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Androniki Pappa

ESR13

Androniki is an Architect, licensed from the Technical Chamber of Greece, with international professional experience. She holds a diploma in Architecture from the University of Patras, Greece (2016) and an MA in Architecture and Historic Urban Environments from the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL (2019).

She has collaborated with several international studios, gaining professional experience in diverse projects including architectural and interior design, landscape and urban scale projects and masterplans, as well as policy and guideline reports. She has also worked as a researcher in the Hellenic Institute of Architecture and recently as a teaching assistant at the Master in City and Technology, IAAC.

Her research incentives relate to interdisciplinary methodologies towards the concept of participatory planning and engaging urbanism in heritage, working across architecture, art installation, model making, film, ethnography and social history. She has also actively participated in exhibitions, lectures, workshops and conferences as an organizer, researcher and volunteer.

Research topic

Updated sumaries

September, 08, 2023

March, 22, 2022

September, 17, 2021

Over the last decades, European cities have been experiencing the decay in the function of ‘the public’, including services and spaces. Owing to privitisation and/or commodification, quality and access to fundamental resources -and rights- is gradually limited further causing social and physical exclusion, especially impacting the least advantaged groups and neighborhoods.  In a counteraction, increasing groups of active citizens take action in providing themselves and local communities at large with affordable and non-market access to goods and services, developing urban commons initiatives. Through self-organisation, people are taking temporary or permanent responsibility for their immediate environments, often through social and cultural initiatives; from urban farming to ‘neighbour days’, to renewable energy or housing cooperatives, whilst regenerating buildings, empty plots, parks and sidewalks. These collective actions foment citizenship, create cohesion, are often based on inclusion and solidarity and hence enable people to shape the world they live in in a sustainable manner.

 

Yet, there is a pitfall of frameworks and guidelines to secure these initiatives from market and urban ‘threats’. Quite the opposite, being mostly instigated by spontaneous activities, they are often in contrast to existing urban planning regulations, and considered illegal, at the time that international directives, such as the United Nations’ Urban Agenda and Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030, call for local participatory policies that revalue active citizenship and involve citizens in the decision-making processes that affect their neighbourhoods and lives.

 

The aim of this research is to contribute to bridging the knowledge gap between experiences of informal practices, emancipatory policies that aim to engagement and inclusion and design-oriented processes such as placemaking, with the motivation to foment the transformation of public neighbourhood spaces into common spaces managed by local communities in accordance with their needs while being supported by local administrations and design professionals in this regard. To this end, based on theory along with international practices, processes and regulations, this research develops a taxonomic scheme to define and analyse urban commons to be tested in the city of Lisbon and the BIP/ZIP Program. The study will be delivered to the development of an interdisciplinary transferable tool for urban commons addressed to local associations and designers, taking into consideration the collaboration with local administrations.

Reference documents

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Research Diagram

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Urban commons for Sustainable Local Development in priority neighbourhoods

 

In recent decades many governments across the globe are implementing experimental forms of collaborative governance in urban regeneration as an alternative to the normative neoliberal management of urban resources and its insufficiency to contribute to the construction of affordable and sustainable communities. At a local level, municipalities adapt their development strategies to follow the targets set by international agendas for sustainability, while active communities showcase bottom-up creative and innovative ways to manage the urban commons.

 

Focusing on ‘priority’ residential neighbourhoods and populations there is an urgency for Sustainable Local Development (SLD) strategies to move beyond climate-and economic-resilient considerations to addressing also very critical social ones. In this frame, citizen engagement with the urban commons can offer a response to contemporary urban challenges through the activation of local networks of relations (commoning) that foster platforms of individual/collective rights. Starting with the city of Lisbon and the BIP/ZIP Program and focusing on the European context, the aim of this research is to investigate how urban commons theory and practices can influence SLD strategies to fortify social and territorial impact in priority neighbourhoods. This requires a preceding study of the two pillars of the research to understand: a. what defines SLD and what are the most appropriate indicators to best describe and measure its impact and b. in what scheme can urban commons in the neighbourhood be represented, including resources, people and social practices and how can their impact be assessed.

 

To address these questions, the study employs a mixed-methods methodology that initiates with a comprehensive literature review on urban commons and sustainable development to arrive to the identification of indicators and criteria for definition. The theoretical analysis of the two pillars will come together in a common framework and refined during the secondment at the Municipality of Lisbon. Based on this framework, a data-driven approach on the case study of BIP/ZIP (425 projects) will compose a taxonomy, out of which good practices will be drawn and further explored using qualitative methods. Finally, the lessons learnt will be applied through action research in the involvement in ongoing BIP/ZIP projects, as well as the second secondment at Pacte Laboratory in Grenoble.

 

The study will be delivered to the development of a framework of transferable guidelines for sustainable local development through urban commons that augment the collaboration between different stakeholders to achieve social and territorial cohesion. The results of the research will contribute to the scientific discussion on commons theory and sustainable local development. Starting with BIP/ZIP and Lisbon Municipality and communities, the research will offer itself as a tool for collaborative local development and co-management of the urban commons, contributing to a social-inclusive, sustainable future.

Reference documents

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20220321_APappa_Poster.pdf

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Citizen participation evaluation and urban co-governance: lessons from BIP/ZIP and the world of commons

 

In recent decades many governments across the globe have implemented participatory and commons-oriented policies in urban regeneration, contributing to the active engagement of citizens in planning at different scales, as well as in co-managing the urban commons.

