Considering commons thinking as a tool to go beyond the neoliberal state of affairs, architecture has a lot to contribute to the transformation into post-capitalist society. For so long, the relationship between architecture and power structures has been defined as one-directional. This approach has extended to such degree that the professionals practicing within the fields of architecture started to define themselves as merely“service providers”,“a‘cherry on the cake’ affair”.(Koolhaas, 2011) This not only positions the discipline of architecture as an oppressed and passive one but also makes it part of the TINA(there is no alternative) rhetoric as a"form of hopelessness".(de Angelis, 2003)
However if there is a relationship between power and architecture this also signals that this relationship may be subverted as can be done in any relationship. Rather than working on discourses to disempower architecture(through evisceration of leftist/modernist ideals of architectural thinking, through separating the practice from its critical applications, or whether through providing a very narrow definition of the discipline) it is time to rethink how architecture can“serve” for transition into a post-capitalist society.
Consequentially the enclosure movement, putting an end to common use of land and resources has caused a"revolutionary transformation of feudalism into capitalism,"(Marx, 1996) This phenomenon emphasizes the importance of commons for a post-capitalist society. The new commons thinking, fuelled after the civic disobedience movements of 21st century, right to the city movements and dispossession of the 99%, climate, finance and social crises, etc offers a new structure of social production and reproduction. It is in architecture’s capacity and even liability to transform or interpret this thinking into spatial practices as a form of post-capitalist living.
Commons does not occur just with the blink of an eye. It needs the practice of commoning which has been described as open, inclusive and diverse.(Dellenbaugh, et al, 2015) The main focus has been on the urban commons where public sphere is reinvented through citizen initiation and participation into design and implementation processes of shared spaces.(Stavrides, 2016) Even though the role of the architect as a facilitating agent has been discussed extensively, what role architecture plays within these practices remain unclear. This paper aims to define commons architecture and its main principles in order to avoid dilution of this critical practice.
This is a manifesto of the commons architecture. It is a provocation to rethink architecture and its practitioners, more specifically the architects’ position in and relation with the society. The commons is elaborated on through Kostakis & Drechsler’s(2018) definition as“a social system that refers to resources managed and shared according to the rules and the norms defined by the productive community.”As such, the commons architecture is the practice of social(re)production of space.
“Means should look like ends: one cannot fantasize that the struggle for an egalitarian society of sharing may win by adopting forms of inequality and enclosure.” Following this conceptualisation of“means and ends” by Stavrides(2016),we propose three ends(key objectives) and two means(essential tools) for an operative framework for the commons architecture. While the common good, critical spatial practice and post-capitalism are the ends, hacking and feminism are the means to reach these.
The commons architecture is a critical and post-capitalist spatial practice for generating commongood through the strategies and tactics of hacking and feminism.
> De Angelis, M. 2003: Reflections on Alternatives, Commons and Communities or Building a New World From The Bottom Up, The Commoner, Vol. 6 Winter 2003, http://www.commoner.org.uk/deangelis06.pdf, accessed on 27th November 2017
> Dellenbaugh, M.; Kip, M.; Bieniok, M; Dellenbaugh, M; Müller, A.K; Schwegmann M.(2015) Seizing the(Every)Day: Welcome to the Urban Commons! in Urban Commons: Moving Beyond State and Market. Eds. Mary Dellenbaugh, Markus Kip, Majken Bieniok, Agnes Katharina Müller, Martin Schwegmann. Birkhauser: Basel