International conference under the title "Post-capitalist City" was held from 14. to 16. August in Pula. Fourteen European groups presented their work in the context of political reading of the city and new forms of production emerging in different spaces.
First day of the conference was held in social center "Rojc" in the center of the city. The building was occupied in 1997. and, after unsuccessful eviction, municipality legalized its usage in 2000. Since then "Rojc" has developed into heterogeneous public institution which is being gradually filled up with different social programs which are now in the position to form their own assembly with more than 100 delegates from different associations all gathered inside this 35.000m2 big ex barrack.
After short introduction about the history of social center seven presentations were held. First two groups who presented their work were M.I.M.O. Lab from Milan and Salottobuono from Venice. Both of their work was concentrated on analyzing planning processes in Israel and Palestine as a example of very vivid situation where power uses urban planning tools and real estate market as means of control, repression, segregation and colonization. While M.I.M.O. Lab was concentrated on visualization of repression through official planning methods, Salottobuono developed a manual where they managed to extract the tools of repression and neutralize them by translating them into common architectonic language.
Third presentation was held by a group Fram-menti from Treviso who explained their method of work which concentrates on organizing events in spaces that they want to activate. In their approach planning is not based on conventional methods, already appropriated by current power relations, but on managing events which change existing conditions in the city.
Second block of presentations started with two architects who have similar interests and method of work but different practice - Dustin Tusnovics who works between Vienna and Trieste, and Peter Fattinger from Vienna. Both of them presented their work in South Africa where they manage to build public buildings together with their students. Idea behind these works was to re-appropriate all steps in the process of planning and building architecture and to implement "self building" as an important method in the process of creating autonomous production. Peter Fattinger shows also how this method works in Vienna where he worked with students to build multifunctional public structure. His work shows how the same method results with permanent interventions in Africa and with temporary ones in Europe, only because of different regulations.
Last two groups of the first day were Raumlabor from Berlin and Exyzt from Paris. In their presentation self building was positioned on a more radical level; they explained their projects as “materialized fictions” or “fragments of utopia”. These fragments are useful physical example of some future city or places of gathering which can construct different identity inside existing community. These interventions can then become small, temporary, but frequent cracks inside the capitalism.
At the end of the first day one spontaneous line emerged which connects different presentations – a line which goes from reading the existing use of planning and architecture as tools of repression and segregation, through understanding these tools and re-appropriating them, getting knowledge through self building process, so that, finally, we could use these same tools not to segregate but to construct new utopias, new fictions, new desire and finally new common.
Second day of the conference was held on an island Katarina inside Pula Bay. This island is an ex hydroplane military base abandoned in 2004. Since then the area is devastated and robbed but also squatted by fishing community. Pulska Grupa explained what the conflicts in the area are, how citizens use the area and how this utilization is stimulated through local media, public actions, exhibitions and other forms of engagement. This frequent use of Katarina delayed or even prevented municipality's intention to build gated community in this zone.
After this introduction Berlin based group MetroZones presented different movements in Berlin which are all fighting for “the right to the city”. This proclamation is manifested in different ways, depending on the level of repression the activist confront on. Basic idea of the movement is to re-appropriate the land inside the city so that these areas remain public or to become common land. Similar examples were shown by Antonella and Susanna Perin from urbanXchange, who explored in the suburbs of Rome parts of the city born by self- organized urbanism in the seventies. Although the initial step in this process was basically to reclaim the city, inhabitants now face several problems – mostly housing and infrastructure.
The first problem was addressed in presentation about Multiplicity Lab. Project about ways of living in Milan. In this research different heterotopic settlements were mapped in the city which clearly show diversity of current metropolitan settlements. Citizens and community dispersed through these differences can define “a metropolitan multitude” – the subject which reclaims the city for itself and develop common land. Trieste based architect Elena Marchigiani showed in her work with students how diverse groups of citizens can be approached and how to use existing planning tools to enable people to design their own common space.
