The project "Urban Communication" is part of a micro-study to test participative intervention as a tool to activate urban public space and to involve local people into the redesign of their neighbourhood.
The project site is located in an area of Leipzig that suffered a lot under city shrinkage after German reunification, and that still has a high rate of vacant buildings and abandoned spaces. Wooden blackboards were built into the window-frames of one of the vacant shops to change the racked facade of the empty building and animate the sidewalk for passersby. Questions about the neighbourhood and about peoples desires concerning the future of the abandoned spaces and buildings were printed on those blackboards. To encourage people to express their desires, dissatisfaction, ideas and perspectives concerning their neighbourhood on-site, the blackboards were equipped with multi-coloured chalk.
The intervention was part of a reserach project carried out to gain an understanding of how under- or unused public spaces can be stimulated through temporary interventions and to what extent such interventions can help neighbouring residents in their appropriation of space. Participatory observation, counting and qualitative interviews were used as investigative instruments to comparatively examine peoples use and perception of the space before and after the installation of the blackboards.
The project illustrates that participative intervention can stimulate an activation of urban space by inviting people to sojourn and to appropriate their environment. It gives an insight into potentials of participative interventions as a kind of direct and cost-efficient planning tool and demonstrates the significance of opportunities to participate.