- THE "ΟΤΗΕR" SPACES WHERE PLACE BECOMES AN EXPERIENCE AND ACQUIRES VALUES Heterotopias, are places with no clear and immutable geographic boundaries or a fixed physical substance. They are places designated by acts or situations, from experiences or facts. Groups of people generate heterotopias by trying to construct therein or through them a situation ideal. The path is not settled or completely specified. Their practice is the effort to create the conditions that allow the passage to this ideal. These groups of people are certainly not homogenous masses: the diversity of individuals is expressed within the complexity and variety of space. This space becomes a communication code, where each element, combined with the location and function, refers to specific meanings and values.
This text examines the role and the contribution of heterotopias, the other spaces, in urban design and city theory. The structure starts with the analysis and the definition of the term heterotopia and the importance of the other places in our cities and societies. In section two, it explores heterotopias through three different prisms and writers. The first prism is that of philosophy, where philosopher Michel Foucault who actually elaborated the concept of heterotopia, explains about the different types and principles. The second prism is that of sociology, where the philosopher and sociologist Henri Lefebvre refers to a trialectics of spatial practices, representations of space and space of representations. The third prism is that of urban design, where city theoretician David Grahame Shane breaks down cities into three constituent elements, describing heterotopia as the most important of the three. Afterwards, the paper discusses how the three perceptions of heterotopia, mentioned above, transform the meaning of space, identity and values. It focuses on understanding the conditions to create heterotopias and to use it in urban design as a tool. Furthermore, the theoretical findings are translated in study cases. Heterotopias will be filtered through reflections of planning, the abandonment of the urban centres and the constant shifts of the social poles. The text concludes with remarks on the other places, where urban design is a challenge for a balanced spatial integration.
WRITING ON HETEROTOPIAS FOUCAULT AND HETEROTOPIAS
There are also, and this probably in all culture, in all civilization, real places, effective places, places that are written into the institution of society itself, and that are a sort of counter emplacements, a sort of effectively realized utopias in which the real emplacements, all the other real emplacements that can be found within culture, are simultaneously represented, contested and inverted; a kind of places that are outside all places, even though they are actually localizable. (Foucault, 1967, p.17)
Before any in depth examination, we should note that the choice to focus on the other spaces by Michel Foucault, it is not random, but it comes to meet substantial questions that he had. In the same spirit of time, Foucault, based on the same principles of structuralism, tries to disassemble the whole social reality and to focus into the asymmetric development of social forms of that period of time. In order to explain everything, by its history, he takes the chance to detect the originality of social relations developed in the society. As a result of this, he locates his interest in peripheral – extreme situations (prisons, clinics etc.) where relations develop outside of “normal”. He believes that the constitution of the “other” can be seen clearer inside the “whole” through its dynamic elements. Foucault defines two main types of spaces that contradict to reality. The first one, the Utopias, created by the denial of the people to compromise to reality, leads them to fantasise a different/ideal order of social relations. This ideal society has its reflection in an ideal city and space. So, utopian places or non-real places having the “ideal” characteristics, exist in a “perfect” society, or in a society turned upside down. On the other hand, there is the existing type of contradicted space.
…even though they are actually localizable. Since these places are absolutely other than all the emplacements that they reflect, and of which they speak, I shall call them, by way of contrast to utopias, heterotopias. (Foucault, 1967, p.17)
So to “localize” these realistic spaces, or heterotopias, Foucault analyses the basic principles of this study, described as heterotopology: i. There is probably not a single culture in the world that does not constitute heterotopias. The first principle describes two different categories of heterotopias. Firstly, there are the heterotopias of crisis, existing in the “primitive” societies, places (sacred, privileged, forbidden) that accept people that are in crisis, like boarding schools for the boys etc. Secondly, there are the heterotopias of deviation, existing in the modern societies, so places where people act out of the normalities of each society, like prisons or clinics. ii. In the course of its history, a society can make a heterotopia that exists, and has not ceased to exist, function in a very different way. The main example that Foucault gives here, is the cemetery. It is a place that connect with every other place of the society. Until the end 18th century, the cemeteries was placed in the centre, in the heart of the city. Though, the individualization of death gives another meaning to the burial of the body, when death is considered as an illness and from the 19th century onwards and cemeteries are consequently placed outside the cities. iii. The heterotopia has the power to juxtapose in a single real place several spaces, several emplacements that are in themselves incompatible. Theatres and cinemas are places of juxtaposition where the stage or the screen are the places where the mirror of other/ different emplacements are displayed. The Persian gardens are the best examples of the third principle, defined by their cosmologic and semiologic reference. iv. Heterotopias are most often linked to slices of time - which is to say that they open onto what might be called, heterochronisms. Libraries and museums are part of the heterochronistic heterotopias. Knowledge, time, ideas become part of an eternity in a single place. On the other hand, we have the fairgrounds and festivals, when time becomes temporary and uncertain. v. Heterotopias always presuppose a system of opening and closing that both isolates them and makes them penetrable. Foucault makes two interpretations. On the one hand, the “opening and closing” are clear and distinguishable (army, prison) and on the other hand, one can have permission after a process of rites or purifications with a certain permission (Muslim hamams, Scandinavian saunas). vi. The last trait of heterotopias is that they have, in relation to the rest of space, a function. The two categories introduced here are the heterotopias of illusion and the heterotopias of compensation. Brothels create the illusion of an orthologic disguise in relation with the sexual normality, outside of them. Colonisation, with its “organised and pure” structures come to rise the unconventional other places.
