PORTS IN TRANSITION:
Α Knowledge Commons Global Research Network
Ports in transition: Imagining alternative futures
A Habitat III Side event/ October 17, 2016 Casa de la cultura Ecuatoriana Benjamin Carrión, Quito
Former ports of air and water in various parts of the world experience uncertain states of a gradual or abrupt transition. In search of their new identity, some are being imagined as metropolitan spaces or parks, while in times of economic recession, others are facing privatization and speculative development. From being public assets, they get absorbed by private enterprises at the detriment of the communities and cities they serve and belong.
But both approaches are lacking in something.
The ontological nature of these transient urban voids in the midst of the urban fabric remains problematic because of the arbitrariness to decision-making about their future, as long as citizens remain absent from it.
By switching scales from local to global and by overcoming national frameworks, we attempt to understand horizontally such processes in development. We overcome the immediate questions that each of the case studies raises, in order to develop a sense of the big picture. We then go beyond the 'public vs private' dilemma, and examine the challenges of alternative forms of governance and policy development, through large-scale participatory planning and peer-to peer urbanism, as timely and fruitful for developing global futurity.
Several workshops, research projects, presentations, and activist actions involve partners and collaborators in the process of forming a global transnational research network across a number of cities in Europe and Latin America.
The case studies forming part of the network are being represented by researchers who are architects, urbanists, and/or activists, passionate about their cities and the initiatives they investigate.
They are inspired by the richness of P2P production between individuals, collectivities, movements and institutions, and attempt a transfer of that experience into the realm of the physical space and the global nomos, specifically referring to the concepts of the 'metropolitan’ and ‘cosmopolitan commons'.
01 / Elliniko,
03 / Global Ports Authority
02 / Hamburg port,
Hellinikon, a 6.2km2-area comprising the former international airport, the former USA military base and Agios Kosmas beach in Athens, is among the state-owned properties currently under privatisation by the Greek government in order to create a large-scale residential complex, with luxury homes, shopping centres, office buildings, hotels, a golf course and a casino. A complex that appeals to domestic and international financial elites, creating an enclave of wealth and luxury that ignores the needs of the population of Athens.
An alternative proposal for the Hellinikon area has been drafted since 2010 – at the initiative of the local administration and under general coordination by the Urban Environment Laboratory of the National Technical University of Athens– and is updated regularly through grassroots movement initiatives against the privatisation and residential development of the space, calling for the creation of a public metropolitan park, sometimes with the support of certain local and national institutions. According to this proposal, Hellinikon maintains the existing organization features and it is converted into a zone that comprises – in addition to green areas of different qualities – dozens of existing and new public-interest uses. This will create a metropolitan hub for culture, sports, administration, social welfare, education, research and, to a lesser extent, local commerce and recreation. A key component of this proposal is the reuse of existing building stock or sports facilities built for the 2004 Olympic Games. The proposal also provides for open and free access to the beach, pedestrian and cycling zones, extensive public transport coverage, particularly by fixed-rail transport, resulting in a friendly, public area accessible to all.
The key principle of this alternative proposal is the recovery, protection and democratic control of Hellinikon as a public space of metropolitan importance and the creation of a space for developing new forms of cooperative and solidarity economy, as an alternative model of production and urban economy. The design process has evolved in parallel with in-situ actions, including tree-planting and vegetable-farming activities, organizing art exhibitions, music concerts and sports events, second-hand item trading solidary practices and, recently, hosting refugees.
The case of Hellinikon and the metropolitan park has been – and could continue being in the future – an important experiment in urban planning and reclaiming of urban space. Τhe elaboration of the proposal for the metropolitan park has been implemented through open, transparent, participatory and democratic processes. It is a dynamic process that leads to the constant adaptation of the proposal to the needs of the residents of the metropolitan area of Athens as these evolve over time, as well as the experience of using the space by various public or community entities, and the experience of the social and grassroots initiatives developed in the area of Hellinikon, such as the Metropolitan Social Clinic, the Self-managed Farm of Hellinikon, the reclaiming and self-management of the Agios Kosmas beach, or cultural and sports activities organized by various groups and collectives.
The GPA is a semi-independent, non-governmental planetary scale organization with a large membership of international ports standards bodies, and is itself a long-standing player in the port-system, starting prior to Mathoddam or Canopus’ entry into the official port-cartographies.
For a long period we have observed the ripening of a new chapter in the global evolution of ports. We feel in 2016 it is a vital moment to re-assert International Open Ports Standards (IOPS) by reframing their status, use and definition. Seeking to streamline them to ever changing global conditions, whilst ensuring preservation of the core value of open ports as social tools to efficiently connect places, peoples and other important matters. At sea. In the air. And in any other medium accessible to humankind and worthy of portification.
Given the growth of connecting structures, systems and spheres ports are now everywhere and many places and things have become ports – beyond the traditional, and still central civic structures originally named ‘ports’. In times of global turmoil, a transnational everyday, and a restacked system of exchange, movement-flows and communication ports as anchorages, free- and safe-havens, safe and open transit-spaces and nodes of passage are needed more than ever.
