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Research / Documentation / Publication
A cooperation between orange.edge and Platforma 9,81

Depiction of prototypes, as examples for the local transformation of global standards in the Ruhr area and in Zagreb.
Theoretical examination. Key words: social forms of transformation, architectural and spatial characteristics etc.
Comparison: local transformations in different social contexts.
Documentation as a booklet (still tbc) with approx. 32 pages

Traffic infrastructure with all its related developments are mostly seen as a force of global standardization: highways, gas stations, fast food chains, parking lots, shopping centers etc., they all look the same. But while their appearance might be similar, in each local context, they are transformed by temporary communities and cultural habits; parallel and sometimes semi-legal economies. They are generic and local at the same time.

Parking places are used for flea markets and as public places, highways vary from a line in the landscape to pseudo forests and closely built up boulevards. Rest areas are meeting places for businessman as well as swingers and so on. Within the fractal spatial structure of the Ruhr area with its chaotic relationship of center and periphery the emergence of non-places is a wide spread phenomenon.

The project will do a research on the different phenomena in the Ruhr area and in Zagreb and will trace the reasons for their appearance.

For example gas stations: Gas stations are a worldwide standard, generic architecture for selling fuel. In Germany, the convenience shop is a new element of the station. The average shop sells between 1500 and 3000 products, which corresponds to the range of goods offered in a medium sized supermarket. Besides this, catering at stations develops fast. Aral is today the 7th biggest fast food chain in Germany. The gas station combines different offers and services, it combines local and mobile demand. It serves the traveller as well as local residents. The station becomes more and more a ĎTante Emma Ladení for all social groups.

In the Ruhr Region with its peripheral spatial structure the gas station has a special role. Regional traffic infrastructure and local places donít form traditional urban spaces anymore. The Ruhr area reminds more of L.A. and the Broadacre City of Frank Lloyd Wright as of the European City. The gas station becomes an intersection place of center and periphery, a marketplace of the mobile age. Commuters ans residents do meet here, they are used as pubs, as a íTante Emma Ladení for allotment gardeners, they are meeting places of the youth and car tuners, shops for immobile elderly persons living nearby and at weekends the extended bar of night owls. All these processes of transformation are invisible, hidden in the generic design of the station.

In Zagreb the station is not (yet) a social place. The local transformation of the global standard is part of a particular architectural style (on the Balkans it is called „Turbo Folk Architecture”) that is more connected with deregulated superprivatisation of ownership and thus land use. But above all it is connected with the traditional culture that is being imprinted through these privately owned buildings.

The analytic comparison of local transformation processes in the Ruhr area and in Zagreb is a journey of discovery. The results will be irritating; they will provoke a reflection on our ideas of space and cities, which more and more are oriented on non-places like highways, gas stations or shopping centers.