Constructing the Commons

Hans Teerds's picture
March 3, 2016 to March 4, 2016
Subject Fields: 
Architecture and Architectural History, Philosophy, Political Science, Urban Design and Planning, Urban History / Studies

In our time of rapid development and strong differences, there seems to be a need to rethink and redraw the architectural figures of commonality. The Chair of Methods and Analysis of the Faculty of Architecture and the Build Environment at the TU Delft has, in cooperation with visiting professors Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima of the Tokoyo based architectural office Atelier Bow-Wow, set up the project ‘Constructing the Commons’ project in order to reflects upon the contemporary practices of architecture and urban design by probing into the figure and project of the commons. As a final event of a series of different workshops, research seminars and educational projects a public conference will take place on March 3rd and 4th 2016. This public conference, which hosts keynote speakers like Atelier Bow-Wow, Richard Sennett, Margaret Crawford, Masatake Shinohara and George Baird, brings together different perspectives from the field of architecture, as well as adjacent fields, like philosophy, social and political sciences, and urban studies. The conference wants to enrich our understanding of the commons, as architectural figure and architectural project.

The term ‘commons’ today is widely and extensively discussed within different theoretical frames of reference. Historically it refers to natural resources that we, the people, have in common. Resources that are not one’s property and are available to all: air, water, earth. Today, the term is used in very different ways in economic, social, and political theory, as well as within the creative industries. The project ‘Constructing the Commons’, initiated by the chair of Methods and Analysis of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment of the Delft University of Technology at the occasion of the visiting professorship of Momoyo Kaijima and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto of the Tokyo based architectural office Atelier Bow-Wow, investigates the commons from a tangible perspective, from an architectural point of view.

First, the commons are understood as a series of concrete architectural and urban figures, which can be found in the Western and non-Western city and represents an idea of commonality. Out of this perspective the term refers to notions of the public realm. However, whereas the public realm is often thought to address the public at large in exceptional locales and moments, the commons seem to engage with smaller communities, within ordinary places and times. As well in Western as in non-Western contexts these figures of commonality seem to be largely absent from the contemporary ways that the city is transformed and developed. In our time of rapid development and strong differences, there seems to be a need to rethink and redraw these architectural figures of commonality.

Second, the commons are looked upon from a procedural perspective, implying the rituals, pleasures and politics of co-operation that articulate an architectural project. Increasingly there is an idea that architectural projects are not a single-authored ventures, but rather complex and layered processes that depend upon multiple agencies that establish a commonality. This commonality encompasses the shared effort of designers, advisers, constructors, and owners, but architectural projects are also the result of the commonalities of other stakeholders, like inhabitants, users and neighbours that negotiate forces into a new venture. In other words, architecture is a ‘common enterprise’, a public effort.

This website is organized by the Chair of Methods and Analysis of the Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment of Delft University of Technology, Tom Avermaete and ir. Hans Teerds, in collaboration with Atelier Bow-Wow, visiting professors. More information on the conference can be found on the website With questions, please contact Hans Teerds. 

Contact Info: 

Hans Teerds
Delft University of Technology
Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment
Chair of Methods & Analysis

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