številka / volume 188-189
julij / july 2011
letnik / anno XLI

participacija
participation
vsebina številke
table of contents
Miha Dešman Uvodnik: Participacija: teorija ali praksa
Editorial: Participation: theory or practice?
Urška Jurman, Apolonija Šušteršič Uvod: Participacija in vloga javnosti
Introduction: Participation and the role of the public
Jeremy Till Pogajanje z upanjem
The Negotiation of Hope
Drago Kos (Ne)znosna težavnost komuniciranja
Matjaž Uršič Participacija je ključ do uspešnega projekta: pogovor z Majo Simoneti
Ljubo Lah Participacija javnosti v arhitekturi in urbanizmu: med teorijo in prakso
Marko Peterlin, Aidan Cerar Načrtovanje mesta »od spodaj«
Meike Schalk, Apolonija Šušteršič Skrbeti za javni prostor
Taking Care of the Public Space
Blaž Križnik Brez zaupanja, nelegitimni in izključeni: neoliberalna urbana politika in lokalne pobude
Dafne Berc, Maroje Mrduljaš Dosje Cvetni trg, Zagreb
Dosje Cvjetni trg, Zagreb
Žiga Vodovnik Od agore do circusa: razprava o razumevanju politične participacije
Constantin Petcou, Doina Petrescu Delovanje v prostoru: Transverzalne beležke, opažanja s terena in konkretna vprašanja za vse nas
Acting Space: Transversal notes, on-the-ground observations and concrete questions for us all
Noah Chasin Arhitektura iz tkiva samega življenja: Team 10 in predzgodovina participativnega urbanizma
Architecture from the Fabric of Life Itself: Team 10 and the pre-history of partcipatory urbanism
Ilka Čerpes Razvoj sodelovanja javnosti pri načrtovanju posegov v prostor
Mathias Heyden, Jesko Fezer V gradnji: Strategije participativne arhitekture in prisvajanja prostora
Under Construction: Strategies of participative architecture and spatial appropriation
Mateja Medvedič Yona Friedman in koncept Ville spatiale: Med pravili in svobodo
Center za urbano pedagogiko (CUP), New York Pogovor z Damonom Richom
Spatial Agency
atelier d’architecture autogérée Prehod 56: Kulturni in ekološki prostor prebivalcev četrti St. Blaise, Pariz
Passage 56: A cultural and ecological space managed by residents of St. Blaise area, Paris
Raumlabor, Berlin Urbano in participacija v njem
The Urban and the Participation within
public works Folk Float
Obrat Onkraj gradbišča
Beyond the Construction Site
uvodnik

Lanski arhitekturni bienale v Benetkah je ostal v spominu kot sproščen dogodek, v katerem so arhitekti, ki po mnenju umetniške srenje in javnosti sicer niso tako zelo dobri v konceptualni umetnosti kot "pravi umetniki", vendarle postavili besedo človek v naslov prireditve. Naslov: "People meet in architecture - Ljudje se srečujejo v arhitekturi", je v slovenskem prevodu posrečeno blizu formulama: "Ljudje se osrečujejo v arhitekturi" ali celo: "Ljudje so srečni v arhitekturi". To so, vsaj za nas arhitekte, neobičajni razmisleki, ki odpirajo nove možne svetove, in svet, ki bi ga uokvirjala humana arhitektura, je med najbolj pogrešanimi ter zaželenimi. Kuratorica je bila prvič ženska in prvič Japonec in to se je poznalo, pri nekako po žensko/japonsko poetičnem skupnem vtisu, ki je ostal po nekajurnem sprehodu skozi instalacije v Arzenalu; od pare in vodnih curkov do še neodkritih dvoran in vrtov v zaledju. Nova duša arhitekture je ženskega spola! Od moškega racionalizma, brezkompromisnosti in kritičnosti, ki ga na je bienalu zastopal "odsotni" laureat Rem Koolhaas, smo se obrnili proti tolerantnemu belemu čutnemu minimalizmu, ki v svoji abstraktnosti deluje kar nekako eterično/ezoterično. Kritičnost je čedno spravljena v medij, v sobo, v kateri Hans-Ulrich Obrist intervjuva stotine arhitektov (in drugih), ki smo si jih, urejeno po dozah, ki smo jih prenesli mentalno in časovno, lahko privoščili s stolčkom in slušalkami.

