Urban Hosts is a programme of events, which provokes and promotes practical approaches to urban governance and city living. The programme brings together people who are actively producing alternatives to our given city infrastructures, norms and perceptions.

2020
Berlin
Bristol

Background

Urban Hosts was established in Dublin, in 2013 as a response for the need to cultivating grass-roots spaces, in which an open, ongoing dialogue around city living could be continually fostered.

Designed as a salon style event, in which contemporary techno-civic issues are discussed in an intimate and welcoming setting. Topics covered to date have focused on urban commoning, shared resource management, sustainable food networks, algorithmic governance, data rights and civic freedoms.

Since its inception, the scope of the project has grown to include a set of feral resources, known as ‘expansions’  that range from experiments in sensing urban rivers and seabeds, to workshops on Unpleasant Design and hosting your own website, to residencies, screenings, publications and tools. Urban Hosts is now home to this interweaving set of materials.

 

Conversation Matters

Urban Hosts looks to how a constant conversation about urban matters is required so that living relations do not become concentrated, gated or locked down. This is all the more vital as we continually shift into the operational logics of what is known as the ‘smart city’, a term which broadly refers to how cities can be run more efficiently via the integration of various data streams and digital platforms.

Such technological ‘smart‘ imaginaries view the city as a programmable interface, which reduce capacities for diversity and variety by streamlining regulated pathways. From a citizens perspective, the workings and language of the ’smart city‘ is also alienating and largely invisible. This along with the nature of how cities tend to be administered, raises questions about how we co-construct urban futures.

 

Local Relations

Situated with artistic practices that conceptually, practically and theoretically explore what it means for the artist to be entangled within complex civic practices, our approach draws on the tactic knowledge of creating  sited-based work, and the experiences of working with city councils.

As particular kinds of public bodies, city councils administer urban services, have elected and non-elicited members and operate across multiple and often separated, departments and sites. From the outside they often appear as impenetrable, walled gardens.

Despite this, when it comes to “running cities”, city councils are one of our most important public, civic institutions, who act on our behalf and make critical, daily decisions about what happens in our cities.

Recongising the complexities of such bodies and the tensions inherent in their structure between 2010-2014, Dublin City Council, took a bold step. Establishing an internal team composed of experienced civil servant, architects, urban planners and the designers. This group formed the The Studio, whose activities centred on breakdown internal and external barriers to communication and collaboration.

Working, with The Studio on a number of events and exhibitions (Open Data Challenge, 2011; HACK-LAB and HACK-THE-CITY, Science Gallery, 2012), the proposition to set up create Urban Hosts as a space through which ‘curated conversations for city living‘ could be established.

 

Hosting the Conversation

Understanding cities as messy, multispecies habitats that require diverse infrastructures, resources, living paths and forks to coexist simultaneously, so as to maintain vibrancy and variety for all.

The goal of Urban Hosts is to provoke and promote alternatives to city living by bringing together diverse people and communities – urban governing bodies, concerned citizens, activists, artists, designers, youth groups and students, companies and corporates, to the table.

Urban Hosts places value on hospitality, encountering and dialogue. The art of hosting is considered as central to the practice, with events often extended through various formats that over time look to how moments of exchange, no matter how small can collectively build capacities for supporting conversations about city living.

 

Focal Points

Since it is inception, Urban Hosts has taken place in Berlin, Helsinki, Aberdeen, Vienna, New Delhi and Bristol. With Berlin and Bristol, the current focal points through which salon events and workshops continue to be held.

Each salon event, lasts two-and-half hours with speaker presentations, purposefully kept short and numbers limited so that the conditions for real-time exchange can emerge. Placing emphasis on the physically present, conversational encounter, our events and workshops are purposefully not streamed or recorded. Over 2019-20 we are extending this format through a series of one-to-one chats with guest speakers, which are avail here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team

Teresa Dillon

Host and Founder

Artist and Professor of Future Cities, UWE, Bristol

Eliza Alice Lomas

Podcast Producer

Sound producer and editor