The contemporary city is a multifaceted creature that is not only conditioned by continuing change but also actively shapes this change. This means that we have to fundamentally rethink the city. Focusing on the physical object alone does not suffice anymore. To know what a city is, one needs to ask what a city actually „does“. Christopher Dell brings into focus this exciting dynamic: he asks how the city “makes itself“, and what kind of conceptions make the handling of an undetermined city possible in a playful and constructive manner. In doing so, Dell identifies a specific type of urban practice, improvisation, which acts and reacts upon the complex urban phenomena of the present. What was seen as a side effect or useless garbage during the industrial phase now becomes a resource. His conclusion is radical: the time has come to „recycle“ improvisation, rethinking it as part of the process and technology of the city.
Christopher Dell is a theorist and composer. He has lectured in architectural theory at Berlin University of the Arts and was a guest professor in theory at the Chair of Urban Development/Urban Design at HafenCity University in Hamburg. There, he directed the UD Meta Lab, Studio of Applied Theory, and initiated the teaching and research project “University of Neighbourhoods” (UdN) in cooperation with Bernd Kniess and Michael Koch. Dell is also head of the ifit, Institute for Improvisation Technology, Berlin. His special interest lies in the practices and organisational processes of contemporary cities. In transdisciplinary working constellations, he attempts to conceptualise relational forms of activity as procedures, so making them productive in design.