Speculations on Space

In 2007 the cities of Sibiu (Romania) and Luxembourg (Luxembourg) shared the role of European Capital of Culture (CCE 2007). Themes for the cultural programme included ‘public space’, ‘social dimension’ and ‘European perspectives’. Speculations on Space comprised a series of spatial interventions carried out by the Bauhaus Kolleg, an international program focusing on EU Urbanism involving architects, urban designers, sociologists, ethnologists and visual communicators. As advisors to the Bauhaus Kolleg in 2006/07, Regina Bittner and I curated these events.

The pairing of the poorest (Sibiu) and the richest (Luxembourg) EU member states presented a series of challenges for the positioning and referencing of events. The radical change underway in Sibiu’s urban environment created a range of possibilities. Each of the eight projects was site-specific, embracing interdisciplinary relationships with art, architecture, spatial design and the socio-political environment. White Stripes, for example, took as its impetus the every day, illegal entrances to the city’s train station that also resulted in dangerous pedestrian crossings. In response, the painting of a new zebra crossing created a false but nevertheless ‘true’ and safer traffic condition for pedestrians and drivers. On the other hand, the five interventions created in Luxembourg were based on highlighting the youth homelessness and the everyday migration of the city’s transitory workforce from Germany, Belgium and France.

One intervention, Welcome, for example, was aimed at animating a rethinking of typologies related to mobility and migration. The passerelle (gangway) at the Luxembourg Central Station was ‘paved’ with doormats symbolizing the threshold of micro-geographies, and the tensions of inside and outside, private and public. A meaning was also layered across partnered projects. While Welcome imported the quality of arrival as found in Sibiu, White Stripes questioned the hyper-regulation of infrastructural spaces as found in Luxembourg.

Producers: Bauhaus Dessau, EURO IMOB, Brukenthal Museum, Luxembourg Architects Association.