The studio rethinks what urban life could be beyond the idea of property. Going beyond the problematic trope of the ‘sharing economy,’ practices of commoning demand direct commitment from stakeholders in taking care of their environment and their peers. Commoning is a practice that emerges out of the effort of a community to pool its resources, share them equitably, and manage them sustainably. Challenging the traditional notion of the home, the studio proposes the concept of the ‘dispersed home’ in order to erode household property towards the possibility of commoning.
San Cesareo is a town and comune bounded by Via Casilina and the A1 ring highway southeast of Rome. In 1929, the Fascist government incentivized ex-military families to locate to San Cesareo by building single-family houses and public amenities along its central spine, subdividing strips of agricultural land behind each house. Traces of early social housing and communal ovens (forno comune) can still be found in the settlement today. In the 1950s, properties were legally sold to families who have been inhabiting the settlement, as well as to developers who then subdivided and aggregated lots until the settlement was formally legalized in the 1990s. The result is a layered but disconnected settlement with a dense central area in the south, developer led housing in the west, and agricultural strip lots for small cultivation in the north.
We see a potential in bridging the disparate areas of the settlement through boundary commoning by creating space and rituals for reproductive and productive labor. Our project aims to challenge the privatization and compartmentalization of human life by creating spaces that facilitate ways in which community members can begin to renegotiate spatial and social boundaries. In San Cesareo, property lines take physical shape through fences and walls that privatize thoroughfares and monopolize outdoor space. Commoning begins when neighbors are willing to tear down fences and walls in their backyards, driveways, and adjacent lots. The former walls become paths that connect the settlement’s interstitial alleyways. Existing palazzinas are renovated to facilitate work-live spaces for productive income. The excess revenue from this enterprise is used to build modular structures to socialize and externalize rituals surrounding care and production. Ultimately new civic elements serve as markers for customs that overlap reproductive and productive labor.
This project finds its starting point as families sharing responsibilities and resources beyond the household. As social and spatial relationships expand, the incremental nature of the proposal reclaim backyards, streets, and new civic spaces within San Cesareo. Elements are incrementally introduced and dispersed transforming the settlement into a landscape of commoning practices facilitated by a willingness to extend and remove boundaries of private property.