Architect/ Designer as ‘Urban Agent’: A Case of Mediating Temporary Use in Cities

Hella Hernberg, Ramia Mazé


In recent years, urban transformations have required new work approaches and roles for architects and designers. These expand beyond the design of physical objects, buildings or urban plans, to include the mediation of more complex and controversial processes and collaborations. Negotiation among various kinds of actors has become central, and this challenges traditional expert roles and power relations in architecture and design. This paper draws upon two cases of professional experience and ‘research through design’ to elaborate the role and work of architects/ designers in mediating the temporary use of space. Temporary use is becoming a central and strategic component of urban development today, and it involves direct engagement of citizens and various local actors. In recent research, the importance of ‘mediators’ or ‘agents’ for temporary use has been identified but not explored in greater detail. We draw on participatory design and architecture discourses to conceptualize the architect/designer’s role in mediating temporary use, taking the concept of ‘urban agent’ as a point of departure.

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