Nine Urban Biotopes: Art and Urban Sustainability ­– e book now available!! by Alison Rooke and Christian Von Wissel

AnthonycreditImage by Anthony Schrag

Between 2013-15 Alison Rooke and Christian von Wissel from the Centre for Urban and Community Research, Goldsmiths have been academic research partner to the international arts residency and cultural exchange programme Nine Urban Biotopes: Negotiating the Future of Urban Living (9UB), funded by European Commission EACEA.


9UB is an international arts/research project that took place across seven cities in South Africa and Europe in 2014. This transdisciplinary project brought together academics, practitioners and experts in participatory and socially engaged art, architecture and housing, to work in collaboration exploring the challenges of social urban sustainability – including the sustainability of cultural commissioning itself. Local ›biotopes‹, consisting of cultural partners, small NGO’s and their local publics, hosted visiting arts practitioners who responded to issues of regeneration and development, community safety, migration, housing, and economic subsistence in the thick of life.

The final publication is available under creative commons via google play or I Tunes.

9UB_ePublication-69As an experiment in e-publishing, the book incorporates hyperlinked interactive maps, versatile photo galleries, videos and interviews which are intertwined with scientific contributions in order to create a comprehensive visual panorama on issues at stake in the project. The book includes contributions by Alison Rooke and Christian von Wissel as well as by Bruno Latour (Sciences Po, Paris), Michael Keith (Compass, Oxford), Sophie Hope (Birkbeck, London), Henk Borgdorff (School of the Arts, Amsterdam) and Michael Guggenheim (Sociology Goldsmiths) among others.

The aim of 9UB was to establish both a ›trans-local‹ and ›trans-continental‹ dialogue by interweaving and connecting new context-specific social activities of these biotopes. It did so in order to expose, discuss and share different ›intentions, methods and techniques‹ of imaginative urban practices for building ›sustainable cities‹ and in order to learn from each other, theoretically and practically. By combining, linking and implementing 9UB within a South African-European partnership structure, local answers to global questions were discussed such that they were able to shed light on a range of sustainable solutions and innovative ideas regarding urban development issues on both sides of the equator.

9UB_ePublication-137Contributions include:

  • “Artistic research: unfinished thinking in and through art” by Henk Borgdorff
  • “The city as a metaphysical body” by Diego Ferrari
  • “About the transformative effect of contemporary information and communication technologies on our cities” by Adam Greenfield
  • “About commissioning, agency and evaluation of socially engaged art practice” by Sophie Hope
  • “About the social sustainability of cities and connections between innovation, migration, justice and citizen rights” by Michael Keith
  • “About art as a medium for ›making things public‹ and challenging the notion of art’s ›social engagement‹” by Bruno Latour
  • “Upgrading informal settlements” a conversation among Taswald Pillay and Alexander Opper
  • “About urban grass-root initiatives and their potentials for the planning and development of localities and cities” by Marcos L. Rosa
  • “Art practice and urban safety: a relational perspective” by Alison Rooke and Christian von Wissel
  • and many more…

Participating artists and architects:

Dan Halter (Cape Town, South Africa)

Rangoato Hlasane (Johannesburg, South Africa)

Doung Jahangeer (Durban, South Africa)

Terry Kurgan (Johannesburg, South Africa)

Armin Linke (Milan, Italy / Berlin, Germany)

Taswald Pillay (Johannesburg, South Africa)

Marjetica Potrč (Ljubljana, Slovenia / Berlin, Germany)

Athi-Patra Ruga (Johannesburg/Cape Town, South Africa)

Antje Schiffers (Berlin, Germany)

Anthony Schrag (Glasgow, Great Britain) 

Dr Alison Rooke is CoDirector at CUCR, Goldsmiths College.

Christian Von Wissel is a PhD Candidate in Visual Sociology at Goldsmiths College, London and teaching assistant at Munich Technological Univerisity. (TUM)

4 thoughts on “Nine Urban Biotopes: Art and Urban Sustainability ­– e book now available!! by Alison Rooke and Christian Von Wissel

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