Costa Rica urban exercises: promotion of the commons, and the right to the city

Costa Rica urban exercises: promotion of the commons, and the right to the city

[…]the concentration of people and events in time and space is a prerequisite to make anything happen, but more importantly are what activities are allowed to develop […]

In Life between buildings[1] are outlined the applications that must exist in the architectural proposals, so that human being begins to appropriate them. By extrapolating this analysis and relying on the concept established in The Right to the City[2], where it is considered that the gentrification caused by urban processes implies an impact on the present and the future of humanity[3]. The construction and strengthening of social structures that complement the dynamics of interaction of the different actors begins to make sense.

This concept of change of social structure is broad and, at the same time, complicated to define by different actors involved in the subject[4] Therefore, related processes that can be articulated from the academy result in the proposal of systematic variables that, far from wanting to intercede to achieve the purpose of a change of structure, what they seek is to detonate a collective process which add to the existing.

Proposal of social integration.

In this search to promote the use of space and social interaction, the approach to the community Barrio Pinto and its surroundings is proposed in the South of the canton of San Pedro de Montes de Oca, in the province of San Jose, Costa Rica; whose radius of action is located between the kilometer close to the Campus of Universidad Latina. This context contains many different realities. On the one hand, the central avenue has an established structure of commerce and services, in addition is the road that connects the center of the country with the Inter-American route, therefore, highly charged with vehicular flow.

This situation disappears entering avenue 2, 4 and 6. Residential use is giving space to the commerce and offices, but that still encloses a residential range that gives life to the parks of his around. This mutation of the space is reflected in the offer of related services between traditional commercial systems, such as tailors, sodas and informal commerce, as well as other emerging elements (biodegradable cleaning products).

Is under these dynamics – between the behavior of the inhabitants of the sector and the users of the services that are beginning to develop in the area – that the interaction between students of the area and the institutions (who are unaware of the processes, routes, services) arises. For example, there is a coffee shop that offers bike rental per hour and per day, as well as the organization of recreational circuits in the sector.

Then, the question arisen is: how to provide a tool to citizenship that allows articulation in the public space between the collective memory of a specific place and emerging uses that change the image of the city?

It is at this point, where the definition of common goods[5] and Collaborative Economy[6] (Cañigueral, 2014), together with the use of the technological tool Agora PIC (Plataforma de Integración Ciudadana, 2017) developed by the NGO team PIC, that these are taken as the basis of the research, to identify the possible elements to be taken into account, and to define a path that provides information on tangible and intangible variables. Trying to unify the social processes of the inhabitants of the sector, with visitors and users of the different activities in the radio, near to the community of Barrio Pinto.

Within the concrete analysis of the peculiarities of the community, the gap that exists between space of the Square Máximo Fernández-  on the north side of Franklin D. Roosevelt School – and El Retiro Park (650 meters Southwest of Máximo Fernández Square) -, as a hub that makes possible the social connection of a situation different from the current, whose goal is immersed, as Gehl points out[7] – is taken into account, to generate not only the space of transition, but of interaction.

Citizen participation has been necessary for the construction of this project. Across workshops and interviews, as well as different visits to the community to establish collaborative and individual services[8], the rescue of collective memory, stories and accounts of the citizen for the visibility of the human and sensory part of the area began, as well as the delimitation of the emerging uses that change the dynamic preset in the area, and generate a social movement toward the appropriation of common space[9].

Conclusion of a job, start of a route.

In conclusion, it is possible to counteract the thinking and analysis of Gehl[10], about the dynamics of use of public spaces, with the contributions of Zaida Muxí and Joseph María Montaner[11] on the substantial changes that surround the phenomenology of the city for the adequate enjoyment and use of the various variables of the Commons. Processes that lead to interpret the change of the image of the city must occur in an intrapersonal way, understanding that this isolated element is part of an articulated social system[12].

On this premise, it is part of this personal relationship, of collective memory and the individual task, for the strengthening of pre-existing social layers. It may not induce a community to take a change in its structure, but it strengthens when an external user can deviate from their daily life to rediscover its immediate context. For this reason, and waiting for the use of the technological tool (Ágora PIC[13]) to boost social skills to community, this intervention has been completed with the start of a journey raised with the student community of the Universidad Latina.

