Bologna as a Laboratory for Urban Commons? – Urban Change Talk, Berlin

Bologna as a Laboratory for Urban Commons? – Urban Change Talk, Berlin

When looking for examples of innovative experiments in urban governance and collaborative practices, many observers are turning to the city of Bologna and to its experience with the Regulation on public collaboration between citizens and the city for the care and regeneration of urban commons and with the legislation “Collaborare è Bologna”. In the last years the city has dedicated a lot of efforts to the promotion of a culture of collaboration and has tried to fill a legal gap, reducing the distance between the local administration and its citizens and bringing all urban actors to work together around the city’s common goods. These efforts are not going unnoticed, and numerous observers are looking at the city with curiosity, recognizing it as an innovative experimentation which could lead to creation of a new urban governance framework based on collaboration.

In a similar perspective, the Bologna case will be presented and discussed in Berlin on Friday the 27th of January during the Urban Change Talk: Bologna – a Laboratory for Urban Commons?, an event organized by Actors of Urban Change, a program aiming to achieve sustainable and participatory urban development through cultural activities, in cooperation with the Urban Research Group ‘Urban Commons’ at the Georg Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies of Humboldt University.

The event will consist in a conversation between Dr. Martin Schwegmann, member and founder of the Urban Research Group “Urban Commons” and program manager of “Actors of Urban Change”,  and different actors engaged in research and practice around the urban commons, coming both from Bologna and from Berlin. Professor Christian Iaione, LabGov’s coordinator, will take part in the event and, together with Giovanni Ginocchini, (Director of the URBAN CENTER BOLOGNA), will present the case of Bologna, while Marco Clausen, (Prinzessinnengarten), and Dr. Mary Dellenbaugh from the Urban Research Group “Urban Commons” will contribute to the conversation by also considering the experiences that are taking place in Berlin.  


Venerdì 27 Gennaio avrà luogo a Berlino l’evento Urban Change Talk: Bologna – a Laboratory for Urban Commons?, organizzato da Actors of Urban Change con il supporto dell’ Urban Research Group ‘Urban Commons’ del Georg Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies della Humboldt University.

L’evento consisterà in una conversazione tra diversi attori impegnati nella ricerca e nella sperimentazione sui commons urbani che analizzeranno il caso della città di Bologna, considerato un esempio di pratica innovativa attraverso cui viene promossa una cultura di collaborazione e si sviluppa un nuovo modello di co-governance urbana. Il caso bolognese verrà presentato dal Professor Christian Iaione, coordinatore di LABGov, e da Giovanni Ginocchini, Direttore dell’Urban Center di Bologna, che racconteranno il percorso di CO-Bologna, dal Regolamento sulla collaborazione tra cittadini e amministrazione per la cura e rigenerazione dei beni comuni urbani e la politica “Collaborare è Bologna” alla sperimentazione nei cantieri.

Technical meeting for Pilastro project, July 7, Bologna

Technical meeting for Pilastro project, July 7, Bologna

Pilastro is a development project of the Pilastro area, which is situated in the suburb of Bologna. The aim of this project is to add value to this zone, connecting the shared values of people with the economic needs of the area. Moreover, the Pilastro project is the first attempt to build a collaborative community.

Pilastro is part of the bigger Co-Bologna project, the cooperation agreement between the Municipality of Bologna and Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e Ravenna to develop and promote new approches and cooperative models for the governance of the commons. 

On Thursday, July 7th, LabGov will be in Pilastro to meet some associations’ members and experts, in order to follow the process of collaboration-building. The main purpose of this technical meeting is to draw the basis of a participation strategy to regional and European calls, in order to support the local development office in the beginning of its activities

Due to the very technical nature of the subject, it seemed appropriate to discuss it in an early meeting with professionals (mainly planning experts, bound to the territory), in order to select the most suitable financing sources from the many available ones. The result of this technical meeting will be presented, discussed and refined in September, in a meeting open to those who are willing to participate.

You can find more information on this project here and here.


Giovedì 7 giugno LabGov sarà a Bologna per seguire lo sviluppo del progetto di collaborazione del quartiere Pilastro. L’incontro tecnico vedrà la partecipazione di vari membri di associazioni ed esperti, e avrà come scopo la definizione delle strategie di partecipazione ai bandi regionali ed europei, in modo da favorire l’avvio delle attività del progetto. I risultati di questo incontro tecnico saranno presentati, discussi e affinati dopo l’estate, in un incontro aperto a tutti coloro che vorranno partecipare. 

