CMMM is a practice-oriented research project that was designed to support civil society actors in their struggles for just societies and cities in the pursuit of profound political transformation. In their quest to change power relations, mobilisers in municipalist movementsare continuously re-thinking and re-shaping instruments and mediums. In this project we focused on critical mapping as it constitutes an “act of power,” one that transcends theorization to establish different perspectives on realities, an action aimed at changing narratives and discourses.
The evolving democratization of mapping through new technologies is deconstructing it as an elitist instrument for the few and making it available to the many as a medium for (self-)empowerment. Maps are helping to give shape and size to issues that are hard to grasp, particularly complex issues at urban scales. Theoretically, we based our work on an exploration that K LAB conducted in parallel, which is captured in the Mapping Change Logbook, regarding what constitutes critical mapping and what are its transformative potentials. In this practice-based CMMM project, we investigated the emancipatory claims of critical mapping through collaborative activities and comparative research on specific spatio-political issues in three cities: Barcelona, Belgrade, and Berlin.
 The Mapping Change Logbook was the result of the postdoctoral project “Mapping for change? Critical cartography approaches to drive socio-environmental urban transformations,” which was conducted by K LAB between October 2018 and April 2022. It was financed through a grant from the Volkswagen Foundation under its program: “Original – isn’t it? New Options for the Humanities and Cultural Studies” (now OpenUp). The Mapping Change Logbook contains a selection of key findings from the project, including primary, secondary, and tertiary materials on concepts and experiments that engage critical mapping. For more information, please see “0.2 The “Mapping Change” Project.”
These cities were chosen because of several factors, one being the variance in their levels of political organization and the achievements of the respective local municipalist movements. Whereas in Barcelona the contemporary municipalist movement managed to oust traditional parties from the mayor’s seat in 2015, in Belgrade they are just starting to make it to municipal councils (as of April 2022). Meanwhile in Berlin, in spite of the very rich scene of initiatives and activists, there is still no framework that contests the established political structures with an alternative. Other factors include points of divergence and convergence offered by these west, east, and northern European cities in terms of political and economic histories and contexts. In the second half of the twentieth century, all three cities were sites of complex socio-political contestation. Before neoliberalization swept through the globe, their spatio-politics were largely socialist and their traces still greatly impact the realities in these cities today, as shown in the timelines that were mapped in this project.
We understand critical maps within the broader definition of the term, to be encompassing of various kinds of visualizations and communication tools and, above all, the processes that give rise to them (i.e., not just the “output”). From this perspective and as outlined in the CMMM process, which spanned over 3.5 years from 2019 to 2023, our team of scholar-activists worked on developing methodologies and creating critical maps of multiple formats that support the agenda setting, claim-making, and communication of our collaborating collectives, initiatives, and civil organizations on the issue of the Right to Housing.
At the outset of the project, our newly formed CMMM team chose housing as the thematic and comparative entry point. First, this was because it represents a common arena of suffering in the three cities. Second, it is a domain in which the members of our team were strongly invested. And third, back in 2019, it was clear that this basic need for dignified life would mobilize people to support endeavors for political change.
We understand housing as a broad term that transcends “having a shelter” and encompasses people’s concerns for daily sustenance. It includes aspects of adequate infrastructure and health care, access to education and non-monetized non-commercialized spaces of socialization (which is as central to mental health as water and clean air), and therefore, the systems of spaces that allow for just and secure social production and reproduction. By extension, the term should ideally also include spaces of labor and production, which have been dislocated from realms of housing by functional principles of city management. However, under current sectorial political paradigms, this extended meaning is hard to translate into policies of spatial governance.
Under this central theme, some of the comparative lines we saw at the beginning of the project were the issues of housing burdens (how much of a person’s income is spent on housing), evictions (active and passive models), touristification, and the financialization of housing (real estate having become a prime object of speculation by international corporations). In addition, across the three cities, we saw how the growing challenges related to access to affordable housing have triggered the formation of collectives and initiatives that work on alternatives. As the outputs of the project displayed here demonstrate, these topics were addressed to varying degrees in the respective activities of each city team in accordance with the characteristics of the locations and events that took place during the process. The approach each of the city teams adopted for this common theme within the CMMM framework, which operated in tandem with the activities of their collectives and organizations, is described in the cities section.
