Architects of the “Silent Revolution”: Empowering Local Communities through Commons-Based Resilience Strategies

Nadia Bertolino

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Self-organised communities are more and more often actors of urban change. Through awareness of social, political, and economic dynamics, community-led initiatives of urban commoning are challenging market-driven modes of spatial production. These initiatives represent a contemporary “silent revolution” aimed at producing socially sustainable and resilient ways of living by addressing the needs and aspirations of groups that would not currently sit at institutional negotiation tables. Drawing on the creative use of resources, a horizontal decisional structure, and the flexible use of space, urban commons can offer one possible and non-commodified response to today’s environmental and social challenges. This speculative essay questions how architects can support and eventually empower grassroots groups to tackle social and environmental challenges through commoning practices. The four case studies discussed outline a wide range of scenarios and suggest four possible responses to this question. More broadly, this essay aims to intervene in the public debate around the role of architects in radically sustainable urban transformations, introducing and discussing architects’ contributions to a selection of actual case studies that have been chosen for their agendas and radical approaches to sustainability issues. They demonstrate how at least part of today’s architectural practice has indeed shifted towards new directions where communications, negotiation, and knowledge-sharing skills are the foundational principles of a new way to (co )design and (co )produce places.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Geographies
Subtitle of host publicationCommons
EditorsMojdeh Mahdavi, Liang Wang
Place of PublicationCambridge, MA
PublisherHarvard University Press
ISBN (Print)9781934510810
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2021

Publication series

NameNew Geographies
PublisherHarvard University Press


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