The first meeting of The Problem of Berlin will take place on 22 October at 20:00.
Here is an excerpt from the class description:
After earlier classes exploring ideas of the political and architectural practice (cf. the City and the Political), the purpose of this spin-off is to move from the abstract to the concrete. No longer 'any' city, but Berlin – what it's made of, how it feels, and where it's going...
The scale and complexity of the subject make it difficult to understand. To grasp something about the city as a whole requires us to shift our gaze, to see it neither from the fashionable kiez nor some imagined 'outside' in the grosssiedlungen on the outskirts. Our point of view must be able to wander, to traverse the sites and social forces that shape it, and weigh their various influences. The aim is not to master the fields listed below in their detail, but to observe their interplay holistically. Otherwise one could study city planning on its own forever but learn little without examining the influence of economic and demographic factors, as well as that of social opposition, as the context behind the eventual outcome.
A materialist taxonomy; what do people do here; what is the composition of the economy; where is poverty concentrated and how is it defined. Who are its employers, landlords, rulers, opponents?
Failed plans from Berlin's past and current imagining of its future: the difference between renewal and gentrification; how is its future economy conceived; why are there so many empty offices?
What do the bankers think and the official statisticians?
Over four sessions the aim of the class is is to provide an empirical familiarity with the morphology of contemporary Berlin, and to understand its political geometry through an awareness of this past. Hopefully by the end we will have a feeling for the material, gain a sense of what conceptual tools can work on it, and have debunked a few myths.