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Category for city-related pages, urbanism, architectural trends.

The P2P Foundation supports efforts towards Peer-to-Peer Urbanism and Commons-based Urbanism ; we are friends with [Communa]] in Brussels.

See our P2P Foundation report:


We also particularly appreciate the P2P-Urbanism approach taken by Nikos Salingaros, Gruppo Salingaros and other bio-urbanist friends.

  • Prototype for Open Source Urbanism‎: must-read landmark essay by Alberto Corsin Jimenez , on how our cities are changing in the p2p urbanism era, with an in-depth case study of Madrid.
  • The City as a Commons. By Sheila Foster and Christian Iaione. Yale Law & Policy Review, Vol. 34, No. 2, 2016


Gonzalo Jose Lopez [2]:

"In computer science, the term “peer-to-peer” refers to a network formed by a series of nodes that behave as equal to each other, acting both as clients and servers for the other network nodes, allowing direct exchange of information.

This is a theoretical movement, emerged from informal settlements and self-constructed architecture, considering these processes as beneficial for the evolution of the urban environment and returning to the user the participation and the decision making power that was lost.

It tries to accommodate the different practices that are currently appearing in the urban discipline, some of which I have spoken here before, as the tactical urbanism, the spontaneous city or crowdfunding, among others.

All of them based on a horizontal urbanism, bottom-up projects, with the common feature of requiring the commitment and participation of citizens involved in the process."


"In Urbanism, the application of this term has led to a movement that draws on the principles of open source and is defined in 5 points:

1. The human being has the right to choose the built environment in which to live.

2. All citizens should have access to information regarding their environment in order to engage in processes of decision making.

3. Users should participate in all levels of co-design and construction of their city.

4. P2P Urbanism practitioners are committed to spreading knowledge about open source technologies and theories.

5. The owners of the built environment should be able to implement the development of knowledge, skills and practices on it."

From Urban Commons to the City as a Commons

Sheila Foster:

"The idea that like natural resources/commons the city can not just be over-consumed but also unjustly consumed. The commons is a way to call attention to this and to describe not just a practice of commoning (cooperatives, co-managed space and collaborative produced goods, etc) but also a prescriptive or normative claim about who has access to resources and how those resources are allocated, as well as how who decides. Thus, the commons describes the city itself as both a collective resources in terms of distributive concerns but also as a political and economic entity that needs to be managed differently.

The analogy I tried to draw in the Huff Post piece is with the natural commons. The concern is not just that natural resources (our collective good) is being overconsumed but that also it is being unjustly consumed, as in the case of developed countries and the "ecological debt" they owe to developing countries. In the same way, the city is being unjustly consumed by economic elites and the "commons" is a way not just to call attention to that but also to rethink how urban goods and resources are distributed (resource allocation) and how decisions about those goods are made (the governance piece) . In this sense, the commons is a disruptive claim about the way that we think about the city, its resources, and how they are managed." (email, November 2015)

More Information: Cities, Inequality and the Common Good. By Sheila Foster.

The necessary transformation of our urban systemss

Daniel Pinchbeck:

"Reinventing cities for a post-growth world could lead to tremendous savings on greenhouse gas emissions, while radically improving the average quality of life. The most sensible model combines the concept of “eco-city design” with the model of “shareable cities,” where communities make collective use of tools and resources.

Inevitably, we must make a transition from a social paradigm based on incessant growth and increasing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to one based on qualitative aspects of being and experiencing, prioritizing community values and cultural expression. New and redesigned urban centers will no longer maximize opportunities for businesses and corporations, but facilitate the highest quality of life for all residents. Cities will become what Richard Register calls “scaffoldings for living systems,” as well as “learning machines,” designed to support residents in attaining knowledge and expertise in all fields of human endeavor.

As sea levels rise over the next decades, many urban areas will need to be redesigned and relocated. New city centers will be built inland, at higher elevations. In theory, these new constructions could be builtentirely on ecological principles, with food, renewable energy, and manufacturing all accomplished on site. As part of this change, we could see a managed transition from privatized to cooperative ownership of businesses and residences, as well as participatory management based on the model of Porto Alegre in Brazil." (

Five Basic Design Principles for the Urban Commons

Christian Iaione and Sheila Foster:

"We have distilled five key design principles for the urban commons:

  • Principle 1: Collective governance refers to the presence of a multi-stakeholder governance scheme whereby the community emerges as an actor and partners up with at least three different urban actors
  • Principle 2: Enabling State expresses the role of the State in facilitating the creation of urban commons and supporting collective action arrangements for the management and sustainability of the urban commons.
  • Principle 3: Social and Economic Pooling refers to the presence of different forms of resource pooling and cooperation between five possible actors in the urban environment
  • Principle 4: Experimentalism is the presence of an adaptive and iterative approach to designing the legal processes and institutions that govern urban commons.
  • Principle 5: Tech Justice highlights access to technology, the presence of digital infrastructure, and open data protocols as an enabling driver of collaboration and the creation of urban commons."


