20 June 2018
Architectural Association, London
Remaining Common(s) addresses the urgent need to redefine the last remaining Commons that find themselves sitting within a landscape of increasingly codified property regimes today. The Institution of Private Property, that surrounds us today, attempts to abstract everything into either ‘private’ or ‘public’ relying on forms of absolute ownership. Commons, on the other hand, rely on a constant negotiation of rights by its participants, determined by ‘use’ rather than ‘ownership’.
This type of self management that is inherent to a commons threatens the State’s role in property today and this is where the conflict arises.
The Little Rann of Kutch in India is one such Commons. This seasonal salt marsh is often mistakenly perceived as a void, it is in fact a working landscape used as a factory by inhabitants of its surrounds to produce salt. In recent years however its possibility of use is being threatened by the State’s attempts to turn it into a “Protected Area”. This Protected area is a tool used by the State to dismantle such Commons by delegitimising them in the eyes of Political, Financial and Welfare institutions and pushing them into a highly precarious situation.
The project seeks to redefine the boundary of this Commons first beginning at a small scale, in an attempt at gradually reclaiming the desert as a self organised working landscape. The project of the Land/Mark sits as a cornerstone to a larger masterplan. It is a way to give a logic to settlements of smaller communities within this factory, and make their practices of negotiation and commoning evident spatially. The practice of constructing these marks in the ground is an attempt at using a piece of architecture as a way to reclaim labour as a form of ritual. The annual flooding and the reorganisation of the factory each year means the Land/Mark is a way for the salt farmers of the Little Rann of Kutch to rewrite their relationship with the landscape, a first step for it to remain common.
I feel incredibly lucky and it was an honour in itself to represent this extraordinary group; Jacek, Bodo, Ana, Anya, Josh, Roberto, Sam, Quentin, Ines, Avery, Love, Moad, Emily, Pier Vittorio and Maria.
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