Cities Exhibition: Commoning Cities

“Commoning Cities” presents questions and answers concerning the current state and near future of cities of the world through the lens of public initiatives, projects, and urban narratives. Cities are searching for new possibilities that will help them survive and thrive within new systems of municipal governance. The strategies of cities with regard to rapid urbanization, scarcity of public resources, and privatization of commons will be examined through the diverse spectrum of focused projects.

Commoning Cities Guide map


The Prologue section provides a historical, geographical, and environmental overview of contemporary urbanism. From a reflection on the history of modern city planning, to comparative perspectives on urban conditions, and a photographic essay on the crisis of global environments, the prologue sets up the background to the place-bound contributions of the 00 cities.

Dynamics of the Urban Age

LSE Cities, Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft

From the “Functional City” to “Total Function”: Modern City Planning 1925–1971

Annie Pedret

50 Cities

The most important contemporary issues, policy directions, and public projects of 50 participating cities are presented as they relate to the broad arena of the urban commons. They assume a broad sense of urban place – from the common culture of a multi-city region to a dual sense of conflict and bondage formed by the complex fabric of political, social, and economic forces – that connects the participating projects into an extensive curatorial project.

Gwangju | Cultural Landscape of the City

Hong-guen Park, Gwangju Biennale


Keigo Kobayashi, K2LAB, Christian Dimmer (Waseda University)


Melina Nicolaides, Future Earth MENA Regional Center (FEMRC)


Melina Nicolaides, The Cyprus Institute


Melina Nicolaides, EYDAP


Melina Nicolaides, Bibliotheca Alexandrina


George Katodrytis, Mi Chang, Maryam Mudhaffar, Kevin Mitchell


We Made That, Mayor of London, British Council, New London Architecture, SEGRO

London, Annex

Publica, The Store Studios


April Arkitekter


MAXXI, Comune di Roma, Future Architecture Platform


José Luis Esteban Penelas, Official Chamber of Architects of Madrid (COAM)


Nuno Soares, Filipa Simões


Jorge Pérez-Jaramillo


Urban Future Organization

Mexico City

Laboratorio para la Ciudad


Rupali Gupte, Prasad Shetty (Bard Studio)


Barcelona Metropolitan Area (AMB) & Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC)


Niramon Kulsrisombat, Urban Design Development Center (UddC)


Quest | An Urban Laboratory (Christian Burkhard, Florian Köhl)


Code City Research Team, Tongji University


Wolfgang Förster, IBA Vienna

São Paulo

Centro Universitário Belas Artes de São Paulo


H. Koon Wee, SKEW Collaborative

San Diego/Tijuana

Rene Peralta

San Francisco

Neeraj Bhatia, Antje Steinmuller, Urban Works Agency


Jason Hilgefort, Merve Bedir (Future+Aformal Academy)


National Agency for Administrative City Construction


Terroir, The Office of the NSW Government Architect


Keng Hua Chong, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)


City of Amsterdam, Department of Planning and Sustainability


Yeongju City


Transborder Studio & Soyoung Lee


Gauteng City-Region Observatory


Megacity Design Lab


Seongcheon Ko, Jeju Chapter of Korea Institute of Registered Architects

Chinese Cities

Civic Data Design Lab, MIT


Jinseok Park, Changwon Regeneration Centre


Raghuram Avula, InKo Centre, School of Architecture and Planning, Anna University.


Amin Tadjsoleiman, Tehran Urban Innovation Center (TUIC)


Pavillon de l’Arsenal


Dongwoo Yim, Calvin Chua

Hong Kong / Shenzhen

Peter W. Ferretto, Doreen Liu


Seoul, where one-fifth of the total population of the country live, has went through a period of expansion and growth with constraints that it is blocked by surrounding mountainous areas and fewer plains that can be used for development. The masterplan-oriented plan mechanism, which was introduced as a modern urban management method in the industrialization period of Seoul since the 1960s, was a flat land-based system that was effective in modern Western cities. The viewpoint focusing on the development of flatland, which was applied to Seoul, a city that has many mountainous and hilly areas, is applied as individual solutions to the urgent urban issues at the time, creating various levels within the city of Seoul.

A deep and vast basement level that is lower than the bottom of the Han River such as underground air-raid shelters, underground sidewalks, and subways, the land level developed densely through housing site development, land readjustment and urban redevelopment toaccommodate the surging population in the city, the elevated levels represented by numerous decks built to occupy the roads and all the available spaces with overpasses and buildings to address traffic congestion and ensure fast transportation services, and the mountain level occupied by the people displaced from the plains for development are the four layers of Seoul.

These sections are the intermittent city levels developed based on the government-led top-down development planreflecting on the issues faced by the city such as transportation, flood control, housing, national economy, realization of the image of advanced city and military confrontation, creatingbig and small boundaries and centers in Seoul and uneven public spaces and lives in Seoul. In the 2000s, when the rate of urbanization reached the final stage, Seoul realized that the existing growth method was no longer valid due to population stabilization and changes in the economic and social situation caused by the global economic crisis. This suggests that the viewpoint of urban development needs to be turned into urban renewal based on a different point of view by moving away from the demolition type development plan based on the master plan which has been generalized in the past. Through this exhibition on ‘Rethinking Seoul through Section’, one can look at how the city planning method has been changing from the viewpoint of the topography of Seoul rather than the existing view focused on flat land.

Curator: Sora Kim

Sora Kim is a public architect of Seoul and is professor of architecture at the University of Seoul. Her major works include the remodeling of the Hwigyeong-dong Children's Library and the Giriwool Daycare Center and she runs the Institute of Space Design Strategy.


Sora Kim, Seoul Metropolitan Government

Seoul, Seongbuk

Seongbuk Cultural Foundation (Young Art Space), Co-op Art Plug, Seongbuk-gu

Seoul Housing and Community Movements 1

Jieun Kim (Seoul Housing and Communities Corporation), Tae Jin Lee, Gyeong Oh Chung (05Studio), Sora Kim

Seoul Housing and Community Movements 2

Haewon Shin, Mladen Jadric, Seoul Housing and Communities Corporation

Partner Program: Retrospective Futures

Sang Hoon Youm, Hanuy Park