Sharing Cities and Regions



  • As a eBook "Guide": Policies for Shareable Cities: A Sharing Economy Policy Primer for Urban Leaders. Shareable and Sustainable Economies Law Center, 2013. 40 pages. [4]


  1. Sharing City Seoul ; Share Hub Korea; Seoul Metropolitan Government Act for Promoting Sharing.
  2. Open Commons Region Linz
  3. The urban region of Bordeaux in France is making the 'collaborative economy' the central theme of its future territorial development.
  4. Helsinki Open Data City
  5. The Barcelona Pledge for a Fab City ? See: Fab Cities and the Barcelona 5.0 Plan






Sampled from a more comprehensive list compiled by Mira Luna for Shareable [6]:

  1. Ann Arbor Sharing Economy
  2. Sharing City Berlin
  3. Boulder Sharing Economy
  4. Sharing City Graz
  5. Helsinki Commons
  6. Mappa Alternativa di Napoli


We have fractured these urban networks, and rebuilt much more dispersed, “dendritic” systems, connected not by pedestrians, but by automobiles, dispersed suburban campuses and parks, and single-family monocultures, supplemented by telephones and now, computers. The majority of us lives in encapsulated houses, in encapsulated neighborhoods, and travel in encapsulated cars to encapsulated work places, stores and other destinations.

- Michael Mehaffy [7]

"There are two types of smart city. The P2P smart city, which enables citizens to exchange information directly with each other. Then there's the panoptic smart city, in which data is centralised, manipulated, and then used to control city functions."

- David Week, FB 30/9/2014

John Thackara: The time for urban utopias is over

"Change and innovation are no longer about finely crafted ‘visions’ of some future place and time. Positive change happens when people reconnect – with each other, and with the biosphere – in rich, real-world, contexts. Rather than ask about utopias, I challenge city leaders to answer two questions: “Do you know where your next lunch will come from?” and, “Do you know if that place is healthy or not?” This approach expands the design focus beyond hard infrastructure towards a whole-system concern with the health of places that keep the city fed and watered. Within this frame of the city as a living system." (

On the diversity of urban agriculture(s)

"We have city discussions about the need for a city policy on urban agriculture, instead of city discussions about the need for city policies to support various forms of urban agricultures.

To wit, the way cities agonize over a policy (note the singular) for urban agriculture (note the singular), rather than a suite of policies (note the plural) to help as many who are interested, for whatever reasons (note the plural), be they love or money, to eat foods (note the plural) they have grown or raised or foraged in varieties (note the plural) of spaces (note the plural) — from front yards, to back yards, to green roofs, to green walls, to balconies, to windowsills, to allotment gardens, to community gardens, to beehives, to butterfly gardens, to teaching and therapeutic gardens, to edible landscaping, to soil-based, hydroponic and aquaponic greenhouses, to vacant lots, to public orchards, to community composting centers, to grey water recycling for lawns and gardens, to formally-sited farms and meadows.

There are so many opportunities, so many points on the urban agricultures spectrum, that we can’t even say “urban agriculture is what it is.” That fact is that “urban agricultures are what they are,” and city governments in different areas should embrace many of them. Of course, public authorities need to practice their usual due diligence in terms of personal and public safety, but the emphasis of policy should not be on toleration or permission, but management and stewardship of the health, environmental, community and economic yields of urban ag. This is in marked contrast to the present mode of civic management over urban agriculture. "

- Wayne Roberts [8]

Key Resources

  • Ranking of Top 50 influencers, projects, professionals and cities active on Twitter seeking and sharing Ideas, Strategies, References and Solutions for Resilient, Liveable and Shareable Cities. [9]

The article mentions the following:

  1. Open-data initiatives and hackathons, like New York City's BigApps competition
  2. Parking apps that show drivers where the nearest available parking spot it.
  3. Apps that let users "adopt" city property so the city doesn't have to spend money sending personnel to tend to them.
  4. High-tech waste management systems. Pay As You Throw (PAYT) garbage disposal would encourage people to recycle more and waste less
  5. All-digital and easy-to-use parking payment systems -- think EZ-pass for parking.
  6. A city guide app, with information about museums, parks, landmarks, public art, restaurants
  7. Touchscreens around the city
  8. Wi-Fi in subway stations and on trains
  9. Sustainable and energy efficient residential and commercial real estate.
  10. Dynamic kiosks that display real-time information, concerning traffic, weather and local news, like Urbanflow in Helsinki.
  11. App or social media-based emergency alert and crisis response systems -- every citizen should have access to vital information
  12. Police forces that use real-time data to monitor and prevent crime.
  13. More public transit, high-speed trains, and bus rapid transit (BRT) to help citizens traverse the city with speed and low emissions.
  14. OLED lights and surveillance in high-crime zones, like the 24/7 system coming to Kolkata
  15. Charging stations, like the solar-powered Strawberry Tree in Serbia. They also function as bus stops and Wi-Fi hot spots.
  16. Roofs covered with solar panels or gardens. You could even generate solar energy on bike paths, like Amsterdam's SolaRoad.
  17. Bike-sharing programs, like in Paris, Washington, D.C., and the ones coming to Los Angeles and New York.
  18. A sharing economy, instead of a buying economy. If we share or rent from each other, we each need to buy and store fewer goods -- think Rent the Runway, Netflix, Airbnb.
  19. Smart climate control systems in homes and businesses, for example, the Nest thermostat.
  20. Widespread use of traffic rerouting apps, such as Greenway and Waze.
  21. Water-recycling systems
  22. Crowdsourced urban planning, like Brickstarter.
  23. Broadband Internet access for all citizens
  24. Mobile payments. Everywhere. For food, apparel and public transportation.
  25. Ride-sharing programs

Key Articles

  • This is the key mustread essay to start with, outlining the key move from commons within a city, to the city itself as a commons:
  • The City as a Commons. By Sheila Foster and Christian Iaione. Yale Law & Policy Review, Vol. 34, No. 2, 2016 [10]

More Readings

  1. Pulska Grupa: P2P Urbanism: From Exclusion to Autonomy‎
  2. Design for a Post-Neoliberal City. Jesko Fezer. e-flux journal 17, 06/2016. [11] "From being strategic sites for the implementation of neoliberal policy, cities may possibly become a new political arena for experiments in democracy—and thus require a new design.
  3. Adaptive Architecture, Collaborative Design, and the Evolution of Community: Text by Eric Hunting, on the future of a p2p-based 'Adaptive Architecture'.
  4. David Barrie: Towards Open Source Place-Making
  5. Codes and the Architecture of Life. By Michael Mehaffy
  6. Jason F. Mclennan. The Urban Agriculture Revolution. Bringing Food into Living Cities.]: An important and sensible overview of why this is happening.
  7. Urban Public Spaces as Commons, in the article, CHALLENGE OF NEW COMMONS – URBAN PUBLIC SPACES . Veronika Poklembovái, Tatiana Kluvánková-Oravskáii, Maroš Finkaiii. [12]: "In this paper we are critically discussing with existing literature and case studies the applicability and relevance of the design principles for urban public spaces as urban commons."

Bio-urbanistic approaches

  • Introduction:
  1. Peer-to-Peer Themes and Urban Priorities for the Self-organizing Society. By Nikos A. Salingaros. University of Texas at San Antonio. A contribution from April 26, 2010.
  2. A Brief History of P2P-Urbanism. Great intro by Nikos A. Salingaros & Federico Mena-Quintero
  3. Stefano Serafini on the Emergence of Biourbanism

  • Introduction to the bio-urbanistic work of Nikos A. Salingaros (and Michael Mehaffy), in an ongoing series in Metropolis magazine:

See Øyvind Holmstad's introduction

  1. The Radical Technology of Christopher Alexander. By Michael Mehaffy and Nikos Salingaros. Introduction to the Pattern Language work inspiring the P2P urbanistic community.
  2. Series accessible via
  3. The Radical Technology of Christopher Alexander
  4. The Sustainable Technology of Christopher Alexander
  5. The Pattern Technology of Christopher Alexander
  6. The Living Technology of Christopher Alexander
  7. The “Wholeness-Generating” Technology of Christopher Alexander

  • How-To:
  1. How to Start a Housing Co-op (U.S.)