As we can see, there is no spatial similarity of the different examples referred by Foucault. We can say that, the only element that relates them to each other, is the role that play on the social structures of each society.
LEFEBVRE AND HETEROTOPIAS Beyond Foucault’s research on space, there were the situationists, the existentialists, the phenomenologists etc. One of the theoreticians that places emphasis on space was Henri Lefebvre. As he used to say, he was looking for the “new humanism”, that diversify itself from the humanism of liberal ideology, and at the same time, he opens the road for human emancipation. He saw the weakness of the system to achieve a full inclusion of people in its structures, leaving “holes” and “cracks” through which, there could be generated alternative, to the predominant forms, subjectivities. In this vein, when Lefebvre talks about the “right to the city” and the city as a process, basically, he is trying to describe the field on which he can work and express. For him, space does not just reflect the existing (dominant) social relations, but rather, is a continuous challenge where, apart from the domination of the “normal”, we meet the controversy, the resistance and the different, or else the “other”. Lefebvre argued that while the production of capitalist space aims to be homogeneous and abstract (totalitarian), in reality is a process which leaves fragments of differential spaces. These are areas where we do not find a hegemonic central ideology but different forms of social relations. In «The production of Space», he proposes a triadic analysis for the space. Production of space is broken down into three distinct categories: • the spatial practices (Espace percu): objective space as a physical/empirical reality, formed in a specific context of social relations, needs and relationships, a granted and a neutral space • the representations of space (Espace concu): the conceived space of the scientists and artists, the mental produced space, the ideologic space • the space of representation (Espace vecu): the lived space as unmediated experience, transformed from objective and conceived space
Although, he devotes a large part of his research on space, Levebvre makes only a few and scattered references to the issue of heterotopia. In «The Production of Space» heterotopia is used together with the isotopia and utopia, and more specifically as the opposite of the isotopia. For Lefebvre, isotopia is the dominant form of organization of space, the ‘normal’, the centre, while heterotopias are competitive, peripheral spaces. The motives and reasons that led him to use the term of heterotopia differ from those of Foucault. When referring to Foucault, he imputes him an obsession with the analysis of the individual against the collective subject, the abstract nature of the spatial flows. Therefore, while acknowledging that the analysis of “extreme social situations” that Foucault describes, is of particular interest, he argues that this insistence on the “peripheries” ends up despising the “centre”.
Edward Soja, in the same logic as Lefebvre, identifies the so-called double illusion in relation with the debate on space. Based on this line, Soja, considering that we have to think on space beyond this traditional dipole, introduces the term of «Thirding-as-Othering». By that, he tries to describe a condition, which will disassemble the holistic (dipolar) formats that seek to interpret reality in a static, unambiguous way. This circular and dynamic relationship between subject and object, the thirding, should not be understood simply as the “average” of these two poles. The concept of Thirdspace, proposed by him, is the experienced place that gives meaning to space, with an equal and especially reciprocal relationship. Thirdspace rises above the dominant patterns and dominant forms of ownership of space. It is direct, with ‘irrational’ view and is not part of the normal capitalist reproduction. He argues that it is the only category of the three, which can manifest controversies and challenge the social reality. So heterotopias are the Thirdspace, where both the dominant narrative about the place and actual social relationships developed, conduct the “otherness”. Therefore, we should not consider of the Thirdspace (or heterotopias) just as some other/different place but as a radically different way to think spatially. So finally, the heterotopias should not be perceived as a kind of spatial entities with strict boundaries but must be associated with dynamic (both spatial and temporal) relations to space, since they are established through empirical, cognitive and experiential processes.
