X-LArch V Park Politics International Conference

X-LArch V Park Politics International Conference 7 - 9 June 2018

The Institute of Landscape Architecture at BOKU Wien and Architekturzentrum Wien invite participants to the X-Larch V “Park Politics” International Conference, 7–9 June 2018 in Vienna, Austria.


The X-Larch V “Park Politics” Conference will bring together internationally renowned speakers and contributors from the realms of research and practice for three days of discussions and an exchange of ideas.


X-Larch V is intended for scholars with a background in planning and design, geography, urban studies, political sciences, sociology and related fields as well as at policy makers, planners and designers, politicians and community advocates.


Conference Venue

The City of Vienna offers an ideal location in which to explore the politics of the design, management and use of public open space in an international and interdisciplinary setting. The city’s rich history of social housing and social green, “gentle” urban renewal and current cooperative urban development strategies focused on public open spaces are a manifestation of changing planning ideals and a new understanding of the public as a community.


The conference will start with an afternoon of lectures at the Architekturzentrum Wien, housed in the famous Museumsquartier in the city centre.

Sessions will take place at BOKU, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, located on the outskirts of the city surrounded by parks.


Afternoon Lectures with

Bernd Belina, geographer, professor, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany

Ruedi Baur, graphic designer, Zurich/Paris

Emily Eliza Scott, artist and art historian, Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland

Christoph Schmidt, director of Grün Berlin GmbH, Germany (requested)

Julie Bargmann, D.I.R.T. studio, Charlottesville, USA (requested)


Conference Theme

Politics is dead! Long live politics!

In an era of post-politics, economics has become a guiding rationale for the production of urban space. This has been discussed widely and subjected to critical analysis, not least because of its effects on the design, management and use of public open spaces. Yet, at the same time, there is an increasing politicisation of public open spaces. This can be observed in movements to reclaim public spaces and their democratic use, as well as in social protest and contestation in general political debates in which urban public spaces have become central. In parallel, design and planning theory are stimulated by the growing recognition amongst professionals and scholars that planning and design ideals are not neutral but are, in fact, political and mirror the dynamic histories of planning approaches, design concepts and, as a result, world views.


The ideals that shape our conceptions of urban landscapes are never neutral but are shaped by relations, practices and interactions embedded in structures of power and thus must be understood to have a direct relationship with the political, economic and cultural conditions of cities, in which the built environment both signifies and influences power positions, social orders and hierarchy. Doreen Massey (2005) has argued that space “poses the political question of how we are going to live together”. By the same token, Low and Smith (2006) argue that understanding the multifaceted politics of public space involves engagement with “the people and processes that are remaking the politics of public space”.


What, then, is the state of the politics of urban space?


Ideas and concepts of how society would work best are not only the content of political manifestos but are also – if more subtly – expressed in aesthetic-technological approaches shaping our environment as constitutive models, policies or principles. Although these are often framed as technological necessities and neutral aesthetic developments, investigations have enabled the identification of such models, their ideological backgrounds, their implementation in political institutions, and not least the effects of such models and principles on the design, management and use of urban open spaces.


Taking public urban parks as an example of urban open space in which – over time – ideas and ideals of how we should live together have manifested particularly well in changing design styles, programmes and use regulations as well as in financing models, this conference invites theoretical, practical, methodological and empirical contributions. We understand urban open spaces not as the domain of planning and design professionals only but as both the medium and outcome of an amalgam of influences, be they economic, cultural, social or political. Thus we welcome extended abstracts which explore the spatial, social, cultural and political causes, dimensions, implications and consequences of design from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, be they planning and design, geography, urban studies, political sciences, sociology, community development or policy making.

We particularly encourage submissions that investigate (but are not limited to) the following themes and questions in a historical or contemporary perspective:


(1)     The politics of (park) design – Urban landscapes mirror the societal values and priorities of political decision making in manifold ways. The design of urban spaces happens in social, economic and political contexts and cannot be understood independently of these contexts or their transformations. Nevertheless, robust design should adapt to changing demands and be accommodating, flexible and inclusive for diverse uses over time. How are contemporary and historical concepts of open space design and programme related to ideas and ideals? How are these ideas and ideals enforced through political and administrative authorities, at the local and international level? How do such concepts affect the implemented design and materiality of open spaces? How has park design been repurposed and thus contested?


