Asilo Filangieri - Naples

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search


1. GeCo Living Lab:

“The Asilo Filangieri is an historical public building located in the center of the southern Italian city of Naples. It remained empty for quite a long time until, in 2012, a group of citizens decided to occupy it to start a path of participatory governance of the space. Within the space many activities and projects were organized, things which fostered the aggregation of many people around the stewardship of the building. The assembly which undertook the governance of the building (which was – and still is – open to all) built up a democratic process to come up with a “charter” of rules and principles for the management and protection of the estate. On its side, the public owner (the municipality of Naples) realized that the practice carried out in the “Asilo Filangieri” had a positive social impact greater than the municipality could have created itself resorting to traditional public tools and resources. For this reason, the municipality decided to legitimize the process by incorporating the “charter” (“declaration”) written by the community into an administrative act (a deliberation of the city council), this way giving effects to its provisions and legitimizing the possession and the stewardship directly carried out by citizens. The example of Asilo Filangieri introduces another important point. Namely that, most of the times (although not always) generative commons lay in public buildings which could not be differently regenerated due to the lack of resources of public administrations. This phenomenon is very widespread, to the point that certain cities, precisely because of that, have decided to use generative commons as a general strategy for the management and regeneration of public spaces, making them a guideline of local public policies.”


2. Gabriella Riccio:

"L’asilo is at the same time a political, artistic and juridical experiment that is inventing new institutions and practicing a series of small breaks into the system on different aspects.

L’asilo is today an interdependent center for the production for art, culture and education directly managed and administrated by an informal community of workers: artist, activists, researchers."



Inaugurating 'Civic and Collaborative Use' of civic and public space(s)

"Manifold are the potential ways of articulating the concrete/daily life of the commons. The ‘civic and collective urban use’, put in effect by the radical social-political experience of L'Asilo, Napoli, is among these. Leaving to the next section the description of the history and the details of L'Asilo's life, here the focus zooms in on the civic and collective urban use (CCUU).Generally, the ‘civic use’ is an ancient right, probably of medieval origins, of collective use of private or public fields, entitled to the members of the community settled in the territory. The civic use was usually associated to practices like pasture, estovers, hunting, sowing, but it was progressively abandoned due to urbanisation and industrialisation, becoming marginal in the Italian legal system.

The experiment made by the community of workers of L'Asilo is based on a creative interpretation — and expansion — of the civic use. In other words, while keeping its foundational elements, namely the right of collective use entitled to a community of people settled in a certain territory, the workers of L'Asilo extended such collective use to the urban sphere; the civic use became thus the ‘civic and collective urban use’, designing the right of a community of people to self-manage and use the urban commons. The defining elements of the CCUU are, therefore, (I)an informal community of people, thus not identified as a formal-legal association or foundation;(II) the faculty of self-regulation, namely the power of the community to decide about the regulation and management of the commons through participatory and democratic processes;(III) the social and cultural value of such experiences and practices.

The collective use, in the specific case of L'Asilo, is exercised with respect to a building in the centre of the city of Napoli, also part of the city's historical heritage. This building, a wonderful three-storey XVI century building (about 4000 square meters), owned by Municipality of Napoli — thus, formally public property — was actually used in a quasi-private manner through a clientele-oriented management, with an ongoing waste of taxpayers money. The workers of the arts of the city initially occupied the building as a protest against the private use of the common heritage. Afterwards, within the struggle for the recognition of the role of the community in the self-management of the building — and given also the importance that L'Asilo was acquiring for the cultural and social life of the city — the art workers decided to avoid the model of the occupation and, at the same time, of the formal-exclusive attribution to one or more specific associations/foundations of the space. The aim of the political and institutional struggle of L'Asilo was the full recognition of the community as the institution that at once directly manages and uses — thus, creates — the commons. In 2015 the Municipality officially recognised the ‘Urban Civic Use Regulation’ produced by the workers community of L'Asilo: ‘By acknowledging this regulation, the public administration assumes the burden of ensuring the usability of the place, while the right to make use of it is free and guaranteed to all but accompanied by a participatory model that is founded on open assemblies and thematic roundtable talks.’ "


More Information

  • Article: The commons and the civic and collective urban use: from theory to the praxis of L'Asilo, Napoli. By Adriano Cozzolino. Written for the conference “Participatory governance in Culture: Exploring Practices, Theories and Policies. Do it Together”, 22-24 November, Rijeka (Croatia).


Extensive case study, including about the regulatory and legal advances of the case. The community of L'Asilo read and commented on the paper.