1

Coliving is one of the most controversial proposals in the current debate on the commercialisation of the city. Iñaki Alonso suggests a resignification of the concept here.

2

Anthropologist Manuel Delgado, in his texts and lectures, defends the idea that the city and urban life are conflictive. Video- interview in Crítica Urbana magazine | Lecture “Lo común y lo colectivo” (“The Common and the Collective”), in Media Lab- Prado.

3

Labels that differentiate us from what we oppose can be useful, and are sometimes even necessary. However, they can also become self-fulfilling limitations. See this article by Andrés Carretero on “emergent” architecture.

Coliving, or when being cool isn’t cool at all

We did it, it’s official: sharing is cool. After years of swimming against the tide and fighting resistance, cynicism and contradictions, it looks as if there’s no turning back: the future of citizen participation and collaboration lies in its integration into the existing system.

You can see it in the countless publicity campaigns telling us that painting murals and growing food in urban community kitchen gardens is not such a bad thing after all.

One example is Renault’s recent #FeliZiudad campaign, which attempts to maintain the car’s importance in the face of the changes looming on the horizon by associating it with the new imaginary of citizen-based initiatives and community work.

Another example, and one which is now all the rage, is coliving. Apparently,1 this is a housing solution aimed at “young entrepreneurs” willing to pay between 80% and 100% more than the average price for a room in a shared apartment. Based on rooms with private bathrooms in small (8-12 m2) dwellings, it offers the opportunity to further even the most ambitious personal projects thanks to the “adventure” of living together with other people in shared common spaces in which “creative synergies play a leading role”.

Both examples demonstrate how the truly important values of self-management, care and mutual support, values which take time to evolve, are commercialised and pushed aside when architecture and community work are instrumentalised using the immediacy and the symbolic potential of the image to support a specific narrative: that of a deconflicted2 city in which sharing will make us happier.

“The Truman Show” (1998) depicted a society based on predictable relationships that articulated a stable, conflictless social order where each individual played their role.

But what responsibility lies with those of us involved in disseminating and implementing collective and community design methodologies?

The precariousness of modern life may have caused us to yield to the lure of jingoistic labels3 and a result-driven rationale that conceals the complexity of the economic, cultural and political structures underlying the social and urban problems we are trying to solve.

Without forgetting the undeniable need to generate environments and discourses which speak to society in simple terms, I think it’s important to accept the possibility that we may have confused simplicity and adoptability with naivety and emptiness: we may have succeeded in presenting discourses full of lofty concepts and powerfully symbolic motifs but failed to materialise those ideas in any way other than in innocuous, easily-digestible proposals which produce no structural changes in the way we interrelate and organise ourselves as a society. If that is so, we ourselves have become part of the problem.


Text translated by Andrew V. Taylor
Notas de página
1

Coliving is one of the most controversial proposals in the current debate on the commercialisation of the city. Iñaki Alonso suggests a resignification of the concept here.

2

Anthropologist Manuel Delgado, in his texts and lectures, defends the idea that the city and urban life are conflictive. Video- interview in Crítica Urbana magazine | Lecture “Lo común y lo colectivo” (“The Common and the Collective”), in Media Lab- Prado.

3

Labels that differentiate us from what we oppose can be useful, and are sometimes even necessary. However, they can also become self-fulfilling limitations. See this article by Andrés Carretero on “emergent” architecture.

Autor:
(Águilas, 1987) Co-fundador y socio cooperativista de la Oficina de Innovación Cívica S.Coop. Especializado en la ideación de metodologías de mediación urbana e innovación cívica, desarrolla su labor profesional como investigador, consultor y/o impulsor de procesos de participación ciudadana, inteligencia colectiva y desarrollo comunitario aplicados al diseño en arquitectura, urbanismo y territorio.

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