University as a Terminal: Socio-Material Infrastructure for Post-Neoliberal Society
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The chapter questions if the university as an institution and a socio-spatial entity – not only with all buildings, land and infrastructure but also academic community – can secure any economic autonomy in a contemporary capitalist city. It also discusses the idea of a “terminal”, the material element of urban infrastructure, allowing different urban actors (human and non-human) to freely plug-in and use it to support its existence and development. The chapter is based on analyses of projects done in the academic year 2014–2015 by students of the second year Master of Architecture programme at the University of Plymouth for Academic Quarter of Silesia University in Katowice, Poland. The idea of strict zoning – the notion of the city with precisely spatially defined functions, is still pretty strong in Katowice. This is a modernist attitude, leading to sorting functions, to dividing the city into specialized areas. Urban planning based on fragmentation is somehow related to the identity politics focused on strongly defined, unique subjects. However, there is an alternative to this kind of urban development and politics. The city, especially the contemporary “mongrel” city, is a concoction of different functions and different residents. What makes a city unique as a political entity is its spatiality, allowing diverse logics to operate simultaneously, side by side, potentially without any interaction. Thus, the city has an ability to unify and integrate, but at the same moment it could protect weaker actors and could allow a creation of autonomous spheres (they are not necessary spatial zones) and local experimentations. The chapter analyses mechanism of this process of connecting and separating. It argues that the mechanism of mediation should be secured by “inclusive infrastructure” or “infrastructure for social change”. I would argue that the university, especially in a Polish context, has the ability to and indeed should become a laboratory of socio-economic and cultural experimentation.
KeywordsCity Council Homeless People Spatial Zone Material Infrastructure Land Speculation
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