The CMMM project was conceived at the Robert Bosch Stiftung (RBS) event “24 Stunden SPIELRAUM II – Urbane Transformationen gestalten” (24 hours Game Room II – Designing Urban Transformations) in December 2017 by a team of five: Julia Förster, Julita Skodra, Katleen De Flander, Natasha Aruri, and Andreas Brück. With the help of an RBS seed grant, our SPIELRAUM team developed and submitted an elaborate proposal in May 2018. Following review and a presentation at the RBS headquarters in Stuttgart, the commissioned evaluation committee endorsed the proposal and K LAB (TU Berlin) was awarded the grant. In summer 2019, the CMMM project started with Katleen and Natasha as postdoctoral researchers and coordinators (both in part-time positions), Andreas as project manager, and Julia as support and sounding board.
During the first few months, the focus lay on expanding the team to include mobilizers from the three cities. For Berlin (BLN), we were joined by Nija Maria Linke, Edouard Barthen, and Julian Zwicker; for Belgrade (BGD) by Iva Čukić, Jovana Timotijević, and Marko Aksentijević; and for Barcelona (BCN) by Irene Escorihuela Blasco, Laura Roth, and Carla Rivera. They brought the local collectives and organizations in which they are involved with them as collaborators for the project: AKS-Gemeinwohl and Raumstation for BLN, Ministarstvo Prostora (Ministry of Space) for BGD, and Observatori DESC for BCN.
After our CMMM team was formed, we jointly defined the thematic foci of the project within the broader context of municipalist movements. Given the nature of the activities of the members of the three city teams, we decided to focus on housing, with an open angle to be defined along the journey by each of the city teams in relation to the working agendas of their collectives. We held monthly meetings in which we discussed issues related to the project and beyond. Based on relevant events, changing conditions, and new information, we made consensus decisions on next steps and amended our agenda accordingly. As a practice-oriented project, the CMMM framework pivoted on collaborative formats that sought to combine and build on broader efforts within the various local movements.
In March 2020, we organized the international “Setting the Grounds” workshop with select guests, who later became our Advisory Committee members. We discussed various experiences and deliberated on key questions, many of which accompanied us throughout the lifespan of the project. The workshop helped each team start defining their concrete political target, on which they would focus in the following phases. A week after this workshop, Europe went on lockdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In August, October, and November 2020, the BLN, BCN, and BGD teams respectively held their kick-off workshops, which were attended by mixed groups of activists, professionals, and public servants. The teams presented initial ideas and discussed their validity, implementation potential, and next steps, as outlined in the workshop reports: Who Buys Berlin?, Mapping Property Structures in Barcelona, and Housing Burdens of Social Housing Tenants and Publicly Owned Land for the Purpose of Non-Profit Housing in Belgrade.
Between fall 2020 and summer 2021, with the feedback collected in the kick-off workshops, the teams drafted initial analyses of the housing conditions in their cities. What were initially intended as short reports became extensive pieces that were created in a collaborative writing and production process between the city teams and K LAB, with feedback from some of the Advisory Committee members. These now include a timeline of key events, legislation, and relevant critical maps; a status quo section that outlines the hierarchies of decision-making and main factors behind housing injustice; and an index of major players (actors) in the three cities. The latter includes a poster-format process diagram that explains the particular legislative procedure or instrument of focus for each city. As the CMMM project drew to an end in fall 2022, all texts were revised, updated, and finalized.
In spring 2021, the city teams organized “hands-on” workshops, where they worked with participants to define the shape and characteristics of the interactive maps they were designing. The purpose of the maps is to both inform and engage communities in the broader mobilizations toward tangible political change. As the workshop reports explain, in BCN they decided to focus on the continuing problem of Who Evicts Barcelona?, in BLN on the question of Commoning Berlin – but how? (with a focus on the vital yet weak instrument of Vorkaufsrecht, the right of preemption), and in BGD on Mapping the Unaffordability of Housing.
Between summer 2021 and fall 2022, in partnership with the visual intelligence team and with feedback from various collaborators, three interactive maps were developed: Commoning Berlin, “How (Un)affordable Is Housing in Belgrade?, and “Stop Evictions!” in BCN. The maps vary in their structure and programming in accordance with their purpose. They were released online in November and December 2022.