Arhitektura se je na Bienalu deklarativno odprla proti ljudem, najavila je sestop iz slonokoščenega stolpa lastne avtonomije, spogledala se je z medijsko in artistično realnostjo sodobnega sveta (ali vsaj njegovega dela), pri čemer pa se seveda ni mogla iztrgati iz vloge anestetiziranega špektakla. Zato je prireditev zelo dobro odrazila čas, v katerem se danes srečujemo v arhitekturi. V njej se srečujemo, je pa ne opazimo, kar pomeni, da je ne ozavestimo v njeni kompleksni družbenosti. Kot da bi vtaknili glavo v pesek. To velja za vse vpletene, tako za javnost in politiko, kot za kliente in arhitekte. Vsak od nas se ukvarja s posamičnostmi, ki se nas neposredno tičejo, manjka pa širši pogled, povezava, odgovornost. Živimo v svetu, ki ga ne razumemo, na katerega se ne znamo odzivati in ga zato tudi nismo sposobni spreminjati v tako smer, kot bi si želeli.

Obstaja čarobna beseda, ki naj bi pomenila most med stroko, politiko in javnostjo: PARTICIPACIJA. Ljudje naj bi v procesu nastajanja arhitekture in urbanizma sodelovali na podlagi uzakonjene participacije, s ciljem, doseči bolj humanistično zasnovano arhitekturno in urbano prakso. Participacija za državljane v političnem odločanju je bila osrednja tema klasične (npr. Russeau-jevske) politične teorije, medtem ko je v sodobni politični praksi, vsaj kar se tiče večine, omejena na bolj ali manj neposredno izbiro tistih, ki bodo sprejemali odločitve. Ljudje ne odločamo o stvareh, ki se nas neposredno tičejo. Nimamo možnosti vpliva in smo se s tem sprijaznili. Ta sprijaznjenost je eden od največjih problemov današnjega časa, kar velja tudi za arhitekturo in urbanizem. Na splošno smo sicer vsi vse bolj kritični do vsega, hkrati pa te kritičnosti ne znamo prevesti v aktivno sodelovanje pri urejanju našega okolja. Med stroko na eni strani (arhitekti, urbanisti), politiko, ki naj bi strokovne odločitve implementirala v prostoru na drugi in javnostjo na tretji strani zeva prepad, ki ga ne ena ne druga ne tretja stran ne znamo premostiti. Imamo situacijo, ki bi jo lahko orisali s trikotno formulo out > out > out. Prvi out je nezadovoljstvo strokovnjakov z lastnim položajem, možnostjo vpliva in urejenostjo področij, drugi je nemoč politike, tudi tiste s pozitivnimi ideali in tretje je nezadovoljstvo javnosti. Po treh outih pa najbrž sledi knock - out. Edino kar javnost še razume, je da brani pridobljene pravice in sedanje stanje. Bori se za pravico do sodelovanja, večinsko pa se ne zaveda vseh ravni odgovornosti za sprejemanje odločitev. Delovanje javnosti je tako povečini boj lokalnih civilnih iniciativ proti spremembam v okolju in zato je v glavnem omejeno na stališče "proti", na NIMBY (*1), in torej na konzervativno pozicijo. V načrtovalski in tudi politični praksi se ta trend kaže bodisi kot placebo (*2), bodisi kot (danes pri nas še kako aktualno) referendumsko odločanje o oslovi senci. V večini primerov so zgodbe podobne. Ko arhitekt (skupaj z investitorjem, developerjem…) predstavi idejo o gradnji nove stavbe, je po pravilu 90% ljudi proti. Če že niso proti gradnji nasploh, pa so proti arhitekturi, kakršno si je arhitekt zamislil. In projekti, tudi tisti dobri, so ujeti v večletne zaplete z nepredvidljivim izidom. Konvencionalna politika je vse bolj jalova. Tradicionalne identitete in bipolarnost konfrontacij (dobro in zlo) ne veljata več. Ni več prostora za romantične ideje o javnem interesu kot skupnem imenovalcu, ki je podlaga družbenega konsenza in akcije. Vse bolj gre za protislovne odnose med posamičnimi subjekti in interesi, ki nočejo ali niso sposobni razumevanja skupne osnove ali kakršnekoli nadrejene celote - od mikrososedstva do vesoljske ladje Zemlja - in s tem nujnosti delovanja, s katerim bi načrtno "ustvarjali prihodnost v sedanjosti" (*3).

