Who owns the city?!


Saskia Sassen is a Dutch-American sociologist working on the issues of globalization and international human migration.

The question of who owns the city is a very essential one if it is about who change be a contributor or being an active part in involvements on the urban level.

The urban globalization expert Saskia Sassen writes that “Space and opportunity for the powerless in cities is shrinking because large corporations are buying up swaths of land and many of the buildings.” Which leads since the financial and economical crisis in 2007, to the result of more exclusive and gated spaces. Both of them either virtually or physically are in the arise on urban levels. It threatens the existence of affordable housing and business space, actual public space and core urban qualities.


From this point of view it is becoming important on the level of participation if it is just a Top-Down approach from the side of the local authorities or a more broad understanding of solving local issues by a Bottom-up approach which enables local knowledge to be heard and implemented in the urban process.

It is also a question who to perceive the urban public space and what potentials are lying on and under those spots in a vibrant and global context. Places of gathering and change of opinions or just spots of consuming goods and services. Will it be a public Agora or a Trade-fair for certain goods?

Saskia Sassen will be part of this years EUROPEAN FORUM ALPBACH – Built Environment Symposium “Urban Planning – Bottom-up or Top-down?”.



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