 

Ranging from bottom-up good practices of participation that evolve into policies, to top-town initiatives that recognise the benefits of multi-stakeholder governance for local development, the repository of case studies demonstrate an array of experimental planning and governance tools. Among others, these include creative communities, social innovation initiatives, participatory funding, local policies, city regulations or protocols and networks of good practices. One such instrument of public policy is the ongoing BIP/ZIP local development  strategy, constituted in 2010 by the Lisbon City Council. Focusing on priority intervention neighbourhoods and zones, BIP/ZIP enables bottom-up citizen participation in co-government models, urban interventions and cultural initiatives and counts to date 391 realised projects in Lisbon. 

 

Despite the increasing experimentation on participatory policies and governance, several researchers identify the deficiency of an evaluation mechanism for their effectiveness as the greatest challenge and -possibly- need in order to highlight good practices and trajectories. The plurality in goals, methodologies and definitions of each case complicates the essay in developing replicable models of evaluation.

 

After ten years of implementation the BIP/ZIP strategy can become a lighthouse for knowledge-sharing for other cities. A comprehensive research on the program’s collaborative, operational and funding tools, together with a taxonomy of participatory governance projects internationally and a review on the published empirical evaluation literature is formative to identify indicators and key vocabulary for a transferable model of evaluation and co-governance. Therefore, the purpose of this project is to identify patterns and indicators and further experiment through community-based participatory research, in order to develop an evaluation toolkit integrated into a co-governance model.

 

The results of the research will contribute to the scientific discussion on participation evaluation, as well as to the design of a co-governance model. Starting with BIP/ZIP and Lisbon Municipality and communities, the model will offer itself as a tool for collaborative local development and co-management of the urban commons, contributing to a social-inclusive, sustainable future.

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Instances of commoning in New York; or else a toilet, a fridge, and a shelf

Posted on 14-05-2024

A few days ago, I had the privilege of presenting my study titled "Commoning for social sustainability: exploring the role of institutionally aided practices in the neighborhoods of Lisbon" at the Conference of Urban Affairs in New York. This small section of my PhD research co-authored with my supervisor Dr. Alexandra Paio, delved into pressing questions surrounding commoning processes in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Can these processes thrive through progressive institutional instruments? What is their nature and dynamics, and how do they eventually bolster social sustainability?   The session I presented in was nothing short of invigorating, filled with insightful questions and thought-provoking discussions. I'm especially grateful for the inclusive environment fostered with sign language and sound interpreters, ensuring accessibility for all present attendees. Likewise, the conference exceeded my expectations in its organisation and contextual richness. In approximately 250 sessions, thousands of international researchers and practitioners offered a wealth of knowledge on various manifestations of pressing issues in urban space and housing discourses, such as commodification, gentrification and displacement, activism and social infrastructure, top-down visions and progressive policies, in diverse contexts of the US, Latin America, Asia, the Global South and Europe. It was inspiring to witness the diverse perspectives and groundbreaking research shared by peers globally, while the highlight of my experience was connecting with old and new friends, with whom I look forward to staying connected and following their work in the field.   After the conference I spent (my fortune for) some extra days conducting research and visiting sites to gain firsthand experience of the particularities of the neighbourhoods of New York. I was especially lucky that my last days there coincided with the annual Jane Jacobs Walks Festival, during which I was able to participate in several guided tours on multiple neighbourhoods and streets.   I could write a book about the mixed feelings triggered by the contradictions of New York: the impressive but tourist-filled High Line contrasting with homeless people sleeping underneath it or in adjacent metro stations; the photogenic skyline contrasting with the terrifying populations of rats searching for food in exposed piles of restaurant garbage on the sidewalks at night; the great views from amazingly redeveloped waterfronts, which have caused displacement and gentrification in once working class and immigrant neighbourhoods; the ‘alternative vibe’ of neighbourhoods outside the Manhattan, such as Brooklyn, Harlem and the Bronx, contrasting with stories of people  long suffering from rent rises and displacement; and so on…   Notwithstanding these and many more contradictions, I tried to approach the city through the writings of fundamental scholars for my architectural background, such as Jane Jacobs, Whilliam Whyte and Fred Kent. Thus, linking back to my research interests I will devote the rest of this post on my search of instances of commoning in the city and among them, on three small elements: a toilet, a fridge and a shelf.   A toilet… ..or more specifically the toilet of the Bluestockings Cooperative, which is a “collectively-run activist center, community space and feminist bookstore that offers mutual aid, harm reduction support, non-judgemental resource research and a warming/cooling place that is radically inclusive of all genders, cultures, expansive sexualities and identities”.[1] Based on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Bluestockings has been operating as a worker cooperative (meaning that it is owned and operated by its workers)  for over 21 years, focusing on mutualism, care and volunteering. Its very active and challenging operation aims at empowering marginalised groups, though community organisation, education and skills building, and providing free resources and a space where everyone is welcome.   Among all the cooperative’s significant contributions to the local communities, what makes its toilet noteworthy is a seemingly simple decision to make it open to all. As I witnessed during my short stay in the space, the toilet is a haven for homeless people and marginalised groups who can cover this fundamental need with dignity and respect. As I was told, this decision, although within the legal tenant’s rights of the cooperative, has sometimes caused conflicts with the landlord and parts of the surrounding middle-class neighbourhood. In a period where it is not uncommon to have to pay for accessing toilets in private stores and public stations, -a measure that aims to exclude the very same groups of users that Bluestockings welcomes-, I find it takes great courage to truly keep one’s door open while facing the implications and stereotypes of attracting marginalised people.   A fridge… .. that is placed outside the ‘Los Hermanitos Deli & Grocery’ in Brook Avenue in Bronx. The sign on the fridge invites passersby to take anything from inside it. As I was on my way to a guided tour, I didn’t have time stop and speak with the owners about it. However, although there is nothing novel about solidary offering of food to the ones in need in food pantries, food bags and soup kitchens, I found something particularly inviting in this case: its simplicity. The fridge is placed outside the store and is (according to the store’s opening information) accessible 24 hours a day, without anyone attending it or controlling it. This informality makes it particularly easy for people to stop by, open it and take what they need, without exposure, embarrassment, or stigmatisation. This simplicity can be especially emancipatory considering that poverty and food insecurity is increasingly becoming a next-door issue.   A shelf… … mounted on the fence of ‘La Plaza Cultural de Armando Perez Community Garden’[2], which was founded in 1976 by residents and green activists. The garden is located in Lower East Side, an area highly populated by long-standing and locally defended community gardens. The shelf, placed at the exterior side of the fence to make it accessible even when the garden is closed, operates as book-sharing platform. During my short stay in the garden, I was impressed by the number of people leaving and taking books: some seemingly came specifically to take or leave books; some borrowed a book to read during their stay in the garden and returned it before leaving, some took a book while passing by. Right before leaving, I was also astonished to watch a man returning from his grocery shopping (judging by the shopping bags he was carrying), leave a fresh shield meal on the shelf and walkaway.   I am sure that in a city of 780km2 there are plenty of such community-led initiatives, as there are in other cities around the world. In the three examples, it is worth noticing the spatial decisions that were intentionally or unintentionally made to accommodate these caring and sharing platforms and the implications they carry about their users: placing the fridge outside instead of inside the store allows for an anonymised and unstigmatized way to provide care, respecting the sense of pride of individuals in need; similarly, placing the shelf outside the garden, in a position that is highly visible to not only the garden users but also the passersby, allows for a greater number of users and a function of the shelf as a sharing platform independent of the schedule and operation of the garden; conversely, inviting people, and importantly marginalised groups, inside the cooperative’s space to safely use a toilet to treat their basic needs with dignity, creates a shelter of inclusion and protection. Closing, it is not in my intention to romanticise any of these initiatives, or present them as free from internal conflicts and controversies, nor promote them as a sufficient substitute for the lack of public service provision. In fact, these infrastructures may only treat symptoms rather than addressing the root problems of homelessness, food insecurity, addiction, illiteracy and poverty, which require institutional solutions. Yet, I cannot overlook how these humble and informal decisions embody moments of true solidarity, mutual support and sharing among communities to meet neighbours’ basic needs o with dignity and respect – and to this, I can only celebrate them.   ---------------- [1] https://www.bluestockings.com/about-us/about-us [2] https://www.opencity.com/laplazacultural/history/

