Staged Urbanism. Urban Space for Art, Culture, and Consumption in the Age of the Event Society articulates the thesis of an expanded reading of space interpreting built space, programmatic use, and the spaces of organization and communication as hardware, software, orgware, and brandware respectively. Through different case studies which focus on museums and cultural sites, an analytical frame was developed which supports the thesis of the multi-layered space and captures the relationship between its different layers as well as their complex second order spatial production. Further, at the center of this theoretical discourse are the effects of the economization of culture as well as those produced by the acculturation of the economy on the public space at these cultural sites, as they are influenced by the event society at the end of the 20th century.
This investigation of space, culture and marketing and the analysis of cultural sites through the concepts of hardware, software, orgware and brandware, thematize the initiation of cultural urbanisms and the idea of public space as a stage of social interaction. The strategies being analyzed are interpreted as staging for the event society, bringing with it the threat of the instrumentalization of public space, as well as the opportunities provided by the reinvention of the void as an urban attractor.
The work is divided into three parts. First, the theoretical research deals with the definition of space at the disciplinary intersections of urban design and sociology, as well as those of cultural theory and the mechanisms of production and marketing. Second, the work advances 5 analytical case studies: the Museum’s Quarter in Vienna, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Museum’s Quarter in Utrecht, the Museum Square in Amsterdam, and the Museum’s Island in Berlin. These case studies reveal the different forms of cultural urbanism that emerge as a complex production of the relationships between the layers of hardware, software, orgware and brandware that constitute the multilayered space. The final part of the thesis attempts to capture the specific combinations of these layers and their strategic choreographies employed in the generation of the urban script that defines each of these cultural sites, and the ways in which these scripts are critical instruments for urban renewal and place branding.