V tej luči so mnogi, na papirju dobri koncepti v praksi izpraznjeni ali celo zlorabljeni. Mednje gotovo sodita sonaravni in trajnostni razvoj, pa tudi participativna demokracija. Trajnostna arhitektura večinoma ni resen koncept, postaja neke vrste novi ornament. Če zmaga na natečaju hiša, ki ima zelen koncept s tem, da je na njej vetrnica za pridobivanje elektrike ali fotocelice, je to seveda otročarija ali pa manipulacija. Trajnostni razvoj je zato vse bolj prazna formula, o kateri je težko razmišljati brez ironije. Podobno velja za participacijo. Brez kritičnosti tudi tu ni mogoče ločiti manipulacij od iskrenih prizadevanj za izboljšanje sveta.

V preteklosti so že bili poskusi, kako "odpreti" arhitekturo za sodelovanje uporabnikov v demokratičnem procesu. V času poznega modernizma, v petdesetih in šestdesetih so arhitekti spoznali, da so se v radikalnem modernem projektu "že pojavile razpoke" in so predlagali vključevanje uporabnikov v procese načrtovanja. To bi lahko poimenovali "participacija po zamisli arhitektov", oziroma iz arhitekture same. Pa smo kasneje kar nekako pozabili na ideje, ki so nosile v sebi potencial za realno družbeno vlogo arhitekture in urbanizma, in s tem za nadaljevanje modernega projekta. Amnezija do preteklosti pa nam, arhitektom in vsem drugim, odvzema možnost dejanske akcije in vpliva, oropa nas smisla v našem delovanju.

Zgodovina pojma participacija kaže, da si vsako obdobje in vsaka pozicija skuša približati razlagi pomena participacije iz stališča svojih aktualnih interesov. Tako imamo različne teorije participacije: funkcionalistično, tržno, marksistično ali pa feministično in celo gejevsko. Načeloma ni s tem nič narobe. Analize v tej številki segajo od dvomov pa do poskusov izostritve vloge participacije v arhitekturi in urbanizmu, in njene uporabe v različnih praksah. Dejstvo, da so te prakse velikokrat blizu umetniškim praksam, govori o tem, da so umetniki velikokrat bolj senzibilni za "duh časa" kot arhitekti, ki smo po navadi v začelju družbenega dogajanja (smo nekakšna retrogarda). Danes seveda ni več mogoč koncept (kot ni bil niti takrat, v kontekstu poznega modernizma) sodelovanja uporabnikov, ne da bi se postavila pod vprašaj sama vloga arhitekture.

Arhitektura je razpeta med zgodovinsko težnjo k idealnemu, ki ima izvor v njeni mitični preteklosti, in med realnost sodobnega časa, ki jo določajo profana, velikokrat perverzna dejstva. Sklicuje se na Božji Jeruzalem, na platonistični univerzum, na izvorno bivališče ali na Vitruvijevo triado, njena realnost pa je, da je odvisna od kapitala, hibridna, podvržena neprestani eroziji in nujnim kompromisom. Želja arhitektov po čistosti, pomembnosti in profesionalnosti je usmerjena proti prvemu, proti idealnemu. To, kar bi potrebovala družba, pa se od arhitektove želje močno, včasih celo diametralno razlikuje. Ta hibridna pozicija je za nas arhitekte vse bolj nevzdržna. Koolhaas jo opiše z besedami: "Vidim ogromno nepotrebnega v današnji arhitekturi." (*4) Kontekst arhitekture je daleč od čistega, "studijskega". Vedno se spopada z "umazano realnostjo", vedno je omadeževan. Vprašanje: "Kako iz kompromisa izpeljati koncept, ki bo postavil stvari na pravo mesto? ", nima enoznačnega odgovora.