GPA puts the very concept of ‘Port’ is under negotiation in a new historic phase that still is in need of proper characterization – a characterization that will not least hinge upon the evolution of the port-system itself. We develop and publish International Standards on the Openness of Ports, and – in that light – Port Specifications in general. To assist with compliance on demands for openness we also offer Port Process Re-engineering (BPR) and key stakeholder management to help you through the process.
> site: http://gpaworldports.org
> mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Researching for another port: labeling itself „Hamburg Port Hydrarchy“, the performance collective geheimagentur set sail to rethink port development beyond globalized container trade and cruise ship shenanigans. In Hamburg City, similar to the situation in many harbor cities of the Western World, the access to the sea has been heavily monopolized. The citizens of the city barely can get onto the water anymore. Hamburg Port Hydrarchy’s currently conducts research on alternative uses of ports all over the world: collaborating in the trade network connecting the cities of Hamburg and Lagos, organized by refugees from Nigeria, taking a bath in the lagoon of Venice with participants from the civil disobedience initiatives interrupting the cruise ship industry, fighting the Battle of Mau Mau Island with radical seafarers from New York City and boarding barely legal casino ships in the South China Sea.
Of course, this is only a very small fraction of all the actions and practices already happening all over the world: the Sea-Punks of New Orleans, the Exterritory Project, This Sea is Mine from Beirut, Poppa Neutrino’s Styrofoam rafts – there are so many people, so many initiatives taking to the water, and we are just beginning to scratch the surface. Hamburg Port Hydrarchy wants to share what we have found so far: In November 2016 we are going to show a preliminary retrospectice in Hamburg City, onboard the former fishing vessel MS Stubnitz, and in May next year we are going to organize a series of workshops on radical sea faring, accompanied by a conference on hydrarchy, containers and the undercommons. All the time, we are continuing our research: if you happen to know or even be part of any port related initiative or project, if you are interested in citizenship and citizens’ ships: please contact us at: email@example.com.
05 / Regeneration and Waterfront Research Network
This research is realized as part of RSE-funded Regeneration and Waterfront Heritage Zones in Northern Europe: Interdisciplinary and Cross-Institutional Research Network (led by Prof Kosmala) that focuses on exploring participatory approaches to waterfront regeneration in urban spaces in transition in Northern European cities. The main case studies of regeneration focus on Govan (Scotland) and Gdansk (Poland), each of which are dealing with the consequences of the post-industrial demise of the shipbuilding industry, trying to find a transition into a new economy and community. The network’s objective is to contribute to government policy initiatives aimed to encourage community empowerment and to identify pathways to successful planning initiatives, regarding waterfront regeneration and participatory planning for the public realm in Europe.
06 / Gdansk port,
In 1996, the Gdansk Shipyard- Nowe Miasto with 150 years of shipbuilding, the birthplace of the Solidarity went bankrupt. Subsequently, more than half of its area was bought by two American private investment funds with an aim to transform it into a new mix-use central waterfront district of Gdansk. Cultural heritage rhetoric was used both by business and politics during the urban planning process. Yet, in a vacuum of public participation in the process, the new land-use plan approved by the City Council resulted in the failure to effectively protect its historical heritage. Between 2007-2012, several unique industrial buildings and infrastructure was ‘legally’ demolished.
04 / Tempelhof,
Tempelhof airport presents an interesting case study.
The former Berlin airport (1923-2007) is a large plot of land, emotionally charged with heavy references from the nazi history of the country. Since 2007 , and while speculative discussions about its future have been raging, it has been used consistently as a metropolitan space with an identity which is formed by it functioning as much more than a typical park, by containing temporary activities, such as art exhibits, collective urban gardening and recreation administered by citizens. The enormous popularity and success of the former airport began to address the emergence of a commons ethics among Berliners.
In a recent Referendum over Tempelhof’s future (25/5/2014) the “no buildings” concept expressing the people’s vision won over the Abgeordnetenhaus. The latter was the municipal government’s masterplan concept of development. The referendum now protects the Tempelhof Field from sale, development and partial privatization and makes it available to the public in its entirety, without any permanent restrictions.
The decision recognizes the site´s importance as a historic site and a place of remembrance and serves the future of leisure and recreation, as well as its function as an inner-city cooling air forming region, and as a habitat for plants and animals. Most importantly, it provides the basis for a commons future for Tempelhof.
07 / Mariscal Sucre,
The old Mariscal-Sucre airport (1960-2013) sits in the center of the now expanded city of Quito. Three months after its closure as an airport it was transformed into Parque Bicentenario de Quito.
This new park with a total area of 125 hectares is one of the largest in the District of Quito. The masterplan calls for an ambitious environmental scheme of high ecological value and according to official programmatic plans it will feature recreational, educational and cultural areas. Since its inception it has been functioning as an urban park available to citizens for recreation (walking, biking, airplane model flying, etc.) Real estate in combination with future metro access puts high pressure on Parque Bicentenario for development plans. Recent discussions between President Rafael Correa and Qatari investors present scenarios of private Qatari investments for the construction of a convention center, a stadium for spectacles and an aquarium.  This workshop will explore alternatives for this grand urban space for its untapped potential as an innovative prototypical social and productive urban commons of vital importance
08 / La Plata,
“Who designs the territories? And for whom are they designed?”
