The transition of a municipality into a resilient city requires transformational processes with broad participation of citizens from different backgrounds and educational milieus. To address the challenges of the climate and environmental crisis, fragile social cohesion and increasing migration, the city needs to be seen as a space in which people meet and interact and where trust is grown. To achieve this, the city must become a living vision of the future for many, reflecting the expectations of a good life. Language barriers as well as cultural and role-specific characteristics hinder people in articulating their expectations, wishes and hopes and in sharing them with others. We need to find ways to give them access to playful means of expression with which they can reflect on their being-in-the-world, share it with others and develop a common narra-tive of a city worth living in.

In close cooperation with the Theater “Teatron”, the city of Arnsberg would like to explore the possibility of using autobiographical-documentary theater with citizens, supported by serious gaming tools, as a method of urban development informed by the urban society. Urban data from the environment, weather, traffic and settlement (sensor data, photos, maps, statistics, opinion pieces from social media, etc.) will be incorporated into the game with the help of visualization, animation and film art, so that virtual spaces merge with the city as an extended stage and the urban society as an audience: human-machine inter-action as a digitized theatropolis. The play will first be performed on stage and later as a pop-up theater in real urban spaces. The findings from this process will be extracted from the performative space of the (city-)theater via social science methods and processed as information for urban planning. In this way, we are reversing the participatory city planning process: it is not the city that invites citizens to participate in planning processes, but citizens who stage their visions and bring them to the city.

nexus is responsible for the coordination and project management of this project within the consortium as well as the accompanying research and preparation of the results for the urban planners. We are also developing the method of theater participation, which will be tested and eval-uated in the project and abstracted into a participation method that can be used in other contexts.

Duration: 10/2023 – 10/2026
Grant authority: Federal Ministry of Education and Research
Team: Dr. Daniel Guagnin, Dr. Carina Brumme, Matthias Bottel
Project partner: City of Arnsberg, University of Lübeck, Wegesrand GmbH & Co. KG.

Foto: unsplash – Hulki Okan Tabak