2nd International DOM-Conference, Mar 25-27, 2004 What People Want

The 2nd International DOM-Conference tries to comprehend the term “populism” on the level of everyday life, the media, and the city with particular attention to architecture and urban design.

Today, the term “populism“ and its use suggest that it is not a matter of a new political movement within the spectrum of already existing ones. Rather, it is a – as new regarded – way of how various interest groups bring themselves in relation to a wooed public. Subsequently, the term has something to do with the way a public conscious is shaped respectively how influence is taken on it its formation. In this respect it is interesting to observe, how populist strategies are used in architectural and urbanist engagement with ‘what people want’. Two fundamentally different strategies can be discerned in this context: The strategy of anticipation, with which either on an aesthetic or an operational level a consent is aimed with a public. In the aesthetic approach the popular ‘will’ is simply expressed in a “despotic“ manner without the engagement of the people (architecture for the people, nothing by the people). Architects and investors, who e.g. design and bring buildings in accordance with commonly accepted popular tastes on the market, for instance in form of traditional architectural images, pursue surely most radically this strategy. The operational approach bases itself on popular support and tries to develop concepts together with future users and residents in a “paternalistic“ way (architecture with people). The strategy of mobilization, in which a particularly insufficiently informed majority opinion is taken systematically in direction. The goal of this strategy is to gain the awareness and support of a public – the "people“ – for an architecture (which is e.g. either going to be built, preserved or taken down). The debates occured in the media around developing processes of the Museum Quarter in Vienna, the Culture and Convention Centre in Luzern, or the recently decided competition for Ground-Zero in New York may be taken as examples for this strategy. In both strategies the media becomes a special role assigned. Intended or inadvertently, it advances to a tool of mutual communication and interest co-ordination. Therefore, the conference is structured into three main parts: Populism and Everyday Life (1st day) Populism and Media (2nd day) Populism and Architecture (3rd day)