In May 2022, after postponing twice due to COVID-19 surges in 2021, we were finally able to hold an International Gathering in BGD. As the CMMM team had changed slightly since the start of the project (see inner circle of the diagram above), this was the first face-to-face meeting for several of the team members. Next to the long over-due personal interaction, the meeting served to reflect on our joint journey so far and to decide on the final steps of the project. In addition, Irene and Julian contributed to the public discussion “Global housing struggles – experiences from Berlin, Barcelona and Belgrade” organized by the Ministry of Space at the margins of the international gathering.
In summer 2022, a set of 28 “Thoughts on…” sound clips were extracted and curated from interviews (of about 1 hour each) that K LAB held with members of the city teams during the gathering in BGD. These are meant to introduce the voices of the people behind this CMMM project, provide glimpses of how they started, their experiences, their opinions regarding relevant issues, and explain how they keep going despite the many challenges.
As a spinoff of the CMMM project, in the week before the international gathering, the BGD team—together with K LAB—directed an excursion for students from three universities: TU Berlin, TU Darmstadt, and the University of Michigan. This BGD excursion was part of the TU Berlin master-level design studio Београд (Belgrade) 2041 – Futures of Post-Socialist Cities, which was taught by Iva, Jovana, and Andreas between April and July 2022. The course was designed to discuss current struggles and initiatives for city spaces in Belgrade, but also as an imaginative exercise regarding future scenarios for the “Belgrade Waterfront” site until 2041, which involved understanding the roles and interests of different stakeholders, creating a cost-benefit analysis, discussing further implications, and producing four alternatives (masterplans and scenarios) for Belgrade 2041.
Furthermore, some of the CMMM team members participated in the international Takhayali Ramallah workshop in September 2022, which brought together academics, practitioners, animation experts, and activists. The workshop focused on exploring alternative ways of seeing and sensing the city and worked toward defining new principles for a spatial management approach that accounts for social reproduction and climate change adaptation. One of the discussions revolved around whether and how a municipalist movement can be formed in Ramallah and was inspired by a presentation on the experience of the Ministry of Space (BGD team).
Between fall 2022 and winter 2023, we finalized the various project outputs featured on the cmmm.eu website. In addition to a printed book, the project’s website includes an array of interactive formats that allow visitors to explore, compare, and engage with the three cities. Ideally, individuals, initiatives, and movements will be able to make use of these materials long after they have been released.
To facilitate comparison and reach a broader audience, we have worked mainly in English, except for the BCN and BGD interactive maps. However, in order for the work to be used broadly in the different contextual settings, we aim to translate key materials into German, Serbian, and Spanish/Catalan after the project has been completed.
In June 2023, our CMMM team will present the project at the 4th International Social Housing Festival (ISHF), which will take place in Barcelona. If you are around, please feel free to join us!
former team members
Andrea is the Office Manager of and of the Chair of Urban Design & Urban Development, under the direction of Prof. Dr. Angela Million. In both secretariats she handles all administrative matters including personnel and financial management, of teaching activities and everyday department affairs, as well as of all affiliated research projects. In addition, she is responsible for student examination services and committee work. She has lived and worked in several German cities and has been active in University and Examination Offices since 2002.
Urbanist and urbanite living and working in Berlin. He is Assistant Professor (senior researcher and lecturer) at TU-Berlin’s , and he is Managing Director of , a unit dealing with visualization and communication of the urban.
Robin studied Visual Communication in Aachen & Zurich (B.A) and Data Visualization (M.S) in New York. After gaining experience in the interdisciplinary design atelier »Integral Ruedi Baur« in Paris and at the Think Tank „Innovation center for Mobility and societal Change“ in Berlin, Robin became self employed as a visual expert at the intersection of design and technology.
Edouard is an urban designer with an expertise in citizen-centric urban development. Surrounded by architects and planners he likes to bring the human scale to the table. His background in Social Sciences, Philosophy and Cultural Studies, which he acquired in Munich, Delhi and Frankfurt (Oder), allows him to navigate societal complexity and to understand the logic of action of different societal players. His past projects were dedicated to co-created urban contexts as well as rural transformation processes, making use of both qualitative methods for research and design tools to develop and test new approaches. Beyond the urban realm he is a trained design thinker with many years of experience as a freelancer in the corporate innovation sector. In his spare time, he maps the forests of Brandenburg on the lookout for mushrooms and other treasures.
