Manchester has been an important centre of textile production since the Tudor
period and, despite the destruction that came in the wake of the Industrial
Revolution, has retained some of its most significant buildings from this
era. Exploring a variety of structures – from grand halls to more modest
houses – this chapter highlights this important aspect of the heritage of
the urban region. It also questions why so many Tudor buildings have been
neglected and left to ruin, asking if more attention should be paid to
A short creative piece which meditates on the notion of randomised and
transient violence within heavily populated urban centres. Violence in a
small town or village might be noticed more and talked about for weeks;
violence in a big city – in this case Manchester – flares up and then
disappears in the blink of an eye. How does the city hold itself together
through these convulsions?
The streets belong to everyone and walking offers the chance to encounter,
explore and engage with Manchester in a multisensory way. However, many
personal, cultural and material factors can limit an individual’s capacity
to walk in the city, and this chapter discusses the authors experiences of
harassment and everyday sexism. It focuses on gender, while noting
intersectionality and the need to take a holistic approach to access.
With reference to a site in Gorton, east Manchester, this chapter highlights
how, without regular maintenance and other processes of ordering, a former
industrially productive site can offer a variety of affordances, and, over
time, transform into a verdant wildscape. In so doing, it reveals the
multiple temporalities – some conflicting, some complimentary – that shape
This book explores contemporary urban experiences connected to practices of sharing and collaboration. Part of a growing discussion on the cultural meaning and the politics of urban commons, it uses examples from Europe and Latin America to support the view that a world of mutual support and urban solidarity is emerging today in, against, and beyond existing societies of inequality. In such a world, people experience the potentialities of emancipation activated by concrete forms of space commoning. By focusing on concrete collective experiences of urban space appropriation and participatory design experiments this book traces differing, but potentially compatible, trajectories through which common space (or space-as-commons) becomes an important factor in social change. In the everydayness of self-organized neighborhoods, in the struggles for justice in occupied public spaces, in the emergence of “territories in resistance,” and in dissident artistic practices of collaborative creation, collective inventiveness produces fragments of an emancipated society.
Especially focused on the ways spatial form can organize (form-as-organization), express (form-as-expression of values), and materialize (form-as-construction process) spaces of commoning, this chapter sketches the theoretical trajectories that will be developed throughout the book with the help of concrete research examples. By understanding architecture as an intellectual practice that focuses on the shaping of space, its role in developing an awareness of the potentialities of space and in searching for spatialities of emancipation is explored.
Autonomous neighborhoods in Mexico DF, organized by the direct participation of their inhabitants and through explicitly politicized movements, have developed to concrete examples of a different form of social organization, based on equality and sharing. Analyzing two of them, La Polvorilla (part of an initiative by a movement called Los Panchos), and Tlanezi Calli (created by the Brújula Roja movement), the chapter explores the emancipatory potentialities of the urban autonomy project and its relation to urban commoning practices. The definition of a shared territory became crucial for the autonomous urban communities. People in the reclaimed land of those neighborhoods do not aspire to create their “own” safe havens in the middle of highly dangerous urban periferias. They rather attempt to construct shared housing areas to live in, which may be considered as materialized examples of a different kind of urban co-habitation. Excerpts from interviews with leading activists of both neighborhoods are included.
This chapter focuses on the history and the current potentialities of a social housing complex in Barcelona (Bon Pastor), which may be considered both as emblematic and exceptional: emblematic because in its history and in its threatened everydayness it epitomizes the commoning spirit that prevails in such urban communities, and exceptional because it has not only become the site of important struggles connected to shared values and aspirations based on community experiences but also the focus of an international architectural competition meant to explore alternatives to “urban renewal”. The chapter includes an interview with an important activist of the Bon Pastor struggle.
Brazilian Homeless Workers associations, organized in the context of very active movements struggling for the right to housing, not only participate in the design of their future social housing complexes but are educated by groups of activist housing experts (including architects, sociologists, economists, urban planners etc) to be able to work in the construction process efficiently and through organized forms of collaboration. The work of the group USINA analyzed in this chapter is characteristic in its emphasis on the tradition of mutual help (mutirão). Deeply influenced by the relevant ayuda mutua tradition of Uruguayan Housing Cooperatives (FUCVAM), USINA’s projects develop the potentialities of urban commoning through a direct involvement of the future inhabitants in the construction process. The chapter includes an interview with one of the USINA architects.
Based on the argument developed throughout the book, emancipation is shown to be a process which potentializes relations of commoning in the direction of equality and solidarity. This concluding chapter summarizes the argument and shows how the different forms of spatiality through which contemporary urban form and experience is shaped (territory, public space, housing and object) define possible levels of spatial organization in which inhabited space is potentialized through commoning. In the cases explored in this book, spaces of commoning were actualized not as bounded places but as areas with porous boundaries. The Zapatista territory, the Bon Pastor, and La Polvorilla neighborhoods, the occupied spaces of the squares movement and the alternative learning space developed out of an arrangement of collectively constructed chairs, are all spaces that communicate with their outside. Thus, in conclusion, it is suggested that the image and the experience of the threshold becomes important, both as part of an interpretative effort and as part of an emerging spatial politics of emancipatory commoning. Commoning as a force that challenges enclosure may flourish in open communities which develop by including newcomers. Commoning is a process that gestures towards an emancipating society as long as it becomes metastatic, ever-expanding, and inclusive.