Beneški bienale je že pred več kot desetletjem prireditev naslovil Less Aesthetics – More Ethics (*5). Ko se sprašujemo o arhitektski etiki, imamo na eni strani ustoličeno (preko etičnega kodeksa) stanovsko etiko, ki temelji na veri, da je za arhitekta dovolj, da deluje na področju, ki ga najbolje obvlada, to je, da v okviru arhitekture kot avtonomne discipline ustvarja "lepe hiše". Pravzaprav obstajata dve pojmovanji, kaj je arhitekt, in kaj njegovo delo. Prva meni, da arhitekt ni dobrodošel kot aktivni kritični udeleženec v "boju za prostor", pač pa je ponudnik storitve in kot tak zavezan h politični korektnosti. Druga pa smatra arhitekta kot socialnega borca. S takšno, razširjeno in hkrati dvoumno vlogo in etiko poklica se soočamo danes, ko v arhitekturi iščemo novo odgovornost in smisel.

Arhitektura je del družbe in od nje odvisna. To njeno vlogo in pomen moramo neprestano in vedno znova vgrajevati v vse pore družbe in v arhitekturo samo. Participacija je eno od nujnih orodij za pretočnost, komunikacijo med udeleženci. Je nervenleben (*6) sodobne družbe in tudi arhitekture.

Vprašanje pa je, kako tako komunikacijo vključiti v arhitektovo delo. Ali gre za koncept, ki ga je potrebno ponotranjiti ali uzakoniti?

V praksi problem učinkovitega vključevanja javnosti v postopke načrtovanja prostorskih sprememb še zdaleč ni rešen. Kljub širokemu razponu metod in tehnik (advokatsko planiranje, priročniško planiranje in samonačrtovanje, samogradnja itd.), ki so jih razvili načrtovalci za te namene, je razkorak med pričakovanji splošne javnosti na eni in predstavnikov oblasti na drugi strani vse večji. Zato sta tako načrtovanje, še zlasti pa izvedba premalo učinkovita in kakovostna. Pravzaprav izbor metod in tehnik niti nima bistvenega vpliva na učinkovitost postopkov vključevanja javnosti. Konflikte povzroča nejasna meja med pravico do sodelovanja in odgovornostjo za sprejemanje odločitev.

Kar se tiče uporabnikov, pri tem procesu prvenstveno ne gre za solidarnost in harmonijo, gre za boj, v katerem se vsiliš na sceno in si izboriš pravico do besede. Pri tem pomaga internet, pa mediji… To je, kot jo imenuje Marcus Miessen, konfliktna participacija. "Participacija je vojna", pravi, in nadaljuje: "V času vse bolj razpršenih identitet moramo iznajti nove oblike skupnega življenja, ki bodo omogočile, da bo iz konflikta zrasla produktivna konfrontacija. Ta bo model za nekonvencionalne oblike participacije, ki bodo usposobile outsiderje, da bodo učinkovito vključeni v strokovnih debatah, ne da bi bili a priori ustrahovani in izločeni" (*7).

Participacija je v sporazumevanju, razumevanju, pomoči (strokovni) in vzgoji, ne v tem, da bi arhitekt "ubogal" naročnika in uporabnika ali, bog ne daj, nekritično prenašal v prostor njune ideje. Poleg arhitekturnega vedenja je na obeh straneh potrebna tudi čustvena in socialna inteligenca, in pa pripravljenost za podrejanje skupnemu smotru, za vključevanje v mrežo fine družbene organizacije in delovanja. Primeri participativnih projektov se, kot rečeno, najdejo v umetnosti in včasih v politiki. Glede na ustaljene načine predstavljajo alternativni model, v katerem je dodana vrednost rezultat aktivnega sodelovanja vseh udeleženih. Teorija participacije se odmika od klasičnih arhitekturnih in urbanističnih teorij, saj namesto na identiteti in razločevanju temelji na vključenosti in sodelovanju, namesto enakosti pa poudarja enakopravno različnost. Trudi se preseči idejo o arhitekturi kot neke vrste hermetični formalni disciplini in o urbanizmu kot avtoritarnemu tehnokratskemu načrtovanju "od zgoraj navzdol". Ideje in realizacije ne nastajajo v zaprtem procesu, ki je organiziran na podlagi avtonomije projektanta (ali umetnika), pač pa izhajajo iz pragmatizma uporabe. Uporaba je sama motor inovacije. Zato morajo tako politik kot načrtovalec/arhitekt/umetnik in celo uporabnik znati zares iskreno poslušati, razumeti, komunicirati, vključevati, čutiti…- in se hkrati kolikor je le mogoče odreči paternalizmu. Participacija je koncept, ki je kar najtesneje povezan s humanizmom in kulturo, pa tudi s sposobnostjo empatije (*8), socialne interakcije, komuniciranja, odnosne kompetence itd.

