[15 – 19 October 2012, Zagreb and Pula] With the post-master program “In search of Common Ground” we have set up at the Royal Art Institute (KKH, Stockholm) a year-long investigation on the urban commons has started. While gradually the commons are seen as a necessary narrative for a common future, not much is clear as to what degree a ‘commoning’ of the urban can take place. Many, for sure, feel that the current debate stops short of reaching a tangible impact. The first expedition within ‘In Search of Common Ground’ has taken us to Zagreb and Pula; two places in which a strong civil movement has sprung up to counter mismanagement of common urban space and speculative land-grab of shared resources. Time for our team of architects, planners, journalists and economists to embark on an ‘expedition’ to these cities.

In Zagreb, members of Right to the City and Green Action have explained their years-long strugle that culminated around the privatisation of parts of public space in one of the cities’ central squares, as well as their pioneering of hybrid cultural institutions as a breakthrough model to common cultural spaces and resources, like the center for independent culture and youth ‘Pogon‘.

Pula, on the other hand, has an abundance of military grounds that needs be get decommissioned. With this, approximately one-third of the cities’ territory needs to get a new destination, for which the voice of citizens has not been asked. Instead, speculative real-estate developers are putting their bets on the development of golf estates – practically cover-ups for profitable (top-market) housing development schemes on a common resource. Activists and architects of Pulska grupa have not only introduced us to their opposition to these plans, but also the potentials of commoning large parts of the cities’ grounds and its economy. Something that is reaching broader recognition in Croatian society, as this team has been featuring at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennial.