As we witness the increasing privatisation and policing of our cities and with it the rapid disappearance of the spaces for the daily practice of democracy, the notion of commons as an alternative social system gains on its importance. Many communities are creating common spaces, where new inspiring forms of life-in-common are practiced. ‘Atlas of common spaces’ looks at these places as innovative practices of direct democracy and as physical spaces of importance for their neighbourhoods.
Various European countries; documenting projects in a variety of political and historical contexts.
Democracy isn’t a set of stiff principles taken for granted but a way of living together. It needs imagination and trust. Many local communities are experimenting with daily practice and create agoras. They are already “taking the stage”. We want to shed light on them and let them inspire others.
The knowledge and experiences collected and created through the project will be presented and made available on an online platform for further use, development and dissemination. The detailed study of common spaces will be a significant contribution to the growing commons movement.
1: locating common spaces through open call, networks and interviews with important actors.
2: site visits of selected projects across diverse contexts in Europe: interviews with local actors (commoners, neighbours, local authorities) focusing on the workings of the space, spatial mapping of the area to understand the impact on the neighbourhood.
3: creating atlas: portraying common spaces through text, drawings, diagrams and photos.
4: publishing atlas online as an ongoing live platform.
As city planners we want to create spaces that encourage people to live together and inspire them to experiment. But such places cannot be planned - they emerge. Nevertheless, understanding the nature and workings of such places would help us to create conditions for such practice to take place.
The Atlas is meant to be a source of inspiration for everyone in Europe and beyond, but the core audience are activists, locally based communities, urban planners, local decision-makers and researchers.
Are you an initiative, or you know of any initiatives running common space in Europe or elsewhere? Get in touch! What are common spaces for you? What is their role in the city? Share your thoughts. What other formats of presenting, sharing and developing the project further would be useful to you?