Urban Commons: Lessons from Barcelona at the beginning of 21st century

Urban Commons: Lessons from Barcelona at the beginning of 21st century

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Carlos Cámara

April 11, 2018
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  1. Urban Commons: Lessons from Barcelona at the beginning of 21st

    century Carlos Cámara Menoyo ‘Stadt-Teilen – Neue öfentliche Räume und nachbarschafliche Gemeingüter’. - Working session Universität Kassel Berlin, April 2018
  2. Danke! ...and apologies

  3. About me

  4. Carlos Cámara-Menoyo Architect. Ph.D. Researcher. Teacher. Learner. Fascinated by the

    commodifcations between cities, technology & society. • Researcher – Researcher and teacher at the School of Architecture and technology at Universidad San Jorge (Zaragoza) – Researcher at Urban Transformations and Global Change research group (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya) • Activist – Involved in many initiatives related to opensource, sharing and alternative (and fairer) ways to produce and relate: • Alternative and VGI cartographies • Free/Libre OpenSource Software and Free Culture • Digital fabrication • Fair trade http://carloscamara.es @carlescamara http://orcid.org/0000-0002- 9378-0549
  5. Content • Presentation • Context • Urban commons: Theory •

    Origin and geneaology • Examples from literature • Urban commons: Praxis • Barcelona study cases • Conclusions
  6. Context

  7. Crisis, cities, new urbanisms and commons • Global crisis •

    Accentuation of social inequities – Access to housing / evictions – Access to healthcare – Access to education – Job conditions Demonstration at Plaça Sant Jaume, Barcelona
  8. City: part of the soltuion • Cities are a relevant

    context to study social and urban transformations Foto: Johny Sánchez (https://barcelona-photo.blogspot.com.es) City: root of the problem (Burkhalter & Castells, 2009; Harvey, 2012; Marcuse, 2011; Sevilla-Buitrago, 2015b; Stiglitz, 2011...) • Urban governance politics based in accumulation by dispossession processes • Converted into trading goods (inhabitants and buildings included) in order to attract exterior capital (investments, tourism, subventions…) • Converted into socio-technologic dispositifs oriented to domination and control (Foucault, 1975; Stavrides, 2015) and to capital’s reproduction Crisis, cities, new urbanisms and commons Crisis, cities, new urbanisms and commons
  9. Superilla Poblenou (Photo: Julio Carbó) • City – Built dimension

    of a society (Castells, 1983) where space is socially produced (Lipietz, 1979; Marcuse, 2011) in order to satisfy their interests (Castells, 1983) • Cities and societies constantly commodifcate each other (Castells, 1983) • New city models are required to fght new social problems – Different models (resilient cities, smart cities…) for different problems • Urban commons is one possible option Crisis, cities, new urbanisms and commons Crisis, cities, new urbanisms and commons
  10. The following features have been attributed to urban commons: •

    Active role of citizenship (Ferguson, 2014) • Problematize / pose alternatives to: – Property regimes (Dzokić & Neelen, 2015; Stavrides, 2015), – Public institutions’ role (Vianello, 2015), – Relationship between public and private sectors and alternative economic models (Baviskar & Gidwani, 2011) • Concerned by social problems • A way of exercising the “Right to the city” claimed by Lefebvre in 1968 (Castro-Coma & Martí- Costa, 2016; de Angelis & Stavrides, 2010; Ferguson, 2014; Harvey, 2012/2013; Observatori Metropolità de Barcelona, 2014) R-Urban ( Atelier d’Architecture Autogéreé, Paris). Photo: AAA Crisis, cities, new urbanisms and commons
  11. «Commons are not a new concept at all» 3 moments

    in commons’ history
  12. 1. Commons’ archaeology Commons are not a new concept at

    all. As there are numerous historical examples: • Mesopotamia – Collective management of water resources • Aristotle: Koinon and Koinonen as public institutions to put things in common (Laval & Dardot, 2015, p. 30) • Old Testament (Laval & Dardot, 2015; Linebaugh, 2008): – “When you are harvesting in your feld and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. 21When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow.” (Deuteronomy 24:19-21) • Other examples outside occidental culture: (Derek Wall, 2014, pp. 23-31): – India, Mongolia • Magna Carta by King John 1st of England (1215) (Linebaugh, 2008): – Often used to set commons into a specifc historical and geographical context: Pre-industrial England Palmyra (Photo: Bernard Gagnon)
  13. 2. England, commons and enclosures • Documented use of comunal