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Exploring the Panorama of Barcelona's Urban Commons and the Dynamic State Relationships

Posted on 22-01-2024

During the first days of 2012 the residents around Encarnació 62-64 in the neighbourhood of Grácia in Barcelona, gathered outside the -up until then- nuns’ convent due to the sound of excavators tearing down the entire 1900’s building in just 3 days. Apart from the building, the site preserved an 800 square meter garden with pergola, century-old palm trees and fruit trees, house of several bird species, such as parrots, blackbirds, doves, robins or sparrows. Word spread that the site had been sold to a real estate company with plans to construct a six-storey parking lot. The residents of the streets Encarnació, Sant Lluis and the Associació Veïnal Vila de Gràcia, formerly strangers to each other, were mobilised in a restless effort to prevent the development plans and preserve the space as a neighbourhood facility. Their various protests were reflected in the Salvem el Jardí (Save the Garden) campaign in which they collected 7,000 signatures requesting that the plot passes to public property, urging the City Council to eventually buy it in 2014. Since then, the Associació Salvem el Jardí, have restored the remnants of the garden and thanks to their voluntary work, they have gradually transformed it into an open-air civic centre managed by the neighbours, a space they named Jardí del Silenci.   (Testimony from Marta Montcada, member of Associació Salvem el Jardí, Interview conducted in November 2023)   Today, the community garden is a hidden oasis in the neighbourhood, allowing visitors to enjoy the sounds, smells and tastes of nature. The garden is cared for by the volunteers-members of the association, and is open to the neighbourhood, hosting along with the tens of agricultural projects that contain multiple plant species, numerous social activities such as cultural and agricultural workshops, events, talks, exhibitions, shows, sport classes and playground equipment.   This is only one of the fascinating stories I learnt during my secondment in Barcelona, where I conducted on-the-ground research on the rich tapestry of community managed neighbourhood spaces. These are spaces of local character that operate as urban commons, meaning that they are run by the local communities, local organisations or any form of social institution established for their management, according to the local needs.   Over the course of three months, I was on my feet to get even a glimpse on the rich diversity that define these spaces in terms of program and typology, historical context, ignition, property status and management model. I conducted site visits engaging in informal discussions and formal interviews with numerous actors – members of the initiatives, with the urge to understand what these spaces are, how do they operate in the neighbourhood, what their relation to the City is, as well as what greatest challenges they face are. I visited community gardens and parks, neighbourhood cultural centres (Ateneus and Casals del Barri), working cooperatives, self-managed educational spaces, housing cooperatives and a self-sustainable agroecological community.   Below I summarise a few observations that derive from this experience, focusing on one of the dominant debates in the urban commons discourse, the relationship between the state and urban commons initiatives[1]. This relationship plays a key role in the character, resources and sustenance of the initiatives over time, especially when they operate on public property. Before exploring the array of relations, it is important to provide some overview of the emergence of these initiatives in Barcelona, as it is formative of the trajectories of these relationships.   Historical Context   The emergence of community-managed spaces in Barcelona is deeply rooted in the historic fabric of the city, encmpassing social movements and cooperativism. Examples of land collectivisations, initially by anarchist unions, were established before the Civil War. They evolved historically into workers’ collectives that self-organised to deliver services of healthcare, culture, education and production among others. During the 70s, the provision of these services and resources by communities themselves was a fundamental substitute to the state and market provision.   On the other hand, after the first democratic government in 1978, and particularly after the 2008 economic crisis, Barcelona has faced the challenges of a global city, such as the privatisation of public services, gentrification and massive tourism, evictions and an increase in precarious labour conditions, among others. Thus, the development of community managed services and spaces today is also a strong reaction to the current commodification of the city (Lain, 2015).   These two aspects of collectivism in Barcelona, both as a historic yield and a today’s countermovement, have shaped instances of different ideological values, priorities and self-reflected positions within the existing system of state and market.   