Conceptual Framework

A workshop on digital fabrication, everyday life, urban intervention and free culture

1/ Social production of space
At the recent Venice Biennale, Ole Bouman wrote “It is so obvious that it almost passes unnoticed […] architecture is in the first place intended as a place to meet […] architecture turned into a verb: a good building [public space] makes something happen that goes beyond the building [space] itself.” [*]

We can go beyond Bouman. Indeed; public urban space is not limited to its materiality and its architectural expression. AS well, it is made out of the social interactions it supports. With a finer grain, Henri Lefebvre referred to this as the social production of space.

2/ Public space overcodification
In recent times, however, central public spaces have become considerably overcodified. That is, the behaviors it supports have been induced to become more and more homogeneous, predictable, pre-determined. Rather than inhabitants of public space who create social space through their multiple expressions, behaviors and actions, the people that constitute “the public” are becoming “users” of already given situations, who are only able to perform pre-codified actions, such as sitting in the terraces to eat and drink, playing in enclosed spaces, circulating from departure points to destination points. The precise regulation of bars and terraces in Madrid, where chairs and tables cannot be moved by customers, is an illustrative example of the aforementioned overcodification.

3/ Hybrid spaces
At the same time, during the last decade, public space has acquired a new “layer”. This layer is composed by what we could describe as its digital extensions. The material, the digital and the social interact now in complex ways generating what is often described as hybrid space. The emergence of these hybrid spaces, have made us recover Henri Lefebvre’s idea of the social production of space; enhanced, made richer and more complex, by the new digital layers.

4/ Digital commons; the commons factory
A central characteristic of the networked society, and together with it of contemporary digital environments, is the relevance of communication, cooperation and collective intelligence. Socio-technical environments like the WWW or the free software movement, that are built around these attributes, are often described as innovation or digital commons; – commons referring to a resource that is created, maintained and expanded by a certain community; whose benefits can be enjoyed by anyone who becomes part of this community.

Today, in the networked society, could we describe the metropolis as the commons factory?


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