City as Commons
#4 / Thoughts about urban commoning
“Commons is not something that just exists out there, nor is it something that is objectively present in certain resources or things. It is a relation of people with the conditions they describe as essential for their existence, collectively,” writes Stavros Stavrides, architect, activist, and author of Common Space: The City as Commons.
Stavrides understands the creation, development, and maintenance of commons as a social practice that radically challenges capitalist values and hierarchical forms of social organization. Constructed in this way, urban spaces differ both from private enclosures and from public space as we know it: common spaces are permanently inviting and continually in the making, spaces which are not simply shared but through which sharing itself is shaped.
This book, edited by Mathias Heyden, provides an introduction to Stavrides’ thinking about the City as Commons. Occupied squares, self-managed facilities and autonomous neighborhoods in Greece and Latin America exem-plify his theory of urban commoning, which, within the context of the global debates and struggles for social and economic justice, points in the direction of a truly emancipated society.
Mathias Heyden is a carpenter, architect and co-founder of the Berlin housing and cultural project K 77, and acts as a researcher and facilitator, activist and publicist with a focus on actual participation, economic and ecological justice and sustainability in planning and building, developing and operating space.
Collaborations with architects and artists resulted in the event, exhibition and publication projects Hier entsteht. Strategies of Participatory Architecture and Spatial Appropriation (2003–2004), An Architektur 19 – 21: Community Design. Involvement and Architecture in the US since 1963 (2008–2010) and Where If Not Us? Participatory Design and Its Radical Approaches (2013–2015).
In addition to regularly giving lectures, workshops, etc. in Germany and abroad, he has been a lecturer and research assistant at the Technische Universität Berlin and a visiting professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg for the past 10 years, and was recently a lecturer at the California Institute of the Arts.
Dr Stavros Stavrides, architect and activist, is professor of Architectural Design and Theory at the School of Architecture, National Technical University of Athens, Greece, where he teaches graduate courses on housing design (incl. social housing) and postgraduate courses on the meaning of metropolitan experience.
In parallel with numerous texts on spatial theory, he has published The Symbolic Relation to Space (1990), Advertising and the Meaning of Space (1996), The Texture of Things (with E. Cotsou, 1996), From the City-Screen to the City-Stage (2002), Suspended Spaces of Alterity (2010), Towards the City of Thresholds (in English 2010, in Spanish and Turkish 2016) and Common Space (2016).
His current research focuses on forms of emancipating spatial practices and spaces of communal creation.