Commons-state relationship   Conflict Numerous examples illustrate a wholly conflicting relationship between the initiative and the City, primarily due to ideological matters. Such examples have often led to forced evictions, as seen in several cases of squats such as the social centre Can Vies in the neighbourhood of Sants, the original building of the social centre Banc Expropriat[2] which later reopened in a new location and the housing squat that pre-existed on the site of the Ca La Trava community gardens[3], both in the neighbourhood of Gràcia within two blocks’ distance.   Tolerance / indifference In other cases, while the state is by any means supportive to the initiative, it demonstrates tolerance, at least until conflicting interests of development emerge and a conflicting relationship occurs such as in the examples discussed earlier. Similar to the previous cases, the “commoners”[4] are equiped with activist values, aware that they might need to defend their existence if such conflicting plans are in place. This is the case of the current initiative of Ca La Trava[5] and Jardi L’Alzina in Gràcia[6]. [7]   Collaboration While the above cases demonstrate opposing relationship that is also strongly related to anarchist and anti-systemic collectives, Barcelona showcases several degrees of cooperation between the City and community managed spaces. Provision of space, funding and technical support by the municipality are among the most common collaborations supported by existing policies, such as the Patrimonio Ciudadano. A fundamental requirement is that the initiative demonstrates a local impact. This support is based on the ground of recognising the significant contribution of community-run initiatives in delivering democratised social services that respond to the specific and dynamic needs of each neighbourhood. The provision of spaces ranges from entire building complexes such as industrial sites, often of heritage value, run as cultural centres by federations of entities, such as the Can Batlló[8], and the Ateneu L’Harmonia[9]; to single buildings, managed as local points of reference for the neighbourhood life such as La Lleialtat Santsenca[10]; or parts of buildings co-hosted with other municipal facilities, such as Calabria 66[11]; and finally to open spaces, such as the case of Jardins d'Emma[12].   Autonomy Beyond the mentioned cases, there is a great number of initiatives in which the property of space and other resources belongs to the managing entity, be it an association, collective or local organisation. These cases, such as working cooperatives have the capacity to operate independently of the state. Due to limited resources or legal constrains, the collective action of these initiatives often prioritises their members over the public impact, yet in most cases expanding to open activities.   Closing Reflections and Acknowledgements My time in Barcelona’s shared neighborhood spaces exceeded any expectations I had before arrival. Beyond their physical importance, these spaces constitute a vital part of community life, woven by collective aspirations and creativity. They are testaments to the power of collaboration, sharing and transformative change.   Reflecting on my research visit, I carry with me not just data but stories, experiences, and a deeper understanding of the intricate dynamics that shape these vibrant spaces. More than a personal experience, it has been a collective journey with the invaluable input of several people, who enriched my research and personal growth.   To this, I would first like to thank my secondment supervisor prof. Nuria Marti for her restless support at every step of the way, from working hand in hand with me, to accompanying me on visits. Furthermore, I am heartfully grateful to the extensive list of members of the initiatives I had the chance to visit, who generously shared their space, time and stories. Finally, my stay in Barcelona wouldn’t have been the same without my fellow ESRs -Annette, Saskia and Zoe- who, whether in person or from afar, shared their knowledge, experience, and many enjoyable moments!   --------- Notes [1] For more information see Huron, A. (2017). Theorising the urban commons: New thoughts, tensions and paths forward. Urban Studies, 54(4), 1062–1069. [2] Banc Expropriat is a shared space in the neighbourhood that operates outside markets and hierarchies. It is a social centre that hosts free activities open to all, such as language classes, sport sessions, craft workshops, film screenings, play areas, computer access, as well as a free shop of donated clothes, among others. As a space  very well received by the local community, its eviction in May 2016 triggered the escalation of protests in the neighbourhood. More information on the history of Banc Expropriat and its current relocation can be found at https://bancexpropiatgracia.wordpress.com/ [3] Members of the social movement that occupied/lived in the squat, re-occupied the site of the demolished building and created community gardens. [4] People that manage the urban commons space. [5] More information at https://www.instagram.com/ca_la_trava/?hl=en [6] More information at https://www.salvemlalzina.org/ [7] This is also the case of Navarinou Park in Athens. [8] More information at https://canbatllo.org/ [9] More information at https://ateneuharmonia.cat/ [10] More information at https://lleialtat.cat/ [11] More information at https://calabria66.net/ [12] More information at http://jardinsdemma.org/   --------- References Lain, B. (2015). New Common Institutions in Barcelona : A Response to the Commodification of the City ? 2014(March), 19–20.

