molly hankwitz on 19 Oct 2000 00:49:46 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] trans-space workshop, newcastle transcripts

Ideas for Cities

                            Ideas for cities from a workshop given by Molly
Hankwitz from
                            Archimedia, Newcastle ELECTROFRINGE 6th October
in the year 2000.

Participants were asked to form groups and "brainstorm" on ideas for cities
after a brief presentation of films from Archigram,
Burning Man, images of public artworks and a brief discussion of efforts to
thwart postering and street art. Sections of William Gibson's book, Virtual
Light as well as situationist cities were also discussed.

Group 1

Process - started talking about a house in Chippendale - not just a
question of space but resource use etc. the house was energy efficient  but
how can it exist on its own ? we thought about using this as an idea for a
city, but how could it exist in the context of the current city.

Resource use was something else we talked about, commercialism and
consumption are things which bother us about cities, waste? we thought
about sustainability,  it needs to happen at a very localised level and
nearby for political and community consciousness you are taking
responsibility for your own space. Keeping the communities local.

Ted Trainer and others -  retrofitting neighborhoods -  that would be the
1st step then using fresh ideas to create fresh, functional spaces in
existing buildings ? that new foundation, starting  with Micheal Mobbs, his
Chippendale house is a completely sustainable house that uses recycled
materials. Existing buildings,  how to refurbish them and get them back to

We also talked about lack of artistic space in Newcastle -  postering and
control of public space -  local councils black out the important parts of
band ads and flyers etc. They black out the band names with spray paint.

> Any response?

Someone was saying there was nothing wrong with High Density Housing but
you lose touch with the street level -  when you don't have a space without
cars that can be a public space. A people's space.

>Any solutions?

We thought of taking out back fences to make large community gardens from
existing backyards.

Group 2:

We were dreaming.

Edible landscapes - closed loop energy systems - compost converted into
cooling - wearable fabrics and clothes which can
produce energy from body heat and fuel other items...

Houses where 'inside' and 'outside' are less defined e.g. possum-friendly
roofs. Toilets in the back.
There should be an ordinance on how high buildings are. We didn't really
decide on how  high our city should go.

Satellite cities - houses around a circle with community gardens and
community arts, entertainment centres and backyards each
so houses could be smaller. Like many little cities within cities.

Linking the cities would be light rail cities to take your bike on easily.

Wanting to use existing infrastructure - preserving features of old
buildings -  if you are in a space you preserve the history of that
building. To give to the city a sense of the history of buildings and the
communities which have inhabited them.

We wanted to incorporate ideas from clothes, cyborgs and water -- like grey
water systems (e.g. using teeth brushing water for another purpose)

Tip outside Newcastle could be a business opportunity with materials for
use ? using the garbage from Sydney

Having public art spaces which are non-commissioned-  non-official - people
can put art up but non-preciously.
 "Play-spaces" if you willŠ..

Group 3

We stayed conceptual: what we liked and what we did not like about cities.
We thought they should have:

Self sufficiency

Easy access to info


More public space

Natural light

Community spaces

Good public transportation

Restriction on building height

Spaces for interaction
What is a city? How do you define a city?
A city is about issues to do with density, infrastructure
Decentralisation of things people need.
We wondered what social arrangements should form?
Density and sustainability? actual concrete things:
Growing the new city from the inside out ? reclaiming it,  having an impact
on a new space and a new environment.
Taking back public space from  corporate advertising ? for art, education
and information but not "eyesore pollution" everywhere.
How would people be housed with respect to where they work, get their food
? get out and meet people ? we didn't want city spread and the problems
We thought of a horizontal community ? low rise that grows from inside.

>Any innovative solutions? Buildings?

We thought Canberra was a perfect example. (laughter) Not really.

We wanted to take the existing city and make it better.

Group 4:

We talked about the waste of the dominant culture.

Talked about 'master planning' OR creating workable communities from what
is thereŠ

We had difficulties about any idea of master planning - capitalist culture
will be there - using autonomous spaces?
we think it better if we parasitically attach to that logic - a city within
a city

Don't dictate city but 'how do we want to live"

We don't share interests with Yuppies 3 doors up but more in common with
people in Italy.
There is a squat here and one in Italy ? using technology to link up
between squats ? with streaming...
We came up with an acronym for this: Trans National Electronic Communities
? TEC (pronounced like Tech)

We squat in buildings in Sydney. a block which is squatters. we have a
dumpster cafe. reclaiming food.
we start with the idea the dominant culture can continue on it's death
drive but we'll be using the castoffs

Idea of sourcing out food from waste. do the dumpster dive? we have a
roster of cooks  who hand it out.
creates a social space in an existing space, a workable solution.
And not only using food that is wasted but saving energy, saving the food
from landfill.
Using methane, tapping that waste to produce,  breed people's waste for
energy forms.
Metaphors:  'nodes'-  enclaves - a series of enclaves or nodes within the
space - hard to talk about the perfect city - but we can actually create
this city. we are creating it.

Aesthetically and politically exciting city. We let it grow organically
from there - we design it from that.
Trade of skills between people in the group - the values come from the
community - activity of appropriating
It creates possibilities and a framework of labour, skills, - an issue
looking at this - do you use a blank canvas or do you use a 2nd hand
canvas. With a blank canvas you'll overdesign which does not consult
everyone whereas if you use a 2nd hand canvas other people can take part

In developing countries planners have tried to solve social problems and
they always fail but organic squats actually work and planners are
confused: people build it physically, and if you aquaint yourself
with waste you can do it.

 this strategy does not try to change the entire city,  but we'll take your
computers, make them fast enough to stream on  e.g. the indymedia. we could
get old machines, retrofit them at next to no cost and make a social space
alongside the physical - the city within the city is not insular but
connected to other communities on a global level.

A database of people who would not ordinarily spend time together

I now live with people who I never thought I'd be hangin out with but now I
appreciate who they are.
We've made a community which is really diverse.

>Any other comments?

Issue of using a blank canvas - artists' housing co-op was originally a big
warehouse - everything was old  but because they had to make it
accomodating they had to deal with fire safety and council standards etc -
the whole place had to be knocked down and rebuilt  and it was the only way
to make it fit into the standards  legally. That results in a sterile
environment.  allow for cracks to be filled by communities like ours - not
legally bogged down but let it grow.

In VIRTUAL LIGHT there is an idea of San Francisco as shopping mall on the
one hand and on the other side is shanty towns opening and closing down,
different cities within the city.


Group 4 is by the way suffering potential eviction in Sydney at the
Broadway squats... If you would like to get involved, you can email:
or check out the website for events at:

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