CO-Bologna runs towards new cooperative forms of governance of the commons: a focus on Bolognina site.

CO-Bologna runs towards new cooperative forms of governance of the commons: a focus on Bolognina site.

Work is continuing on CO-Bologna project, the cooperation agreement between the Municipality of Bologna and Fondazione del Monte of Bologna and Ravenna to deepen and continue in the innovative process and administrative trial started in 2011, aiming to promoting cooperative forms of governance of the commons.


On Tuesday, 7th of June, a first workshop took place in Bolognina, one of the sites of CO-Bologna project. Bolognina’s main purpose is acting as a link between the different planning actors already existing, in order to increase their potential and to offer them new occasions to collaborate. The whole process is supported by Federcasa, which looks at it as an useful experimentation for the innovation of housing policies at a national level.

This first workshop aimed to start knowing the inhabitants of two buildings of the area, and to get them involved in a first process based on the identification of their needs, their talents and their availability to start creating networks and collaborative solutions. It has been a fundamental step towards the implementation of the process.


The participants and the facilitators of the workshop (both from Kilowatt and LabGov) scheduled their next meeting for Monday, 10th of July. They will organize a “common dinner” in the building’s yard, where every participant will contribute with a special dish and with their experiences.

Read the complete report of the workshop here!



Continuano i lavori per il progetto CO-Bologna, il patto di collaborazione tra Comune di Bologna e Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e Ravenna per approfondire e proseguire nel processo di innovazione e sperimentazione amministrativa avviato nel 2011 e diretto a promuovere la collaborazione per la gestione dei beni comuni. Il cantiere Bolognina ha ospitato, lo scorso 7 giugno, un primo workshop conoscitivo con gli inquilini di due edifici di proprietà ACER. È stato un primo passo fondamentale per identificare insieme i loro bisogni e i loro talenti, e per iniziare a costruire insieme soluzioni collaborative. Appuntamento al prossimo 10 luglio!

Segui la narrazione dal cantiere cliccando qui!

ViCoo – Visioni Cooperative, Legacoop Bologna, 16 May 2016

ViCoo – Visioni Cooperative, Legacoop Bologna, 16 May 2016


LabGov with professor Christian Iaione will take part in the ViCoo – Visioni Cooperative conference!

On the 16th May prof. Iaione will attend the presentation conference of ViCoo – Visioni Cooperative, the laboratory of ideas created by Legacoop Bologna to introduce new roads towards innovation for communities and territories elaborated with research centers and international and Italian universities. The event will be opened by Sarwanth Singh, member of the Advisory Board of the Leeds University Business School and founder of the research group on Mega Trends. Many researchers will intervene, those who work together with Legacoop Bologna to elaborate strategic trajectories and innovation proposals for the development and growth of territory cooperatives.

The conference follows other events on the same subject that occurred in the last month.
For instance, CUBO (Unipol Centre Bologna) on the 26th of April hosted a reflection on the development of suburbs and urban requalification, by means of a comparison between the experiences of Turin, Melpignano (Lecce), Naples and Bologna. This event was part of the program #PrimaveraPilastro2016, a series of events in the framework of a bigger project that aims at adding value to the Pilastro neighbourhood in Bologna by trying to build a cooperative community.

Another event on this subject was organized by Eutropian and took place in Rome on May 5-7, with the title “Funding the Cooperative City. New models for community spaces”. The event aimed at discovering new economic models for community-led urban development, through comparisons of experiences and initiatives in a debate that involved researchers coming from Italy and Europe.

LabGov coordinator, prof. Christian Iaione, has contributed to the research effort in finding new theoretical and practical frameworks to realize and promote the collaborative city model. He recently wrote an article, published on the American Journal of Economics and Sociology, in which he investigates if urban assets and resources can be transformed into sharing, collaborative, cooperative, commoning ecosystems that enable collective action for the commons.

Prof. Iaione underlines the important social functions carried out by urban spaces and community services:  they encourage higher sense of belonging to the community, help to overcome political apathy, foster social cohesion, thus being crucial to a community’s well-being. He also states that urban commons are undergoing a deep crisis period, determined by the decline of public or collective spaces and citizen disaffection; urban public spaces are thus perceived as nobody’s places, rather than everybody’s places.

