This notebook reports on work carried out as part of the “CARE Commoning processes in Austerity urbanism: spatial REgeneration and governance” research project (ANR-22-CE55-0002 CARe supported by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche), which will take place between March 2023 and March 2026.

CARE addresses the emerging debate on the urban commons, focusing on its impacts on urban policies and the renovation of public buildings.

The research focuses on the policies of alienation and valorization of municipal real estate in European cities since the routinization of austerity restrictions following the 2008 economic crisis. In the last ten years, we have seen the growing emergence of experimental policies designed to optimize municipal public assets. Some are aimed at selling off assets, while maintaining partial control over how they will be used. Others entrust the management and, in some cases, the physical transformation of public buildings to citizen groups.

A first hypothesis is that these policies reveal the spatial consequences of austerity urbanism understood as a reduction in public budgets in favor of new cycles of innovation in the fields of outsourcing and privatization of urban public services (Peck 2012). The second hypothesis is that these policies produce, more or less directly, commoning processes understood as a conflictual process of extraction of “certain elements of the environment outside the market” (Havery 2012). These commoning processes at the scale of buildings would have an impact on the ability of actors to produce new forms of spatial care (Tronto, 2020) by recycling the existing city and ensuring its maintenance.

In particular, we will look at: 1) the evolution of public policies of alienation and valorization of municipal real estate and the associated forms of public-private partnership in an international context; 2) understanding how these policies impact urban and architectural production; 3) defining and exploring the characteristics of projects that give visibility to care practices.

CARE is based on an interdisciplinary approach. The main methodological orientation of the project is the articulation between ethnography and spatial analysis. The research team is made up of international researchers in architecture, urban planning, sociology, geography, law and anthropology. The survey is based on a comparison of cities in France and Italy. These countries appear to be at the forefront of innovations in both austerity and the urban commons. A first panel of cities (Grenoble, Villeurbanne, Bologna and Turin) has been selected according to two main criteria: the existence of tools for spatial transformation through commoning and a municipalist tradition. The data collected in these cities will produce an analysis grid that will form the basis for the creation of an inventory, tested by short immersions in a selection of other case studies in other cities. The inventory will be made up of quantitative data and visual descriptions: maps, building “biographies”, video capsules and photographs.