Robert Temel

“The Temporary in the City”, in: Florian Haydn, Robert Temel (Ed.): Temporary Urban Spaces. Concepts for the Use of City Spaces, Birkhäuser: Basel 2006, pp. 59–67

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Ausschnitt S. 59–60:

Cities have long lives, and urban planning has long-term effects, so how is the temporary relevant to the city?
‘Temporary’ refers to something that exists for a time, but there are different concepts of such temporariness: ‘Ephemeral’ is a term from biology that refers to creatures that live for only a day. Ephemerality is thus an existential temporality; the ephemeral has a short life, its existence cannot be extended. This contrasts with the provisional, which begins as something with a short life but then, not infrequently, remains for very long periods. ‘Provisional’ refers to a facility that is conceived as a mere substitute for the ‘real thing’, the lasting, an interim measure when something is needed but the quality one would truly like cannot yet be achieved, but will perhaps be possible at a later point. The temporary stands between these two positions. It is, on the one hand, short-lived like the ephemeral, but unlike the latter it can certainly exist for a longer period than was initially intended. It is possible to extend its life. In that respect it shares qualities with the provisional, but the temporary also has its own qualities and should not be viewed as merely a substitute for the fully adequate. This special quality can, for example, be that temporal limitation permits many things that would still be inconceivable if considered for the long term. Things that would be unbearable over the long term can still be perceived as valuable for the short term. The adjective ‘temporary’ is often linked to concepts that in fact stand for long-lived things – for example, temporary buildings that are intended, exceptionally, to exist only for a short time. When the concept of temporality is applied accordingly to the practice of urban use and urban planning, it is clear that the city as a whole will still have a long life, as it always has, but that the practice of urban use and urban planning will lend it certain qualities that the temporary, as opposed to the long-lived, has to offer, for whatever reason.

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