Public Space: Fights and Fictions

PETER CACHOLA SCHMAL

Peter Cachola Schmal (1960, Altötting) was appointed as director of the Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) in Frankfurt am Main in April 2006. He spent his childhood in Multan/Pakistan and Jakarta/Indonesia, as well as in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Holzminden and Baden-Baden in Germany. After studying architecture at the TU Darmstadt, he joined Behnisch+Partner in Stuttgart and then, from 1990 to 1993, Eisenbach+Partner in Zeppelinheim. From 1992 to 1997, he was an assistant professor at the TU Darmstadt, and from 1997 to 2000 taught architectural design at the University of Applied Sciences in Frankfurt am Main. Peter Cachola Schmal became a curator at the DAM in 2000, and director in 2006. The following year, he was German commissary general for the 7th International Architecture Biennale (BIA) in Sao Paulo.

With live and work constantly taking place in non-physical spheres, there is a growing desire to connect with ourselves again and meet physically. People are moving back into the cities, meeting up for real events and exchanging views in real conferences. Public space is needed now more than ever—yet this is essentially a western phenomenon. The Asian world does not have a notion of public spaces at all. Of course, democracy needs the public sphere, and both physical and non-physical transparency. But activating the public realm has the potential to overturn politics—and hence has always been feared by those in power. Moreover, the result may not necessarily be democratic at all. So in itself public space is not a guarantee for democracy.