    natural resources (common lands) in pre-industrial England → Year 1600: 3/5 of arable surface and 35% of England’s area – Based on custom systems (feudal origin) – Limited to certain spaces (edges, forests) or temporal (fallow) – Source of survival outside regular economy system for many families • Parliamentary enclosures (+4,000 laws between 17th and 18th centuries) – End of most of the common lands in England – Transformation of a social class into a different one: “lazy” (independent) industry workers → (dependent) – Urban planning policy’s materialization (Sevilla-Buitrago) → • Sets the commons’ imaginary: – Year 0: Snapshot of a certain moment and place (pre-industrial England) • Golden age and decline of the commons – Antagonist concept: enclosures as a spatial and legal mechanism for dispossession Parliamentary enclosures in Scafell (Cumbria, England)
  14. 3. Ressurgence: the new commons • 1990: Elinor Ostrom Governing

    the commons → – Sets Academia’s attention – Commons’ perspective is extended into new study felds ≠ biology • Natural sciences (Biology, Geography, Medicine...) • Social sciences, politics... • Human production: software development, cultural production, education... • ... • New commons’ explosion: – Internet, Athmosphere, moon, space… (planetary commons – Elias, 2015) – Urban commons M31 Gallaxy. Andromeda constellation. NASA/Swift/Stefan Immler (GSFC) and Erin Grand (UMCP)
  15. Theoretical framework: urban commons A “new commons” subset

  16. Theoretical dimension Tracing urban commons’ triple genealogy

  17. Irrigation system. Meliana (Valencia) Institutional Approach • Authors: Elinor Ostrom

    (1990) vs. Garret Hardin (1968), Charlotte Hess (2008), Peter Linebaugh (2008)… • Notion of a shared resource for a common good – Limited and excluding – Commonly governed rules institutions → → • Typical examples: communal resources collectively shared: – Pastures, fsheries, irrigation, water supplies... – Knowledge • Features: – Institutionalisation (governance, self-management) – Open Access • Historical justifcation: – Commons as antique and successful phenomenon – Commons as an alternative for survival in a non-capitalist way – Concept opposed to “enclosure” example of privatisation → • Attention from academia
  18. Digital approach • Authors: Stallman (1986), Lessig (2004), Benkler (2006)…

    • Examples: immaterial resources collectively created and managed in a non- exclusive way – Knowledge, cultural creations, software... • Notion of freedom: – Autonomy | Freedom of choice | Freedom of speech | Open Access... • Hacking of legal regimes as a reinterpretation of the rules (e.g: opensource licenses) • Use of technology in order to Produce, Share and manage commons • Peer to peer and without hierarchies production
  19. Activist approach • Authors: Marx (1848), Klein (2001), de Angelis

    (2004), Hardt & Negri (2009), Harvey (2012)... • Commons: are intangibles oriented to improve common wellness. This includes any nature’s product and any socially produced good outside mercantilistic logics – Immaterial production such as knowledge, social relations, afects, codes... • Notion of freedom: absence of oppression (often as result of dispossession mechanisms) • Procedures: decision taking processes based on assemblies Metrópolis, George Grosz (1916 - 1917)
  20. Shared features Urban commons take the following features from all

    the aforementioned approaches: • Non-mercantile motivations – They do not look for proft – They look for the common good – They pose alternatives • Against privatization of diferent types (enclosures) • Selfmanagement
  21. Urban commons’ theoretical dimension (recap) • Relevant concept that has

    received attention from academia and activism – Studied from many diferent perspectives (Natural Science, Economy, Technopolitics...) – Outstanding authors: Harvey, Hardt, Negri, Foster, Marti-Costa, Borch, Kornberger, Colding... • Suggestive concept – Evidences relationship between cities/societies associated to positive values (such as → sharing) • Presented as an alternative to contemporary neoliberal cities. • Construction of fairer/less unequal cities and societies • Slippery and ductile concept – Groups diverse and varied aspirations – Plenty of conceptualizations and approaches often contradictory → • There is no consensus • Better focus on the praxis
  22. Practical dimension Examples of urban commons from literature

  23. Urban Gardens Urban garden in Barcelona (Photo: Laura Calvet Mir)

    Foster (2011); Eizenberg (2012); Fergusson (2014); Colding (2011); Colding y Barthel (2013); Camps-Calvet, et al (2015)...
  24. Squares as political spaces Acampada 15M, Madrid (Source: La información)

    Harvey (2012), Stavrides (2015), Corsin y Estalella...
  25. Basic needs’ coopeartives Basic needs’ coopeartives Saettedammen, first cohousing cooperative

    in Denmark (1972-Present). Source: Saettedammen Eizenberg (2012), Bruun (2015), Larsen y Hansen (2015), Dzokić y Neelen (2015)...
  26. Squares, streets, parks... Squares, streets, parks... 47 Anderson Street -

