Urban Commons & Space

2019 | Masters of Urban Design Thesis Studio
MAUD Thesis Supervisor, School of Architecure, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK | website

As a response to social, environmental, and economic crises, urban communities across the world are starting to turn inwards for mutual support. Citizens are coming together to co-produce, co-manage, and share resources, time, knowledge, information, and support based on solidarity and reciprocity rather than economic profit. In that process they form practices and places of sharing culture and civic resilience, building the collective agency of urban communities. For local practices of sharing and civic resilience to have broader systemic impact, they tend to either scale up (amplify), scale out (replicate), and/or scale deep (shift cultural values). In all cases this means that there are both universal and contextual factors shaping the evolution of those practices; from tools and models of governance, to their socio-political and spatial context. 


Within this framework, in 2019 I led a thesis studio in collaboration with Professor Doina Petrescu at the University of Sheffield. The studio focused on two areas; firstly, an investigation of the wider field of civic resilience practices in order to map the universal and contextual factors that are shaping them. Secondly, an exploration of how contextual physical space shapes civic resilience practices and induct insights and strategies that can be universal beyond context. Our research questions were the following: What are universal components and contextual conditions shaping practices of community resilience and sharing culture? What is the role of contextual spatial conditions in shaping the evolution of those practices? To answer these questions, I facilitated both group workshops, as well as one-to-one tutorials. 


The studio allowed for both written and design thesis projects, drawing from methodologies of design research and practice, such as literature review, case studies, conceptual and physical mapping, cultural probes, interviews, workshops, and design strategies development. Students were encouraged to explore contexts and cultures they were already familiar with, leading to a series of projects around the world.

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*Display of selected work from the theses of Louwrens Botha, Jiaxin Shi, and Alaa Jaber