Iva graduated from the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade where she earned her doctoral degree in urban planning. The areas of her research include urban commons, new models of governance, urban transformation and self-organisation, which she pursues through intersecting academic and activist perspective. Currently, she is leading the collective Ministry of Space (Ministarstvo prostora) formed in 2011, with the intention to intensify production and dissemination of knowledge and creation of policies within different areas relevant for genuine democratization, focusing on the lower levels of governance; as well as nurturing local groups in their pursue of spatial justice, making a stronger bottom-up pressure for systematic change.
Julian is a long-term political activist and consultant for Berlin projects focusing on urban democracy, the co-production of urban space and socially responsible long-term planning and management of real estate namely , and . Since over a decade he has been working within collaborative structures organizing non-commercial cultural and political events such as lately the and . Until 2015 Julian Zwicker accompanied research projects in the field of participation processes in environmental law at the in Berlin after he passed a Bachelor of Law degree at the Technical University of Dresden in 2012.
Urbanist and project curator who’s research focusses on tackling the urban polycrises and advancing socio-ecological transformations within contemporary complexities. Her work intends more specifically to contest and re-shape urban resource flows and the unjust distribution of services, access and opportunities. She currently works as a Post-Doc Researcher at , TU-Berlin on two research projects that look at the intersection of critical mapping, socio-environmental transformation, and Municipalist Movements. One of her former projects is .
Laura is an activist and researcher based in Barcelona. She holds a PhD. in political philosophy and her current research focuses on municipalism, feminism and democratic practices at the local level. She has been a fellow at Harvard University, University of Stirling and Goethe Universität Frankfurt. She has recently co-edited “Ciudades Democráticas”, a book about new municipalism in the Spanish State and the “New Municipalism” entry for the Springer Encyclopedia of Educational Innovation. As an activist at Barcelona en Comú she has worked to build an international municipalist network and to feminize practices within municipalist organisations.
Spatial sociologist and researcher. She is engaged in critical mapping, issues of sustainability of cities, modes of public engagement in processes of (re-) making of cities, facilitation and the role of critical art in politics. She seeks to deconstruct the dominant conceptions and boundaries of possible transformations processes in cities. She is a member of the collective which is focused on the development of new approaches and formats for multidisciplinary cooperation, providing information and alternative education about cities. Currently she is a Research Fellow at , supporting in two research projects that look at the intersection of critical mapping, socio-environmental transformation, and Municipalist Movements.
Urbanist and researcher. Her work focuses on cities of exasperated insecurities; spacio-politics of and resistance to (neo)colonialism; and facing uncertainties through people-based, dynamic strategies of spatial design. Currently she is a Post-Doc Researcher at , TU-Berlin working on two research projects that look at the intersection of critical mapping, socio-environmental transformation, and new municipalist movements; she is Visiting Professor of Urban Planning at ; and she is the City Research Team Lead for Ramallah in the multisite comparative research project “Urbanisation, Gender and the Global South: a transformative knowledge network” – .
Tim is an urban planner and designer with focus on sustainable urban design and planning towards climate change adaptation/mitigation strategies using participartory and digital tools. He gained experience in urban planning and design offices as well as a researcher and lecturer at TU Berlin (UD Studio, GIS). With his practical and academic background, he is experienced in design practices between actor-based design (process-design), urban design as well as mapping and communication practices as participatory tools. Currently Tim is establishing “shortcutsstudio“, an interdisciplinary platform working on vulnerability, adaptation and digital tools as information and decision-making instruments. He is a Technical and Research Assistant at
Nija has an academic background in Urban Studies and Urban Design as well as in Planning, gaining her degrees at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, TU Vienna and currently enrolled at TU Berlin, where she is also part of the K LAB team. She is interested in practices of solidary self-empowerment that are emerging in both urban development and urban space. Through her engagement in the collective “Raumstation Weimar | Berlin | Wien” she is pursuing various approaches and methods of artistic-activist (spatial) exploration and intervention with a focus on collaborative learning, experimentation and the organisation of moments of friction. In addition, Nija traces the emancipatory potential of digitality from a critical cartography and activist perspective.
