‘The Grand Domestic Revolution—User’s Manual’ (GDR) investigates the domestic space and its (changing) use through a variety of methods and disciplines, traversing the fields of art, design, architecture, urban planning, activism and theory. A number of artists and other practitioners contribute to this endeavour. Residents from 2009-2011 include Sepake Angiama, Paul Elliman, and Doris Denekamp who utilized neighbourhood and online research to create prototypes and interventions around the theme of (Green) Cooperativsm. Wietske Maas and Travis Meinolf experimented with Home Production; while 'interor' infrastuctural interventions for the furniture, library and hallways were created by ifau & Jesko Fezer, Mirjam Thomann and Graziela Kunsch. Current themes and residents from February–October 2011 include Kyohei Sakaguchi and Kateřina Šedá who will each investigate forms of usership in architectures; home and housing rights with Maria Pask and Nazima Kadir; the question of invisible and domestic labour taken up by Werker Magazine; Agency will continue its deliberations on copyright issues of domestic THINGS (gardens and textiles); and keywords in relations to food service work will be workshopped with Xu Tan. Parallel to this, the Read-in activity continues. Initiated by artist Annette Krauss and theatre maker, Read-in is an open reading group inhabiting a different neighbour’s home for every session.



The GDR library constitutes the backbone of our ongoing ‘living research’ and thus grows over time. The library offers points of engagement with the project and consists of different research materials such as books, articles, images and DVDs (artist’s video, films) that are available for viewing when visiting the apartment. The first installment was done by the GDR team and was later adapted by Sao Paulo-based artist Graziela Kunsch who suggested that the GDR team create thematic selections.



'The Grand Domestic Revolution-User's Manual' is a long-term project developed as Casco’s contribution to 'Utrecht Manifest: Biennial for Social Design'. The project deals with the evolutionary and collaborative process of “living” research in the contemporary domestic and private sphere – particularly in relation to the spatial imagining (or the built environment). It aims at re-articulating while exercising the notions of the social, the public and, eventually, the commons.




Since August 2010, the GDR team have undertaken research in order to connect with the local neighbourhood on questions relating to peoples’ social conditions and material environments. Questionnaires, interviews, and conversations are the methods used to explore the themes and problems addressed in GDR, such as self-organised governance, co-operative living, and spatial organisation in and from the domestic sphere.


With Levan Asabashvili, L'atelier d'architecture autogérée, Co-Habitation Strategies, Anna Dijkhuis (with architect Flip Krabbendam), Janna Graham (with Åbäke) and Nazima Kadir
21 November 2010, 14.00–18.00
De Kersentuin (Co-housing residence) Atalantahof 11, Utrecht*

De Kersentuin

This FORUM gathers a group of practitioners from different disciplines—architecture, art, activism, academia and social organisation—who work in the context of neighbourhoods or shared space to discuss forms and meanings of ‘communal living’ in our time. Critical consideration of policies that promote private home ownership and so-called ‘social cohesion’ inform the current nature of the debate.

The point of departure for the forum is the contemporary movement of co-housing in the Netherlands, which will be introduced by Anna Dijkhuis, member of FGW (The Dutch Federation of Intentional Communities/Federatie Gemeenschappelijk Wonen, in Dutch). The number of cohousing and intentional living groups in the Netherlands has grown to 10,000 across the country since the 1960s. These communities are often self-organised, with residents negotiating their multiple desires with regards to their needs for privacy and commitment to co-operative ideals. What kind of radical democratic potentials do these models offer? In what ways do participatory processes affect the architectural design process and vice versa? How do these communities differ from the communes of 1960s and common-interest developments such as gated communities?

Squatted housing has a well-known history in the Netherlands where co-habitants develop informal ways of occupying and sharing buildings. The collective aspect of this living practice also operates with political principles, although in varying degrees. Squatting has recently reached a critical turn with the new Dutch law banning the practice as of October 2010. Although the level of execution of this law is still ambiguous, it is timely to address what this means for the ‘co-living’ strategies of these D.I.Y.-oriented individuals and communities.

What is common in both examples, as well as the contexts of the invited participants, is that the place of ‘home’ or ‘community’ is the physical and conceptual site where social and economic forms of living are inscribed, exercised and negotiated within political paradigms. From this framework we ask this group of diverse participants to discuss the context of working with their particular neighbourhoods and communities, and how they might operate towards a notion of a ‘commons’. We will also explore ways in which alternative concepts and forms of dwelling can move beyond their semi-insular structures and extend to the level of street, town and the city.

