• New Geographies 12: Commons
    Mojdeh Mahdavi and Liang Wang
    Harvard Graduate School of Design and Actar Publishers, 2021
    Harvard University-Graduate School of Design

Helmut Voitl, “Participatory Design with residents of Planquadrat Vienna,” 1974. Photo and copyright: Helmut Voitl

New Geographies examines the emergence of the geographic as a new theoretical paradigm whereby to critically reassess the current status, scope, and potential of the design disciplines to engage with the fast-evolving urban landscapes of the twenty-first century. This twelfth issue of the journal, Commons, surveys the evolving idea of the commons shaping the human and nonhuman geographies both historically and theoretically. Considering processes of commoning and enclosure centered in the reconceptualization and restructuring of the extant modes of capitalist production of space, New Geographies 12 expands the discourse of the commons into a planetary territory. It aims at encompassing the intimate and subjective scale of the human body and at the same time, the more-than-human yet omnipresent living environment and earth. It takes a syntactic stance on the epistemology of commons to explore new pathways of mobilizing the frameworks of commoning.

Mojdeh Mahdavi is an architect, urban designer, and currently a doctor of design candidate at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. At Harvard, she is also a teaching fellow and research associate. Mahdavi’s doctoral project focuses on digitization of urban governance, instrumentalization of smart cities, and the impacts on sociospatial equity. Her boarder research investigates the constructed and contested, yet unknown digital geographies formed by technoscientific urban restructuring and the role of big data in the processes of enclosure under logic of late capitalism. Mahdavi has practiced urban and architectural design in Paris, Tehran, and Almaty and presented her work at conferences in Switzerland, France, Canada and the US. She received a research-based (mention recherche) post-master’s degree in architecture and urbanism from École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture Paris La Villette (ENSAPLV) and a master’s in landscape architecture from the University of Tehran.

Liang Wang is an architect and urbanist. He currently teaches at Syracuse University’s School of Architecture. He is also a doctoral candidate and previously a teaching fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD). His scholarship and teaching concern history and theory of urban form, space, and politics of the superblock, architecture and the idea of the city in East Asia, as well as the idea of the commons and collective living. Wang completed his master’s of architecture in urban design degree from the Harvard GSD and holds a master’s of architecture degree from Rice University. He is the cofounder of Commons Office and has previously practiced architecture and urban design at Herzog & de Meuron, SOM, BIG, and WW Architecture.

The mission of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design is to advance the professions concerned with the planning and design of buildings and landscapes, together with their urban, suburban, and rural settings; and to matriculate students poised to challenge the conventions of design and transform the built environment in an increasingly complex and competitive global landscape. New Geographies is a student-edited journal founded in the Fall of 2008.