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(19-20) Envisioning the architecture(s) of the urban commons

Graduation studio
Promotors: Prof. Dr. Burak Pak and Drs. Hülya Ertaş
Academic year 2019-2020

In Collaboration with: Hanne van Reusel (Commons Josaphat), Altering Practices for Urban Inclusion Research Group

This studio aims at enabling urban commons through architecture. The student will explore architecture’s capacity for triggering social transformation based on solidarity, shared ownership, sustainable production and consumption and fair distribution, as well as autonomy, self-determination, and self- organization. To boost this capacity, the contemporary discussions on urban commons provides a wide and generous experimental ground for space-making. In a post-capitalist context, the students will rethink architectural design as a bottom-up solidarity spatial practice which critiques neoliberalism and imagine possibilities for alternative modes of shared living based on anti-capitalist values.

A dream of a world without property (either material or immaterial) rights. An architecture of unlocked doors, permeable walls, temporarily occupied and shared smart -in terms of ecology and economy, as well as technology- habitats; the co-creation of collective living, decision-making, care-taking based on interdependence of diverse subjectivities, skills, and motivations.

+ How can the urban commons be an inspiration for developing novel critical spatial approaches?

+ How can the concepts of the common good, critical spatial practice, and post-capitalism, the agency of hacking and feminism help us to create the commons architecture?

+ What are the alternative strategies and tactics to enable collective visioning and co-creation of the architecture of the urban commons?

The studio will be run based on the commons thinking where a hybrid non-hierarchical structure will be set altogether with all the participants (tutors, students, neighborhood inhabitants). A variety of sites in Brussels will be collectively selected, visited and analyzed in the first two weeks of the studio. The existence of and potentials for commoning practices and the existence of neoliberal conflicts will be the basic criteria for selection. All of these processes will be documented in real-time for enabling inclusion of different parties during the studio. As a result the students will be free to choose a site which they find the most relevant. They will be motivated to develop and follow their own authentic approach and method.

In this frame, the studio coordinator is not a teacher but a participatory enabler setting a flexible frame for:

  • Establishing a Common Ground between the students’ desires and thesis expectations
  • Encouraging diverse approaches to the topic
  • Generating a knowledge sharing environment within the studio
  • Empowering the students to pursue individual specific tracks
  • Supporting to develop and Master their own design passions and interests
  • Critical questioning and negotiation of the limits
  • Promoting participatory learning and design engaging the locals and NGOs

Photo: Paula Bouffioux / from: IEB /Le champ des communs Bruxelles en mouvements 279 – novembre/décembre 2015 /