Za zaključek še citat enega od pionirjev participacije, ki je poleg Yone Friedmana (*9), aktivno sodelovanje uporabnikov iz teorije najdlje prerinil tudi v arhitekturno prakso, namreč Giancarla De Carla, italijanskega arhitekta iz Urbina (*10): "V začetku je bila participacija zares avtentična. Nato pa je postala instrument politike in pogosto zlorabljena. Če se spomnim na 60-a, sta bila takrat bistveni dve zadevi. Prva je bila študentski upor, druga pa nova zavest delavcev. V tem času sem načrtoval dva projekta, ki sta temeljila na ideji participacije, za stanovanjsko naselje Terni in za središče Riminija. Po tem obdobju pa je v družbi prišlo do birokratizacije in participacija je postal formalistična in butasta. Zame se je problem spremenil; pravo vprašanje je postalo, kako načrtovati arhitekturo, ki bo sama spodbujala participacijo, to se pravi, vprašanje jezika arhitekture. Kako razviti jezik, ki ga bodo ljudje razumeli, vanj prodrli in ga uporabljali? Proces s tem postane mnogo bolj dolgotrajen. Participacija je nekaj, kar se mora sprožiti, nato pa – tega ne smete nikoli pozabiti – traja večno."

Miha Dešman

Opombe

  1. "NIMBY" učinek, (Not in My Back Yard - slov.: ne na mojem dvorišču), konflikt med osebnimi in lokalnimi interesi nasproti širšim in javnim interesom
  2. Placebo (slov.: navidezno zdravilo) je indiferentni postopek ali farmakodinamično indiferentna snov, po videzu enaka zdravilu, ki se uporablja zaradi sugestivnega učinka pri zdravljenju ali v kontroliranem kliničnem poskusu. Tako zdravilo ne vsebuje aktivne substance, a zanj bolnik verjame, da je učinkovito (Wikipedija).
  3. Žiga Vodovnik, Od agore do circusa: prispevek k novemu razumevanju politične participacije, tekst iz te številke ab-ja
  4. Interview with Dutch Architect Rem Koolhaas, Spiegel, 2006
  5. Manj estetike – več etike, Benetke 2000
  6. Nervenleben je psihološko stanje, značilno za prebivalca metropole, ki pomeni intenzivirano živčno stanje, ki izhaja iz hitrega in stalnega spreminjanja zunanjih dražljajev (George Simmel, Izbrani spisi o kulturi; Studia Humanitatis, 2000; Velemesto in duhovno življenje, (Die Großstadt und das Geistesleben, 1903)
  7. Markus Miessen ed, The Violence of Participation, Sternberg Press, 2007
  8. Empatijo lahko najbolj preprosto pojasnimo s sposobnostjo vživljanja v drugega človeka (grška beseda "empatheia" pomeni "vživeti se")
  9. Mateja Medvedič, Yona Friedman in koncept ville spatiale, Med pravili in svobodo, tekst iz te številke ab-ja
  10. O De Carlovi teoriji in praksi participativne arhitekture glej: Martina Malešič, Giancarlo De Carlo – arhitektura osvobaja, ab 173-174, 2007, citat je iz pogovora z Remom Koolhaasom, ki je nastal le malo pred De Carlovo smrtjo leta 2005.

editorial

Last year's architectural biennial in Venice left an impression of a relaxed event where architects, who are considered by the artistic community to lag slightly behind "real artists" as far as conceptual art is concerned, still managed to put the word "people" in the title of the exhibition. Due to an incidental play on words, the title "People meet in architecture" sounds a bit like "People made happy in architecture", or even "People are happy in architecture" in Slovene. For us architects at least, these are unusual notions that open up new possible worlds, and a world that would be confined by human architecture, is among those most sorely missed and desired.

