‘Commons on Common Ground’ by Benni Allan, Owain Williams
“The ambiguous project of emancipation has to do with regulating relationships between differences rather than affirming commonalities based on similarities” -Stavros Stavrides
Commons on Common Ground: Monuments of Iconic Protest
The ‘Commons on Common Ground’ represents a process of negotiations through encounters of architectural interventions in open urban spaces. The proposal questions ‘what it means to share’ by constructing monuments as a spatial and iconic protest. It is key for the act of commoning to ensure an understanding of community differences and to appreciate society’s responsibilities in the production of space.
We propose a playful response to engage in the multiplicity of London’s communities by offering one-person scaled representations of national monuments. In doing so, we provide shelter and places for debate while raising awareness towards the importance of participation of the collective in order to create changes in society.
These paper-like structures appear and disappear, continually exchanging ownership and responsibility. It is by creating a sense of social identity that will enable communities to take part in the ongoing debate and to provide society their own right to the city. The interventions intend to establish a notion of collective participation by engaging in the diversity and interesting nature of cultural differences in the city.
The materiality and simple construction – using card and folded paper nets – enables the architecture to take on a temporal quality while the occupation responds to a reproduction of space in an emerging society. Through the monumentality and their form, these pieces offer everything and nothing. By showing a presence they act as icons for enjoyment with the aim of contributing to discussions on social policy. Ultimately, it hopes to create a platform for the re-negotiation of shared space and an encounter of the ‘Commons on Common Ground’.
Benni was educated at Leeds Metropolitan and the Bartlett School of Architecture, receiving a First Class Honors and the Bowman Riley Prize for excellence in Design and Sustainability for his undergraduate project. He graduated from his MArch in 2014 having being awarded Distinction in both Design and Thesis. Prior to joining Niall McLaughlin Architects, Benni worked at KSR Architects in Shenzhen, Southern China and at 42 Architects in London where he worked on the competitions for Old Street roundabout and Southbank’s new skate park. He recently completed an award winning installation for Penhaligons as part of the 2014 RIBA Regent Street Windows competition.
In early February this year, Benni was selected as one of the nations up-and-coming designers and ‘One to Watch’ by the Design Council to represent the future of British design. It is an award he values greatly as it highlights his keen interests in an architecture that challenges the social, cultural and environmental implications of the built environment.
Owain is an award winning designer working on a number of exciting projects in scales varying from children’s books to writers’ sheds to gardens to office buildings. He graduated with Distinction from the Bartlett, University College London with a Masters in Architecture in 2013, and featured on the Dean’s List of high achieving post-graduate students. Having also attained a First Class Degree in Architecture in 2010, he was nominated for the RIBA Presidents Medal for his detailed work in design, strategy and draftsmanship.
Owain featured in last year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and designed a Bronze medal winning Fresh Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. He has gained support from the Design Commission for Wales, having won their National Scholarship for young designers in 2012. Owain is currently working on a number of exciting high-value projects at TDO Architecture.