Stealth Ult., group working between Rotterdam and Belgrade, showed an example from Amsterdam and discused what happens when the tools are re-appropriated and connected with the multitude. When this happens and if there exists a common language between different subjects we can start to implement permanent utopia in the city. City can then be developed nor with the state nor with the market but as a common process. Observatorio Metropolitano from Madrid pointed out that all of these processes need researchers and activists not as scientific outside observers but as militants who have clear political statement and who push the process toward conflict with existing power relations and toward new potentials outside existing structures.
Hackitectura from Sevilla concluded the second day of the conference with influential lecture where they focused on the most general topic – how to organize a city regarding all these processes? According to them new city, in this occasion they called it post-capitalist city, can develop following 4 crucial points: autonomy of mobility and access, autonomy of production and flexibility, re-appropriation and emancipation of technologies and final point – developing through ecosophy which combines natural, social and cultural diversity.
Topics and discussion of the second day addressed very diverse knowledge and experience from political struggle to theory and new concepts for the city. Line of flight went from citizen’s struggle for re-appropriation of city space, through investigating and collecting historical and recent examples of existing small heterotopias which can be useful for imagining city beyond capitalism. But these imaginations must then be tested, even temporary, in practice (like Amsterdam example) and the whole process should be approached in a militant way, from the inside and not by isolated "professionals".
Conclusion of the first two days can be formulated in the statement that post-capitalist city is possible when citizens become political subject, research becomes militant, tools and technologies are re-appropriated, land becomes common, mobility and production become autonomous.
Last day of the conference was not open for the wider public since it was held in Muzil, a 180 hectares big location in the city which still has the status of the military area closed to citizens. Army has left this base two years ago but it remained closed. Government and the municipality intend to privatize the area and official plans had been made for it to become an exclusive golf resort thus closing the territory for wider public.
After a tour of the area and a short introduction a meeting was held in fort Marie Louize. Although first intention of the meeting was development of a common document or declaration, participants agreed it is more useful to concentrate on specific area of Muzil and try to develop general statement through working on this location.
First idea, proposed by Hackitectura, was to approach Muzil as "Komunal" or common land. If we define it as Komunal we can propose different utopias for it, regarding new forms of production and context of current crisis. Muzil could be "special common zone", a testing ground for mixed visions of economic development. To test this Exyzt, Dustin Tusnovics and Peter Fattinger proposed a development of small interventions (temporary or permanent) which can enable us to reclaim and secure the land and also to materialize fragments of utopia. Period of experiments was defined as "meantime" by Stealth Ult. and everybody agreed that we should demand 5 years long moratorium official planning of Muzil so that experiments have guaranteed meantime.
But before this process starts first we have to analyze current tactic of enclosure, try to deconstruct this power and translate it into our own potential. For this work a manual was proposed by Salottobuono which will relate to the questions of legacy, different tactics and new production. Once the current power relations are deconstructed we can develop new relations. Observatorio Metropolitano proposed a development of "set of rules", similar as in creative common license. These set of rules could differentiate specific territories inside Komunal and enable different activities and production. Once these set of rules are tested on Muzil we could analyze its potential and develop a "constitution of Komunal" which can then be a general statement calling for different society and urbanism beyond capitalism.
Final point of the meeting was dividing specific work mentioned in discussion. Salottobuono agreed to coordinate work on the manual of tactics, Observatorio Metropolitano agreed to coordinate work on development of set of rules for Komunal, Dustin Tusnovics, Peter Fattinger and Exyzt agreed on organizing work to construct small interventions in already opened ex military zones as tests and experiments which can afterward be transferred to Muzil. Pulska Grupa will arrange local conditions to enable these proposals and coordinate general work. In addition to all this Pulska Grupa is preparing documentation for Muzil which will be used by students on faculties in Madrid, Milano, Sevilla, Trieste, Vienna and Zagreb.
International network gathered in Pula will try to approach work from two directions:
-building temporary or more permanent interventions embodiments in already opened ex military areas
-implementing final document/declaration on site of Muzil and testing the possibility to plan Creative Common City.
Hopefully, these two directions will collide into permanent materialization of a better city.