A network of independent urban initiatives in South Eastern Europe.
In cooperation with local initiatives launched by architects, planners, artists, urbanists, sociologists and other professionals engaged in the process of improving various political and social dimensions of the urban environment, Archis Interventions intends to establish a network in South Eastern Europe and thereby to foster the exchange of knowledge and best practices, to integrate the issues discussed in international discourse on urbanism, and to support local initiatives.
Archis Interventions began to establish the network in the Western Balkans in 2008. The task of creating a sustainable urban environment and maintaining architectural values cannot be left entirely to local
authorities and international organisations: civic society stakeholders also have a crucial role to play. Artistic interventions, political lobby groups and independent initiatives launched by architects and urbanists have already redrawn the boundaries of urban development: sustainable concepts from and for the community are now irrevocably on the political agenda. By mediating between the private and public spheres in support of concrete development proposals, the Archis SEE Network intends to build on what has been achieved to date and help take grass-root demands from the drawing board through to completion.The Archis SEE Network was initiated by Kai Vöckler, on behalf of Archis, in cooperation with Srdjan Jovanović Weiss.
The »Strategy« of the Archis SEE network is still under discussion among member initiatives (see also Forum at seenetwork.org). The aim is to collate the different strategies that member initiatives use to intervene in the urban development of their hometown or region/country. The different approaches and tools used to implement these strategies will be documented and may in the future provide a useful source of knowledge for further action.
Architecture and urban development now have to contend with an increasingly internationalised political and economic framework. They face the task of developing new forms of planning that are able to deal with this shift in spatial and power structures. This demands that planning be repositioned, in order better to respond to a development that has become increasingly apparent over the last two decades: the significant expansion of cross-border exchange has given rise to transnational structures that express a new kind of interrelation of the local and global spheres.
Urban initiatives can gain a perspective only when they apprehend themselves as part of this overall political system (that is to say, of ‘governance’), in reference to a strategy that can contextualise itself within various social situations and simultaneously prepare new contexts for social actors. An urban initiative is strategic in the sense that it must react to various social and cultural contexts and mediates between the special needs of individual social groups and the mechanisms of the dominant international power structure. Yet it must also be cooperative in as much as it, in turn, provides various social actors with new contexts in which to open up space, the repercussions of which are felt beyond the local (and national) context. In this sense, interventions must be communicative because actors can only be mobilized through structured dialogue: dialogue that takes place, moreover, not only at the local but also at the international level. To that end, what is required is a cooperative strategy that mediates between the local and international levels, offering a new context in which to reflect on local problems and recontextualise the latter in different locales in order to develop new planning strategies. This includes translocal planning that affirms and puts into effect transnational management mechanisms. By providing a space for international communication, Archis Interventions is attempting to do just this.
Parallel to the Archis SEE Network Kai Vöckler initiated with support from the Culture Programme the Exhibtion “Balkanology – New Architecture and Urban Phenomena” which brings together leading architects and urban planners from South Eastern Europe and shows their approaches to fundamental urban transformations.