Replay Value//Amanda Wolfang

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Course Description

Toward an Architecture of Future Narratives
Thesis Citation

In Berlin, a battle rages over urban space between the rights of private property and the use-rights of occupants. In recent years Berlin, attempting to market itself as a vibrant city of art and culture, has sold much of its land along the Spree riverfront to global developers and mega corporations, leading to the forced and sometimes violent evictions of occupants who had been using the space for bottom-up social and cultural projects. The particular city-run development project, Mediaspree has seen tremendous public reaction in almost a decade of protests, rallies, and public referendums organized under the label Mediaspree Versenken (Sink Mediaspree). The Cuvry-Brache, a site falling under the Mediaspree development blanket, was recently evicted of its 150 squatters, freeing up the property for the development of luxury apartments. However, given the context of Berlin’s urban resistance, the appropriateness of such a development on this particular site is questionable.

This thesis examines the historical and cultural context of Berlin in order to uncover and analyze the conditions that led to some of Berlin’s most successful occupant-initiated urban projects. What it finds is an urban waste-land, a landscape of terrain vague, which presented occupants with an opportunity for self-determination that led to surprising and compelling alternative visions of the use of urban space. Theirs was a space of temporality, of evolution, of rupture — of naturally born heterotopias in which to play. With this understanding of Berlin’s urban context, this thesis uses various insights in social and political theory to further illustrate how these urban play-spaces have been central to the formation and evolution of Berlin’s cultural identity.

The following design project takes on the idea of meaning-creation that happens in real time during play, and uses the “always becoming” rhizome to conceptualize and illustrate how urban space can take on various simultaneous and shifting meanings, serving as a counter to projects like Mediaspree. The goal is narrative creation by the user – leading to an engagement with space that is more meaningful and more personal. These narratives are open to the possibilities inherent in play and the contingencies of the future in order to allow them to continue on, always being written and re-written. Of course, this is about futures: not the future, but many possible futures.