The Space of Subculture in the City: GettingSpecific about Berlin’s Indeterminate Territories

Dougal Sheridan

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    This paper is concerned with those apparently abandoned, disused,indeterminate urban areas not readily identified and included in theunderstanding of cities. Examining such areas of Berlin has allowedan investigation of them in relation to the historical, cultural andsociological context of a specific city, and reveals their consequentialand symbiotic relationship to the rest of the city. Do the opportunitiesoffered by fragments of the city, in the absence of the deterministicforces of capital, ownership, and institutionalisation affect culturalformation and development? Extending the notion of indeterminacyto include its cultural and sociological effects both reveals itssignificance as the space of subculture within the city, and allowsan examination of the nature of this space. This paper is based onprimary research including photographic documentation, mapping,and a case study of a particular ‘indeterminate’ fragment of Berlins’urban fabric recording the patterns of activity, occupation, socialformation and architectural action. Walter Benjamin’s observationsand experiences of Berlin suggest that there are pre-existing ways ofunderstanding these areas and the urban subjectivity they imply.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)97-119
    JournalField - A Free Journal for Architecture
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Sept 2007


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