GDR GOES ON FORUM Dwelling in the Commons

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GDR GOES ON FORUM Dwelling in the Commons ,

Forum 21 Nov 2010

De Kersentuin (Co-housing residence) Atalantahof 11, Utrecht*  
With Levan Asabashvili (Urban Reactor), L'atelier d'architecture autogérée (Constantin Petcou & Doina Petrescu), Co-Habitation Strategies (Phillip Luehl & Guillermo Delgado), Anna Dijkhuis (with architect Flip Krabbendam), Janna Graham (with Åbäke) and Nazima Kadir  
This FORUM gathers a group of practitioners from different disciplines—architecture, art, activism, academia and social organisation—who work in the context of neighbourhoods or shared space to discuss forms and meanings of ‘communal living’ in our time. Critical consideration of policies that promote private home ownership and so-called ‘social cohesion’ inform the current nature of the debate.  
The point of departure for the forum is the contemporary movement of co-housing in the Netherlands, which will be introduced by Anna Dijkhuis, member of FGW (The Dutch Federation of Intentional Communities/Federatie Gemeenschappelijk Wonen, in Dutch). The number of cohousing and intentional living groups in the Netherlands has grown to 10,000 across the country since the 1960s. These communities are often self-organised, with residents negotiating their multiple desires with regards to their needs for privacy and commitment to co-operative ideals. What kind of radical democratic potentials do these models offer? In what ways do participatory processes affect the architectural design process and vice versa? How do these communities differ from the communes of 1960s and common-interest developments such as gated communities?  
Squatted housing has a well-known history in the Netherlands where co-habitants develop informal ways of occupying and sharing buildings. The collective aspect of this living practice also operates with political principles, although in varying degrees. Squatting has recently reached a critical turn with the new Dutch law banning the practice as of October 2010. Although the level of execution of this law is still ambiguous, it is timely to address what this means for the ‘co-living’ strategies of these D.I.Y.-oriented individuals and communities.  
What is common in both examples, as well as the contexts of the invited participants, is that the place of ‘home’ or ‘community’ is the physical and conceptual site where social and economic forms of living are inscribed, exercised and negotiated within political paradigms. From this framework we ask this group of diverse participants to discuss the context of working with their particular neighbourhoods and communities, and how they might operate towards a notion of a ‘commons’. We will also explore ways in which alternative concepts and forms of dwelling can move beyond their semi-insular structures and extend to the level of street, town and the city.  
FORUM schedule 
Part 1: Building spaces  
14.00 Intro 
14.05 Anna Dijkhuis with architect Flip Krabbendam on the history of Co-housing in the Netherlands in relation to social and architectural design 
14.30 CoHabitation Strategies/Phillip Luehl & Guillermo Delgado on the Tarwewijk project in relation to collaborative living 
14.55 aaa/Constantin Petcou and Doina Petrescu on R-Urban–a strategy for local resilience in the greater metropolitan Paris in relation to the ways architects can contribute to the initiation of self-managed social, economic and ecological projects. 
15.20 Discussion  
16.00 Break  
Part 2: Communal dynamics  
16.30 Intro  
16.35 Levan Asabashvili/Urban Reactor on three main types of Tbilisi collective housing from Early period (1917-1930s), Stalin's period (1930s-1950s) and after Stalin (1950s-1991). 
16:55 Nazima Kadir will present a cartography of internal power dynamics within the intimate space of squatted houses.  
17.15 Janna Graham with Åbäke Seniors Skills Exchange project in Edgware Road neighbourhood, London. 
17.40 Discussion & conclusions  
-Levan Asabashvili is a Delft-trained Georgian architect concerned with urban living conditions. He is a member of Urban Reactor, a self-proclaimed public activist group with a critical stance towards the architecture profession and the socio-spatial reality in which we live. More information at:  
-L'atelier d'architecture autogérée (aaa) is a collective platform founded in 2001 by Constantin Petcou and Doina Petrescu in Paris. The platform conducts actions and research on urban mutations and emerging practices in the contemporary city, involving architects, artists, students, researchers, activists and residents with different social and cultural backgrounds. More information at:  
-Cohabitation Strategies is a non-profit international co-operative for socio-spatial development based in Rotterdam. The co-operative focuses its actions, designs and research inside the conditions of conflict and exclusion of the contemporary city whilst simultaneously strategising to overcome the traditional bifurcation of planning and development, bringing together architecture and radical urban design with experts from professional, academic, and artistic domains. More information at:  
-Anna Dijkhuis has been involved in the co-housing movement since 1975. She is governing board member at the Federatie Gemeenschappelijk Wonen (FGW) and member of the Landelijke Vereniging Centraal Wonen (LVCW). More information at:,  
-Janna Graham is the education projects curator of Serpentine Gallery in London where she curated The Urban Transformation and the Politics of Care, a project that involved design collective Åbäke, and other artists, designers and architects working in collaboration with elderly people, market traders, care workers and young people to swap skills and develop ideas for social and architectural change. She is also a member of the audio action collaborative Ultra Red.  
-Nazima Kadir is a PhD candidate at the Department of Anthropology at Yale University and a visiting fellow at the International Institute of Social History (IRISH). She is currently doing ethnographical research for her dissertation that concerns the squatters' movement in Amsterdam based on two years of participant observation and fieldwork in an Amsterdam squatter’s community. 
*Please note that the event will take place at De Kersentuin (Co-housing residence) Atalantahof 11 in Utrecht.To get there by public transport, take Bus 28 from Utrecht Central Station in the direction of Vleuterweide and get off at Westerparklaan. Look for the group of yellow houses with red roofs (2 min. walk from stop). Location map.  
Revervation is required for this event, please contact Cindy van Rooijen
'The Grand Domestic Revolution GOES ON' is a midway manifestation of 'User's Manual: The Grand Domestic Revolution' (GDR), Casco's long term 'living research' project developed in partnership with Utrecht Manifest: Biennial for Social Design. Clickhere for information on the entire GDR GOES ON programme.