Games of Steps: Performative Urbanism

As part of the Dean’s Lecture Series, Sophie Wolfrum speaks at 6:00pm on Monday, February 11, 2013 in the Centre Space of the John A. Russell Building at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Architecture.

We have learned by Michele de Certeau and others in the tradition of the Situationist movement to experience the city – and to understand the city as a product of this experience. With the concept of psychosocial production of space, psychogeography, this exerts a great influence on urban theory, and its radicalness makes it a recurrent point of reference in fine arts. Evidently there are various traditional strands behind the current interest in walking and travelling, physical recognition and lived space, cultural production of space, performative arts, in situative or performative urbanism. 

Architectural theory likewise takes a line of discourse that underlines the performative aspect of architecture. The performative aspect stresses the component of spatial experience and action that is indispensable in architectural reality. Scenic space – Baudrillard uses the expression for exactly the same – is a critical aspect of exposed architecture.

The architecture of the city is evaluated against this background far beyond its object or visual qualities. An architectural design theory and practice in an urban scale is the main concern.

Professor Sophie Wolfrum studied spatial planning at the University of Dortmund and passed the state examination in urban design in 1984. In 1989, she and Professor Alban Janson founded the firm Janson + Wolfrum Architektur + Stadtplanung, which has received numerous awards. From 1995 to 1996, Wolfrum was a visiting professor at the University of Kassel’s School of Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture. Since 2003, she has been professor of Urban Design and Regional Planning at TUM’s Faculty of Architecture. She is a member of the German Academy for Urban Regional Spatial Planning (DASL) and an expert adjudicator on several juries. She is also a member of various consulting committees, including Baukollegium Zürich 2006-10, iba see 2002-10, architectural advisory boards for some towns in Germany and the Goethe Institute’s Advisory Council on Science and Current Affairs. She has been the Dean of the Faculty of Architecture TUM since October 2012.

Her main research areas include contextual urbanism and cityscapes, urban landscape, the defining characteristics of a city, city as architecture and performative urbanism. 

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