Professor Afaina De Jong

The Research Unit Art and Design 1 is happy to welcome

Claiming*Spaces Guest Professor Afaina De Jong

This summer semester she will hold the design studio:

A SPACE OF FREEDOM – Donauinsel Vienna
Imagining Architecture as a Feminist Intersectional Cultural Practice

Video with Afaina de Jong on the design studio

Course on TISS

The design studio will focus on the topic of freedom in relation to (public urban) space. What does it actually mean for the existing multiplicity of people in our cities? How is it lived out? But also, how is it prevented for particular groups connected to gender, race, class and ability? The Donauinsel will be the site to applicate feminist intersectional theory and research in order to realize a design intervention questioning and imagining the space of freedom.

Architecture as both a professional and cultural practice is central to our imaginative and concrete relationship to space. But where can one find freedom within the spatial context of the contemporary city? Freedom to express one’s self publicly and having the freedom of assembly are concepts linked to the ideal notion of public space as part of the public domain. The actual reality of public space is one of control, where the ideal of freedom of expression and assembly is often contested and is not a given for all. The idea of public space is an ongoing practice and social struggle in which many, who are not seen as normative have to carve out space for themselves, as became even more visible during the Covid-19 pandemic. The presence of highly particular voices connected to gender, race, class, and ability can no longer be seen as the confirmation of the premises and prejudices of the past, but exists as a reality of its own. This multiplicity of other is where new spatial languages and practices will redefine dominant architectural paradigms. How do we as architects arrive at a newfound set of values, knowledge and methodology to design actual spaces of freedom?

The site of the design studio is Donauinsel, a place with the unique potential that it is open to the imagination of its users instead of open to the imagination of building developers. Historically already the predecessor of the island – the Danube meadow – has been a place of refuge, a place of freedom as for instance with the FKK nudist movement. Free from overzealous urban planning and design, Donauinsel is a place where many different people claim space while being present alongside each other. As Donauinsel is slowly growing into the center, the relation to water also remains largely outside the imagination of Vienna.

The studio starts with the reading in groups of theory that relates to critical discourse around the idea of freedom as it relates to the spatial practice.  The base of the literature lies in feminist theory and will probably concentrate on works of Nirwal Puwar and/or Audre Lorde. Alongside the theory, students will engage a range of methodologies to research Donauinsel on and off site.

Through the application of theory and research, students will articulate a question as it relates to the Donauinsel and the concept of freedom. The aim of posing this design question, opposed to articulating a problem that needs to be solved, is meant to spark the imagination as it relates to Donauinsel and as such students will be asked to answer with their individual design proposition. The end result of this design studio is with a design intervention.

For Afaina de Jong see:
• Biennale Pavillon Netherlands Venice 2020/21

For Claiming*Spaces at TU Wien see:
• fb & insta: @claimingspaces

Pool Application: Portfolio + please tell us, why you are interested in taking part.

This Master Design Studio takes place in the context of the first Claiming*Spaces guest professorship. The Guest professorship is hosted this year at the Institute of Art and Design 1. In the summer semester 2021 Guestprofessor Afaina De Jong will offer the design studio  „A SPACE OF FREEDOM“ in collaboration with Inge Manka (Institute of Art and Design 1), Bernadette Krejs (Researchunit Housing and Design) and Susanne Mariacher (Institute of Art and Design 1).

The CLAIMING*SPACES Collective is a bottom-up group of students, graduates, teachers and researchers at TU Wien which seeks to foster intersectional feminist perspectives in architecture and spatial planning. It was founded in 2019 to curate and organise the first CLAIMING*SPACES Conference 2019. more information here:

Lecturer: Guest Professor Afaina De Jong, Inge Manke, Bernadette Krejs, Susanne Mariacher

Kick-off March 5 – 10 am (Zoom)

(Weekly meetings Friday 10 am – 2 pm)