(2)     The politics of (park) management – The management and maintenance regimes of urban open spaces as well as the rules and regulations concerning their use have a crucial influence on the spaces’ accessibility and usability, and thus their publicness. Like all other laws and regulations, the management of urban open space is value-laden and shaped by certain actors and their bargaining about (competing) values. How do the management and maintenance regulations of open spaces contribute to the manifestation of ideas and ideals? How much influence on the open space do the people responsible for its management actually have? How have people adapted rules and regulations to changing ideas and ideals?


(3)     The politics of (park) use – The design and programme of a space are not necessarily congruent with the uses it receives. Even though design and management establish behaviour settings to allow or deny certain activities and so express societal values and norms, the “effective environment” of any open space is created by the users. As such, new or contested forms of use in urban open spaces can counter the uneven distribution of resources. How are the use claims and requirements of diverse groups enhanced and influenced through urban open space design and management? How have social transformations manifested in changing use conventions? How have ideas and ideals been negotiated, either among groups of users or between users and authorities?


Guidelines for Submission:

The official language of the conference is English. The Scientific Committee invites scholars and practitioners to submit extended abstracts of 1,000 words for presentations on research outcomes or practice examples. We also invite submissions of thematic sessions with their corresponding abstracts. All abstracts will be submitted for blind review by a panel of reviewers who decide about acceptance to the conference. Selected participants can then choose if they wish to submit a revised abstract of 1,000 words or submit a full paper of 3,000 – 4,000 words for publication in the electronic conference proceedings. During the conference, we expect a Power Point or PDF presentation. Please submit one abstract on a single topic only. The conference presentation will be a maximum of fifteen minutes plus fifteen minutes for Q&A in three parallel sessions. One session lasts for two hours and contains four presentations.


Please use our abstract management and review site for your submission:



To submit your extended abstract, you must be logged in as an Author. For this, fill in your profil and tick the appropriate box at the end of the page.

For extended abstracts:

Submission title: A maximum of twelve words

Submission format: Research or practice

Author(s) information: List all authors and identify who is contact author.

Topic areas: Please indicate to which topic area (see above) your presentation relates.

Keywords: Up to five keywords are permitted.

Research – Main text of extended abstract: The abstract should be no longer than 1,000 words. It should provide a clear and concise summary of what will be in the presentation. The extended abstract itself will present the results of new research not yet published. It should spell out the research question, the context and theory of the problem, the methodology used, the main results and broad conclusions.

Practice – Main text of extended abstract: The abstract should be no longer than three A4 pages, which can be divided into text and visuals. It should provide a clear outline of what the project is about and how it relates to the conference theme and also indicate its location as well as the presenter’s role in the project.

References: Abstracts should include no more than five major literature references. The Harvard system of referencing should be used


For thematic sessions:

Session title: A maximum of twelve words

Session format: Research or practice

Session organiser(s): List all organisers and identify who is main contact.

Topic areas: Please indicate to which topic area (see above) your session relates.

Concept statement: Please explain concisely (350 words max.) what the thematic focus of the session is and how the four individual papers help to develop this focus.

Keywords: Up to five keywords are permitted.

Individual extended abstracts: Please add the four abstracts that are part of your sessions. See guidelines above.


Important Dates


30 June 2017: Deadline for submission of extended abstracts and for applying to chair a thematic session

4 November 2017: Notification of acceptance and reviewers’ comments

12 January 2018: Deadline for submission of revised abstracts

Registration will open in February 2018


Conference Fees (including tea/coffee breaks, lunches, electronic version of the proceedings):

Early Bird: EUR 350/Full Price: EUR 400

PhD: EUR 250

Students (NOT PhD): EUR 50 (limited contingent, upon presentation of student certification)

Post-conference fieldtrips: EUR 50

Conference dinner on 8 June: EUR 30