These questions makes reference to a initiative conducted in an industrial port-urban environment which is located in the South bank of the Río de La Plata estuary, 10 km away from La Plata, the Capital city of the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. In this area exist long-standing conflicts due to the complex net of actors and subjects who develop their different logics by displaying them in the space. There are also long established processes and a territorial history that make the analysis in the referred field more complex as we are dealing with a complex interaction and construction of the territory with power struggles for space.
The debates, regarding the concept of Territory and the concept of the phenomenon of globalization as well, have been revitalized now more than ever because of the complex and dynamic reality that the world political-economic scenario is going through.
Nowadays it is a space in transition, where a dynamism in terms of a process of valorisation of the area becomes evident, conflicting views of the future are discussed, and this raises different questions, between those interests claiming to incorporate this area into the port operating procedures (business logic), given its importance due to its location in front of the access channel to the Port, and those struggling for a development that could include the area natural resources and the fact of being a protected landscape, given its environmental and patrimonial characteristics.
> Site: cuencaslab.wordpress.com/
06 / Fereniki
Fereniki Vatavali is a Dr. architect-urban planner. She has taught urban planning in National Technical Univers, Democritus University of Thrace, Hellenic Open University and Polis University of Tirana and she has participated in several research projects dealing with urban development processes and socioeconomic transformations of the Greek cities. Her professional experience includes consultancy on urban planning issues in Greece, Albania, Belgium, Japan, Syria and Jordan. She is a member of the Struggle Committee for the Metropolitan Park of Hellinikon and since 2010 she has been involved in the anti-privatization movement.
Oliver Lerone Schultz is post-media researcher based in Berlin, and associated to the Global Ports Authority (GPA). As co-curator of transmediale 2016 he put together the 'Re-examining Global Ports' panel – along with Ben Vickers – that started to discuss broader conceptual notions of the concept and cultural archetype of 'ports' in a 'post-digital' and 'post-democratic' world.
Currently he and a band of 'self-governance peers' (including Kei Kreutler and Fabi Borges) is involved in an effort to re-construct the GPA as transversal institution, crossing the symbolic spaces of power and standardization and scrutinizing the concept of 'peer-authorities'. The GPA is meant to act as a regulating body on ‘port openess’ – in all its possible meanings.
> private: lerone.info
02 / Oliver Lerone Schultz
07 / Alejandro Meitin
Artist, lawyer and founding member of the art collective Ala Plastica (1991 -Current) based in the city of La Plata, Argentina and he has participated in the research, development and implementation of many collaborative art practices, working with residents, youth,
farmers, artists, activists, architects, landscape architects, local authorities and pollution control experts.
He has collaborated with regional, national and making proposals on international rivers and water resources systems and conducted
exhibitions, teaching, residencies, publications, given lectures and conferences in Latin America, North America and Europe.
01 / Nicholas Anastasopoulos
Nicholas Anastasopoulos PhD, is an architect, researcher and lecturer at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). His work addresses aspects of sustainability, expressions of the commons in space, alternative communities, future alternatives, complexity and participation. His fieldwork research covers alternative communities in Europe, the US, Israel, NZ and Ecuador.
As Prometeo Researcher (IAEN, Quito, 2014) he conducted research on aspects of Buen Vivir and sustainability, and the impact of the commons on urban environments and contributed to the FLOK Society project.
Has has been invited to lecture widely in Universities in Europe and Latin America.
05 / Geheimagentur
The Bank of Burning Money, the Wunder-Annahmestelle (i.e. Miracle Receiving Office), the Alibi-Agentur (i.e. Alibi Agency), the Tourism-Art-Stipendienprogramm (i.e. Tourism Art Scholarship Programme) – geheimagentur (i.e. the secret agency) produces situations and institutions that appear to be fictional but then nonetheless withstand the test of reality.
The performances of geheimagentur cross the boundaries of symbolic politics towards ‘instant pleasure’: they create a miniature version of another reality rather than confirming the old world in critical gestures. geheimagentur is an independent label, an open collective and the attempt to practice the “art of being many”.
04 / Roman
Roman Sebastyanski is an architect and urban planner, currently completing a PhD research study on public participation in the urban planning process at the UWS.
He was a founder of the Artists’ Colony in the Gdansk Shipyard. Since 2012 he has been an active member of the Young City Stakeholders’ Board and since 2014 cosignatory of the Agreement of all formal and informal social and cultural organizations actively engaged in the preservation of the Gdansk Shipyard historical heritage.
03 / Katarzyna
Profesor Katarzyna Kosmala is Chair in Culture, Media and Visual Arts at the School of Media, Culture and Society, University of the West of Scotland, curator, and art writer. Previously Visiting Research Fellow at GEXcel, Institute of Thematic Gender Studies, Linköping University & Örebro University, Sweden, and Visiting Professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She researches and writes on discourses of creative and cultural labour, heritage and participation, marginalization, alternative forms of organizing, art facilitated interventions in peripheral locations in the context of a globalising network society, as well as art production and enterprise.