temporary use: urban pioneers

I’ve been reading the book Urban Pioneers, which focuses on temporary use as an urban movement, particularly focusing on the movement in Berlin and how it is influenced by such things as urban planning policy. One quote in an interview in the book that struck me in particular was from Fritz Schumacher

“Most of the temporary uses are exactly that: limited to a certain period. They’re making an invaluable contribution to the site’s future commercial value. Yet as soon as it becomes possible to exploit that commercial value, to demand rents that they can ill afford, then temporary projects will have to leave the site. They’re a kind of travelling creative circus at the service of urban development.”

This is a fairly realistic, but also rather troubling quote for me. On the one hand, it is important to know where this movement might sit within the dominant framework of real estate speculation, urban development, and gentrification. However, it is a very instrumental view of the function of this sort of practice. Recalling Lefebvre, it is an outlook concerned with product and a progression of exchange value, rather than use value and the production of an oeuvre.

So, perhaps I am laying out two possible scenarios. In one case it is complicit with real estate interests and the political forces that operate in conjunction. It is like the metaphor of a forest with its succession of species, relating to a succession of property rent/ownership. The other scenario is more related to the squatter or occupy movements, acting in opposition or resistance to these forces. I don’t want to force the metaphor, but thinking along the lines of the forest makes me also consider Deleuze’s metaphor of the rhizome vs. the tree. Perhaps this system of organization from that metaphor applied to architectural and urban form can also imply something about its relationship to the political and economic forces and its value (use vs exchange).

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