Impromptu: Patient city center


Summer Semester 2022

Term: one semester


From market stalls to the internet, from self-service to online shopping

The transformation from commerce to consumption in our cities changed greatly with the beginning of the 20th century, both in shopping behaviour, but also through the loss of the 'spatial reference space'.

While in the meantime consumption brought forth architectural fascinations and specific typologies such as department stores as temples of consumption or boutiques with a love of detail, even today, with colourful temporary displays, commerce transforms the most diverse squares into weekly markets or other festivities.

While the increasing construction of malls in the 2000s was long considered by critics to be a notable reason for the vacancy rate in pedestrian zones alongside online retailing, it seems that online retailing in particular, together with accelerated digitalisation - triggered by a worldwide pandemic - has exorcised the spirit of retailing:

The 'spatial future' of empty city centres seems uncertain.

While the online offer for customers is pluralising and the accessibility with memberships such as 'prime tariffs' is steadily increasing, the need for space and occupation of sales space such as shop premises is becoming smaller and smaller.

But even online retail, which now even meets short-term demand, could not prevent supply chain bottlenecks and shortages of goods in the Corona pandemic - despite sophisticated logistics. If the optimisation of consumption seemed to have reached its zenith, analogies of empty shop shelves and hoarding purchases to the Great Depression of 1920 cannot be avoided in states of emergency even today.

- Is it time, then, between housing shortages and vacant shops in the cities, to plead for a 'spatial' reconsideration of the retail trade and on what basis would this demand be based?

While Le Corbusier saw himself more as a surgeon who tore out the flesh of the patient 'city' in his visions, there are other less radical architectural attitudes besides the classical orthodox medicine analogy. For example, the goal of cautious urban renewal in medicine could be translated as homeopathy. To remain in the anatomical image: The resulting most diverse treatment methods are dedicated to disease patterns of the building culture, which were previously determined in an anamnesis and recorded on a patient's anamnesis sheet. It is therefore time to take stock, to take a medical history of patients with similar symptoms in order to be able to evaluate comparable disease patterns and stages as well as previous treatments.


Following on from the annual conference on urban monument preservation in 2021 with the title 'Patient Inner City', we would like to carry out a comparable inventory, a medical history of patients, upstream of the surgical interventions, which will provide information on the course of illnesses and allow conclusions to be drawn in comparable patterns. Analogous to dental x-rays of dentures, we would therefore like to categorise shopping streets of inner cities:

'paradentosis', a classic inflammation of the gums could, for example, be a systemic problem, 'tartar' an insufficient preservation order, and a 'bleaching' perhaps an advertising scheme to upgrade city centre facades? The catalogue of analogies is long and is now to be applied by you to test subjects in the impromptu 'Patient Inner City'.


In the format Patient Inner City, you are not only called upon as an architecture student, but are also part of a crisis team that uses your expertise to carry out anamneses of inner cities on the basis of a predefined patient anamnesis form and then discusses them in plenary.

Anamnesis phase 1

After each student has independently examined a patient (city) of his or her choice using the patient history sheet and entered the findings in the sheet, there will be a symposium to introduce the patients. Here, the given anamnesis sheet can also be discussed critically.

Anamnesis phase 2

After adapting the sheet, you as a student in the role of an assistant doctor will examine your patient again. You enter the results of the first patient into the new sheet and compare it with a second patient of your choice to be examined. In addition, three "teeth" with their states are to be presented in depth.

The resulting patient presentations will be on display and open for discussion in an exhibition in summer 2022.


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