that actions of civic organizations still set huge challenges for politics and institutions and that it lacks systematic linkages between the formal and informal sphere. Through the project »The Invisible City«, a new way of urban development shall be outlined which strategically allows for new, informal, and unconventional potentials and approaches.
In concrete terms, »The Invisible City« analyzes the perception and role of Cologne Ebertplatz, a so-called deprived social area apart from representative city environments. In order to uncover and further develop the hidden potentials of this disputed area, it is mainly the informal characteristic – the social and atmospheric ambiances, the indistinguishable infrastructures, and the spatiotemporal settings of Cologne Ebertplatz – that was part of the analysis. At the same time, the project tackled the question of the effects of heated debates about public squares and locations and what they tell us about society. The respective works emerged from direct meetings with local actors on-site at Ebertplatz and are characterized by an experimental quality.
The project’s exhibition has taken place on the occasion of the Cologne-based design festival PASSAGEN in January 2019. The exhibition’s venue was a former store located in the corridor of Ebertplatzpassage used as an open city lab since October 2018. By means of the project works shown, visitors were asked to confront themselves with the public usage of Ebertplatz, its possibilities and potentials and, in doing so, to actively contribute to the public design of social spaces.
The project was accompanied by the research center »Real-Time City« of TH Köln. The research center is joint research unit of the KISD professors Dr. Carolin Höfler, Philipp Heidkamp, and Andreas Wrede, who commit themselves to the analysis and design of new urban environments and contexts of communication in order to re-think the city as complex network of relations and model of civilization.
A participatory archive of the project can be found on: https://ebertplatz.org
Johannes Geyer (Urban Space Management, Department of Urban Development, Planning, Construction, Cologne) and Maria Wildeis (Curator and Founder of the art room »Tiefgarage« at Cologne Ebertplatz)
With the support of:
Sebastian Heilmann (Model-Construction Workshop), Gerd Mies (Wood Workshop), and Eduard Paal (Physical Computing Lab)