Following Foucault’s heterotopias and Lefebvre’s “spaces of representation”, Marco Cenzatti elaborates the heterotopias of difference, arguing that the current socio-cultural and economic data have overcome the heterotopias of deviation and are no longer the dominant forms of heterotopia. Particularly, he argues that in the modern societies, the norms (the normal) have become much more flexible and dynamic. Thus, a deviation today cannot be seen as something static and given, but as something that is constantly being redefined. The fights given in the late 60s and onwards, from the various “minority” groups (gay, black, women etc.) claiming the right to difference, set a new social situation, a new model of social reproduction. Capitalism hasn’t failed, but rather reorganized, trying to incorporate these new conditions. In this logic, heterotopias can no longer take the form of a spatially limited institution (prison, clinic, etc.) that contain/exclude specific social subjects with stable characteristics. In the era of multiple identities, we have to treat them as a kind of practice, a form of ownership of certain areas at certain times. When social relations that define a space as heterotopic cease to exist, that space ceases to be a heterotopia. Thus, we may have a given space, with a particular physical configuration, where to acquire ‘heterotopic’ characteristics because of certain relationships that thrive in this specific situation (markets and fairs, public demonstrations, festivals etc.). We can say that, the heterotopias of difference are ephemeral spatial - social situations in places with interchangeable social subjects. In these approaches of heterotopias, we can see an attempt to eliminate boundaries and to deal with them as something diffuse and dynamic into the social reality.
SHANE AND HETEROTOPIAS
David Grahame Shane gives another dimension to the meaning of heterotopias while addressing the new challenges for urban planning and design. The cities, he mentions, are made up of fragments (they are no longer understandable in a holistic way) and dealing with them should be made fragment by fragment, in way that intervening in one wouldn’t damage the others. Therefore, he proposes the three elements that an urban or city designer should consider. The first element is that of enclave, single-purpose assemblage space like public squares or other public buildings. The second element is that of armature. The armatures are the communication or transportation networks, usually the streets but also other linear functions like shopping arcades, boulevards etc. but also public demonstrations. The third and the most “crucial” elements of the city, the connecting ones, are the heterotopias. Heterotopia, for him, is any large and complex monument or public institution which combines different urban factors. Normally they “stand out” from the urban fabric and change the city over time. Some urban heterotopias are Centre Pompidou in Paris, Federation Square in Melbourne, London Eye.
In his own words: Urban actors and designers use heterotopias to combine enclaves and armatures, making new hybrids that they hope will have special advantages and accommodate change or difference in the city. Michel Foucault, the French philosopher who introduced the term to architects in the 1960s, was especially interested in the heterotopias used to bring modernism into traditional societies not based on modern science, organised by custom, magic or belief in different hierarchical systems. Foucault emphasised that heterotopias were often miniature models of an urban ecology, a small city within a city. Also the actors in charge often reversed significant codes inside the heterotopia. If the city was chaotic, for instance, then actors sought order, calm and control within the perimeter of the heterotopia. The other distinguishing characteristic of the heterotopia was its multiple actors, each with their own spaces and codes, all within one perimeter. This contrasted with a modern enclave that tended to be monofunctional – a business park, for instance, without other uses. Multiple actors could interact inside the heterotopia, try new combinations and experiment, without disturbingthe whole urban ecology. (Shane, 2011, p.37)
Based in the concept of the three elements he also introduces three models of the city design with “recombinations” of the three urban elements. The domination of one of the elements characterizes the model itself. For these new city models, he gives the urban equipment used, but also some examples for us to understand: • Archi Citta: Enclaves dominate armatures, system must have heterotopic space. Urban equipment are such as the Main Square, gates, markets, temples etc. Some Archi Cittas are ancient city of Pompeii or Timgad • Cine Citta: Armature dominates system. Urban equipment are such as a highway grid, arcades, malls, boulevards. Planed cities based on this model are Copenhagen or Upper West Side neighbourhood in New York • Tele Citta: Heterotopias dominate system. Urban equipment are themed space or district, gated enclosure or historic district, entertainment district etc. The urban design movement of New Urbanism uses the same methods as Tele Citta. Time Square in New York, Disneyland, Christiania in Copenhagen or even the late Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong are some examples of this model.
While he continuously invokes Foucault’s heterotopias, the new urban “principles” that Shane gives, take them to another dimension. For Foucault, heterotopia was not a functional space or even a specific place. It was rather a space where alternative social groups (with or without their own intention) gathered, creating these other spaces, usually temporarily, by having different social values. Shane’s heterotopias have to do mainly with diversity, spatially seen in every multi-use structure. He describes heterotopia as:
...what enables the city to maintain itself stably and urban actors to shift from one urban model to another or to hybridize the models. (Shane, 2005, p.227)
In the end, to the three city models, he adds the Net City as an emerging form, a “matrix” of heterotopian nodes.