For the first time, the curator was female and for the first time Japanese, and this was reflected in a sort of a female-Japanese poetic general impression left after a two-hour stroll through the installations at the Arsenal: from steam and water jets to the so far undiscovered halls and gardens in the back areas. The new soul of architecture is female! From male rationalism and uncompromising and critical attitudes represented at the Biennale by the "absent" laureate Rem Koolhaas, we turned towards the tolerant white sensual minimalism, which, in its abstractness, gives a rather ethereal/esoteric impression. The criticism is neatly packed into a medium, into a room where Hans-Ulrich Obrist interviews hundreds of architects (and others), which we could enjoy - orderly and in doses that our minds and schedules were able to tolerate - sitting down and wearing a set of headphones.

At the Biennale, architecture declaratively opened itself towards people, it announced its descent from the ivory tower of its own autonomy, it flirted with the media and artistic realities of the contemporary world (or at least a part of it), though even by doing all that, it couldn't escape its role of anaesthetised spectacle. Consequently, the event was a proper reflection of the time in which we meet in architecture nowadays. We meet in it, but we don't notice it, which means that we don't become aware of it in its complex sociality. As if we've stuck our heads in the sand. This goes for all involved, both for the public and politics, for clients and architects. What is of concern to each of us are the particularities that apply directly to us but there is a lack of a wider view, a connection, responsibility. We live in a world which we don't understand, which we have difficulty reacting to, and which we're consequently unable to change in the desired direction.

There is a magical word that is supposed to signify the bridge between the experts, the politics, and the public: PARTICIPATION. In the process of creation or architecture and urbanism, people should co-operate on the basis of legally-defined participation in order to achieve a more humanistically designed architectural and urban practice. Participation for citizens in the process of political decision-making was a central theme of the classical (e.g. Rousseau's) political theory, while in the contemporary political practice, participation is, at least as far as the majority is concerned, limited to more or less directly choosing those who will in turn make the decisions. As the people, we don't get to decide about things that directly affect us. We are not in a position of influence and we have accepted that. This acceptance is one of the biggest problems of our time, and architecture and urban design are no exception. Generally, we have all become more critical of everything, but we don't know how to translate our critical attitude into active involvement in the shaping of our environment.

Between the experts (architects, urban designers) on one side, the politics, which is supposed to implement expert decisions in the space, on the other side, and the public on still another side, there is an abyss that we're unable to bridge, no matter which of the three sides we may belong to. Our situation may be depicted as a triangular diagram of out > out > out. The first out is the dissatisfaction of the experts with their own position, their area of influence, and the regulation of various areas of interest. The second out is the impotence of politics, including the politics representing positive ideals. The third out is the dissatisfaction of the public. And after three outs, things should be ripe for a knock-out. The only thing the public still understands is the defending of its acquired rights and the current state of the affairs. The public fights for the right to participate, but it mostly isn't aware of all the levels of responsibility in the decision-making process. The activity of the public is thus mostly the struggles of local citizens' initiatives against the changes in the environment. Consequently, it is mostly limited to the position of being "against", the position of NIMBY (*1), which is a conservative position. In the planning and also political practice, this trend shows itself either as a placebo (*2), or - currently the preferred choice in Slovenia - as inconsequential voting on referendums.

In most cases, things go a similar route: when the architect (together with the investor, developer, etc.) presents the idea of constructing a new building, 90% of the people oppose it as a rule. If they happen not to oppose the construction itself, they're against the architecture as designed by the architect. Thus projects, including good ones, get entangled into years of hassle with an uncertain outcome. Conventional politics is growing increasingly futile. Traditional identities and the bipolarity of confrontations (i.e. good and evil) are no longer applicable. There is no place for romantic ideas of public interest as the common denominator that is the basis of social consensus and action. We see a rise of contradictory relationships between particular entities and interests that won't or can't comprehend the common basis, or any sort of superimposed whole - from micro-neighbouring to Spaceship Earth - and thus the urgency of action that would purposefully "create future in the present" (*3)

.