    Yarraville (Melbourne). Baviskar y Gidwani (2011), Bruun (2015), Ferguson (2014), Kassa (2008), Löfgren (2015), Sevilla-Buitrago (2014), Stavrides (2015)...
  27. Speakers’ corner, Hyde Park (London) Specific areas of public places

    Specific areas of public places Matisof & Noonan (2012), Cooper (2006)...
  28. Wastes and dumping sites Chureca’s dumping site, Managua Baviskar &

    Gidwani (2011); Bravo & Moor (2008), Zapata & Zapata Campos (2015)
  29. Exclusive gated communities Gated community in Ezeiza (Argentina) Colding (2011),

    Harvey (2012), Hodkinson & Chatterton (2006), LeGoix & Webster (2006), Vasudevan (2015)...
  30. Self-managed social centers Eskalera Caracola (Photo: Daniel Lobo) Hodkinson &

    Chatterton (2006), Vasudevan (2015)
  31. The city as a whole The city as a whole

    The city as a whole The city as a whole Barcelona Foster & Iaone (2015), Harvey (2012), Ramos (2016), Susser & Tonnelat (2013), Hardt & Negri (2009)...
  32. Examples in literature • Provide even more evidences of the

    concept’s ductility: – Great variety of examples – Often contradictory • Diverse geopolitical contexts – Diferent needs, communities, enclosure types... – Key concepts do not always have the same meaning (eg. public/private) • Approaching the concept from literature only is problematic: – There’s a risk of perverting the concept loss of relevance → • Language appropriation by 3rd parties (gated communities, Sharing economy...)
  33. Another approach: located

  34. Interactive online map screenshot (Source: CCM)

  35. Indignados’ camp BCN Indignados’ camp BCN The square as political

    space The square as political space Camp in Barcelona’s Plaça Catalunya. Photo: Virgili Araima
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  38. Camp in Barcelona’s Plaça Catalunya. Photo: Virgili Araima Public space

    appropriation in order to transform it into a temporary political, propositive and reivindicative space • Reivindication: wide range of political, economical and social claims. • Good/resource: Public space: Plaça Catalunya (Square) • Promoters: spontaneous organization through social networks. Started as a FB group and then followed Madrid’s example. • Community: Heterogeneous and broad group of people from all ages. – Concerned with politics but not connected to any political party. – No visible leaders. – From 45 people on the frst night to an avg. of 450 people the rest of the nights + 260,000 people at the same time. • References: Iceland’s protests. Arab Spring. • Results: creation of a reproducible model of self-organization and decision-taking processes, based on assemblies. Self-management of space. A number of alternative proposals for may issues, like housing, economics, education...
  39. Can Batlló Can Batlló From an abandoned factory to a

    commons’ factory From an abandoned factory to a commons’ factory Block 11 and surrounding open spaces. Photo: La Col
  40. Can Batlló at the end of 19th century (Photo: wikipedia)

  41. New planning proposal (2005-2008)

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  43. Accessing Can Batlló (June 11th 2011)

  44. Block 11 and surrounding open spaces. Photo: La Col

  45. Meeting point

  46. Library. Fuente: Biblioteca Popular Josep Pons

  47. Outdoor activities

  48. Urban Garden. Photo: Centre Social de Sants

  49. Events Complete scheduled events https://canbatllo.wordpress.com/agenda/ • Reading workshops • Books’

    releases • Theme nights – Punk • Exhibitions • Assemblies • Others – Flea market – Solidarity food – Yoga
  50. Funding Public-private model: • City Council – Building’s costs: Mainteance,

    refurbishment… – Supplies (water, electricity, Internet…) • Can Batlló Community: – Any other expenses derived from the use of Can Batlló Sources of income (decided by the General Assembly): • Events’ fees (some are free, others are not) • Donations • Bar/Pub
  51. Can Batlló Self-managed public facility in an abandoned space claimed

    by the neighbours for more than 35 years • Reivindication: construction of public facilities, park and housing for the neighbourhood, as promised by urban planning • Good/resource: Obsolete factory of Can Batlló • Promoters: Plataforma can batlló: plattform composed of neighbours and associations • Community: Heterogeneous and broad group of people from all ages. – Mostly neighbours, but open to anyone – Organized in working groups and assemblies • References: Indignados’ movement • Results: restoration of abandoned factory and conversion into a successful self-managed social/cultural facility open to anyone
  52. Building new (co)housing models Building new (co)housing models La Borda

    La Borda Plot and construction sign. Photo: La Borda
  53. Plot ceded by the Council for 85 years

  54. Participatory design (LaCol + architecture working group)

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  58. Ceremony of start of constrution (16/02/2017). Foto: CCM

