Yara Pascale Fuessel
Various examples exist of how autonomous groups occupy unused buildings and turn them into social centres, which are open to the public and which offer diverse cultural programmes for their local area. Such bottom-up initiatives often provide a counterpoint to the dominant narratives, which usually drive urban space use and policy. Taking the Gängeviertel, an occupied social centre in Hamburg, Germany as an example, Yara will discuss the complex relationships between identity and place and examine whether urban space initiatives are resilient enough to have a lasting effect on the cityscape.
Yara Pascale Fuessel is an Environmental Psychologist whose research explores the varied ways in which places shape people, how we use place to relate to ourselves and one-another, and how place supports the communication of meaning. Born and raised in Germany, Yara studied and worked in the UK for nine years before recently moving to Berlin. Her work in the sustainability sector has been focused on participation, community-building and environmental behaviour change. She worked on engaging people with minority backgrounds in urban decision-making through a neighbourhood plan and built up a small charity that focused on the engagement of disadvantaged people in sustainability. Recently, she worked on a community research project for the University of Greenwich about the challenges of teachers to start and maintain gardening projects in schools.