The City Lived II: Commons Underground

Seminar (052-0827-20)
Organizer: Chair of Prof. Avermaete
Lecturers: Nicole de Lalouvière, Dr. Irina Davidovici, Dr. Janina Gosseye
Time: Fall 2020, Thursdays, 3.45 - 5.30 pm
Location: Online and in the NSL Foyer (HIL H40.9) on the: 17.09 / 29.10 / 26.11 / 03.12 in HIL E71.1 on the 24.9 and 1/8/15.10 and 5/12/19.11
 



Course description



Introduction
In this seminar we examine the underground through the lens of the commons – as a space within which public, private, and collective rights are negotiated and ultimately materialised. To examine this hypothesis, the seminar focuses on underground infrastructures, services and resources as a specific category of built commons, located under the surface and thus subject to different spatial and statutory conditions. Their negotiation entails practices of cooperation, conflict resolution, and sometimes domination. The underground brings forth related issues in the commons: access, ownership, the drawing of (spatial) boundaries, maintenance, etc. All of these questions have relevance to the practice of building in the underground. They also pertain to material qualities of the subterranean, including height, pressure, depth and shape. Beyond the surveyed space of the underground, described through ever-more sophisticated tools that measure, scan, and probe, the underground is a constructed, lived, and experienced space. It is at the same time a subject of myth, place of daily work, locus of technological expertise, and medium of knowledge transfer.

Course structure and study materials
The seminar aims to conceptualise the underground commons through a number of weekly themes: transport, ecology, archaeology, knowledge (full list once we have it). Their understanding necessitates the active consideration of legal-institutional frameworks, as well as accurate three-dimensional mapping of underground spaces, inaccessible and invisible to most. For each thematic seminar, the students will be asked to read in advance one or two short texts, at least two texts in relation to one another: one text related to the commons and the other related to the underground (available for download from the course website). The topics of the readings are wide-ranging in geographical and historical scope, in order to place the notion of the underground commons within a comparative framework.

Three analytical tracks will be used for the analysis of the selected commons:
  • Resource: what it consists of, its material and formal articulations, the
  • Commoners: the community of users, the historical context of its creation, collective ownership and self-determination
  • Institutions: practices of commoning and the laws of governance


Course objectives
Upon completion of the course, the students will have:
  • developed a firm grasp of the concept of the commons, and the skill to apply it in the discussion of a variety of case studies in defined locations;
  • developed the ability to identify, analyse and interpret built artefacts, resources and services located underground through the lens of the commons;
  • exercised working collaboratively on a collective project that will grow over time, creating a vital, open-access knowledge resource.


Course structure
Weekly sessions of two-hour thematic seminars as per schedule below. Before each seminar, the students will submit a brief summary of 100 words and 1 question for each of the two weekly readings on the DARCH Remote folder
https://nextcloud.ethz.ch/s/QR2tjzKwjfP95w5.

Each seminar will comprise:
  • a 30-minute presentation on the weekly theme by the seminar lecturer
  • a 30-minute plenary discussion of the thematic seminar texts, based on student statements
  • a 30-minute breakaway working groups exercises / tutorials

Exceptions to this format are as follows:
  • Week 1: course introduction, methodological discussion, create working groups
  • Week 6: mid-term reviews
  • Week 10 and 11: final reviews


Output
Students will develop a ca. 1500-word essay (see below), as well as an entry to a newly constructed website – the Commons Register – which will be first shown in the mid-term reviews, and updated/concluded in the final reviews. Each Commons Register entry will be tagged with 5 key-terms: e.g. underground, mining, Stradbroke Island, land rights, etc. The tags will help sort the material on the website in particular ways. One could, for instance, search for ‘mining’, which would bring up all entries on mining and the commons. This website will be used for several seminars, and will grow over time.



Assessment



Active participation in the course: 10%

Mid-term presentation: 20%
Students will have identified a case-study of an underground commons that they will analyse further for the final assignment. For the mid-term presentation, they will be asked to submit: a) 1 A4 PDF with the following information: a 50-word description of the chosen case-study; 5 keywords that typify their case-study; 3 relevant reference texts (formatted in MLA reference style) and (b) one PDF hi-resolution image of the chosen commons. These will be uploaded as a 2-page PDF on the DARCH Remote Submissions Folder by end of day 28.10.2020.

