ETH Zürich – Institut für Städtebau
ONA G41 – Neunbrunnenstrasse 50 – 8093 Zürich


International Conference

Zürich, 26.10.2012., Theaterhaus Gessnerallee

hosted by reART:theURBAN




The conference Urban Manufacturing/Manufacturing the Urban is based on the belief that urban manufacturing (e.g. small-scale entrepreneurial activities) has a positive impact on urban spaces and, in reverse, that urban spaces are themselves providing ideal conditions for urban manufacturing. Urban spaces and urban manufacturing have a long and mutually fertilizing relation. As long as cities have existed they have been the breeding grounds for small-scale production of goods, services and knowledge. Cities have provided the diversity of skills, knowledge and experiences to create these products, as well as the spaces to produce, to sell and to purchase them. However, urban manufacturing has not only generated economic values, but also urban ones: it has contributed to the diversity, intensity and stimulation of urban everyday life. This is why the spaces that have been shaped through manufacturing are usually considered most urban.



The conference Urban Manufacturing/Manufacturing the Urban attempts to elucidate the reciprocal relationship between urban manufacturing and urban space and show how it can be made productive for a sustainable development of contemporary cities. In recent decades, the relationship between urban space and urban manufacturing has lost much of its significance: small-scale manufacturing was replaced by large-scale retail and industries, and inner city production and consumption was moved to peripheral locations. Today, however, as our cities have passed from an industrial economy to a knowledge economy, and from suburbanization to the so called “urban renaissance”, urban manufacturing may once again play a vital role in driving economic and urban developments of our cities. Urban Manufacturing/Manufacturing the Urban aims at a better understanding of these developments for both urban entrepreneurs and planners.



The conference is divided into two panels. The first panel “Urban Manufacturing: Modes of Creative Production in Urban Space” provides a theoretical framework for understanding the processes of urban manufacturing. The central question being: How can urban space facilitate small-scale entrepreneurial activities?

In the second panel “Manufacturing the Urban: Creative Production and the Qualification of Urban Space” practical examples of urban manufacturing is presented and discussed. The central question being: How can small-scale entrepreneurial activities be drivers for urban development?




Dieter Läpple

is professor of Urban and Regional Economics at Hafencity University in Hamburg. Läpple does research on the restructuring of the economic bases of cities and regions and urban labour markets. He has served on a variety of different international advisory boards in this regard.


Ula Schneider

is an artist who initiated the arts festival Soho in Ottakring in the deprived area of Brunnenviertel in Vienna. The festival is unique in its incorporation of local resources and citizen groups through a focus on participatory, process-oriented art practice within the context of urban development.


Raumlabor Berlin

is an innovative network and collective of architects working at the intersection of architecture, city planning, art and urban intervention. The collective is at the cutting edge of opening up new perspectives for alternative usage patterns, collective ideals, urban diversity and difference.


Klaus Overmeyer

is a prize-winning architect who does research on the potentials of temporary use for the revitalization of urban residual areas. He initiated the international research project Urban Catalyst, which resulted in models of action for a temporary-use-based urban development.


Katja Aßmann

is artistic director of Urban Arts Ruhr. Previously she was programme manager for the visual arts and architecture sectors of the European Capital of Culture RUHR.2012 and manager of the Landesinitiative StadtBauKultur NRW.


Arnold Reijndorp (to be confirmed)

is a professor and urban researcher at the cutting edge of urbanism/architecture and social and cultural developments in the urban field. He holds the Han Lammers Chair of Social-economic developments of new urban areas at the University of Amsterdam, and is associated with the International New Town Institute in Almere.


Kees Christiaanse

is an architect and urban designer, based in Zurich. He is founder and partner of KCAP Architects and Planners with numerous international projects and branches in Rotterdam, Zurich and Shanghai. Kees Christiaanse is professor for urban design and the ETH Zurich and since 2011 the programme leader of the Future Cities Laboratory (FCL), a transdisciplinary research centre established by ETH Zurich and Singaporean Universities.


Tim Rieniets

is an urban designer, researcher and curator, based in Zurich. He works as senior lecturer at ETH Zurich and holds a visiting professorship at TU Munich. He was involved in international research and exhibition projects and is co-editor of award-winning books. He is currently curating a neighbourhood development in Belgrade, based on individual cultural and social initiatives.


hosted by:



The conference is made possible by:

Stadt Zürich (Wirtschaftsförderung)


Sphéres, Zürich

Future Cities Laboratory (FCL)


as part of the research project:

Urban Breeding Grounds