08-02-04 // PAID URBANISM

Cover of MONU Magazine’s very first issue published in 2004

Paid Urbanism
By Bernd Upmeyer and Thomas Söhl

Our urban live today exists as it is, because we have a complex system of subsidies. Taxes, once extracted from the market economy strike back to the masses as paid urbanism. Used wisely or not, spread fair or unfair, this money is a strong force generating urban conditions. After the 90ths big enthusiasm about total privatization subsided, nowadays everybody realizes that there is a need to keep certain things for common use, in the hand of public administration. Redistribution of enormous values is a commonly accepted means of keeping civil democratic societies working. Government responsibility, intervention, taxing and spending are some of the metaphors we have for the state we are in. Caught in an enormous network of redistribution pervading everything and everybody, we are never aware of their power and influence. A Kafkaesque web of bureaucracies constantly recreates and resuscitates our urban landscapes. Drifting through these cities with their thousands invisible dependencies and relationships nobody can exactly define what keeps everything alive. Everything seems to be alive and vibrant but somewhere down the line there is a stream of decision and administration behind it. It has been paid for. The multitude products of paid urbanism are hard to define, but hidden behind every stone of the city. The effects of paid urbanism for urban settings cannot be estimated high enough – without paid urbanism a city cannot exist.

Billions are spent in transportation, social welfare, education, communication administration and culture. A network of subsidies tries to make basic and everyday demands affordable for almost everyone. And all this has besides its intended consequences, sometimes unconsciously creates special urban dynamics. Understanding paid urbanism as a tool to produce urbanism, money can be used to perform and create specific conditions within the city. Especially the public space, still fighting against death, could become a new chance. Every city would be able to realize their particular urban dream. We would finally be able again to fill up the dead historical centers. In a time where almost everything is subsidized, why not even paying people to walk around on empty public squares for example. This first issue of MONU invites articles, projects, photographs etc. that explore the field of paid urbanism.

Title: Paid Urbanism
Author: Bernd Upmeyer, Thomas Söhl
Date: February 2004
Type: Call For Submissions for MONU
Publications: MONU – Magazine on Urbanism
Location: Rotterdam, The Netherlands