9 December 2020 | 17:15-18:00
Prof. Dr. Brigitte Sölch, State Academy of Art and Design, Stuttgart
‘Ambichronous Phenomenon. The Forum as Idealized Vision of the Public’
The new Forum in Groningen demonstrates once again: It is astonishing and impressive at the same time how Forum and Agora have shaped the (western) idea of the city, its public spaces and political institutions for over 2000 years. Even nowadays, Forum and Agora are still ‘alive’ as a Janus-like phenomenon, which means that they evoke at the same moment a look back into the past and forward into the future. Even the internet forum was explicitly linked to the etymology of the roman forum and envisioned as a new form of democratic space that allows communication and participation for everybody.
How did that come about? In other words: What role did the post-war period play in the formation of the particular notions, urban concepts and spatial visions of Forum and Agora? And how can we deal with this phenomenon today, knowing well that a lot of Forums are built as Shopping malls etc. since the late twentieth century, which evoked broad discussions about the loss and gentrification of public space? Furthermore, how can we deal with this without forgetting that there is another, more interesting string of history: namely that of Town Halls, where the ancient notion of the Forum as a space where politics and the broader public meet exists as both idea and real part of the architectural design.