this issue contains
>> An Interview with Andrea Zittel
>> Miwa Yanagi: The Beauty of the Prison
>> Franz Ackermann's Mental Maps
>> New Forms of Governance
>> Working on the Myth

>> archive

New Forms of Governance:
In Barcelona, urban experts and politicians search for new perspectives for the future city

The vision of the gigantic megalopolis is often invoked, an obscure agglomeration of "city-states," economic centers that serve as magnets keeping migration movements in motion worldwide. The problems arising out of the conglomeration of huge masses of people from divergent ethnic and religious backgrounds crowded together in a comparatively small area already far exceed the capacities of many international big cities today. Is the city of the future on the brink of collapse? Harald Fricke on the second European Mayors' Conference of the Alfred Herrhausen Society for International Dialogue, which will be taking place in Barcelona on February 13/14 2004 in cooperation with the London School of Economics and Political Science and the AULA Barcelona.

Aerial photography: Old Town Center of Barcelona

The blue triangle can already be seen as the plane prepares for landing. The 200 foot-long facade of the building complex designed by the Swiss architectural duo Herzog & DeMeuron will be opening this year with the project Forum 2004. From May 9 through September 26, discussions, expert panels, and cultural events will be taking place here, united under a common theme: what is the city's future? In the process, Barcelona hopes to incite a kind of "Creative Olympics" that could become a model for the development of today's metropolis: in concrete terms, Forum 2004 is creating 56,000 new jobs, the city is counting on five million visitors altogether, and, following the 141 day-long festival, Barcelona will have created an attractive center in the formerly stagnant industrial harbor area. What has already become a part of Barcelona's metropolitan reality represents one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century to major European cities: the metropolis is undergoing dramatic change. Due to migration, global networking, and shifts in the forms of labor, urban conditions have experienced a profound transformation. In the long run, a small number of cities will grow into burgeoning centers of concentration, while smaller and mid-sized cities will continue to shrink. Will it be possible to influence the results of this unstoppable process, or to at least make it more bearable for the inhabitants?

left to right: residential densitiy, retail intensity, use of public buildings, land use

The modern metropolis as a microcosm and an important indicator of overall social development - the Alfred Herrhausen Society for International Dialogue, Deutsche Bank's socio-political think tank, recognized the significance of this concept at an early date. Within the framework of its theme for 2004, The Partnership Principle: New Forms of Governance in the 21st Century, it picks up on this concept; together with the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the AULA Barcelona, it has organized a conference with the mayors of major European cities.

On February 13 and 14 2004, in advance of the Forum 2004 in Barcelona, these mayors will be meeting together with leading experts for a second European Mayors' Conference. Under the motto "New social patterns and policies: social cohesion, migration and urban governance," attention will be focused on the challenges currently facing European metropolitan centers: how are Europe's urban centers reacting to changes in social structures? Is there a socially acceptable form of city planning that is organized according to the needs of its inhabitants?

Julian Rosefeldt: Oktoberfest, 1996/1999, Deutsche Bank Collection, Courtesy Galerie Six Friedrich & Lisa Ungar

This question was already addressed at the first European Mayors' Conference (more here) in February 2003, which took place in London. For the first time, sixteen mayors of major European cities met with urban sociologists and architects to discuss possibilities for a common politics of urban development. It already became clear at last year's conference that the development of today's major cities will continue to determine social problems both in Europe and around the world. This not only includes the rapidly shifting demographic relationship between cities and states and the explosive growth in population density in certain major cities, but also implies the question as to how a Europe comprised of cities can be co-governed, as well as what role public space will play in view of this dynamic process.

Nobuyoshi Araki: Untitled from Tokyo Novelle, 1995,

Deutsche Bank Collection

At the first Mayors' Conference, Saskia Sassen, professor for Urban Political Economy at the LSE, advocated a change in thinking that would regard urban space as a creative "Glamour Zone." Sassen considers the new boom of the metropolis to be the result of changed economic conditions, although, due to globalization and the information technologies, its economic foundations have shifted from concrete locations to virtualized "electronic markets." This process, however, is only half the story, according to Sassen. "The other half is that strategic, creative activities - whether economic, cultural, or political, thrive on density.

[1] [2]