When in November 2017 WPS Prague in cooperation with Heinrich Boll Stiftung held a workshop exploring possibilities how to increase gender sensitivity and representation of women in methods public participation in Prague, the guest lecturer, well known urban planner and gender expert from Vienna, Eva Kail ended her complex lecture with a comment that informal and DYI actions should be treated as equal methods in urban planning practice. For a city ranking high in quality of urban life for decades and the city equally known for such extensive regulation as Vienna (just as majority of cities in Austria or Germany) this finding may come surprising.
By nature DYI and informal activities are initiated by citizens themselves. Mostly they are characterized by no or low planning strategy, lower resources and rather simple ideas or activities carried out. These activities mostly take form of simple architectural or urban design interventions, social or cultural activities. Mostly they are done in no or short time and they do not seek for a formal permission or approval. What Kail pointed out was that women and people of diverse ethnic background were more likely to actively organize or participate in these activities which she compared with the formal events by the top-down planning offices or cities themselves. These if were not properly prepared were visited more by men and gave floor more to men.
In close collaboration with urban geography professor Brigitte Wotha, from Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences we are proud to organize the study trip exploring the topic of informality in the city and its potential for being included into inclusive formal planning. This trip should enable the students to think beyond the narrow limits of formal planning. They should learn to work out the possibilities and limits of informal planning, to evaluate the impact of space appropriation as part of the participation of the civil society in urban development and to examine their observations comparatively between Prague and Braunschweig. The project is part of the study programme for the winter semester.
The trip is not open to the public, but if you are interested into more activities like thit, feel free to contact us.