Against actual existing neoliberalism! (Policing Crowds)

Home » Urbanization » Anke Hagemann: Anke Hagemann: Filters, Valves and Locks

Conferences, 2006, Security, Urbanization

Anke Hagemann: Filters, Valves and Locks

Architecture is a system of boundaries and connections. It produces and controls different conditions in adjoining spaces, this can relate to temperature, light, accoustics, or the access for persons. Access represents a central architectural theme for the stadium, as it provides the biggest capacity for persons among all building types. The stadium is a complex research model combining numerous dimensions and methods of access regulation which are spatially determined or have a spatial impact.

Missing picture of a valve
Copyright: luckyrob

By an analysis of the Olympiastadion Berlin this project identifies and systemizes a broad range of patterns and mechanisms of access control. Its spatial forms and effects are being described by drawings and models; interviews with involved persons and interest groups reveal the conflicts and social dynamics in these processes.

  1. With a big logistic effort a large number of people are being directed to, inside and out of the stadium. Like water in pipes they are being concentrated, portioned  and re-distributed to their seats by the means of circulation and crowd management. This process of large-scale-concentration can produce a disciplined mass or an uncontrollable crowd, or both can be avoided by individualising the spectators in all-seater-stadiums.
  2. Unauthorised persons and forbidden objects can be filtered by different stages of access control. The technical upgrading of ticket control provides a functional extension (improved crowd management, cashless payment), the identification of customers (personalisation of tickets) and possibly new means of spatial surveillance (RFID-Chips).
    At the same time access control is expanding in geographical terms: police methods can prevent registered (potential) offenders to cross national borders, to leave their residence or to come close to sports events.
  3. In stadia certain groups of users and spectators are being distinguished. Normal spectators, VIPs, players / actives and press are supposed to have their own areas and an exclusive access - contact between these groups is supposed to be highly controlled.
    In addition, by widening the variety of comfort grades, the spectators are being segregated, hierarchized and fragmented according to their privileges, economic power and consumption needs.
  4. Stadia are hermetic enclosures, often isolated from their urban context. With multiple boundaries in concentric and radial direction the stadium separates itself and its visitors and produces strong exclusions or inclusions. The segregation of fans of opposing teams is one of the strongest mechanisms of access regulation, ranging between martial fences, police control and structural spatial measures.
  5. Other, more subtle mechanisms of access regulation are economically and socially determined, for instance the change in the social structure of visitors going along with the commercialization of stadia. Combined with the repressive methods of security and crime prevention these processes target certain groups and, as an effect, gradually displace those groups from the stadium.

The football world cup 2006 accelerates and boosts these developments in each respect. Furthermore it carries the stadium - together with all its measures of security and access control - to public urban spaces, creating an exclusive public in highly controlled spaces.

Anke Hagemann, studied Architecture at the TU Berlin; she is a founding member of the magazine An Architektur, production and use of the built environment and worked as a researcher in the exhibition project Shrinking Cities.