Master's thesis | Rosa Ackermann | Summer Semester 2019

The thesis „Democratic Base - Can Society Change Design?“ Examines the relation between social development and architecture. Examples around 1900 show that even then architecture was spatialization of social practice and responded to the social developments that followed the Industrial Revolution. The modern designs of this time are always read as a personal contribution in search of a better future. It becomes clear that design can not function autonomously, can not serve purely aesthetic purposes or be seen as independent of social practice. There is no question that good architecture must be closely interwoven with social life. This important feature of the design currently seems to fade from the spotlight. In order to bring the approach back into focus and to develop a design idea that corresponds to current trends, latest topics are dealt with in three texts. After the Industrial Revolution, the Digital Revolution is now the driving force of change and it´s implications for the political system, the public space and the social organization are further explored. In each of these three points, changes brought about by technological advances are clearly noticeable.

The considerations of the present show that a progressive trend to subpolitics represents a counter model to the classical party politics. Politics are reduced to the essentials and are now taking place in new places and by new actors. The competition of small ideas and initiatives is in the foreground, and the plurality that is produced can draw a much more differentiated image of the present. The new political movement is organized in the model of hubs, action centers, and spokes, movement between centers. Hierarchylessness allows for extreme agility and thus fast reactivity.

The draft begins with the point that the differentiated opinions of the political underground movement often fail to make the leap to reality. A politically functioning public space does not exist and invisibility to the outside is the consequence. As the new generation of tinkerers, lateral thinkers and do-gooders, as well as their deeds, visions and actions, must be seen, a new public political space will be created within this work. The purpose of this space is to enable the committed society to engage in their own ideas and thus to propel and demand traditional party politics. For the differentiated ideals of society to become visible, to gain attention and to grow, the public must be actively involved. Discussions need to be organized, protests launched, ideas realized and information disseminated and exhibited. The new space must be created in the public, for recognition and growth can only be given to someone who is present and seen. To locate the design in the overcrowded cities of the present, the combination of underground parking and public space is used, which can be found in almost every city. As the private car loses importance, the use of this space will be in the future in disposition. Using the example of Mannheim‘s marketplace, a new structure over- or rather „underlays“ public space. The architecture works like a common working space with workplaces for individual initiatives, common areas and serving spaces. This can create synergies between the different initiatives. Points of contact that ensure continued visibility and information flow ensure a lively exchange with the public.
The practical work presents a personal proposal to create a place in the city for the new subpolitical actors and make them visible in public. Only then can work on a small scale be recognized and strengthened as an important part of political discourse. It must no longer be about managing the structures of the present, but about allowing something new - seeking, researching, speculating, and dreaming of a better future.

This thesis was supervised by the professors Andreas Kretzer and Wolfgang Grillitsch.