Final presentation: 20%
The final presentation (5-minute presentation and 5-minute feedback) will take place over the last two seminars (26.11 and 03.12) and will consist of the Commons Register entry (same information as at mid-term review; formatted and updated as agreed with supervisors) uploaded on the DARCH Remote Submissions Folder by end of day 25.11.2020.

Final essay: 50%
Students will submit a ca. 1500-word, illustrated and fully referenced essay on a selected case study of underground commons. The topic and case study will be agreed in advance with the course lecturers, and supervised by one of them. The essay, with notes, illustrations and bibliography, will be submitted in printed and electronic format (at the Chair office and by email) by 8 January 2021, 17:00 CET.

The attendance to all seminars is obligatory. The teaching and discussions will take place in English, the written coursework will be accepted in English (preferred) or German.



Contact



irina.davidovici@gta.arch.ethz.ch
lalouviere@arch.ethz.ch
janina.gosseye@gta.arch.ethz.ch



Schedule



17.09. Seminar 1: Introduction to the commons underground
Lecturers: NL, ID, JG
Room: NSL Foyer HIL H40.9
Readings:


24.09. Seminar 2: Transport in common
Lecturer: ID
Room: HIL E71.1
Readings:


01.10. Seminar 3: Filtering Sanitation
Lecturer: JG
Room: HIL E71.1
Readings:


08.10. Seminar 4: Probing geology
Lecturer: NL
Room: HIL E71.1
Readings:


15.10. Seminar 5: Retaining Soils
Lecturer: NL
Room: HIL E71.1
Readings:


29.10. Seminar 6: Mid-term review
Lecturers: NL, ID, JG
Room: NSL Foyer HIL H40.9

5.11. Seminar 7: Excavating Mining
Lecturer: JG
Room: HIL E71.1
Readings:


12.11. Seminar 8: Consolidating Defense
Lecturer: ID
Room: HIL E71.1
Readings:


19.11. Seminar 9: Commemorating: Heritage
Lecturer: ID
Room: HIL E71.1
Readings:


26.11. Seminar 10: Final reviews
Lecturers: NL, ID, JG
Room: NSL Foyer HIL H40.9


3.12. Seminar 11: Final reviews and launch of Commons Register website
Lecturers: NL, ID, JG
Room: NSL Foyer HIL H40.9



Further Reading



Reference books (possible sources for case studies)
  • Dobraszczyk, Paul, Galviz López-Galviz, Bradley L Garrett, and Geoff Manaugh, eds. Global Undergrounds: Exploring Cities Within. London UK: Reaktion Books, 2016.
  • Peila, Daniele, Giulia Viggiani, Tarcisio Celestino, Giulia Viggiani, and Tarcisio Celestino. Tunnels and Underground Cities. Engineering and Innovation Meet Archaeology, Architecture and Art : Proceedings of the WTC 2019 ITA-AITES World Tunnel Congress (WTC 2019), May 3-9, 2019, Naples, Italy. CRC Press, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1201/9780429424441.
  • Pike, David L. Subterranean Cities: The World beneath Paris and London, 1800-1945. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press, 2005.
  • Reynolds, Elizabeth. Underground Urbanism. New York, London: Routledge, 2020.


Websites (possible sources for case studies)


17.09. Seminar 1: Introduction to the commons underground
Further reading:


24.09. Seminar 2: Transport in common
Further reading:


01.10. Seminar 3: Sanitation
Further reading:
  • to be announced


08.10. Seminar 4: Probing geology
Further reading:


15.10. Seminar 5: Retaining Soils
Further reading:


5.11. Seminar 7: Excavating Mining
Further reading:


12.11. Seminar 8: Consolidating Defense
Further reading:


19.11. Seminar 9: Commemorating: Heritage
Further reading:




cover image: "Nous descendions une sorte de vis tournante" Gravure d’Édouard Riou illustrant le chapitre xxiv du Voyage au centre de la Terre de Jules Verne, éditions Hetzel, 1907, p.116.