‘Economies of Commoning’ is a practice-led research project investigating the potentials of commons-based economies to co-create spaces for civic resilience and participation in Berlin-Neukölln and beyond from a feminist perspective. The commons and their re-building are the leading narrative of this research, as a practical and philosophical framework of an emergent culture of mutual respect and care amongst and between human and non-human agents, of networked self-organisation and cooperation, and of a new understanding of ‘the economy’ towards new forms of social relations and ways of being in and with the world.

The motivation for this inquiry arises from two concerns: the first is to understand how emerging economies of commoning can help opening up spaces for civic resilience in countercurrent with the logic and pressures of the ‘market’. The second is, how design and spatial practice can foster, enable, facilitate, and sustain this process and its possible outcomes. In this context, designing will be investigated from a twofold perspective: from the one of the ‘expert’ designer on one side, and the one of the ‘citizen designer’ on the other.

This research is being conducted by designer Katharina Moebus as part of her PhD-studies, based remotely at Sheffield University School of Architecture in the UK and supervised by architect Doina Petrescu and environmental geographer Jenny Pickerill.

Project structure:
Being part-time, the research runs over a period of 6 years and consists of four main parts informing each other:
(1) expert interviews,
(2) mapping and fieldwork,
(3) spatial and pedagogical experiments, and
(4) the development of a project space (s. Commons Lab) as an aim of personal long-term engagement beyond this research.

About myself:
I am an interdisciplinary designer and researcher working at the crossroads of design, art, activism, research, and education. My activities are driven by a passion for socio-political and environmental issues, DIY-culture and peer-to-peer learning. I am co-founding member of the non-profit organisation AoA, a collaborative transdisciplinary activist research network led by design. After some ten years of living and working abroad I am now based in Berlin with my family.

About this website:
This website serves as a common pool and platform to document the process of this research; to collect and share all outputs, materials, and findings throughout the duration of this project. Its aim is to make this research as open and collaborative as possible, and to inform and exchange with other researchers, students, designers, architects, and others with an interest in other ways of doing economy and the possible roles design can play in transition processes.

Further terminology:
Economy: ‘negotiation of order within habitats’ (Gibson-Graham & Miller 2015)
Commons: ‘Commons are not simply resources we share—conceptualizing the commons involves three things at the same time. First, all commons involve some sort of common pool of resources, understood as non-commodified means of fulfilling peoples needs. Second, the commons are necessarily created and sustained by communities—this of course is a very problematic term and topic, but nonetheless we have to think about it. (…) In addition to these two elements—the pool of resources and the set of communities—the third and most important element in terms of conceptualizing the commons is the verb “to common”—the social process that creates and reproduces the commons.’ (De Angelis 2010)