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Dr Günter Gassner

Dr Günter Gassner

Senior Lecturer in Politics and Design

School of Geography and Planning

Email
gassnerg@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44(0)29 2087 4640
Campuses
2.96, Glamorgan Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3WA
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

I am an interdisciplinary scholar interested in a critical and creative exploration of design, cities, and architecture. My research is at the intersection of spatial practices, social theory, and political philosophy. I focus on relationships between politics and aesthetics, history and power, and fascism and urbanism.

In my latest research monograph Ruined Skylines: Aesthetics, Politics and London's Towering Cityscape (Routledge, 2020; paperback 2021) I examine the urban skyline as a space for radical politics. Developing a critique of the construction of more and more speculative towers as well as a critique of the claim that these towers ruin the historic cityscape, I explore ruination as a political appropriation of the commodified and financialised cityscape and make a case for reanimating urban politics as an art of the 'possible'. In current projects I explore right-wing authoritarian space-times that subordinate difference to a central vision, antifascist infrastrcutures, and the violence of urban beauty. In addition, I am working on a book project that examines relationships between fascism and urbanism (as an ideology; as a regime of power; as a way of life), exploring interconnections between the liberal city and the facist city with a focus on the porous boundary between liberalism in practice and historical fascism.

I joined the School of Geography and Planning in 2016. I previously taught at the University of the Arts London, Central Saint Martins, and in the Sociology Department at the London School of Economics, and practiced as an architect in Vienna, Barcelona, and London.

Biography

Previous academic positions:

  • 2021 - present: Senior Lecturer in Politics and Design, Cardiff University, School of Geography and Planning.
  • 2016 - 2021: Lecturer in Urban Design, Cardiff University, School of Geography and Planning.
  • 2015 - 2016: Course Tutor in Sociology and City Design, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Sociology.
  • 2008 - 2016: Associate Lecturer, University of the Arts London, Central Saint Martins, Spatial Practices Programme.
  • 2011 - 2014: Guest Lecturer, London School of Economics and Political Science, Cities Programme.

Education:

  • 2013: PhD (Sociology) London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.
  • 2005: Master in Architecture, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Austria.

Professional experience:

  • 2014 - 2015: Urban Researcher, LSE Cities, London, UK.
  • 2008 - 2009: Urban Researcher, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), London, UK.
  • 2005 - 2007: Project Architect, Foreign Office Architects (FOA), London, UK.
  • 2004 - 2005: Architect, F451 Arquitectura, Barcelona, Spain.
  • 2002 - 2004: Architect, Frötscher Lichtenwagner Architekten, Vienna, Austria.

Publications

2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2012

2010

2009

Teaching

My teaching addresses political, social, economic and cultural dimensions of design. It is both practice-informed and research-led with the aim to open a space for experimentation and political positioning. I currently teach on modules including:

  • Urban Design Thinkers
  • Urban Theory Provocations
  • Autumn Studio
  • Desiging Places and Plans
  • Issues in Contemporary Architecture
  • Dissertations (undergraduate and postgraduate)

My research cuts across disciplinary boundaries to investigate relationships between politics and design. My work contributes to three main areas.

Politics and Aesthetics: My work extends debates around the politics of aesthetics and the aesthetic dimension of radical politics. I am particularly interested in democratic aspects of aesthetic processes and forms and have studied the construction of speculative towers in London and, more recently, aesthetics of urban infrastructures. This research has been published in a monograph, Ruined Skylines: Aesthetics, Politics and London’s Towering Cityscape (reviewed in Urban Studies, LSE Review of Books, Cultural Geographies), as well as in several journal articles. I am currently working with colleagues on a project on the Violence of Urban Beauty.

Critical Urban Theory: I am contributing to new developments in critical theory through the lens of contemporary urban conditions. My focus has been on studying work of critical theorists who are associated with the Frankfurt School and Walter Benjamin in particular. I wrote on his ‘monadological approach’, and I examine commodified and financialised baroque cityscapes, relationships between literary montages and democratic cityscapes, and spaces of fragmentation and social alienation. This research has been published in several journal articles and in book chapters (e.g. The Detective of Modernity; Visualising a Sacred City).

Fascism, Materiality, and Race: In a time when the extreme right is on the rise, the far-right is becoming increasingly mainstream, and authoritarian leaders appear unstoppable in many ‘democratic’ countries, this work explores right-wing spaces and authoritarian space-times that subordinate difference to a central vision. Taking Benjamin’s account of fascism as the ‘aestheticisation of politics’ and Deleuze and Guattari’s work on the art of living counter to all forms of fascism as starting points, I am also particularly interested in examining ways in which aesthetics and aesthetic theory are saturated with and structured by race. I am currently contributing to an interdisciplinary, international project on Antifascist Infrastructures.

Supervision

I welcome expressions of interest for PhD supervision across the broad remit of my research specialisms. In particular, I am keen to hear from prospective PhD students interested in the following areas:

  • Politics of design and design of politics
  • Spaces and politics of aesthetics
  • Creative urban writing
  • Right-wing spaces
  • Fascist and antifascist movements
  • Race and space
  • Critical theory and critical race theory