Accordingly, many concepts that seem good on paper prove to be devoid of substance or even perverted in practice. Two that figure among them are certainly sustainable development and participatory democracy. Sustainable architecture is not a serious concept, it is becoming a sort of a novel ornament. If a competition is won by a house whose green concept is comprised of an electricity-generating wind fan or solar cells, we're obviously talking about either tomfoolery or manipulation. Sustainable development is thus increasingly an empty formula which makes it difficult to think about it without irony. The same is true of participation. Without being critical, it's impossible for one to tell apart manipulation from honest attempts at making the world a better place.

In the past, there have been attempts at "opening up" architecture for participation of users in the democratic process. In the times of late Modernism, i.e. the 1950s and 60s, architects realised that there were "cracks showing" in the radical Modern project, which led them to suggest for the users to take part in the design processes. One could call this "participation according to architects", one that stems from architecture itself. Eventually, we somehow forgot about these ideas, ideas that carried a potential for architecture and urban design to have a real social role and thus for the Modern project to carry on. And amnesia in relation to the past takes away the chance - both from architects and everybody else - to take action and have influence: it robs us of purpose in our activity.

The history of the notion of participation shows that each historical period and each position tries to approach the definition of the meaning of participation from the standpoint of its own interest at that time. We thus have different theories of participation: functionalistic, commercial, Marxist, feminist and even queer. Essentially, there is nothing wrong with that. The analyses published in this issue range from doubts to attempts at getting the role of participation in architecture and urban design into focus, including the way it is used in various practices. The fact that these practices are often close to artistic practices suggests that artists often exhibit greater sensibility towards the "spirit of the period" than architects, who tend to be holding up the rear in terms of social activity (we're a retrogarde of sorts). Nowadays, the concept of the user's participation is obviously not possible anymore - as it hadn't been then, in the context of late Modernism - without questioning the role of architecture itself.

Architecture is torn between the historical tendency towards the ideal, which stems from its mythical past, and the reality of the contemporary period, which is defined by profane and often perverse facts. It appeals to the Kingdom of Heaven, the Platonistic universe, the Original Abode or the three principles of Vitruvius, but in real life, it's dependent on capital, it's hybrid and affected by constant erosion and necessary compromises. Architects' desire for purity, significance and professionalism is inspired by the former, the ideal. But that which is needed by the society strongly differs from the wishes of the architect, and it's often in direct opposition. For us architects, this hybrid position is becoming increasingly intolerable. Koolhaas characterises it in his quote: "I see many superfluous things in design today." (*4) The context of architecture is far from pure and "studio-like". It's constantly taking on the "sordid reality", and it always emerges as dirty. The question "How to take a compromise and make it into a concept that will put things in their place?" has no universal answer.

Already more than a decade ago, the Venice Biennale chose the title "Less Aesthetics - More Ethics" for that year's exhibition. When we ask ourselves about architect's ethics, we have on the one hand the instituted - by virtue of the Code of Ethics - ethics of the profession which is based on the faith that it suffices for the architect to be active in the area in which they are most competent, i.e. creating "pretty houses" within architecture as an independent discipline. In fact, there are two notions of who is an architect and what is their work. The first is the belief that the architect is not welcome as the active critical participant in the "struggle for space" but only as a provider of service and as such bound by political correctness. The second notion is of the architect playing a part in the social struggle. We encounter such extended and at the same time ambiguous role and ethics of the profession today as we search within architecture for new responsibility and sense.

Architecture is part of the society and is dependent on it. It's our duty to keep on implementing this role and significance into every bit of the society's fabric, and into architecture itself. Participation is one of the indispensable tools for flow, for communication among the participants. It's the nervenleben (*5) of the contemporary society. The question is how to include such communication in the architect's work. Is it a concept that needs to be internalised or legislated?

In practice, the problem of effective inclusion of the public into the processes of spatial change planning is far from resolved. Despite the wide range of methods an techniques (advocacy planning, planning by manuals and self-planning, self-build, etc.), which were developed by the planners for such purposes, the disparity between the expectation of the general public on one side and the representatives of the authorities on the other keeps growing. This causes both the planning and especially the execution to lack efficiency and quality. In fact, the choice of methods and techniques doesn't have a crucial influence on the efficiency of the procedures for public participation. What creates conflicts is the grey area between the right to participate and the responsibility for decision-making.

