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Posts tagged ‘Genève’

Standardization? Les Grottes 2012-2014

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Territories in crisis. Mid-term report

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The mid-term report of the research “Territories in Crisis” will be presented on June 5th at the Politecnico di Torino in the presence of a delegation of the Compagnia di San Paolo (Promotor of the Project) and of the Prof. Enrico Macii (Research and Internationalization Deputy Rector).


The report is available at the following link:





From urban buildings occupation to agricultural spaces colonization: the Squat’s metamorphosis in the photographs by Julien Gregorio

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The photographs by Julian Gregory highlight a genealogy of shared spaces deeply rooted in the Squat Movements of the Nineties. The book deals with the city of Geneva in the period 2002-2012. A period in which the “politique de tolérance” of the nineties ends up, putting an end to the widespread consensus that had approached the inhabitants to bars, restaurants, theaters and the concerts managed by the squatters. These policies had allowed many experiments. Due to the loss of consent (and due to the strict policies of the public authority), the squat movement fragmented into different trajectories: on the one hand, new forms of social housing, on the other hand, new forms of nomadism and occupation of agricultural areas.

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The new spatial order of collective housing


Throughout the Twentieth Century, the European social housing complexes have built much of the city’s expansion. They have been the armor and the infrastructure of the suburban city. Nowadays, in many places of Europe, inhabitants are experimenting solutions aimed to radically change the way in which the city is built. Variety and excitement are such that the concept of cohousing, as matrix of many of the experiences, can’t cover the whole range of the community-oriented and self-managed variations. These are the two poles that mark the spread of the new collective housing: on the one hand its shared living, on the other its shared management. The following text tries to highlight some of the features of the new spatial order of collective housing, retracing some of the case studies that have been investigated in this blog. The new collective housing sets a new spatial order within the city. It is disseminated and apparently “spontaneous”, as it was the one celebrated by Colin Ward in the Seventies.

The two maps (above) compare the public housing complexes in Milan (Francesco Infussi, eds, Dal recinto al territorio. Milano, esplorazioni nella città pubblica, Bruno Mondadori, 2011) with the new forms of collective housing in Geneva (

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Shared Housing in Geneva

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Shared Housing in Geneva (in progress) by Alessandra Conticini

Mill’O, Plan-les-Ouates, Geneva

Mill’O is located in Plan-les-Ouates, a wealthy suburb of Geneva. It’s a ten families Cooperative Housing whose  construction was funded by the Canton of Geneva under HM (Habitation a loyer modéré) and it has been awarded the Minergie-Eco for the strict ecological program followed. People live in this place as in other similar cooperatives: closed ties, a few fundamentalism, no car and television but strong web connection and a good advertising on the internet. There is a lot of collective work to do: this place lays great emphasis on the benefits of strong and dense ties, as on the increased responsibility of shared living (at least in terms of environmental and economic responsibility). The building is contiguous to the low-density houses of the surroundings, with facilities (primary and secondary schools), industrial areas and open natural spaces. This close proximity shows here the overturning of the Modern City better than in any other place. There is a radical ambiguity between the openness and the closure in the way of living in a cooperative housing as Mill’o: there are no real entrances, each space seems to be subjected to percolation and infiltration, but there’s a continuous sequence of symbolic and aesthetic barriers. Mill’o is both inside and outside the city.

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Una strana metamorfosi

«Tra diritti uguali, vince la forza» è la celebre affermazione di Marx nel I libro del Capitale (Editori Riuniti, 1977, p. 269), utilizzata negli anni 60 e 70 per spiegare i modelli di sviluppo urbano fondati sulle logiche dello sviluppo capitalista e le loro dinamiche. Il riferimento è all’idea di diritto alla città di Henry Lefebvre: un riferimento che gode di ottima salute ancora oggi. I richiami nel campo della geografia e degli studi urbani sono da sempre numerosi. Qualche volta segnati da una semplicistica ricerca di genealogie possibili e legittimazioni teoriche. Altre volte da una più interessata e coinvolta ricerca sulla costruzione teorica del sociologo francese.

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Le souci de la propriété

C’est parce qu’un squat est prégnant d’histoires politiques et sociales qu’il est d’emblée visible et envisagé comme l’expression d’un mouvement, dont la signification, scandée par un acte délibérément public de contestation, représente une alternative idéologique aux formes classiques du vivre ensemble. En prenant une ampleur récente, y compris sur un plan international, les « mouvements squats » ont vu leur nature se complexifier et convoquer des réalités sociales fort différentes. On pourrait utiliser une multitude d’axes descriptifs pour en rendre compte et par là, dresser un portait hétéroclite des populations de squatters. Parmi eux, on pourrait très schématiquement distinguer un segment de population socialement fragilisée d’un segment politiquement engagé. Read more

Geneva. Les Grottes

Rue des Grottes in the district of Les Grottes and Rue Jean Senebier in the old city center

Les Grottes is located next to the Cornavin railway station on the opposite side of Lake Geneva: it is a big enclave with well-defined entrances and internally divided into several different sections. In the late twenties attempts to renovate the neighbourhood were met with resistance and hostility towards all forms of modernisation implemented (sometimes radically) in Geneva during the twentieth century. In time, the rather bizarre atmosphere of Les Grottes, with its squatters and cultural and anarchic overtones, became institutionalised. The first thing one realises when entering Les Grottes are the many different places, signs, thresholds, ground levels and customs. Variety is not just diversity. It is also overabundance and the slightly artificial feeling of freedom that places acquire when radicalised by squats.

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