Stockholm water commons

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Like the sky, the earth, and the fire, the water is older than the city. It is the basic ubiquity and the ultimate otherness – water can surround the city or pass through, it can become stealth in the underground canals or omnipresent when it is falling from above. Being wherever, water is bringing the life essentials to the city, and taking its wastes away. Water is good for the people in the city. It is releasing their bodies and clearing up their minds. It makes life as easy as it could be and lets the conflicts go with the flow. It is doing so in a humble manner, with no signs of the dominance shown, only by being around open for everyone to get in. Water belongs to all. Water is the common good. Although city cannot live without the water, it is hardly respecting its silent potentials. Water is considered as wild and uncivilized threat, as if it needs to be put under control to become available.

These five works may inspire a hundreds of local interventionists that will gradually fulfill the breaks in Stockholm’s waterfront paths. By doing so they will be building the system that provides the unfolding of the tendency that has been suggested among many from the 2030 Stockholm urban development strategy as the subtitle - the walkable city. Even more than simple connections these small scale installations have a high capacity in attracting individuals to the water reservoirs that are offering relaxed moments of gathering in which the seeds of new commonness may emerge.

Water that is given back to the people has a potential to upgrade their interactions that are infusing the social infrastructure needed in confronting future uncertainty.

It is important to remember that water and waterfronts and everything that is made there are the common goods both by the nature and by the law of the state. This fact seemed to be forgotten in the past years and the consequences are the increasing number of spatial boundaries signifying the divisions among many of private interests. These smart interventions are designed to transform the lines of divisions into spaces for exchanges and to stimulate conversion of social exclusivity into inclusion. They are doing so in different ways – by adding the public ground in front of the privatized, by amplifying the sound of waves to beat the traffic noise, by skipping the car flow to enjoy a water flow, by pirating abandon quay to find personal security, by cracking the ground to establish the missing identity.

Presented are the sequences from the range of tactics that could be replicated or amended or innovated in accordance to occasion given. Stockholm is wealthy of water and there are many chances to enrich by building up new relationships toward it which will consequently help in building up new relationship among the people. Everyone is kindly invited to make a contribution for the familiar place. The whole system will have to be made by the participation of many of Stockholm’s citizens. These objects are the results of an intimate act of discovering and creating things that are imagined as gifts to strangers. Whether these gifts will reach the hearts of the unknowns depends on purity of intentions of the one who gives. In order to keep the good will during an unstable creative process that is lingering between personal fears found on sites and common opportunities captured in the interventions many doubts have to be overcome. The products for the city are like the books that are offered to many different readers. What they chose to read and to comment and to collect is up to them. Any book may inspire other book to be read. Multiplicity of books constitutes an inexhaustible universe of literature. If the complexity of literature reminds to the complexity of city than the library is a container of the values that citizens could share. Imagine your city like an open library. Take the book and read it or take a step ahead to add your own writings.

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The group Stockholm water commons: Fanny zu Knyphausen, Tom Fletcher, Derya Erdim, Matilde Kautsky & Alistair Nancarrow.

Text by Ivan Kucina.


About the workshop leader

Ivan Kucina – is an assistant professor at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Belgrade, Serbia and a Visiting Scholar at Parsons The New School for Design, New York, Polis University, Tirana, and KTH Stockholm. His research is focused on the informal building strategies and uncontrolled processes of urban development in the Western Balkans. Ivan Kucina is a practicing architect with projects that range from urban design to buildings, interiors, furniture and exhibitions. In 2006, he co-founded the Belgrade International Architecture Week and currently serves as its Program Director and since 2012 he runs Urban Transformations Program at Mikser Festival.