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Architectural education as commons: Smooth Conference

Posted on 07-06-2023

Last week I had the chance to participate in the three-day Smooth conference: Educational commons and active social inclusion in Volos, Greece, which brought together academics, educators and practitioners in various fields to discuss the implications of the commons for refiguring education and, as the organisers of the conference argue, and I agree, social change in general. By sharing experiences through presentations and workshops, the objectives of the conference were to bring into light diverse practices in terms of geographical, social and institutional characteristics and stress key challenges and opportunities of a commons-oriented education in reversing inequalities and informing political decision-making processes.   The emerging paradigm of commons became popular thanks to the fundamental work of Elinor Ostrom (1990) and is manifested on various examples of social formations around the co-governance of shared resources, based on values of co-responsibility, care, collaboration, sharing, and equality. The notion traditionally refered to natural resources but has been extrapolated in multiple domains, such as the urban realm, and seen as an emancipatory alternative to neoliberal tactics, such as the commodification and privatisation of public assets, offering in response self-sustainable social mechanisms of sharing urban resources, facilitated through social processes of commoning [1].   Understanding education as commons denotes a paradigm shift towards an action system that acknowledges students, their families and often local social groups as active actors in the educational process, fostered by commoning activities as pedagogical tools that promote collective decision making, inclusivity, openness and responsibility.   Whilst my interest focuses on the practical side of commons and specifically the contribution of space and in extension the potential role of design professionals in the development of urban commons practices, I find it intriguing to discuss architectural education becoming not only a commoning process itself, but a commoning process that equips architects with significant skillsets for practicing urban commons. In other words, I find it urgent to explore how architects gain knowledge on urban commons through commoning.   This was the driving question of our presentation “From teaching the commons to commoning teaching: towards a reflexive architectural education”, in which together with my friend Phryne Rousou and my supervisor dr Alexandra Paio we discussed the cross-pollination of our primary findings of two last year’s educational activities, to understand the contribution of commoning as a tool for knowledge production towards the development of social and operational skills of the future professionals. The first activity was a hands-on co-design and build workshop implemented in prototyping a relaxation area at the university campus in Nicosia, and the second, a scenario-based unstructured game of co-strategising urban commons in an empty plot at the university campus in Lisbon.   Along with our presentation, the focus of our session “Space and commons in education” covered a broad range of the understanding of commons in the field of architecture and engineering: from educational resources shared in common by the educational community and the society, such as open libraries of digital design and construction, participatory reuse of materials and knowledge; to methods of interactions across disciplines.   Most importantly, conceptualising architectural education through the ethics of commons lifted considerations on the role and positioning of future professionals, that imply inventing complex senses of democratic identities and transferable skills, while fostering links between educational and non-educational spaces and challenging constitutive processes, educational methods and existing epistemological references. _____________ [1] More information on the definition of urban commons can be found here.     Reference Ostrom, E. (1990) Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/cbo9780511807763.

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Participatory budgets and Sustainable Development Goals

Posted on 29-10-2022

Nowadays, it feels almost impossible to speak about sustainability and not refer to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), developed under the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Agenda brings together economic, environmental and social stands of solutions to holistically address global challenges, based on the principle of “leaving no one behind”. The goals are set out in 169 targets and are formulated within five pillars: people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership.   Committed to the Agenda, the UN member states adapt their national and local strategies not only for the implementation of measures that contribute to the achievement of the developed goals and targets, but equally significantly for the monitoring of their progress in this direction. In this regard, countries and municipalities develop mechanisms to recontextualise the global targets and report their annual progress.   Placing people as a key pillar for sustainable development denotes that the measures and monitoring should exceed the macroeconomic indicators and look into mechanisms that care for how individuals’ life change for the better. Measuring the effects of such mechanisms at a local level can be a challenging matter, as they entail parameters that are in general consensus difficult to quantify. In this context, in my 4-month secondment at the Department of Housing and Local Development at the Municipality of Lisbon I explored the contribution of the ongoing BIP/ZIP participatory budget in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Lisbon.   Participatory Budgets  Participatory budgets are mechanisms for democratising public funds in the sense that they enable the active participation of citizens in the decision-making of how national or municipal resources are spent. Among the main effects of participatory budgeting discussed in the research community are the modernisation of public administrations through transparency and accountability, the efficiency in tackling cross-disciplinary challenges, such as inclusivity and inequalities through the collaborative ways of urban governance they introduce, as well as the reorientation of public expenditures towards least advantaged populations. Doing so, the structures and processes they provide are particularly relevant for the discussion on sustainable development and according to the UN Habitat’s Report (2020) they are considered as accelerators for achieving the SDGs.   BIP/ZIP Portugal is seen as a paradigmatic case in disseminating participatory budgets issued by municipal agendas (Falanga & Lüchmann, 2019), counting more than 270 active programs in its mainland[1]. The BIP/ZIP Program in Lisbon that I am also researching as a case study beyond the limits of my secondment, was launched in 2011 as the first participatory budget implemented in a European capital city. The project annually funds bottom-up initiatives developed by local partnerships with the objective to promote social and territorial cohesion in priority areas.   During the four months that I was hosted at the Municipality of Lisbon, I was lucky enough to have access to the secondary data of the program and enrich my dataset with qualitative and quantitative information. Looking at the program’s data in correlation to the SDGs, I was able to draw direct and indirect links to specific goals and targets and deliver a preliminary data-driven methodology to measure the impact of the program for the city of Lisbon. Even at this early stage of the methodology, I could safely assume that after ten years of implementation, BIP/ZIP has a significant contribution on achieving the SDGs in Lisbon, so the emerging question is if it is taken into consideration when measuring the city’s progress towards achieving the SDGs.   To make a long answer short, my research showed that the program both at a strategic level and at the micro-scale of each project, is not really accounted in Lisbon’s SDG progress monitoring[2], which indicates that further effort should be made in integrating social indicators into the measuring processes.     Acknowledgements The end of my secondment was celebrated with a presentation of the results and a very engaging discussion with members of the Department of Housing and Local Development and the BIP/ZIP Division. For this as well as for all the support and hospitality during my stay at the Municipality, I would like to thank Filipa Roseta, Vasco Moreira Rato, Gonçalo Armindo and Isabela Teixeira da Mota, as well as members of the BIP/ZIP Division Maria Antónia Victória, Teresa Tome and Monica Alfredo.   ------- Notes [1] More information on http://portugalparticipa.pt/Monitoring/?tipo=816f6188-3bac-4dac-92af-3c0892b3018a&keyword=&district=&estado=   [2]  For more information on Portugal’s SDG monitoring process with information at municipal level, please visit ODS Local at https://odslocal.pt/   ------ References Falanga, R., & Lüchmann, L. H. H. (2019). Participatory budgets in Brazil and Portugal: comparing patterns of dissemination. Policy Studies, 41(6), 603–622.    UN-Habitat. (2020). Exploring the Role of Participatory Budgeting in Accelerating the SDGs: A Multidimensional Approach in Escobedo, Mexico.

