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CLOUDS: Commoning Culture in Public Spaces

Not least since the 2010 “movement of the squares” that took Greece by storm, public space has been at the heart of contestation against austerity policies of privatization and deregulation. Beyond protests, however, manifold groups and activities broadly related to the commons sought to re-appropriate what is “public” about space through various cultural and political activities, including performances, screenings, food kitchens, or neighborhood assemblies.

In observing these developments, the LUDD Open Lab is currently conceiving of a system that draws from the needs of these various groups. Under the title of CLOUDS and supported by START - Create Cultural Change, the LUDD team is underway to produce an open architecture modular system used to build pop-up constructions that can facilitate a wide array of cultural actions in public space.
Inspired by the principles of Commoning, Learning, Openness, Urbanism, Design and Structure (hence CLOUDS), the project is informed by the participation of those very groups it seeks to serve from the outset.
In a first meeting in January, a kick-off discussion laid out the roadmap of the project and the explicit want to include commoning initiatives in Athens. Participants from the Lab Urban Commons, TwixtLab, Cultopia, the Open Lab Athens, Apousia, Dock, and the P2P lab, discussed what needs they have when they intervene in public space—with activities ranging from open libraries and collective kitchens, to theatrical performances and educational workshops with children. Beyond defining needs, the kick-off discussion addressed how CLOUDS can be co-designed by collective groups and commoning initiatives, in an effort to make the project sustainable.
On this basis, the second conceptual workshop in February was about producing the first basic modules. Participants of the various commoning initiatives playfully combined the modules, so as to find out practically which functions and needs are necessary and possible for their interventions in public space.

For the next meeting in March, further modules will be produced. The goal is to use these in an Athenian park, so as to test transportation and setup in a realistic environment. We will keep you updated!