Infrastructural Critique. The Upside-Down of the Bottom-Up: A Case Study on the IBA Berlin 84/87

Eva Maria Hierzer, Philipp Markus Schörkhuber


Participation in planning is a logical consequence of the democratisation of society due to the social and cultural changes related to modernism. Anarchistic participation, as in Autogestion, within a development process, is a critical utopian alternative draft to existing power structures. The participatory turn represented by the International Building Exhibition Berlin 1987 (IBA) meant the institutionalisation of these utopian ideas, resulting in a heterotopian notion of participation instrumentalised by governing and economic forces.

The most important aspect to our argument is that participation is a matter of critique – with critique as the very core of the modern understanding of progress – and thus enabling forms of improvement in planning, regulating and governing with architectural and urbanistic means. Those means simply embody a specific form of resisting critique and certain shifts in the structures of governing revealing an infrastructural critique which both re-forms the elements and the relations of what is to be resisted.

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