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Case studies

Contributions to the case study library

Vocabulary

Contributions to the vocabulary

Participatory Approaches

Placemaking

Public-civic Partnership

Urban Commons

Area: Community participation

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, participation is “the act of taking part in an activity or event”. Likewise, it can also mean “the fact of sharing or the act of receiving or having a part of something.” It derives from old French participacion which in turn comes from late Latin participationem, which means “partaking” (Harper, 2000).  References to participation can be found in many fields, including social sciences, economics, politics, and culture. It is often related to the idea of citizenship and its different representations in society. Hence, it could be explained as an umbrella concept, in which several others can be encompassed, including methodologies, philosophical discourses, and tools. Despite the complexity in providing a holistic definition, the intrinsic relation between participation and power is widely recognised. Its ultimate objective is to empower those involved in the process (Nikkhah & Redzuan, 2009). An early application of participatory approaches was the Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) which exerted a significant influence in developing new discourses and practices of urban settings (Chambers, 1994; Friedmann, 1994). In the late 1970s increasing attention was paid to the concept by scholars, and several associated principles and terminologies evolved, such as the participation in design and planning with the Scandinavian approach of cooperative design (Bφdker et al., 1995; Gregory, 2003). Participation in design or participatory design is a process and strategy that entails all stakeholders (e.g. partners, citizens, and end-users) partaking in the design process. It is a democratic process for design based on the assumption that users should be involved in the designs they will go on to use (Bannon & Ehn, 2012; Cipan, 2019; Sanoff, 2000, 2006, 2007). Likewise, participatory planning is an alternative paradigm that emerged in response to the rationalistic and centralized – top-down – approaches. Participatory planning aims to integrate the technical expertise with the preferences and knowledge of community members (e.g., citizens, non-governmental organizations, and social movements) directly and centrally in the planning and development processes, producing outcomes that respond to the community's needs (Lane, 2005). Understanding participation through the roles of participants is a vital concept. The work of Sherry Arnstein’s (1969) Ladder of Citizen Participation has long been the cornerstone to understand participation from the perspective of the redistribution of power between the haves and the have-nots. Her most influential typological categorisation work yet distinguishes eight degrees of participation as seen in Figure 1: manipulation, therapy, placation, consultation, informing, citizen control, delegated power and partnership. Applied to a participatory planning context, this classification refers to the range of influence that participants can have in the decision-making process. In this case, no-participation is defined as designers deciding based upon assumptions of the users’ needs and full-participation refers to users defining the quality criteria themselves (Geddes et al., 2019). A more recent classification framework that also grounds the conceptual approach to the design practice and its complex reality has been developed by Archon Fung (2006) upon three key dimensions: who participates; how participants communicate with one another and make decisions together, and how discussions are linked with policy or public action. This three-dimensional approach which Fung describes as a democracy cube (Figure 2), constitutes a more analytic space where any mechanism of participation can be located. Such frameworks of thinking allow for more creative interpretations of the interrelations between participants, participation tools (including immersive digital tools) and contemporary approaches to policymaking. Aligned with Arnstein’s views when describing the lower rungs of the ladder (i.e., nonparticipation and tokenism), other authors have highlighted the perils of incorporating participatory processes as part of pre-defined agendas, as box-ticking exercises, or for political manipulation. By turning to eye-catching epithets to describe it (Participation: The New Tyranny? by Cooke & Kothari, 2001; or The Nightmare of Participation by Miessen, 2010), these authors attempt to raise awareness on the overuse of the term participation and the possible disempowering effects that can bring upon the participating communities, such as frustration and lack of trust. Examples that must exhort practitioners to reassess their role and focus on eliminating rather than reinforcing inequalities (Cooke & Kothari, 2001).

