CFP Apr 23, 2019

The City as a Commons (Pavia, 2-4 Sep 19)

University of Pavia
Deadline: May 15, 2019

Ioanni Delsante

The City as a Commons (Research Symposium 2019)


The 2019 edition of the Research Symposium aims at investigating the notion of Urban Commons and their spatial unfolding in relationship to the City. Taking into consideration the wider debate on Commons and its relevance to several disciplines (economics, geography, law, architecture, planning, etc.), the event aims at focusing on urban commons and broader spatial implications, both in terms of spatial practices and design agencies.

The Symposium will bring together scholars and experts to share theoretical and practical agendas, including best practices and outcomes from live case studies. We welcome contributions from scholars as well as practitioners and activists.

The event is jointly organized by the University of Pavia and the University of Huddersfield, through the Alter Urban Transformations research Lab (Pavia), the Centre for Urban Design, Architecture and Sustainability (CUDAS), the Urban Futures and Design Lab (Huddersfield).


The notion of the commons has recently gained renewed attention thanks to Ostrom's foundational 1990s work, which ended a period in which the commons had been forgotten after Hardin's The Tragedy of the Commons (1968). Several scholars have investigated commons from different perspectives, including their theoretical framework and their social, economic and political dimensions (De Angelis 2010; Hardt and Negri 2009; Harvey 2012). The commons has been deeply investigated through its constituent components (Roggero 2010) and through its particular forms of governance; the latter facilitate the functioning and sustainability of the commons over time (Bollier and Helfrich 2012; Ostrom 1990).

More recently, some scholars have focused on the relationship between the urban commons and the city (Ramos, 2016; Stavrides, 2014, 2016), demonstrating that its specific setting in urban environments is central to its definition (Müller et al., 2015), although the urban requires appropriate framing in terms of resources and interdependency with operational landscapes (Müller et al., 2015). As commoning practices reveal a relational attitude within urban spaces (Chatterton, 2010), they may actively contribute to redefining spatial entities like urban islands (Ungers & Vieths, 1999) or enclosures in the urban archipelago (Jeffrey et al., 2011), which features internal thresholds (Stavrides, 2010).

However, there is room for better understanding the mutual relationship between commons and the urban, or urban commons and the city. This applies to the theoretical as well as to a practice-based agenda. Moreover, applies to open spaces as well as to underused or vacant buildings.

The research symposium aims at investigating the notion of Urban Commons and their spatial unfolding in relationship to the City. Taking into considerations the wider debate on Commons and its relevance to several disciplines (economics, geography, law, etc.), the symposium will focus on their spatial implications, in terms of theoretical agenda, case studies, spatial practices and design agencies.

We will welcome contributions investigating and questioning the following aspects:

In what sense the notion of urban commons is actually linked to the city and, more in general, to the urban dimension? What are the implications of this potential link in terms of spatial configurations and figures?

As nowadays processes of (alter) urban transformations are based on commoning practices, co-production and/or by recognising the emergence of commons in urban areas, what are the similarities and the differences in between public spaces and commons spaces in towns and cities? What is the degree of publicity in common spaces? What are the potential conflicts that generates from commoning practices, and how can these be managed? To what extent the right to the city is preserved and recognized among different communities/users and groups?

What are the historical precedents of commoning practices in towns/cities, and how these relate to urban spaces? Looking at historical precedents, how various rights co-existed within the same local community? What was the link between urban commons and spatial practices, or the production of space in towns/cities?

With reference to architectural spaces, to what extent or in what ways commoning practices/ideals affect spatial configurations or typologies and vice versa?

Further enlarging the field of action, what are the implications in terms of spatial practices and design agencies? How can practitioners facilitate the co-production of space by local groups, communities and stakeholders? What is the relationship between co-production and place making?

List of Themes
- Urban Commons and the City. Theories and concept
- Critical Mapping and the urban commons
- Urban commons and urban space
- Spatial practices/Design agencies and urban commons
- Co-production, P2P production and the City
- Urban Commons and the Right to the City
- Conflicts in the City and urban commons
- The governance of urban commons

Keynote Speakers

Prof. Stavros Stavrides, National Technical University of Athens

Dr. Stavros Stavrides, architect and activist, is Professor at the School of Architecture, National Technical University of Athens, Greece, where he teaches graduate courses on housing design (social housing design included), as well as a postgraduate course on the meaning of metropolitan experience. He has published numerous articles on spatial theory and urban struggles. His books: The Symbolic Relation to Space (Athens, 1990), Advertising and the Meaning of Space (Athens, 1996), The Texture of Things (with E. Kotsou, Athens, 1996), From the City-as-Screen to the City-as-Stage (Athens, 2002 National Book Award), Suspended Spaces of Alterity (Athens, 2010), and Towards the City of Thresholds (in English, 2010, in Spanish, 2016 and in Turkish 2016). His research is currently focused on forms of emancipating spatial practices and urban commoning, characteristically developed in his last books Common Space: The City as Commons, (2016 in English, in Greek 2018 in Turkish 2018 a!
nd in Portuguese, forthcoming), and Common Spaces of Urban Emancipation(forthcoming in English). He has lectured in European and Latin American Universities on urban struggles and practices of urban commoning.

Personal homepage:

More Keynote Speakers will be confirmed closer to the event.

Types of Submissions

We welcome contributions from a wide range of disciplines, and perspectives including academics, practitioners, artists, activists, etc.

All papers must be original and not previously submitted to other journals or conferences. The following types of submission are welcome: papers, oral/visual presentations and posters. All submissions types will be subject to peer review.

Abstracts (textual) should not exceed 500 words and must be submitted in English. Authors should upload also a PDF version with title, abstract, keywords. A short biography of the authors (100 words) is welcome and does not count towards the overall word count. PDF files may include visual elements (and non-textual elements in general).

Each participant will be able to present one paper/poster as main author, and a maximum of another submission (presentation/poster) as co-author. In case of multiple authors, one of them should register to the conference in order to present. Proxy and Skype presentations will be allowed as well, subject to technical requirements being checked and agreed in advance.


All submissions are managed through the EasyChair conference management system at the following link:

Submissions will only be accepted through Easychair.



Full cost (till 15th August), 150€

Full cost Early bird (till 30th June), 100€

Poster session, 50€

Graduate students (PGR, PhD), 50€

Social Dinner, 40€

Registration fees includes coffee breaks, lunch, book of abstract (digital copy).

We are keen to support independent scholars, practitioners, artists and activists to attend the Conference. To do that, we will offer a full fee waiver scheme to the best contributions nominated by the Program Committee.


All working papers submitted to the conference's various sessions are automatically submitted for consideration to be published in a special issue of a Journal or an edited book. Working papers will be required prior to the conference for session chairs and the programme committee to begin the selection and editorial process for publication (word limit 3000 words). The authors of the selected papers for publication maybe asked to extend or shorten their work.

CFP: The City as a Commons (Pavia, 2-4 Sep 19). In:, Apr 23, 2019 (accessed May 18, 2024), <>.