For this reason, it is necessary to rethink the governance of the commons: the quantitative and hierarchical, centralist approach to promoting urban space, typical of an exclusive public administration, must be replaced by a polycentric, qualitative, and relational concept of urban welfare and urban commons, which is urban co-governance.

He also proposes five design principles of a “commonsbased urban governance matrix”:

  • introduction of urban commoning through regulation or a new group or organization;
  • collaborative governance of sharing, possibly in conjunction with a collaborative economy based on a complementary currency system and local development agencies;
  • social innovation as the basis of a shift from a traditional urban welfare system to a collaborative welfare system;
  • radical transformation of the internal organization and work methodologies of urban bureaucracies into citizens enabling communities of service designers;
  • establishment of a collaboration laboratory (Co-Lab), a living lab where collaboration takes place, is taught, and communicated.

Prof. Iaione discussed his paper in the 4th European Regional Meeting of IASC, that took place in Bern from the 10th to the 13th May with the following subject: “Commons in a ‘glocal’ world: global connections and local responses”. The article was debated in the B20 panel, which would like to examine the concept of Smart Cities in India, and contrast it with the advances that other countries made in redefining their concepts of urban commons.

For more information, see the ViCoo – Visioni Cooperative event program.

You can also read our previous articles on Pilastro2016, Rome Eutropian conference and Bern IASC conference.


Il prof. Christian Iaione, coordinatore di LabGov, parteciperà alla conferenza di presentazione di ViCoo – Visioni Cooperative, un laboratorio di idee organizzato da Legacoop Bologna per esplorare nuove rotte verso l’innovazione di comunità e territori. L’evento ne segue altri sullo stesso argomento tenutisi nell’ultimo mese, come la conferenza CUBO #Pilastro2016, l’evento Eutropian a Roma e la 4a Conferenza Regionale Europea di IASC a Berna. Proprio in quest’ultimo evento il prof. Iaione ha presentato un importante articolo che propone i cinque pilastri fondanti per una corretta ridefinizione del concetto di governance dei beni comuni. 

Pilastro is Bologna

Pilastro is Bologna


What is Pilastro?

Pilastro is a development project of Pilastro area , situated in the suburb of Bologna. It is promoted by the city of Bologna, with the support of the Regione Emilia Romagna, Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e di Ravenna and Cooperativa sociale Camelot-Officine Cooperative.

The aim of that project is to add value to this zone, connecting the share and cultural capital with the economic need of the area. Moreover, Pilastro represents the first try to build a cooperative community.

Born in one of the city suburbs and in addition to being a project is primarily an active and collaborative community. The group of  MastroPilastro with various urban renewal activities, creation of micro-economies and training is giving birth to the first of Community Cooperative in an urban context. The goal of the project is to put together the capital reserves, the Community’s cultural and entrepreneurial with economic vocations of the Pillar.

Pilastro is not only a project, but first of all, is a community, composed by people of different ages who conduct many activities in the suburb and for the suburb . For example, they carried out redevelopment works of urban spaces and other activities such as social mediation services, or community development and recovery of  neighborhood area, etc.. They are an example of what we define active citizenship!

For more information, you can visit their website:

On Tuesday 26th April, in Bologna, will hold a conference during which will be compared similar experiences, like this, and processes of social innovation, demonstrating how suburbs are becoming laboratories of cooperative governance. In addition to Pilastro, these experiences are Agenzia San Salvario of Turin, the initiatives in the Rione Sanità of Naples, the Fondazione di Comunità San Gennaro Onlus, community cooperative of Melpignano. 

Città cooperativa Cubo 2016 04 – Periferie


Pilastro2016‬ è un progetto promosso dal Comune di Bologna, realizzato con il contributo di Regione Emilia Romagna e Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e Ravenna e il supporto della Cooperativa sociale Camelot – Officine Cooperative. Nasce in una delle periferie‬ della città ed oltre ad essere un progetto è soprattutto una comunità attiva e collaborativa. Il gruppo di MastroPilastro‬ con varie attività di riqualificazione urbana, creazione di microeconomie e formazione sta dando vita alla prima cooperativa di Comunità in un contesto urbano. L’obiettivo del progetto è mettere assieme i giacimenti di capitale sociale, culturale e imprenditoriale della Comunità con le vocazioni economiche del Pilastro.