Public Space: Fights and Fictions

MERIEM CHABANI & JOHN EDOM

Paris and Algiers-based architect and urban planner, Meriem Chabani is an associate at TXKL architecture, and the co-founder and president of the New South association. Her work focuses on context sensitive approaches to developing countries, using design and the construction process as tools for creating and stimulating economies. She investigates the role of architecture in a globalised practice, building bridges between her professional practice in France, Algeria and Myanmar, and the New South research platform. In 2014, her project Remade in Bangladesh, a network of small scale textile factories in the city of Chittagong, received a LafargeHolcim Next Generation Award.

John Edom, based in Copenhagen and Paris, is co-founder and Vice-President of New South. He holds degrees in anthropology from the University of Sussex and in architecture from ENSA Paris-Malaquais, and is presently completing his M.Arch on the Political Architecture: Critical Sustainability programme at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen. His research focuses on government and grass-roots responses to the 3.11 disaster in Japan, and the instrumental role of the tsunami in planning, city-making and community-building discourses. He has worked for MAP Architecture in Copenhagen, carrying out research on architecture and extreme environments, as well as for GRAAL Architecture in Paris.

The opposition established between force and fiction is a fallacy in nature. Each relies on and exists through the other. As singular motivators, they are quick to fade and disappear: their grip on the public sphere is sustained by the extent of their ability to secure each other. Democracy is society's fiction, wished into existence through performative action within space. The public sphere bears witness to that prayer, its boundaries constantly redefined through dynamic occupation. The force of the public sphere derives from the fictions through which it is constantly imagined and re-imagined.