The Commons of Valparaíso

The MSc3/MSc4 Graduation Studio “Positions in Practice” of the Department of Architecture TU Delft (fall, 2017) focused on the urban and architectural context of Valparaíso, as a laboratory for the definition of disciplinary positions and the performance of these positions in practice. 

The studio is part of the larger investigation “Constructing the Commons,” which takes as point of departure the idea that the city should be understood as the ultimate common socio-spatial resource: a collective cultural construct that is composed by and for its inhabitants. Around the notion of ‘the commons’, a challenging field of thinking has emerged in the fields of economy, political and social sciences, suggesting radically different ways to organize our societies. In her seminal publication Governing the Commons (1990), Nobel prize winner Elinor Ostrom put forward the idea of the commons as collective action that challenges standing perspectives on economy and policy. More recently, Silke Helfrich and David Bollier, in Die Welt der Commons (2015) have coined the commons as a model to think about the many domains of our everyday life beyond the dominant discourse of the market economy and state intervention. In these theories, however, there is little notion of the value of urban spaces as the main tangible forms in which the commons exist in society and organize social-spatial practices.