Profile of Ms Sabine Knierbein TU Wien, Austria

Sabine Knierbein

Sabine (*1977) is a founding member of the AESOP Thematic Group for Public Spaces and Urban Cultures. She works as Ass. Prof. for Urban Culture and Public Space at the Faculty for Architecture and Planning at Vienna University of Technology in Austria (since 2013). Since 2008, she directs the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space there. Her recent publications involve "Public Space and the Challenges of Urban Transformations in Europe" (together with A. Madanipour and A. Degros) and "Public Space and Relational Perspectives. New challenges for architecture and planning" (both with Routledge).

General research interests

city publics, urban cultures, insurgent planning, counter planning, epistemology of public space, relational space

PhD/Postdoctoral Research Title

Dr. phil. European Urban Studies

PhD Abstract

German theoretical discourses on architecture and
planning often show a lack of spatial theory regarding
a relational conception of public spaces and their
built arrangements (e.g. urban squares, streets and airport
halls). Lefebvre’s approach to understand space not just
as product, but to rather grasp the implicit dynamics and
hegemonies between different social spheres and their
acting sujets during space production processes offers
an indispensable theoretical link between analytical urban
governance frameworks based in political science and
space and design analyses taking into account relational
conceptions of public spaces. Yet how exactly have public spaces – understood from an analytical descriptive and non-normative perspective as places showing social centrality – been produced in a city like Berlin that has faced an extreme series of institutional restructuring recently?
A compensation-deal-based model made its way into
urban development processes as a series of tolerated
‘exceptions’ or ‘institutional compromises’ (Jessop 2007).
Basic legal frameworks were deregulated by state actors
in 2005/6.This can be taken as empirical evidence of the
formal institutionalization of a new accumulation strategy
in public spaces organized around the economy of
attention. This concept has only gained importance during
the last decade in media and communication studies
and is deeply connected to the rise of the new media
(Goldhaber (1997), Thorngate (1998), Franck (1998),
Davenport und Beck (2001), Siegert (2001)). Its basic
assumption is that attention is one of the new scarce
resources in the information society (Proksch 2002). The PhD published as "Die Produktion zentraler öffentlicher Räume in der Aufmerksamkeitsökonomie (VS Verlag)" reveals that the production of central public spaces in Berlin since 1980 can be interpreted as an institutionalization process for a new territorial accumulation strategy following the premises of the economy of attention.