On this basis, we should start from this relationship between the collective memory and the individual task, to strengthen the pre-existing social layers. It is not possible to induce a community to adopt a modification in its structure, but it can be strengthened, when an external user can get away from their everyday life to rediscover their immediate context. For this reason, the use of the Ágora PIC technological tool was envisaged so that it could stimulate the social capacities of community making, ending this intervention with the beginning of a journey through the community.

A circuit that seeks, every four months, that is to say with the opening of the academic semester, to offer the newly admitted student the possibility of knowing their immediate context, and at the same time generate interaction with the dynamics of their area and with its inhabitants. This wants to contribute to the creation of a collective memory and local participatory networks that bring the academy closer to its own territory.

Il progetto pilota del LabGov Costa Rica comincia da esercizi accademici mirati che hanno l’intenzione de rispondere alla domanda: come facilitare uno strumento alla cittadinanza che permetta l’articolazione tra i beni comuni spaziali e la memoria collettiva di un determinato luogo; con una particolare attenzione agli usi emergenti che mutano rapidamente il volto frenetico della capitale e il ricordo di un passato, non troppo passato, campestre e bucolico? Come possiamo conservare la memoria dei beni comuni intangibili promuovendo contemporanemente l’hic et nunc dei commons tangibili attuali?

[1] Gehl, J. (2011). Life between buildings: using public space. Washington, DC: Island Press.

[2] Lefebvre, H. (1973). Le Droit à la ville. Paris: Ed. Anthropos.

[3] Costes, L. (2012). Del ‘derecho a la ciudad’ de Henri Lefebvre a la universalidad. Urban, 1-12.

[4] Lucas, M.A. (2006). Estructura social. La realidad de las sociedades avanzadas. Madrid: Pearson Education.

[5] Fundación Heinrich Böll (2008). Genes, bytes y emisiones: Bienes comunes y ciudadanía. Ciudad de México: Ediciones Böll.

[6] Cañigueral, A. (2014). Vivir mejor con menos. Barcelona: Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial.

[7] Gehl, J. op.cit.

[8] Cañigueral, A. op.cit.

[9] Fundación Heinrich Böll, op.cit.

[10] Gehl, J. op.cit.

[11] Muxí, Z., Montaner, J.M. (2011). Arquitectura y política. Barcelona: Editorial Gustavo Gili.

[12] Lucas, M.A. op. cit.


#COLLABORATOSCANA Green Paper for a Regional Agenda on collaborative economy and the commons

#COLLABORATOSCANA Green Paper for a Regional Agenda on collaborative economy and the commons

On Thursday, December 7th, Florence will host the presentation of the Green Paper of Regione Toscana for a Regional Agenda on collaborative economy and commons.

#COLLABORATOSCANA is the process led by the Tuscany Region with the support of LabGov and SocioLab, to build a regional public policy on sharing economy and collaborative economy.

The process consisted in co-design sessions and workshop that involved different sectors of the regional structure and a variety of local stakeholders coming from different areas (entreprises, startups, third sector, NGOs, active citizenship) with the aim of defining a Green Paper containing a mapping of regional public policies to be put together, and a series of proposals on objectives, actions and measures spotted to the co-design path.

The #COLLABORATOSCANA Green Paper will be presented in collaboration with ANCI Toscana on December 7th from 9.30 AM to 1.30 PM in BUH Circolo Culturale Urbano (Via Panciatichi 16, Florence).


The process is developd with the scientific support of the international research project “Co-Cities and Co-Territories” within LUISS LabGov, directed by prof Christian Iaione, and its methodology is cured by  Sociolab cooperative, and supported by

Tickets are available on

Giovedì 17 dicembre sarà presentato presso BUH Circolo Culturale Urbano (Via Panciatichi 16) a Firenze il Libro Verde della Regione Toscana per un’agenda regionale sull’economia collaborativa e i beni comuni.

