The thesis discusses alternative modes of production known as commoning in relation to London’s housing landscape. Amidst today’s financialised context, the research turns to such grassroots sharing practices as successful local examples of accessible housing economies. Grounded in the notions of ownership, access, production, sustainability and subjectivity, the complexity of such socio-political models of self-governance remains uncaptured in the existing architectural scholarship on shared living which is pre-empted by an emphasis on co-habitation. This gap is the main focus of the research which develops a better understanding of how the process of commoning, in relation to housing, materialises in the domestic spatial practices of the participants.

The thesis approaches the topic through a tripartite structure. The first part situates the research at the intersection between domestic spatial practices, political economy and economic anthropology. The second part assumes a historical perspective by constructing a genealogy of commons-based housing projects. The third part draws on qualitative data from interviews with dwellers of commoned households in London.

The research is important for several reasons. Firstly, in the context of exacerbating housing crises around the globe, it adds to the knowledge on creating more accessible and sustainable housing economies. Secondly, it foregrounds cases from London’s alternative housing history, providing a better record for architects, local authorities and grassroots initiatives. Finally, it supports design researchers and practitioners in defining new models for reading and engaging with such sharing collectives, potentially informing new design methodologies.

In Common: New Alliances for Owning, Sharing and Dwelling in London

2018 - ongoing