Jovana graduated from the Faculty of Architecture, University of Belgrade, later obtained her Master degree in Gender Studies, and has continued to PhD studies at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade. Her research and activism are framed within the intersection of critical urban studies, feminist theory and politics, focusing particularly on the topics of spatial justice and right to housing. She is a member of the Ministry of Space collective where she works as Programme Coordinator, and she is also engaged as Researcher at the Faculty of Political Sciences. She is an active member of several urban initiatives and movements, and has co-founded the Platform for Theory and Practice of the Commons “Zajednicko”.
Božena obtained her Master degree in Integral Urbanism at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Belgrade in 2016. Since then she has been engaged as a Teaching Associate at the same program for the courses “Architects and civil initiatives for sustainable development” and “Master thesis and master project”. During 2018, she worked as urban planner for several local governmental institutions. She is interested in the role of urban planners in socio-economic processes, development of mechanisms for citizens participation in urban planning, and new models of governance. Currently she is also working at the Ministry of Space as Program Coordinator.
Marko graduated from the Faculty of Political Sciences and has been active in various civil society organisations since over 15 years. He is a skilled campaign manager with over ten years of experience in campaigning and public outreach. Since 2011, when he co-founded the Ministry of Space collective, his work and activist engagement has been focused on the spatial dimension of social justice, with emphasis on citizens’ participation in urban development, public space management and affordable housing. He currently acts as Program Coordinator at the Ministry of Space, where he offers his expertise in fostering citizens’ engagement in urban planning and spatial policies, as well as in enhancing the effectiveness of participative management of public resources.
Irene holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Pompeu Fabra University (and studies at Sciences Po Paris), and a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Law from Barcelona University. She is specialized in human rights with a focus on the right to housing and the right to the city, and has several publications in this field. She has academic and practical work experience in Latin America, especially in Peru and Ecuador. In Spain, she has worked as a lawyer and consultant on housing issues. She is currently the Director of the Observatory DESC (Economic, Social and Cultural rights), a human rights organization in Barcelona, where she coordinates research, advocacy campaigns and strategic litigation. She is one of the founders of the Barcelona/Catalonia Tenants Union, established in 2017, and currently she is involved in several social movements, mainly defending the right to housing.
Lorenzo is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research at Uppsala University, Sweden, working on the Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action: O2A-From ownership to access: digital and policy tools for building post-homeownership futures. He is also collaborator of the Institute of Government and Public Policy at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and associate researcher at CIDOB-Barcelona Centre for International Affairs. He holds a PhD in Political Science, Public Policies and International Relations from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and a Master’s degree in International Economics and Development from the Complutense University of Madrid. His main research interests centre on urban political economy, with a focus on housing, property and digital transformations.
Eduard holds a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB), a Master’s degree in Territorial and Population Studies and a PhD in Geography from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). His thesis was titled “The housing crisis: territorial implications and empowerment strategies”. In recent years, Eduard has been focused on studies relating to social movements and the right of housing. He has published analyses on the mortgage crisis in Spain, strategies of empowerment of social movements and cartographies of evictions in Barcelona. Further, as an activist of the Platform of People Affected by Mortgages (PAH), he has collaborated in studies on the social impact of housing precariousness. Currently, he is an administrative technician at the UAB.
Carla has a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona. She is engaged in initiatives focused on the rights to peaceful assembly and association towards a civil appropriation of the Right to the City in Barcelona. Her research interest lies in investigating the social damage caused by urban violence and systematic exclusion as a result of the commodification of housing and green-gentrification projects. Recently she collaborated with the Barcelona Laboratory for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability in conducting research and preparing materials on how municipal policies and activists are facing the current green-gentrification discourse in Barcelona and Nantes. Currently she is an intern researcher at the Observatory DESC.
Marta holds two Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Law from Pompeu Fabra University (UPF), and is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Sociology and Demography at UPF. Her research interests lie in contributing to establishing better understandings of the mechanisms that give rise to social inequalities, particularly in the housing and labor markets, as well as in investigating social groups that experience growing inequalities. Marta has gained experience in research on inequalities and social and economic rights through working with a number of international organizations. Currently she is a consultant for Observatory DESC.
Angela is an urban designer and urban planner. She is Professor of , Director of the , and the Executive Director of at TU Berlin. She is Director of the newly DAAD-funded Global Center on Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability, SMUS. Her research focuses on participatory urban design, social infrastructure and Baukultur, with a special interest in cities as educational settings, children and youth. Her most recent research explores educational landscapes, multifunctional infrastructure design and relevance of spatial knowledge in planning processes, including lately within the collaborative research center . Building on her work in the classroom, Prof. Million’s scholarship includes studies on teaching urban design and visual communication of planning.
