Costa Rica urban exercises: promotion of the commons, and the right to the city

Costa Rica urban exercises: promotion of the commons, and the right to the city
[…]the concentration of people and events in time and space is a prerequisite to make anything happen, but more importantly are what activities are allowed to develop […]

In Life between buildings[1] are outlined the applications that must exist in the architectural proposals, so that human being begins to appropriate them. By extrapolating this analysis and relying on the concept established in The Right to the City[2], where it is considered that the gentrification caused by urban processes implies an impact on the present and the future of humanity[3]. The construction and strengthening of social structures that complement the dynamics of interaction of the different actors begins to make sense.

This concept of change of social structure is broad and, at the same time, complicated to define by different actors involved in the subject[4] Therefore, related processes that can be articulated from the academy result in the proposal of systematic variables that, far from wanting to intercede to achieve the purpose of a change of structure, what they seek is to detonate a collective process which add to the existing.

Proposal of social integration.

In this search to promote the use of space and social interaction, the approach to the community Barrio Pinto and its surroundings is proposed in the South of the canton of San Pedro de Montes de Oca, in the province of San Jose, Costa Rica; whose radius of action is located between the kilometer close to the Campus of Universidad Latina. This context contains many different realities. On the one hand, the central avenue has an established structure of commerce and services, in addition is the road that connects the center of the country with the Inter-American route, therefore, highly charged with vehicular flow.

This situation disappears entering avenue 2, 4 and 6. Residential use is giving space to the commerce and offices, but that still encloses a residential range that gives life to the parks of his around. This mutation of the space is reflected in the offer of related services between traditional commercial systems, such as tailors, sodas and informal commerce, as well as other emerging elements (biodegradable cleaning products).

Is under these dynamics – between the behavior of the inhabitants of the sector and the users of the services that are beginning to develop in the area – that the interaction between students of the area and the institutions (who are unaware of the processes, routes, services) arises. For example, there is a coffee shop that offers bike rental per hour and per day, as well as the organization of recreational circuits in the sector.

Then, the question arisen is: how to provide a tool to citizenship that allows articulation in the public space between the collective memory of a specific place and emerging uses that change the image of the city?

It is at this point, where the definition of common goods[5] and Collaborative Economy[6] (Cañigueral, 2014), together with the use of the technological tool Agora PIC (Plataforma de Integración Ciudadana, 2017) developed by the NGO team PIC, that these are taken as the basis of the research, to identify the possible elements to be taken into account, and to define a path that provides information on tangible and intangible variables. Trying to unify the social processes of the inhabitants of the sector, with visitors and users of the different activities in the radio, near to the community of Barrio Pinto.

Within the concrete analysis of the peculiarities of the community, the gap that exists between space of the Square Máximo Fernández-  on the north side of Franklin D. Roosevelt School – and El Retiro Park (650 meters Southwest of Máximo Fernández Square) -, as a hub that makes possible the social connection of a situation different from the current, whose goal is immersed, as Gehl points out[7] – is taken into account, to generate not only the space of transition, but of interaction.

Citizen participation has been necessary for the construction of this project. Across workshops and interviews, as well as different visits to the community to establish collaborative and individual services[8], the rescue of collective memory, stories and accounts of the citizen for the visibility of the human and sensory part of the area began, as well as the delimitation of the emerging uses that change the dynamic preset in the area, and generate a social movement toward the appropriation of common space[9].

Conclusion of a job, start of a route.

In conclusion, it is possible to counteract the thinking and analysis of Gehl[10], about the dynamics of use of public spaces, with the contributions of Zaida Muxí and Joseph María Montaner[11] on the substantial changes that surround the phenomenology of the city for the adequate enjoyment and use of the various variables of the Commons. Processes that lead to interpret the change of the image of the city must occur in an intrapersonal way, understanding that this isolated element is part of an articulated social system[12].

On this premise, it is part of this personal relationship, of collective memory and the individual task, for the strengthening of pre-existing social layers. It may not induce a community to take a change in its structure, but it strengthens when an external user can deviate from their daily life to rediscover its immediate context. For this reason, and waiting for the use of the technological tool (Ágora PIC[13]) to boost social skills to community, this intervention has been completed with the start of a journey raised with the student community of the Universidad Latina.

On this basis, we should start from this relationship between the collective memory and the individual task, to strengthen the pre-existing social layers. It is not possible to induce a community to adopt a modification in its structure, but it can be strengthened, when an external user can get away from their everyday life to rediscover their immediate context. For this reason, the use of the Ágora PIC technological tool was envisaged so that it could stimulate the social capacities of community making, ending this intervention with the beginning of a journey through the community.

A circuit that seeks, every four months, that is to say with the opening of the academic semester, to offer the newly admitted student the possibility of knowing their immediate context, and at the same time generate interaction with the dynamics of their area and with its inhabitants. This wants to contribute to the creation of a collective memory and local participatory networks that bring the academy closer to its own territory.

Il progetto pilota del LabGov Costa Rica comincia da esercizi accademici mirati che hanno l’intenzione de rispondere alla domanda: come facilitare uno strumento alla cittadinanza che permetta l’articolazione tra i beni comuni spaziali e la memoria collettiva di un determinato luogo; con una particolare attenzione agli usi emergenti che mutano rapidamente il volto frenetico della capitale e il ricordo di un passato, non troppo passato, campestre e bucolico? Come possiamo conservare la memoria dei beni comuni intangibili promuovendo contemporanemente l’hic et nunc dei commons tangibili attuali?

[1] Gehl, J. (2011). Life between buildings: using public space. Washington, DC: Island Press.

[2] Lefebvre, H. (1973). Le Droit à la ville. Paris: Ed. Anthropos.

[3] Costes, L. (2012). Del ‘derecho a la ciudad’ de Henri Lefebvre a la universalidad. Urban, 1-12.

[4] Lucas, M.A. (2006). Estructura social. La realidad de las sociedades avanzadas. Madrid: Pearson Education.

[5] Fundación Heinrich Böll (2008). Genes, bytes y emisiones: Bienes comunes y ciudadanía. Ciudad de México: Ediciones Böll.

[6] Cañigueral, A. (2014). Vivir mejor con menos. Barcelona: Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial.

[7] Gehl, J. op.cit.

[8] Cañigueral, A. op.cit.

[9] Fundación Heinrich Böll, op.cit.

[10] Gehl, J. op.cit.

[11] Muxí, Z., Montaner, J.M. (2011). Arquitectura y política. Barcelona: Editorial Gustavo Gili.

[12] Lucas, M.A. op. cit.