performing commons architecture

6000 – 8000 words including footnotes and bibliography. 

  1. intro (750 words)
  1. Background: commons architecture  (1000 words)
  1. Architectural design as performance & performativity with a focus on agency (1000 words)  > Framework > prefiguration (futuring), living lab, vulnurability/temporality, inclusion, becoming (ever transformation), carework,  discursive prefiguration (Barad), reactionary emergency 
  1. Cases: 
  • josaphat (500 words)
  • r-urban (500 words)
  • prinzessinnengarten (500 words)
  1. Synthesis (1500)
  • - performance: how architectural qualities enable or disable commons via case studies (750 words)
  • - performative: a discourse analysis (750 words) 
  1. Conclusions (750 words) 

discourse analysis- & method in the intro. 

Intro (incl. method) 

Drop the research questions

simple signposting

Background: commons architecture

Following the participatory design practices that emerged in 70s and becoming instruments of consent-building mechanisms for local authorities we have witnessed the post-political turn in urban planning and architecture. The combination of elitism and populism that was embodied in the short-lived postmodernism period was followed by the starchitect discourse and Guggenheim effect during the 1990s and early 2000s. The financial crisis of 2008 and the following square movements all around the world not only effected the cities with temporary occupations but also triggered a new approach in city-making. The acceptance of the post-welfare state, namely that the state is no longer supporting social infrastructures and their spatial materialisations but rather is in alliance with the private sector via mostly selling public land, pushed some architects to take matters into their own hands. From this moment on some terms like tactical urbanism, pop-up architecture, guerrilla urbanism, activist architecture, etc started to emerge across the world, in different forms and time spans related to the level of democracy in geographies they are localised. For some time the term social design/architecture was utilised as an umbrella term to define all these. 

At the same time in relation with the loss of the welfare state and the privatisation of public spaces, or in other terms enclosure of the commons has the citizens and state also started to emerge. Urban struggles against the privatisation of public space and property exchanges from local economies to corporate ones (like the example of Emek Sineması in Istanbul) played a role in bringing people together to take matters at their hands to claim their right to the city. The neoliberal city was being built through processes of rapid transformation and alienation. Even the theatre of participation was not being performed anymore by the local authorities in places their accountability was no longer questioned by the voters. Like Wendy Brown demonstrates perfectly well in her book Undoing the Demos, neoliberalism was eating democracy. The collectives that started to form in these urban struggles started to discuss another way of responding to neoliberal policies and the discourse of the commons became an agenda to govern these spaces. (quote Begüm Özden Fırat, MAD) > to be practiced. 
  • urban commons started to emerge in practice as well… 

Yet the most important contribution regarding the spatial implications of the commons was introduced by Stavros Stavrides with his book Common Space: The City as Commons in 2016. Other scholar contributions on urban commons alongside Common Space researched the space, and how it became being an urban commons, via telling the stories of collectivisation and collaboration between citizens. Here the emphasis is on the civic notions of spatial production, not necessarily its socio-spatial materialisation. It is our aim to investigate this last part via theorising the commons architecture. 

Different than a common space or a space of commoning, commons architecture implies the intentional (co-)design of the space in opposition to concurrency. The architecture at the same time becomes the scene and the tool of the commoning process. When translated into the tripodal ingredients of the commons (the commoners, the shared resource and protocols) architecture is at the same time the resource and the co-determinant of the protocols, which is open to appropriations by the commoners. Therefore this intentional (co-)design has an inherent quality of being open to constant transformation or of enduring the permanent phase of being in becoming (Petrescu, intro). In this respect, the architectural work becomes entangled with community work, carework and agency. 

Commons architecture is different than architecture as a commons. Even some practices of commons architecture can involve the process of architectural knowledge becoming a commons, it implies a broader scope.  Commons architecture involves the co-production of spatial interventions with the commoners using commoning protocols, opening up the design process as a commons. And the design product of commons architecture is also a commons governed by the commoners. Here the prefigurative aspect of the commons is recognizable since the in-the-making (the co-design and co,-implementation processes) and the in-use (the spatial product[ion] that allows commoning practices) phases function towards the same horizon. “Divergent social strata and currents clash here, but all the same they have their gaze fixed on the same horizon, one where society is organized in such a way that equality and solidarity are balanced with liberty.” Nico Dockx and Pascal Gielen, p 83 commonism. These two phases of in-the-making and in-use are inseparable not only because of the divergent prefigurative approach but also because of the constant in-becoming characteristics of commons architecture that we have discussed above. 

leftover arguments
jeremy till > the negotiation of hope in arch & participation
douglas spencer

Architectural design as performance & performativity