The right to the hybrid city: central urban space as a commons

TitleThe right to the hybrid city: central urban space as a commons
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsApostol, I., P. Antoniadis, and T. Raoseta
Conference Name Swiss Inter- and Transdisciplinarity Day 2018: Inter- and Transdisciplinarity in a Digital World
Conference LocationLausanne

Fifty years after Henri Lefebvre published on 'the right to the city', we propose to discuss the concept under the current digital and physical spatial condition. Today urban spaces shall be conceived as hybrid, physical and digital, due to the advance of ICTs and their impact on almost every aspect of social life; a key question arises, how the different rights to the hybrid urban space can be claimed by citizens. NetHood, a transdisciplinary association undertaking research and learning within the hybrid spatial conditions, focuses on the right to centrality and to difference, for which the city of Zurich brings particular challenges and opportunities. For example, because of high value real estate and due to a long experience with democratic urban practices. In context a promising project was initiated recently: the co-creation of a neighbourhood space in a key location of the city center, by the name L200, conceived as a hybrid urban node run collectively; as a commons managed by the L200 association of neighbourhood small shops, initiatives and non-profit organizations; at the crossings of manifold urban networks such as those of paths and spaces for public life, of communication and information, of trade, exchange and networking, etc. The idea is to use digital technology both as an enabler of such a complex and demanding collaborative project and as a proof of concept on how our rights to the digital space can be exercised in creative and democratic ways toward better coordination, organization, information sharing, deliberation as well as social learning in the long term. In this sense, L200 is developed as an urban living lab for hybrid tools that can help small neighbourhood shops to create economies of scale in a distributed and decentralized way, or allow a diverse group of organiza.ons and individuals to share the space and its street windows efficiently over time. It will also become a pilot project for DIY networking tools, like the MAZI toolkit, which can facilitate the creation of digital spaces that are collectively owned and are literally attached to the physical ones, in our case the L200 space, a feature that allows for many playful and creative ways to build collective identity and memory in a participatory way. We document in this work the transdisciplinary process of producing hybrid space through various actions including petitions and claims for favourable action, applied projects in the neighbourhood, and recent shifts toward formulating guidelines based on the experience built at L200. The project describes a potential blueprint for creating hybrid infrastructure, and in the near future urban policies may be devised to bring such grassroots initiatives to reality at the city scale.