As far as the users are concerned, this process is primarily not about solidarity and harmony, it's about the struggle where you forcefully take the stage and make yourself heard. Here, one can make great use of the Internet, the media, etc. This is, according to Marcus Miessen, conflictual participation. "Participation is war," he says, and continues: "In the time of increasingly dispersed identities, it is upon us to invent new forms of living together, which will enable the conflict to give rise to productive confrontation. It will serve as the model for unconventional forms of participation, which will empower the outsiders to effectively take part in professional debates without immediately being intimidated and excluded" (*6).

Participation happens through communication, understanding, (professional) help, and education, not through the architect's "obeying" the client and the user, let alone through uncritical implementation of the latter two's ideas into the space. Beside architectural competence, there is also emotional and social intelligence needed on both sides, as well as being ready to serve a common purpose, to be included in the fine network of social organisation and action. Examples of participative projects may be, as mentioned above, found in art and occasionally politics. Compared to the established ways, they represent an alternative model where the added value is the result of active participation of everyone involved.

The theory of participation is moving away from the classical theories of architecture and urbanism. It is founded on inclusion and co-operation rather than on identity and differentiation, and stressing equality in diversity rather than uniformity. It tries to transcend the idea of architecture as a sort of hermetic formal discipline and that of urbanism as an authoritarian technocratic planning "from top downwards". Ideas and realisations aren't created in a closed process organised on the basis of the project engineer's (or the artist's) autonomy, but stem from the pragmatism of use. The use itself is the drive for the innovation. This is why both the politician and the planner/architect/artist, even the user have to know how to really, honestly listen, understand, communicate, include, feel ... and at the same time give up paternalism as much as possible. Participation is a concept that is very closely related to humanism and culture, as well as with the capacity for empathy, social interaction, communication, interactional competence, etc.

I'd like to end with a quotation by another pioneer of participation, who, beside Yona Friedman (*7), was able to make the biggest difference for active participation of the users to move from theory into architectural practice, namely Giancarlo De Carlo, Italian architect from Urbino (*8): "In the beginning, participation was truly authentic. But then it became instrumentalised by the politics and often perverted. If I recall the 60s, two things were crucial then: the first was the student protest, and the second was the new workers' consciousness. In this period, I was designing two projects which were based on the idea of participation, the Terni residential community and the centre of Rimini. After that, the society became bureaucratised and participation grew formalist and plain stupid. For me, the problem itself went through a change: the real question became how to plan architecture that will encourage participation on its own, i.e. a question of architectural language. How to develop a language which people will understand, penetrate, and use? This way, the process becomes significantly more long-lived. Participation is something that needs to be triggered, and then - you must never forget that - lasts forever."

Miha Dešman

Footnotes

  1. Not in My Back Yard, the conflict between personal and local interests in opposition to wider and public interests
  2. a substance that resembles medicine superficially and is believed by the patient to be medicine but that has no intrinsic drug activity (Mosby's Medical Dictionary).
  3. Žiga Vodovnik, "Od agore do circusa: prispevek k novemu razumevanju politične participacije", a text from this issue of ab
  4. Interview with Dutch Architect Rem Koolhaas, Spiegel, 2006
  5. Nervenleben is a psychological condition characteristic of the resident of a metropolis, which means an intensified neural state stemming from the rapid and constant changing of external impulses.(George Simmel, Izbrani spisi o kulturi; Studia Humanitatis, 2000; Velemesto in duhovno življenje, (Die Großstadt und das Geistesleben, 1903))
  6. Markus Miessen ed, The Violence of Participation, Sternberg Press, 2007
  7. Mateja Medvedič, "Yona Friedman in koncept ville spatiale, Med pravili in svobodo", a text from this issue of ab
  8. for De Carlo's theory and practice of participative architecture see: Martina Malešič, "Giancarlo De Carlo – arhitektura osvobaja", ab 173-174, 2007; the quotation is from a talk with Rem Koolhaas that took place shortly before De Carlo's death in 2005.