Value in the Commons Economy

Value in the Commons Economy

In February 2017 the report “Value in the Commons Economy – Developments in Open and Contributory Value Accounting” has been co-published by P2P Foundation and Heinrich Böll Foundation.

The authors, Michael Bauwens and Vasilis Niaros, address several question in the report, like “is anything good coming up from the crisis”, or “is a new system able to grow from within an old one”: they focus on a main thesis, describing the “value crisis” that is affecting our current world as a sign of a silent transformation in our “value system”.

Starting from the analysis of real case studies, the authors try to explore how the new value regimes emerging from pioneering communities can represent a shift towards post-capitalist practices. In the “commons’ transition” approach, that would mean that commons themselves could represent a new economy emerging within the old system.

The report offers an overview on how the new commons-based approaches are attempting to deal with some significant questions regarding the evolution of value, such as:

  • What is value in our “digitalized” and “networked” societies where knowledge commons are playing a fundamental role?
  • What should value be in a world marked by ecological and resource constraints?
  • In a world of social and cultural diversity, can a new value system incorporate all the values that are not recognized by capitalism?

Three main case studies are therefore analyzed, namely: Enspiral, an entrepreneurial coalition of mostly mission-driven entities that calls itself an ‘open cooperative’ because of its commitment to both the production of commons, and an orientation towards the common good, Sensorica, an open collaborative network committed to the design and deployment of sensors and sense-making systems, utilizing open source software and hardware solutions, and Backfeed, a system based on the use of the blockchain ledger, which imagines itself as a full infrastructure for decentralized production, which comes with sophisticated capabilities to develop incentives and express them through crypto-currencies..

Bauwens’ and Niaros’ analysis also shows some different perspectives and approaches regarding what determines values. All the analyzed approaches, however, agree on the fact that we are going through a “value crisis”, characterized by an increasing capacity to create commmon value through commons-based peer production and other practices from the collaborative economy.

The main question that the authors address, in this sense, is not what is value nowadays, but what if value is becoming a driver for change. The possible consequences are mainly two: a complete shift of paradigm, where a translation of capitalism’s features in new terms is necessary, and a scenery of coexistence of the different realities, with the doubt of an effective possibility of preservation of the characteristics of each one.

And what is the role of commons in this shift of paradigm?

In this scenery, Bauwens’ and Niaros’ approach really matches with LabGov’s co-founders’ (prof Sheila Foster and Prof Christian Iaione) one, who in “The City as a Commons” affirm that “What we are interested in is the potential for the commons to provide a framework and set of tools to open up the possibility of more inclusive and equitable forms of “city-making”. The commons has the potential to highlight the question of how cities govern or manage resources to which city inhabitants can lay claim to as common goods, without privatizing them or exercising monopolistic public regulatory control over them.”

LabGov is in fact currently carrying out a research on the CoCities approach, investigating what are the variables that conduct a city in the process of a commons transition. The output of the research will be soon available on

The full report is available here:

A febbraio 2017 è stato pubblicato il report Value in the Commons Economy – Developments in Open and Contributory Value Accountingche analizza il concetto di valore e quale sia la sua prospettiva e il ruolo dei beni comuni nel cambio di paradigma che la crisi sta generando

Smart City and Smart Community project (Enea/LabGov) presented at the ERSCP Conference 2017 in Skiathos Island

Smart City and Smart Community project (Enea/LabGov) presented at the ERSCP Conference 2017 in Skiathos Island

The ERSCP Conference (see: is the annual european convenings of scholars and policy makers addressing the issue of Sustainability in both industrial production and consumption, taking place since 1994.

The 2017 edition of the Conference is taking place in Skiathos Island, Greece, from 1st to 5th of October 2017 and is organized by the Environmental Economics and Sustainability Unit, Sector of Industrial Management & Operational Research, and the School of Mechanical Engeneering of the National Technical University of Athens. This year, the conference addresses the issue of green production and green consumption challenges in the framework of the circular economy, with a special attention to smart cities. The main themes of the conference can be summarized in the following categories: circular economy; zero-waste management; eco-innovation; eco-design; eco-efficiency; advances in sustainable consumption; sustainability in production and design; food waste prevention; challenges for making progress in cross-cutting themes such as green and inlcusive entrepreneurship and sustainability; ethical investments.