  59. Self-construction session (Foto: La Borda)

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  62. Cohousing cooperative • Reivindication: construction of public facilities, park and

    housing for the neighbourhood, as promised by urban planning • Good/resource: Plot and building (30 dwellings) • Promoters: Working group of 17 people originated in Can Batlló that would later become La Borda cooperative • Community: Cooperativists – Medium incomes – Organized in working groups and assemblies • References: Indignados’ movement, Can Batlló • Results: self-funding and build 30 dwellings
  63. Empty plot 2001/3-2013. Fuente: La Intervía Espai germanetes Espai germanetes

    Urban void as space for opportunity Urban void as space for opportunity
  64. Chroma keying Workshop. Photo: La Intervía

  65. Espai Germanetes. Photo: Francesc Magrinyà

  66. Agenda de actividades autogestionadas

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  68. Espai Germanetes. Photo: Francesc Magrinyà Urban void • Reivindication: lack

    of public parks and squares in the neighbourhood, lack of “associative fabric”. Proposal of more friendly urbanism for the neighbourhood. • Good/resource: Plot (500sqm of 5500sqm total) • Promoters: Platform Recreant Cruïlles + City Council. • Community: Groups and associations + neighbours – Organized in working groups and assemblies • References: Indignados’ movement, Can Batlló • Results: lcomplete agenda with lots of events that gathers a community of 400 people.
  69. Flor de Maig in 1908. Unknown authorship A history of

    continuous renaissance A history of continuous renaissance La Flor de Maig La Flor de Maig
  70. La flor de maig in 2012. Photo: La Vanguardia Una

    historia de continuo renacer La Flor de Maig
  71. Activities

  72. Self-managed facility • Reivindication: lack of public parks and squares

    in the neighbourhood, lack of “associative fabric”. Proposal of more friendly urbanism for the neighbourhood. • Good/resource: Deteriorated historical building • Promoters: Group of people related to Indignados’ movement + former members of for de maig. • Community: Groups and associations + neighbours – Organized in working groups and assemblies • References: Indignados’ movement, Can Batlló • Results: Provide shelter to several associations + City council buying the building + Start of refurbishment works
  73. Intervention in la rambla (2013). Photo: Fem Rambla Participatory process

    of designing the rambla Participatory process of designing the rambla Fem Rambla Fem Rambla
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  76. Decidim.Barcelona. City council’s online platform for participatory decision taking (home)

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  78. Instalación de una antena de guifi.net (Fuente: guifi.net) Common infrastructure

    Guifi.net
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  80. Red de nodos de guifi.net a enero de 2018 (Fuente:

    guifi.net)
  81. Conclusions

  82. About study cases • Contex matters. A lot. • There

    is a lot of variability in terms of: – Governance – Materiality – Importance – ... • Shared features: – Discourse an motivation – Self management – Materiality más allá de la estética → povera (materiales, soluciones técnicas, decoración…) – Networked behaviour overcoming individual limitations → • ICT play a key role – They “construct” new alternatives – Liminal dimension – ... Can Batlló Meeting point (Fuente: La Col)
  83. Liminal dimension Liminal dimension • Constantly between two poles –

    Public / Private • Dependency on Public Administration (even if it is not desirable) – Legality / Illegality – Marginal / Notorious • Contadictory nature: – Problems (incoherences, cooptation, precariousness...) – Great potential (they are necessarily innovative, construction of alternatives that do not look self-proft...) • Constantly between two poles – Public / Private • Dependency on Public Administration (even if it is not desirable) – Legality / Illegality – Marginal / Notorious • Contadictory nature: – Problems (incoherences, cooptation, precariousness...) – Great potential (they are necessarily innovative, construction of alternatives that do not look self-proft...) 'Liminal' - Lake District Cumbria (Katayoun Dowlatshah)
  84. Alternatives’ construction Based in Barcelona study cases → Potential of

    construction fairer alternatives • They work as a tool to understand how our societies and cities work (Analysis): – Rejected / non monetizable spaces • Urban voids • Public space – Economy’s logics: Need for looking for unconventional alternatives – Models of accessing to a dwelling and living (co-housuing) • Social and urban transformation (Proposal) – Infuencers on public opinion – Infuence on City Council’s policies (regarding housing, energy, infrastructures, transportation, public participation, self-management…) – Urban space’s transformation (rehabilitation, use of urban voids…) • Physical space becomes a social and political space
  85. Proposal and hope Urban Commons are prototyping alternative cities and

    societiets. They are discourses that have become physical realities trhough collective action and are capable of transforming city and society. • Exciting proposals – Booming sector diversity and → number of initiatives – Set the foundations of cities and societies yet to come • Imperfect proposals – Not mature enough not yet → tested – They are contradictory and problematic – Not always 100% reproducible in other contexts
  86. Vielen Dank! Vielen Dank!