Created on 17-02-2022

Author: A.Pappa (ESR13), L.Ricaurte (ESR15), M.Alsaeed (ESR5)

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Area: Community participation

Placemaking in the urban realm is a holistic approach that foments the collaborative transformation of public spaces into vibrant, inclusive and engaging places. The core objective of placemaking is reflected in David Engwicht’s analogy: “placemaking is like turning a house into a home” (Placemaking.Education, no date), that is, to transform a mere physical location or space into an emotionally resonant and socially connected place. Placemaking encompasses not only the planning and design of spaces but also their sustainable management (Project for Public Spaces, 2016). The placemaking theory has been developed on the principle that urban and architectural projects should prioritize people and their emotions over cars and shopping centres. This idea originated in groundbreaking work of intellectuals from the 1960s, such as Jane Jacobs[1] and William H. Whyte[2]. Building upon their work, the term ‘placemaking’ started being used in the 1970s by architects and planners to describe the process of transforming public spaces into enjoyable destinations. Since then, a number of placemaking organisations, most notably the pioneering Project for Public Spaces (PPS)[3], have played a pivotal role in guiding community leaders toward the value of reinvesting in existing communities instead of pursuing endless urban sprawl. These organisations have raised awareness that this approach is both economically and environmentally more sustainable (Ellery, Ellery and Borkowsky, 2021). Over the last few decades, placemaking has been extensively used to describe various approaches in urban development, ranging from community-driven emancipatory practices, such as reclaiming underused neighbourhood spaces, to top-down strategic plans for neighbourhood revitalisations. Theoretical discussions have attempted to categorize placemaking processes with regards to ignition, goal, scale, budget and involvement, among others (Courage et al., 2021). One widely adopted classification among placemaking scholars is Wyckoff’s (2014) distinction of four types:    Standard Placemaking (or simply placemaking) aims at creating quality places and reviving existing public spaces. This approach is pursued by the public, non-profit, or private sector, employing community participation into a variety of projects and activities. These projects are often incremental, such as street and façade improvements, residential rehabs, which may encompass public spaces and small-scale projects. Tactical Placemaking focuses on creating quality places using a deliberate approach to change, developed in phases that begin with quick, short-term commitments and realistic expectations. Over time, short-term activities and projects achieve gradual transformations in public spaces. Tactical placemaking can be initiated by local development strategies or from bottom-up. It includes activities such as parking space conversions, self-guided historic walks, outdoor music events, and temporary conversion of buildings. Creative Placemaking utilises arts and cultural activities to strategically shape the identity of a neighbourhood, city, or region. The processes include revitalisation of buildings, structures and streetscapes, often improving the local business viability and public safety. Strategic Placemaking is targeted at achieving specific goals, such as raising the economic, social and cultural prosperity of a community in addition to creating quality places. This can be achieved by interventions that attract talented workers in certain locations, such as mixed-use places that are pedestrian-oriented, bike-friendly, as well as supporting recreation, arts and housing options. Naturally, implementing placemaking processes come with their own risks. Similar to other forms of civic participation, placemaking can sometimes become a buzzword for urban renewal programmes, especially when used to drive economic development of an area through spatial upgrade. When the goal is to replace an existing place with one considered an improvement, it is likely that the affected people may experience negative effects, such as direct or indirect displacement. In this regard, as placemaking strategies, aimed at revitalising underutilised spaces into vibrant places, consequently enhancing the location’s attractiveness and value, are often criticised for potentially fuelling gentrification trends rather than alleviating them (Placemaking Europe, 2019).   [1] In her work, epitomised in her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), Jacobs introduced the idea of “eyes on the street” that advocates for citizen ownership on the street. [2] Whyte’s groundbreaking work The social Life of Small Urban Spaces (1980), summarises his extensive research on the Street Life Project in New York, in which he recorded the human behaviour in the urban setting, concluding to the essential elements for creating social life in public spaces. (see more at Projects for Public Spaces, William H. Whyte) [3] Organisation led by Fred Kent and consisted of an interdisciplinary team, has been advancing placemaking processes since 1975 originally in the US and recently globally. Developing roadmaps and toolboxes that place community participation at the centre of action they have engaged with more than 35000 communities in 52 countries (About — Project for Public Spaces, no date), while at the same time sharing their placemaking experiences and principles (see Project for Public Spaces Inc., 2015) through networking activities and courses.

Created on 08-11-2023

Author: A.Pappa (ESR13)

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Area: Community participation

