Launching 25 March 2015

Designing the Urban Commons

Designing the Urban Commons was an ideas competition calling for new ways to stimulate the city’s public and collective life.

The competition programme included a panel discussion at LSE on the practice of urban commoning, including architects Public Works Groupa lecture by Ash Amin on the commoning of infrastructure, exhibitions in London and Berlin, and a lecture and panel discussion in Berlin with Massimo d’AngelisThe competition resulted in an evidence contribution to the Government Office for Science Foresight Future of Cities project.

Full details of events and a gallery of all submissions can be found at

The range of activities permitted in urban spaces is becoming increasingly narrow. Many streets and squares are now managed by private owners and those held by the state are sanitised and policed to protect property values. Commoning, the collective ownership and management of resources, is currently being reimagined across social, political and economic debates as a response to this challenge facing all cities today. How can space be created for people to come together in public to produce and use the city’s resources outside of market demands? With Britain’s rich history of common rights, London is the perfect place to test commons out as a vital approach to urban design.

The competition brief asked for existing land, architecture, or infrastructures in neighbourhoods across London to be re-imagined as common spaces, or for new urban commons to be carved out in the city or online. Commons are not static pieces of architecture. We are seeking designs through which the social act of commoning could take shape, by enabling citizens to co-produce urban resources from culture & knowledge to housing, energy or democratic processes.

Entry to the competition is free, online and open to anyone, enabling diverse teams to work together. Architects, community organisers, performers, artists and activists for example, and even ordinary citizens, are all encouraged to take part. Submissions will be accepted until 5pm, 1st May.

Eight winning proposals were chosen by a jury including Theatrum Mundi founder Richard Sennett, architect Sarah Wigglesworth and commons advocate and curator Francesca Ferguson, with a further two winners selected by an online public vote. These ten were awarded £300 prize money and had their designs exhibited at LSE during the London Festival of Architecture and in Berlin as part of Make City.

#UrbanCommons  @TheatrumM