The current issue started from the point of intersection between the terms architecture, urban space and identity. Nobody doubts the power and ability of architecture to represent and construct cultural values, either general or those of the commissioner. Newly constructed objects as well as urban space developed over time are strongly related to the identities of their creators, commissioners and users. But when we are today referring to reflecting or consrtucting of an identity, what is it exactly we are talking about when the concept of identity itselt is in a constant state of questioning or deconstruction? Identity, including its manifestations in urban space, is rather temporal, transitive and not placebound. It is largely related to mobility of people, a migratory movement both enforced and desired. In Estonian context also a contradiction between ideals of multiculturality, density and diversity discussed among cultural theorists, and collective subconsciousness tending towards conservativenational (not to say intolerant) values comes into play. The split between interest in self-organizing processes and wastelands among the architecture students and young radicals, and fine-taste new architecture and development projects speaking of the success myth, is equally telling. Is it possible to bring these contradictory poles to a common discussion ground without attaching heroism to neither of them? Naturally, the question of identity is an object of ongoing broader cultural discussion. These texts here try to touch aspects of it addressing urban space.
In an introductory article by Andres Kurg, dealing with relationship of people on the move to spaces and places, there are some side-thoughts and travel notes to remind that in spite of different possible theoretical approaches, the subjective experience is always involved. Stephen Cairns from the University of Edinburgh who has researched postcolonial architecture and edited a book concerning architecture and migrancy, admits the same, yet tries to achieve a more comprehensive discussion of possible relationship between these terms. An example of migration both forced and voluntary and a self-regulatory development in subsequent isolation was Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong that Tõnis Kimmel is dealing with in this issue. The “accidental hero” Kowloon Walled City has achieved almost a cult status among some architects during the past decades as a laboratory of density. What this muchdiscussed density and self-organization means in reality for the developing countries is shown by Mike Davis, an urban geographer from South Californian Institute of Architecture. Yet, as the urban environment and cultural processes of the slums are a direct outcome of drastic population explosion, in Estonia the situation is quite the opposite – the present and the future are marked by general population loss and shrinking in many regions. In this perspective, Kalle Komissarov finds embodiments of spatial identity in utilitarian megaforms of artificial landscape. The decline of population also poses questions about several housing areas which for reasons of low construction quality, poor environment as well as problematic historical-ideological connotations are not needed or suitable any more. Tõnu Laigu is dealing with this set of problems from a point of view of a practicing architect. Yet the fact that dealing with “negatively marked” architecture is much more than a technical task is reminded by C.lin Dan, a Romanian artist living in the Netherlands trying to find ways to rethink specific historical burden of architecture with artistic means.