BETA TESTER OF THE COMMONS
Our proposal is to transform the building Magasin 405 into a ‘Common-Pool Resource’ that residents in Helsingborg (appropriators and producers) can use to produce prototypes for the commons. These prototypes for the commons produced in Magasin 405 are also resources that can be used by different residents and local businesses in Helsingborg.
LOCATION Helsingborg. Sweden
PROGRAM Urban Facility
TEAM LUGADERO (Marta Morera, Javier Martínez, Pablo Sendra, Antonio Figueroa, Elisa Monge)
A ‘Common-Pool Resource’
‘The term “common-pool resource” refers to a natural or man-made resource system that is sufficiently large as to make it costly (but not impossible) to exclude potential beneficiaries from obtaining benefits from its use.’ (Elinor Ostrom, Governing the Commons, 1990).
Elionor Ostrom, in her seminal Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Actions, defines a common-pool resource providing the examples of fisheries and irrigations systems where different agents benefit from a particular resource (natural or human-made), other actors take the responsibility of maintaining it, and, when human-made, there can be other actors that provide that resource.
Ostrom calls ‘appropriators’ those that use the resource and use it for production of goods that others can use, ‘provider’ to those who arrange the provision of the resource and ‘producer’ to ‘anyone who actually constructs, repairs or takes actions that ensure the long-term sustenance of the resource system itself.’ (Elinor Ostrom, Governing the Commons, 1990).
These actors can be multiple and have multiple roles at the same time. For example, an actor can be appropriator and producer at the same time.
Our proposal is to transform the building Magasin 405 into a ‘Common-Pool Resource’ that residents in Helsingborg (appropriators and producers) can use to produce prototypes for the commons. These prototypes for the commons produced in Magasin 405 are also resources that can be used by different residents and local businesses in Helsingborg. These could be a community kitchen, an open-air collective library, a community allotment, a winter garden, a repairs workshop, a pocket public space, a trees’ nursery, a system for taking care of children and elderly people, a structure for hosting parties.
Magasin 405 (provider) provides a collection of resources, tools, workshops, infrastructure, energy and water supply, facilities, training schemes, and large spaces that people can use to create collective projects. People may come together in groups of different sizes (from individual to a whole neighbourhood) to work on projects that can benefit the whole community. The only requirement for producing something in the ‘Beta Tester of the Commons’ is that anything produced there can be used as a common good. I.e. There can be no restrictions on who uses any of the products produced there.
Lack of Common Ground
Helsingborg has a lower ratio of public space than most cities in Sweden. Many of the public spaces of the city do not work as places where people from different socioeconomic background meet and interact. On the contrary, some of the existing public spaces tend to segregate different areas of the city.
The proposed intervention on Magasin 405 and its surrounding open spaces is to create a public space that works as common ground: a place where the different communities in Helsingborg can meet, where people can share space and resources, where everyone is included.
For this reason, the proposal has maximised the area of the square between Magasin 405 and the proposed row of housing. This approach leaves a public space for social interaction and also for experimenting with prototyping public and common spaces.
Prototyping the Commons
All the experiments and prototypes for common and public spaces created inside the ‘Beta Tester of the Commons’ (inside Magasin 405) can be taken to the new public square next to Magasin 405 to test their functioning. They can be also transported to other places in Helsingborg, turning the ‘Beta Tester of the Commons’ into a factory for new public and common spaces in the city.
How does this work? A group of residents, local businesses or an individual have an idea for a project. The only condition for using the ‘Beta Tester of the Commons’ to build this project is that the output can be used by anyone. The non-exclusion principle is very important for the ‘Beta Tester of the Commons’, since it ensures that the projects produced are for the common good.
Those who propose the project will find in the ‘Beta Tester of the Commons’ the tools, materials, resources, appropriate training, facilities, infrastructure, energy and water provision and space they need to develop their project. They will also be able to call for collaborators to work with them in the project.
The ‘Beta Tester of the Commons’ is a centre for prototyping. It is a place to experiment with new forms of creating community, public spaces, and resources that can be shared by anyone.
Once the project is produced, the Crane can take the prototype out of the building and place it into the square. The Crane is reused and relocated next to Magasin 405. It has a new function, which is transporting the prototypes from inside Magasin 405 (which has some parts that do not have roof) to the new public square created between the building and the proposed row of housing. The square works as a ground for experimenting with the functioning of the projects created inside the ‘Beta Tester of the Commons’. They can be tested in the square or they can be taken to other parts of Helsingborg where they are needed. In some cases, the residents may want to test it first in the square and then replicate it in other places of Helsingborg. In other cases, residents may want to test it directly elsewhere.