The Sessions number 3 is focused on sustainable/smart cities and smart communities. It includes contributions on the enterpreneurship in urban areas, case studies of political ecology and socio-environmental conflicts in Germany and social innovation and practicing of sustainability transitions in Dutch eco-villages, cooperative urban development with a focus on a case study of the Smart City Project of Graaz and an analysis of urban spatial scenarios for local energy and transport systems with regional integrated models. In this Session, Enea and LabGov will present a paper titled “Empowering Urban Community Towards Smart district co-governance”, introducing the theoretical framework and the first results of the three-years research program on Smart City and Smart Community funded by the Ministry of Economic Development that ENEA (the National Agency for Research on Renewable Energy) is carrying out at the national level, with the collaboration of LabGov for the part related to the urban co-governance at the district level and to an applied experimentation in the city of Rome.

The paper introduces the national strategic projects for energy transition funded through the Fund for Research into Electrical Systems (RSE), that covered the following aspects: technical, economic, organizational and institutional aspects associated with the sustainable development of the Italian electrical power network and related infrastructures (safe and effective use of primary sources of energy and of hydrogen as energy vector; power generation, transport and distribution, and end-use energy efficiency). The paper than introduces the Three-Years Plan (2016-2018), a part of this program that provides a specific task devoted to the empowerment of urban communities for the development of Smart solutions and Smart district co-governance. This task consists of two main activities: the development of technological infrastructure named SUN (Social urban Network) and the implementation of collaborative processes applying the urban co-governance methodology to the district level and  thecircular economy approach with the involvement of urban inhabitants  and local stakeholders. In the final part, the paper then develops a reasoning over the connection between urban co-governance at the district level and the issue of circular economy and collaborative economy.

Thanks to a cooperative approach and to resource sharing solutions it is possible to reach a mutual competitive advantage. In particular, the implementation of collaborative processes intends to strengthen the capacity of citizens and local stakeholders to participate in the decisions and to the local government. The engagement in the design and the implementation of community services has the ambition to reduce the energy-related environmental impact of the urban community. Example of co-designed solutions could be: sharing/collaborative/pooling economy and co-production of services initiatives/platforms (i.e. re-use centers, cohousing or shared use of spaces in housing complexes, co-working spaces, community gardens, foodbank, etc.) and experiences of smart waste-management. The paper than explains the design of the field-work to be realized in the city of Rome where, following an urban-living-lab approach based on circular economy principle and on a Quintuple Helix Model of urban co-governance, urban inhabitants and local stakeholders will be engaged in co-designing different solutions to transform the current “linear” system into a circular economy models at a district scale. This phase will be realized in the Fifth District of the City of Rome, where in the framework of the Smart City and Smart Community project and with the involvement of young students from the Soft Skills program of LUISS University, LabGov, a two years mapping, practicing and co-design phase was already implemented in the context of the Co-Rome process (see:

The conference has a rich program, including keynotes speeches from international scholars and policy makers. Among the keynotes, Dr. Paolo Taticchi from Imperical College of London on the bssiness case for sustainability; the Ministry of Infrastructures and the Environment of the Netherlands, Robbert Droop, will explain how the process and policies towards a circular economy lead to major knowledge questions; Anna Davies, Principal Investigator of the SHARECITY: Assessing the practice and sustainability potential of city-based food sharing economies. The research project, funded by the European Research Council (ERC) program, investigates the landscape of ICT-mediated urban food sharing and provided a database with information for over 4000 cases available in an open access format here:; Nancy Bocken, who will talk about sustainable business models and sustainable consumption, exploring the role of business experimentation.


Information and material of the conference are available here:

ENEA e LabGov presenteranno il paper “Empowering Urban Community Towards Smart district co-governance” alla conferenza ERSCP 2017, che avrà luogo nell’isola di Skiathos, Grecia, dal primo al 5 ottobre 2017. La conferenza è interamente dedicata alla “green production” e alle sfide della “green consumption” nell’ambito dell’economia circolare, con particolare riguardo all’argomento Smart Cities.