Ana is an architect and urban planner. In the last fifteen years, her research and practice have focused on public space, tactical cartographies, urban commons, institutional change and municipalism. She is a founding member of the militant research collective Observatorio Metropolitano de Madrid and other collective projects, such as Car-Tac, areaciega, and urbanaccion. Ana was actively engaged in the organization of the citizen-led municipalist platform Ahora Madrid. After it won the government in 2015, she worked as Strategic Planning Advisor for the Culture Department at Madrid City Council. She is currently PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield with a research project on urban commons in public spaces.
Bertie is a Manchester based urban and municipalist researcher and activist. As a research associate at the University of Sheffield’s Urban Institute his research has been focused on municipal co-production and urban governance, having recently worked on the ESRC Jam & Justice project and as part of MISTRA Urban Futures. His research interests include municipalism (with a recent paper in Antipode entitled Beyond the Local Trap: New Municipalism and the Rise of the Fearless Cities and a forthcoming paper in Soundings) and new models of the commons and economic democracy (with a recent co-authored policy report published by Common Wealth entitled Public-Common Partnerships: Building New Circuits of Collective Ownership). He is also an editorial member of Red Pepper magazine and a community member of MINIM, and has published recently in Open Democracy, Red Pepper, ROAR, Citymetric, Novara and The Conversation.
Iva was born in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1982. She holds a Master degree in Architecture and urban planning from the school of Architecture, University of Zagreb. She sees her practice of architecture as building networks between activists, planners and grassroots initiatives in an effort to democratize the process of planning and shift the narratives produced in schools and institutions that foster commercialization of public spaces, infrastructures, and the gentrification of cities. For years she has been active in the field of the right to housing with writings, research, and organized collective action. She is part of the organization Right to the City in Zagreb, where she lives and works.
Severin’s endeavours in activism and geography are driven by experiences with everyday resistance in the peripheries of places like Rio de Janeiro, Bogotá and Maputo. Those inspirations guided him through the last decade while working within kollektiv orangotango, community gardens, small-holders and academia in and beyond Berlin. As one of the editors of “This is Not an Atlas” he is currently working on the various evolutions of the project, focusing on the creation of a counter-mapping network, further editions and translations of the book as well as a video series.
Clancy is a critical cartographer and researcher. She is Assistant Professor in Critical Cartography, Geovisualisation and Design with the Berkeley Centre for New Media and the Department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests follow the intersections of possibility and resistance between critical cartography, lived spaces and digital worlds – with an emphasis on postcolonial urban spaces, mobile media and everyday life. She is the author of Mobile Mapping: Space, Cartography and the Digital (2020) with Amsterdam University Press.
Julia is a Berlin-based social scientist and trained mediator. She is an advocate for social equality and diversity, and she engages in projects that aim at enabling the participation of under-represented groups in urban-related projects. She has been part of the development and coordination of public interest projects, just urban development, political education and democracy. These include interventions in local communities, surveys, a storytelling café with neighbours in the Berlin district of Hohenschönhausen, citywide networking, membership in committees and participation in transnational research and exchange programmes. She was a member of the team that conceptualised and prepared the application for the RBS grant for this CMMM project.
The Observatory is a human rights centre focused since more than two decades on dismantling the devalued perception of social rights – the right to housing, to work, to education, to health, to food – in relation to other fundamental rights such as patrimonial, civil and political rights. The Observatory combines advocacy with research, offers consultancies, strategic litigation, and organizes courses and conferences. Therein it is also involved in dissemination of research, accompanies popular demands and struggles, and is involved in networking and supporting participatory social campaigns. DESC Observatory has successfully lead housing proposals at both legislative and public policy levels, together with social movements such as PAH (anti-evictions platform). For example, a new Catalan housing law to stop evictions and power cuts was approved in 2015 after collecting over 150.000 signatures. Last year, a local policy compelling that every new private building must preserve a 30% for social housing was implemented in Barcelona after being proposed by a coalition of 5 social organizations, DESC Observatory being one of them.