Key Blogs and Websites

Key Books

Current and Future City-Making


  • Sharing Cities. A Case for Truly Smart and Sustainable Cities. By Duncan McLaren and Julian Agyeman. MIT Press eBooks, 2015 [14]
  • Digital Urban Acupuncture. Human Ecosystems and the Life of Cities in the Age of Communication, Information and Knowledge Iaconesi, Salvatore, Persico, Oriana. Springer International Publishing, 2017. [15]
  • Common Ground in a Liquid City: Essays in Defense of an Urban Future. Matt Hern. AK Press, 2009. [16]: If we want to preserve what's still left of the natural world, we need to stop using so much of it. And cities are the best chance we have left for a sustainable future ... but only if they remain vibrant, dynamic spaces that are unfolded by millions of people working together—and not by master plans and planners. What will it take to make our cities truly sustainable?
  • (e)Book: How to Design Our World for Happiness. The Commons Guide to Placemaking, Public space, and Enjoying a Convivial Life. By Jay Walljasper and On the Commons, 2013. [17]
  • For work on the exponential growth of urban landscapes, see : West, Geoffrey. (2018). Scale: The Universal Laws of Life, Growth, and Death in Organisms, Cities, and Companies. Penguin Books.


Key People

Commons-friendly mayors:

  1. Ada Colau, the mayor of Barcelona
  2. Luigi de Magistris‎: the mayor of Naples
  3. Jorge Sharp:‎ the Mayor of Valparaíso (Chile)
  4. Eric Piolle‎‎: the mayor of Grenoble, France

Key Tags


Key Projects

Open Source Building and Housing Projects

Updated list via [18]:

  1. Auram CEB Block System developed at Auroville India: This is the most advanced CEB block system in existence. Sort-of open in that they claim the technology is offered free to the world to use, but don't publish exact plans for anything
  2. Backcountry Boiler - kickstarter supported long tail manufacturing of an ultralight outdoor kettle
  3. Contraptor: aiming to create an open-design construction set,
  4. DIY Magic Mirror - An Arduino, open source based interactive Magic Mirror with home automation and Halloween features.
  5. Fragment Store: modular self-combined fragments of design furniture
  6. Freebus - an Open Source Home Automation System
  7. Good Stove, open source stove for the poor
  8. Grid Beam Building System, reuseable parts for building
  9. Hexayurt, an open source disaster relief shelter
  10. Ikea Hacker Do it yourself blog on the base of corporate products
  11. Liberator, aka "Open Farm Tech's Liberator Compressed Earth Block machine; [19]
  12. Makerbeam
  13. MIT House-n 'chassis' system
  14. Movisi Open Design Furniture
  15. One Day Chair: Chair design for a CNC cutter
  16. Open Architecture Network
  17. Open Remote, an Open Domotics community
  18. Open Sailing: modular marine architecture
  19. Open Source Construction Systems
  20. Open Source Geopolymer Cast Stone Construction; eopolymer House blog [20]
  21. Open Source Cooling: KippKitts is designing open-source low-voltage (24V), high-efficiency (@2A) DC cooling units (air-conditioner/cpu cooler/refigeration) [21]
  22. Open Source House: 2 project; most recent is here
  23. Open Source Induction Furnace Project
  24. Open Source Washing Machine OSWASH
  25. Open Straw is an Open Source Prefab Strawbale House that can be built for $7k [22]
  26. WikiHouse: fabricated from locally sourced plywood cut on a CNC mill from openly shared template files, and assembled with minimal skill by local people.

Key Statistics

  • "George Modelski's (2003) recent study of the growth of cities over the past 5,000 years points to a phenomenon also noticed and theorized by Roland Fletcher (1995) – cities grow and decline in size, but occasionally a single new city will attain a size that is much larger than any earlier city, and then other cities catch up with that new scale, but do not much exceed it. It is as if cities reach a size ceiling that it is not possible to exceed until new conditions are met that allow for that ceiling to be breached."

- Christopher Dunn et al. [23]

Key Videos

See also:

  1. Stavros Stavrides on Inventing Open Institutions and Spaces of Sharing‎
  2. Saki Bailey on Governing the Wealth of Urban Commons Beyond Ownership
  3. Alex Haché and Marcell Mars on the Evolution from Digital to Urban Commons‎
  4. Pier Paolo Fanesi on the Experience in Common Governance Through Participatory Budgetting in Grottammare Municipality‎

Pages in category "Urbanism"

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