Forum venue


Part 1: Building spaces

14.00 Intro
14.05 Anna Dijkhuis? with architect Flip Krabbendam on the history of Co-housing in the Netherlands in relation to social and architectural design
14.30 CoHabitation Strategies?/Phillip Luehl & Guillermo Delgado on the Tarwewijk project in relation to collaborative living
14.55 aaa/Constantin Petcou and Doina Petrescu on R-Urban–a strategy for local resilience in the greater metropolitan Paris in relation to the ways architects can contribute to the initiation of self-managed social, economic and ecological projects.
15.20 Discussion
16.00 Break

Part 2: Communal dynamics

16.30 Intro
16.35 Levan Asabashvili?/Urban Reactor on three main types of Tbilisi collective housing from Early period (1917-1930s), Stalin's period (1930s-1950s) and after Stalin (1950s-1991).
16:55 Nazima Kadir? will present a cartography of internal power dynamics within the intimate space of squatted houses.
17.15 Janna Graham with Patrick Lacey? of Åbäke on the Seniors Skills Exchange project in Edgware Road neighbourhood, London.
17.40 Discussion & conclusions

'The Grand Domestic Revolution GOES ON' is a midway manifestation of 'User's Manual: The Grand Domestic Revolution' (GDR), Casco's long term 'living research' project developed in partnership with Utrecht Manifest: Biennial for Social Design.


GDR Diary 2: Read-In for the possibility of community

Last Friday I participated in the Read-In and the group addressed several important issues from this experience in the feedback session after “reading-in”: the almost instant legitimization of the reading group when referred to as an artistic project, having as its consequence the access to an otherwise unvisitable private space; the legitimacy and ethical implications of bringing a preselected text into our host’s house versus following the host’s own suggestion, albeit with the risk of unexpectedly transforming a speculative action into the provision of a social service; the process of reading a text (its collective translation, interpretation and discussion) as a mediator of the interaction between hosts and visitors, and a subtle articulator of class, gender and ethnicity positions; photographic documentation that has archival intentions versus its possible interpretation as one of observation or surveillance and so on.

The search for community in Yang’s work is connected to a sense of place that is constructed by an individual experience struggling with abstract parameters. In this sense it is imaginary, but not utopian, and is best described through the notion of a “community of absence” or “negative community,” which is characterized by a lack or a denial of any sense of belonging. Einarsson and Yang use concepts of a dystopian, imaginary community in their work, which open up a space of potentiality. (…) The diversity and creativity of participation in experimental communities, the playful “care of the self” of informal communities, and the being-together of imaginary communities that build on the state of absence, correspond to a fragmented and agonistic public space. The concept of a “community” that refuses to function as a manipulative mass united by a common identity eventually implies the potential of resistance. (Nina Möntmann, “Transforming Communities”, 2007, pp. 50-1).

In “A Small Dictionary for Haegue Yang”, Doryun Chong (2008) also points to of the idea of community in Yang’s work. A community is an entity — a concept — that can be empowering and potent, idealistic and utopian, dysfunctional and even destructive. Despite the generally positive social implications it holds, the idea of community is at once complex and oversimplistic, strong and fragile. (…) Yang interprets what she calls the “community of absence” as a “community of the plural that shares nothing but ongoing self-examination and a strange kind of optimism”. Her interpretation is partly inspired by discussions between Maurice Blanchot and Jean-Luc Nancy around Georges Bataille, specifically in Nancy’s La communauté desoeuvré and Blanchot’s La communauté inavouable. Nancy’s reading of Bataille is critically indebted to Blanchot’s notion of désoeuvrement (…). Through this notion, both thinkers try to grasp Bataille’s concept of a community that does not rely on “work”, which is central to the idea of communism and necessarily defines human beings as producers. (…) It is in this light that Blanchot and Nancy try to steer “community” away from “work” and toward “inoperative” “nonwork” that must remain “unavowable” – that is, the community that refuses to acknowledge itself. Both see that when the community is recognized as such, it ceases to be. (pp. 143-4)

24 May 2010, 23.29 — posted by Mafalda