‘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.

The AVANT GARDEN and artistic (de)fense

Saturday 28 May 2011, 13.00-17.00h
GDR apartment, Bemuurde Weerd o.z.18b.

With the model of 'Thing 001359 (Chico Mendez Mural Garden)' by Agency, ‘Meal Machine’ harvest with Doris Denekamp (Rotterdam & DAI/Artez, Arnhem), and the Wilde Westen collective and local gardening communities on ever-expanding urban gardening movements.

The curse on Chico Mendez Mural Garden, photo by Bill, Not Bored! (blog)

For this month’s TOWN MEETING, we will mingle and negotiate with domestic neighbourhood practices of communal gardening, collective cooking and community art-making and ask what ways does the everyday ‘commons’ appropriate private and public spheres? Further, are the objects, relationships and spaces created from the crossings, themselves, artistic forms? How does art created in the commons, operate and generate from there?


Question 1: What kind of social and political meanings do neighbourhood gardens produce? Where do new borders emerge?
Question 2: How to redirect, redesign and redefine private or public space as a domestic commons?

  • A discussion in preparation of Agency's presentation of ‘Thing 001359 (Chico Mendez Mural Garden)' the fourth thing in Agency's GDR series, concerns a conflict between six artists and BFC Partners around the demolition of a communal garden in New York. With the model of ‘Thing 001359 (Chico Mendez Mural Garden)’ we would like to anticipate Agency's proposal to reinvoke it as a long-term self-organised garden for an unused space in Utrecht.

Question 3: What plots are available in the city and how to appropriate them?

  • ''MEAL MACHINE’ harvest meal: Since TOWN MEETING JANUARY, a "hi-tech" greenhouse situated between the bedroom and balcony of the GDR apartment, has been growing different crops but faced several setbacks. This made one of its creators, Doris Denekamp, realise that although automated the Meal Machine can only be productive if the crops get harvested regularly. Doris invites us all to discuss the issues during the harvesting, preparing and the consuming of the machine’s first meal.

Question 4: How can we deal with the domestic labour from gardening to harvesting within the very immediate condition of the GDR apartment?
Question 5: Can the 'Meal Machine' develop a public character so other local residents can harvest crops?

The harvest will yield a concept menu of green soup of radish leaves, stew with endive, peppers and sundried tomatoes, mint tea with honey. You are invited to bring other homegrown crops or products that can be used for our communal meal and/or seeds for the next cycle of the 'Meal Machine'.

The event is free and everyone is welcome to join!

Guerilla Gardening in the Netherlands
Eco-Urban Network / Ecobox by aaa, northern Paris


'How can clothing be included within artistic practices?'
For the third event in a series called 'Assembly (The Grand Domestic Revolution—User’s Manual)' at Casco, Agency will invite a diverse group of concerned guests to “respond” on the witnessing of 'Thing 001062 (Children Costumes)'.


‘COHAB’ event (screening & discussion) ‘SEEMINGLY DISCORDANT ASSEMBLIES PAST' Saturday 21 May 2011, 14.00. This will be followed by the opening of ‘COHAB: an assembly of spare parts’, a project by Can Altay at 17.00.


  • 'Call the Witness', a group exhibition curated by Suzana Milevska at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst

Opening 21 May 2011, 17.00 more info here

  • 'Communal Living Day', open house day for Co-housing establishments in the Netherlands

21 May, 13.00-16.00 more info and locations here

To receive more information about this and future TOWN MEETINGs, please email us at



Urban farming in Havana

Source: BBC Two’s Future of Food
By Sarah Murch

Climate change, drought, population growth – they could all threaten future food supplies. But global agriculture, with its dependence on fuel and fertilisers is also highly vulnerable to an oil shortage, as Cuba found out 20 years ago.

Around Cuba’s capital Havana, it is quite remarkable how often you see a neatly tended plot of land right in the heart of the city. Sometimes smack bang between tower block estates or next door to the crumbling colonial houses, fresh fruit and vegetables are growing in abundance. Some of the plots are small – just a few rows of lettuces and radishes being grown in an old parking space. Other plots are much larger – the size of several football pitches. Usually they have a stall next to them to sell the produce at relatively low prices to local people. Twenty years ago, Cuban agriculture looked very different. Between 1960 and 1989, a national policy of intensive specialised agriculture radically transformed Cuban farming into high-input mono-culture in which tobacco, sugar, and other cash crops were grown on large state farms. Cuba exchanged its abundant produce for cheap, imported subsidised oil from the old Eastern Bloc. In fact, oil was so cheap, Cuba pursued a highly industrialised fuel-thirsty form of agriculture – not so different from the kind of farming we see in much of the West today. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the oil supply rapidly dried up, and, almost overnight, Cuba faced a major food crisis. Already affected by a US trade embargo, Cuba by necessity had to go back to basics to survive – rediscovering low-input self-reliant farming.

Oxen replaced tractors when Cuba became a low-fuel economy. With no petrol for tractors, oxen had to plough the land. With no oil-based fertilisers or pesticides, farmers had to turn to natural and organic replacements. Today, about 300,000 oxen work on farms across the country and there are now more than 200 biological control centres which produce a whole host of biological agents in fungi, bacteria and beneficial insects. Havana has almost 200 urban allotments – known as organiponicos – providing four million tonnes of vegetables every year – helping the country to become 90% self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables. Alamo Organiponico is one of the larger co-operatives, employing 170 people, built on a former rubbish tip that produces 240 tonnes of vegetables a year. There is a wide range of crops planted side by side and brightly coloured marigolds at the edges.

“We produce all different kinds of vegetables,” says farmer Emilio Andres, who is proud of the fact that his allotment feeds the local community. “We sell to the people, the school, the hospital, also to the restaurant and the hotel. “It’s important because it’s grown in the city, it’s fresh food for the people, it’s healthy food, and it provides jobs for the people here too. “We don’t spray any chemicals. We only spray biological means like bastilos – a bacteria and fungus to kill the pests. And we use repellent plants like marigolds to keep away the pests. “When I see all of these healthy crops, without too many pests, grown without any chemicals, it’s amazing for me – I am making a contribution for the people that get healthy crops, healthy products.”

As well as marigolds, basil and neem trees are planted around the containers to keep the aphids and beetles at bay. Sunflowers and corn are also planted around the beds to attract beneficial insects such as ladybirds and lace wings. Sticky paper or plastic funnel-shaped bottles are positioned throughout the beds to trap harmful pests that do get into the garden. And the methods work. Lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, herbs and many other crops are grown in huge quantities and sold cheaply. Mangoes are 2 pence (3 US cents) a pound. Black beans 15p (25 cents) and plantain, just 12p (20 cents). At the time of the oil shock, average calorie consumption in Cuba dropped by a third to dangerously low levels. Since then they have bounced back and Cubans eat just a little less than people in the UK. The biggest difference is that a Western diet includes about three times as much food energy from animal products like meat and dairy. The Cuban diet is much less fatty and requires less fuel to produce. A far less varied diet than in the West, it is also much healthier. The standard lunch for the farm workers is black beans, potatoes and rice. Cuban agricultural researcher, Fernando Funes reckons the rest of the world has something to learn from the Cuban agricultural story. “Well, do you have oil forever? And there also other considerations like global warming, nature conservation… the conventional way of farming generates a lot of damage to the environment and to human health. “Developed countries as well as developing countries should pay a lot of attention to this kind of agriculture which takes care of land, people, environment and is also efficient and productive. You can combine both.”

5 January 2011, 21.32 — posted by Doris