Repair is (always) more than restoring the original

Kulturen des Reparierens (transcript Verlag, 2018) is a new text collection edited by Stefan Krebs, Gabriele Schabacher and Heike Weber. It includes an article from The Urban Repair Project:

“Dann müssen wir es so lassen Reparatur ist (immer) mehr als die Wiederherstellung des Normalzustandes” (pp. 347-371)

The book is Open Access and you can download the entire book here.


Building identity through maintenance work

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 19.25.42.png

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 19.27.50.png

New publication:

Der Beitrag der Hausmeister zur ldentität von Gebäuden – Block Checks in der Großwohnsiedlung Red Road in Glasgow. Identifikationsräume: Potenzial und Qualität großer Wohnsiedlungen. M. Harnack and J. Stollmann. Berlin, 2017, Universitätsverlag der TU Berlin: 54-69.

Subway crisis in the making


Increasing passenger volumes + reduced investment and maintenance = declining performance. This equation and what it means for riders on NY subway in a NYT article really worth reading.


When there’s a lack of techniques, when by chance a strike or breakdown deprives us of a means of communication or transport, everyone learns, walking and talking, that the social world is indeed flat, that it has to be composed piece by piece, staircase by staircase, concierge by concierge.
Bruno Latour & Emilie Hermant

Urban Repair Manifesto

Noble and respected urban designers, students, craftsmen, workers, vagabonds, people of all countries, it is time to unite! In the name of all those who take urban growth seriously, today I will make a declaration that will provoke agitation in this room. I hope this will not touch upon your physical well-being, however, what we have to say here, will feel like you would hit yourself on the thumb with a hammer. We have decided to understand cities and growth as one big repair project. We have found repair, what we do is repair and what we are is repair. At the same time, we do not know what repair is, we do not know what it means. Repair is real only when something breaks down. Repair is design work at whose origin is not the human mind, but a moment of failure or degrowth. Repair is change based on erroneous premises. We want to change our understanding of the city with repair, we want to change design with repair, we want to bring war to an end with repair. We have gathered here without intention to make things better or to entertain you. And as we wait until something breaks down, until we can take action, we do not have to be enemies. In the moment in which you have overcome your intellectual resistance and have accepted repair as fundamental principle of urban transformation, we will unite and be best friends. Your children and your children’s children will thank you!
(This manifesto is a paraphrase of Richard Helsenbecks ‘Erklärung’ in the Cabaret Voltaire in spring 1916 (Riha, 1992, page 29). I have read aloud this Manfesto in the Urban Mutations on the Edge Seminar “Degrowth” on 4.4.2016)

Block check

check boxes to see video clips

thats us you never go from bottom to top one of the landings this is the back there's a plane frontpanorama tenant's names are numbers that's me back panorama meeting a tenant technology explained walking and talking three landings the lady that died fire riser someone's trying to break in different tiles on different floors door closer that's heroin tileing in the slab block different tiling one dealer walking no talking moving a paper no weight whistling smashed windows walking from 5th to 3rd various objects fire escape door fire escape door rubbish chute pointing footing rubbish chute

This is a video map of a concierge control tour, a so-called block check, which I have recorded together with concierges of the Red Road flats in Glasgow in 2006. During a block check, the concierge would systematically walk down and control the stairs from the top to the ground floor. The map is clickable and it was originally integrated in the Highrise Project website. In the ‘The living building‘ I write about block-checking as an urban practice and how it contributed to the viability of this tall building. And it did so, even when back then, it was officially known that the flats will be demolished in the near future and clearance had already started. The building, in which the block check was recorded, was demolished on 10th June 2012.