The Commons, or in old Dutch "meent" or "mient", were traditionally defined as the elements of the environment - forests, atmosphere, rivers, fisheries or grazing land - that are shared, used and enjoyed by all. This form of joint ownership hardly exists anymore today and was transformed into private ownership on one hand or state ownership on the other hand. The research project The Commons, refreshes the idea of the commons and explores how common property and its use can be organized.
The Commons focuses on two unused sites near the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague during the art manifestation Yes Naturally (March 15 t0 August 31, 2013). One is a small wooded area, a remnant of the former dune forest, bordering the garden of the museum and, a short distance away, an empty tower, built by architect JJP Oud in 1969, considered a monument of modernist architecture. The strip dune forest is synonymous for nature commonly shared since centuries and the tower for enormous potential of vacant buildings in the current economic crisis.
The Commons takes the two sites – one is part of nature, the other a cultural artefact – and mirrors them by constructing a platform in the woods that is the same size as the footprint of the tower. This physical platform is intended as a conceptual platform for the exchange of knowledge by participants and visitors to the exhibition. From April to August workshops, lectures, fairs and an open public court on topics related to the common interest and the local environment such as sustainability, peace and justice will be programmed. Together with visitors and locals alike The Commons experiments and works out ideas for the functioning of a 'commons' in current times. The spatial interventions developed will focus on the unique qualities and potential of the Tower of JJP Oud.
The Tower of JJP Oud, being temporarily renamed the Commons Tower, functions as a conceptual framework and engine for the development of a new public function for this building. In collaboration with a group of sympathizers and future users, cultural and social organizations and private initiatives, a project plan will be developed with the intention to acquire and maintain the property.
The final proposal will include a business plan, an organization and management structure, a program design and plans for a sustainable use of the tower. This plan will be submitted at the end of August the current owner of the tower and the city.