Ideal Spaces is an ongoing art and research project that aims to experience spaces of social and imaginative relevance. It is not only about architecture but about social dreaming and imagination, expressed in ‘ideal’ spaces with their impacts on architecture, art, and human hopes.

Besides that, it is about practical aspects, the enabling and generating of new spaces for communities.

Ideal spaces are ideal in a double sense: on the one hand, they are “ideal” as spaces imagined; and on the other, as spaces utopian, or perfected. In both meanings of ‘ideal’, an ideal space relates to utopian space, an old theme deeply embedded in our cultural memory which has never lost its actuality and appeal. With a look at recent conditions, we need to re-address it more than ever.

Since it is a mythic theme full of hopes and dreams, and at the same time, very practical. Today, the majority of human beings live in urban agglomerations which are far away from being ‘ideal’ but chaotic, accompanied by an actual destruction of space unprecedented in history. In parallel, never before so many technical possibilities of imagining spaces existed, allowing for escape into worlds of fantasy, dream, and game. Space is lost, and at the same time multiplied. But human beings need space, also
real one deserving the name, and they need community.

Our team, the Ideal Spaces Working Group, is engaged in that theme of spaces being ‘ideal’ according to how space is practiced, planned, imagined and experienced.


Public space is increasingly becoming pseudo-public space. Identity requires a truly common space. Current, widespread sense of crisis in identity across Europe, which is often countered by nationalism, is arguably – at least partially- rooted in the organization of space.

Previous attempts to create ideal common spaces have been limited in their success due to classical top-down approaches, where designers who are external to the spaces itself are primarily focused on the shaping of physical structures.



Instead, the Ideal Spaces Working Group is concerned with encouraging, enabling and implementing frameworks to generate ideal spaces, rather than solely concentrating on the design of actual, physical space.


These mechanisms can take the form of formats or platforms to exchange ideas, tools for shared or common design, and strategies for collaborative resistance in existing spaces:

  • interactive exhibitions where audiences are invited to imagine and shape ideal spaces

  • multimedia artwork that stimulate new perspectives on existing and conceptualized ideal spaces

  • interdisciplinary research events for exploration of specific themes through discussion and collaborative practice. These events will integrate artistic practice, humanities research, and engineering in technology.

  • concentrating on the topic of community building

Starting points (backgrounds for our objectives)

One starting point encloses successful aspects of historical designs for ideal spaces in terms of their communal aspects; these communal aspects inter alias depend on the gestalt of these spaces. Another point of departure is a reimagining of types of spaces that have historically often been considered as dystopian spaces (e.g. rubbish dump, slum...). Certain spaces have historically been labeled as dystopian by those in power due to their unruliness, impossibility to be controlled, or resistive potential.

 © 2016 Ulrich Gehmann All Rights Reserved