Experts from various disciplines shared their perspective on how the mental and the urban interlink: Medical researcher in epidemiology and public health (LMU), Jan Stratil, talked about “knowing what’s effective”; professor for urban design (HM), Andrea Benze, about “perception of space and patterns of use of the elderly”; the medical scientist and director of the clinic for psychiatry and psychotherapy (TUM), Hans Förstl, postulated: “no cold feet when thinking about cities”; geographer and spatial epidemiological
researcher in Zurich, Oliver Grübner, lectured on “geographies of emotions in cities based on twitter”; Sociologist and Scientific Director at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, Ortwin Renn, on “risk and evaluating (urban) situations”. Though each lecture approached the theme with a different focus and the applied research methods were various, all lecture guests shared the same aim: to enhance the wellbeing of people.
In a concurrent seminar 9 students amplified all the exciting lecture input in edifying discussions with us. This magazine is the result. Issue #1 is a collection of written articles, interviews, reports of site visits and movie reviews, stating first thoughts, gaining knowledge and making observations on the topic “mentally urban”.
Among many new insights, we also picked out three toeholds for further research. Risking Contact, Stressing Perceptions and Experiencing Truths became the three main features structuring the contents of this first issue.
While finishing up issue #1, the world’s situation suddenly changed dramatically. Our three main features were ultimately challenged by harsh actuality: Social distancing, stay at home, lockdown – do not risk contact. Empty streets, closed schools/universities/theatres patrolled parks – a very new way to perceive the fragile public realm. How do we react to these truths we read about in social media, newspapers, online magazines – depressed, scared, unsure?
Contact in times of no contact puts new impact on spatial effects on our mental wellbeing, momentarily and even more in the future.
Issues #2 and #3 written and edited in the 2020 summer term “Kontakt” seminar focus on the on the crucial role of “contact” in urban design. Examining basic ideas, but also reporting our experience of the importance of physical contact out of the perfidious real-life-lab of a worldwide lockdown.