Know-how and Know-why of extended urban practice. Situational Analysis: Esso-Häuser

Master Theses

Hamburg´s ongoing problems in the provision of much needed affordable housing can be diagnosed as government and market failure. While a shortage of affordable housing and a high degree of polarization and segregation was obvious to many scholars in spatial planning, architecture, sociology and beyond, the articulation of necessary actions was effectively halted under the laboratory conditions of a municipality and home builders hiding behind neoliberal norms.
Recent actions of urban social movements in Hamburg have shown that there is a growing concern amongst people living in the city about failing urban development projects. This rightly reminds many of urban social movements from yesteryear´s protests in Hamburg like Hafenstraße or Park Fiction. In the current discourse about the Esso-Häuser, located on Hamburg´s infamous amusement strip Reeperbahn, it is more tangible than in other places that the urban is socially and politically conditioned.
The master thesis „Know-how and Know-why of extended urban practice. Situational Analysis. Case Study: Esso-Häuser, Hamburg“ addresses this ongoing discourse with the methods of Situational Analysis developed by Adele E. Clarke. This method allows to render the perspectives and commitment of actors vis-á-vis the situation visible. By following efforts of articulation of these perspectives and commitment one can analyze the power/knowledge relation as a field of organizing practices in action. In doing so the thesis focuses on the power structures and processes of governing authorities and their negotiability by an individual or collective effort.
The research concludes in outlining the necessary know-how and know-why of an urban social movement articulating specific issues oriented in the use-value of the urban. Further it sheds light on the processes of translation of available opportunity structures such as centrality, social and cultural capital, into legitimized organizations. While market values have overridden broader civic values in the problematisaton of urban development, the case of Esso-Häuser shows that an extended urban practice, understood as an assemblage of recombinant capacities coming from urban social movements, politicians and real estate investors, around the boundary object Esso-Häuser can be successful in challenging existing conceptions of how the urban is produced.



Urban Design Thesis Project


Prof. Dr. Alexa Färber


Professor, Urban Anthropology and Ethnography

Prof. Dr. sc. techn. ETH Michael Koch


Urban Design and District Planning

M.Sc. Dominique Peck


Academic Staff, Ph.D. Candidate