Public-civic partnerships (PCPs) or public-community collaborations, as discussed by Hopman et al., (2021), are forms of cooperation between the state and civil society. They involve transferring the ownership and control of urban resources to the hands of citizens. In this context, they can be viewed as commons-led institutional models, offering a ground of commoning the city. Consequently, they are also referred to as public commons partnerships (Milburn & Russell, 2019). Public-civic partnerships offer alternatives to the traditional binary state and market dynamic seen in the public-private partnership (PPP) model, which gained prominence after 2000 as a new form of cooperation between the state and the private sector. PPPs are characterized by long-term arrangements in which private sector contractors take on design, construction, operational, and sometimes financial responsibilities, becoming providers of traditionally public services (European Commision, 2003). However, PPP models have faced criticism for privatizing public goods, services and spaces, often prioritising private investment over public interests (Horvat, 2019).   On the contrary, PCPs propose an alternative approach. Instead of relying on private investors for the development of crucial urban infrastructure, public bodies collaborate with communities to design, produce and govern this infrastructure as commons. By doing so, PCPs drive systemic change,  offering innovative methods to democratize urban governance. They empower communities to transparently work with the public sector, determining the future of public assets such as food, care, water, energy, housing, and urban development (Heron, Milburn & Russell, 2021; Hopman et al., 2021). In recent years, cities such as Barcelona, Bologna, Naples, Ghent and Amsterdam, among others, have been developing commons-oriented strategies and municipal networks that enable and promote PCPs. These initiatives are often facilitated through contracts or ‘collaboration pacts’ (Foster & Iaione, 2016) among different stakeholders, notably from the civic and social sectors. The regulatory frameworks and operationalisation details, such as the legal form of the partnering entities, the duration of ownership transfers, and approved interventions in public spaces, vary from case to case (Bianchi, 2022). Experiences from the implementation of these policies show that several influential factors affect the development of PCPs. These are ideological, legal, political and economic in nature and include political will, existing laws, development strategies. material and funding sources, access to information, cooperation opportunities between the public and civic sectors, and further education of both realms on cooperation models (Cultural Creative Spaces & Cities, 2018). Among the several types of resources shared through PCPs, many municipal strategies facilitate the sharing of public spaces, which has significant implications from a sustainable local development point of view. These strategies involve the temporary or long-term transfer of ownership of municipal spaces, including empty buildings and building parts, streets and open spaces, and industrial heritage sites, to citizens or various associations formed between them and other sectors. Through these partnerships, sites are regenerated, transformed, and used for the benefit of the neighbourhood, while the public sector retains a supportive role. Throughout this process, several places and services, such as communal gardens, neighbourhood parks, solidary kitchens, caregiving and solidarity services, as well as community, educational and cultural centres, are created locally, by and for the residents.    

Created on 08-11-2023

Author: A.Pappa (ESR13)

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Area: Community participation

Urban commons are shared resources in the city that are managed by their users in a collaborative and non-profit-oriented way. The concept is based on the idea that urban resources and services that represent fundamental rights in the city should be accessible to and governed by the urban dwellers, to support the social capital and the sustainability of the urban communities. Hence, their value lies mostly in the social benefit produced during their use and they are therefore different from commodities that follow traditional market principles of profit maximisation and private ownership (Dellenbaugh-Losse et al., 2015). The concept of urban commons is an extrapolation in the urban context of the notion of commons which historically refers to natural resources available to all and not owned by any individual, such as air, water and land. The commons discourse became significantly popular thanks to the fundamental contribution of Elinor Ostrom (1990) and particularly after she was awarded the Nobel in Economics in 2009. Ostrom presented cases and design principals for the collective management of common resources by those that use and benefit from them, challenging the predominant negative connotations that had peaked with Garret Hardin’s (1968) Tragedy of the Commons where he analysed the impossible sustainability of common pool resources due to individual benefits. During the last fifteen years, a vast body of academic literature on urban commons has been produced, linking the notion to other urban theories, such as the right to the city (Harvey, 2008; Lefebvre, 1996), biopolitics (Angelis & Stavrides, 2009; Hardt & Negri, 2009; Linebaugh, 2008; Parr, 2015; Stavrides, 2015, 2016), peer-to-peer urbanism and sharing economy (Dellenbaugh-Losse et al., 2015; Iaione, 2015; Iaione et al., 2019; McLaren & Agyeman, 2015; Shareable, 2018). The notion of the urban commons encompasses resources, people and social practices (Dellenbaugh-Losse et al., 2015): Commons resources are urban assets of various types, characteristics and scales (Dellenbaugh-Losse et al., 2015). Examples of commons resources include physical spaces, such as community gardens, street furniture and playgrounds; intangible elements such as culture and public art; services such as safety; digital spaces, such as internet access. Urban commons literature and practices have attempted to determine several typological categorisations of the urban commons resources, the most notable being that of Hess (2008), who classified them as cultural, knowledge, markets, global, traditional, infrastructure, neighbourhood, medical and health commons. The commoners are the group that uses and manages the urban commons resources. It is a self-defined and organically formed group of individuals whose role is to collectively negotiate the boundaries and the rules of the management of the commons resources (Dellenbaugh-Losse et al., 2015). In a neighbourhood setting, for example, the commoners may be individual residents, or community groups, cooperatives, NGOs and local authorities. De Angelis and Stavrides (2010) points out that commoners might include diverse groups or communities that are not necessarily homogenous. Commoning refers to the collaborative participatory process of accessing, negotiating and governing the commons resources. The term was introduced by Peter Linebaugh (2008) and refers to the “social process that creates and reproduces the commons” (Angelis & Stavrides, 2010). Commoning is a form of public involvement for the public good (Lohmann, 2016). Commoning implies a commitment to solidarity and cooperation, to the creation of added value to the community, to democracy and inclusiveness and is connected to a hacking culture(Dellenbaugh-Losse et al., 2015). Hence, commoning practices can include various activities such as co-creation, capacity building and placemaking, support through learning, innovation, performing art, protest, urban gardening and commuting. In contemporary societies in crisis, the urban commons theory is often used as a counter-movement to the commodification of urban life and as a response to complex issues, proving essential for the well-being of marginalised communities and for the provision of affordable and sustainable housing. Urban commons management conveys the re-appropriation of urban values (Borch & Kornberger, 2015) breaking silos of expertise and knowledge by adopting a collaborative approach to defining and solving the problems at stake. The practice of urban commons helps to build values of openness, experimentation, creativity, trust, solidarity and commitment within stakeholder groups.

Created on 14-10-2022

Author: A.Pappa (ESR13)

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Publications

Roussou, E., & Pappa, A. (2023, May). From teaching the commons to commoning teaching: towards a reflexive architectural education. In SMOOTH: Educational Commons and Active Social Inclusion Conference, Volos, Greece.

Posted on 23-06-2024

Conference

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