Speculations on the architecture of a commons-based economy

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


In their text, “Network Society and Future Scenarios for a Collaborative Economy," scholars Kostakis and Bauwens argue that we are currently experiencing the tail-end of neoliberal material globalisation — made possible by an era of cheap energy — and that a transition towards a commons-oriented economy based on existing peer-to-practies is necessary, possible and desirable. Such a model would be oriented towards holistic value-creation (social as well as economic) rather than the current model of profit maximisation. A commons-based economy would engage distributed, collaborative forms of organisation, facilitated a local level, but would leverage digital networks to form a viable alternative model of social organisation on a global scale. This paper reflects on a series of speculative architectural projects which attempt to translate these abstract economic concepts into tangible commons-oriented architectural outcomes, developed by Masters of Architecture students at Monash University. Projects were tested in a former industrial suburb of Melbourne — responding to local conditions and communities — but were conceptualised as repeatable types which would harness digital infrastructure to form global networks. Through a discussion of these design approaches and outcomes, the paper addresses emergent themes and operative architectural strategies to facilitate commons-based peer production, including: the role and agency of the design professional within shifting labour relations; the implications of commons-oriented construction and fabrication processes; commons-oriented financing and procurement methods for architecture; and the physical, organisational and morphological implications of distributed economies at a variety of scales. By organising projects thematically, the paper seeks to extract and contribute both practical and speculative design lessons for ‘commoning’ architecture and the city.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventCity as a Commons - University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
Duration: 2 Sept 20194 Sept 2019


ConferenceCity as a Commons
Internet address


  • peer-to-peer networks
  • speculative design
  • global commons
  • architecture
  • sharing economy

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