Ministry of Space
The Ministry of Space (MoS) was formed in 2011 as a non-institutionalized activist collective that strived to activate different kinds of unused urban spaces through direct action and/or municipal negotiations. Several actions evolved into a national campaign that advocated for a more transparent regulation of public property management, one that is consistent with the common interest of citizens. Parallel to that, MoS developed other programs and expanded its organizational mission to encourage and foster citizens’ participation and mobilization in defining public interest in urban and spatial planning and urban resource management. In the last five years, MoS supported numerous groups to oppose and reverse officially proposed urban planning modifications of their neighborhoods that were against their interests. The collective also initiated, organized and led multiple bottom-up actions that addressed the specific urban development or common management of public goods. In addition, MoS carries out transdisciplinary research and educational programs in cooperation with domestic and international institutions and organizations. Within that area, we: (1) Produce relevant and applicable research in the sphere of urban development and commons-based research; (2) Participate in international and national scientific, expert and civil society projects; (3) Develop educational modules in the sphere of urban politics, housing and urban commons; (4) Regularly publish academic and scholarly articles that explore potentials of different social, economic and urban practices; (5) Organize international and national seminars and conferences on urban theory, urban commons, and urban politics among other relevant topics.
Die Arbeit- und Koordinierungsstruktur für gemeinwohlorientierte Stadtentwicklung in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg [AKS Gemeinwohl]
The Work and Coordination Structure for Gemeinwohl-oriented urban development in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg [AKS Gemeinwohl]
Commissioned by the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district authority (Building, Planning, FM) in October 2018, a network of urban activists and experts initiated and tested a support structure that aims to encourage and coordinate a long-term cooperation between the public administration, NGOs and political spheres of urban development.
‘AKS Gemeinwohl‘ is continuously testing and establishing new forms of cooperation and acts as a conducer for co-produced urban development, where our structure can be seen as a so-called ‘third space’ for involved actors. We see ourselves and the space of AKS as an innovative instrument for the promotion of a diverse urban society and sustainable land policy, as well as for safeguarding Gemeinwohl-oriented projects and spaces.
Our Team composes of five permanent positions, two of which are at the Urban Development Office Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, working from within the public administration in the area of citizen participation. The other three positions are outside the public administration office, at the association GEMEINWOHLORIENTIERTE STADTENTWICKLUNG e.V. (supported by the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg District Office). This association is the initiative platform and civil society basis of ‘AKS Gemeinwohl’. Through a steering committee, actors from district politics, administration and organized civil society jointly monitor and control the work and orientation of AKS Gemeinwohl.
Kollektiv Raumstation (Space Station Collective) wants you to question, reinterpret, reimagine and be playful with urban spaces as places of communication, exchange and shared experience. Urban spaces are inherently political, and urban processes can be moments of political empowerment, or the opposite. The collective seeks to emphasize and strengthen concealed places, ignored topics and unheard voices that underlie and define our urban world. Our work is based on methods of experimental spatial exploration, artistic and activist interventions, and critically reflective practices. Our projects focus on the physical, social, cultural and political production of space, and are guided by open group processes that allow for mutual, multidirectional learning.
Founded in Weimar in 2013, Kollektiv Raumstation now consists of around 40 members, with more recent chapters in Berlin and Vienna. Each of these ‘stations’ is an interdisciplinary platform where people come together to design and shape new urban spaces, intervene politically for a right to the city, test new ideas and share strategies and techniques. Our stations in Weimar, Berlin and Vienna work to generate urban movement in independently-determined, grassroots and democratic ways. We use creative and reflective methods to develop and act on new ideas, to implement and reflect on projects; and to share responsibility for self-organization and empowerment. Each station has evolved its own foci, networks and projects, and the collective is active on earth and online, hosting regular virtual gatherings as well as ‘galaxy meetings’ in one of our three cities.
kollektiv orangotango was founded in 2008. Since then it has been constantly developing through a network of critical geographers, friends and activists who deal with questions regarding space, power and resistance. With our geographical activism, we seek to support processes and oppositional actors who instigate social change by prefiguring social alternatives. We conduct emancipatory educational work as well as concrete political and artistic interventions with the aim to enforce reflections on and changes of social conditions. Through workshops, publications, mappings, excursions, and creative interventions within public space, we collectively learn how to read space and how to initiate emancipatory processes from below. By sticking to the traditions of activist research, we connect theoretical reflections and concrete actions.