URBAN POOLING.

Author:Iaione, Christian
 
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Introduction 666 I. A New Urban Age? 669 A. Visions of the Twenty-First Century City 669 1. The Knowledge-Based City: The City as a Market 670 2. The Sustainable City: The City As An Ecological System or Environment 671 3. The Tech-Based City: Smart Cities, Sharing Cities, and the City as a Platform 673 B. Complications 677 II. The Fourth Vision 680 A. The Rebel City 684 B. The Co-City 688 III. Pooling as the Design Principle of a Rights-Based City 690 A. Pooling as the True Essence of Urban Communing 690 1. The Tragedy of the Congestible Commons 691 2. The Comedy of the Constructed Commons 693 3. The Tragicomedy of the Infrastructure Commons 694 Conclusion 698 INTRODUCTION

The body of scientific knowledge focused on cities is extensive and rapidly expanding. Academic contributions identifying urban visions or urban paradigms are plural and diversified. There are three main paradigms which suggest the perspective from which the city should be studied and depict how the city would be conceptualized in the future. Some think that cities will leverage the power of knowledge as the key economic driver for urban development and envision the city as a marketplace. Others think that technology will be the main factor shaping the destiny of cities in the future and envision the city as a platform. Finally, the literature adopting a nature-based perspective envisions the city as an ecological system or environment.

This Article argues that all three visions or paradigms lack a rights-based approach and therefore are not able to explain, nor govern, many of the social and economic phenomena generating conflicts at the local level. They, for instance, do not tackle the issue of divisions between cities and regions, urban and rural areas, nor do they make an attempt to face the questions raised by power asymmetries and wealth redistribution within a city. In order to overcome the shortcomings of the three main visions one needs to take into account a fourth vision developed by the "right to the city" literature (1) and reconceive the city as a commons (2) to implement that vision. This approach envisions the city as an infrastructure enabling city inhabitants' right to equal access to, management of, or even ownership of some urban essential resources and ultimately the city. (3) This reconceptualization requires however embedding "urban pooling" as a design principle of a new economic, legal, and institutional framework for the city. It therefore implies the recognition of the right of multiple urban and local social actors, in particular city inhabitants, civil society organizations, and knowledge institutions like universities, to be part of partnerships with the public and the private sector to run or own urban assets or resources. (4)

The aim of urban pooling is to deploy cooperative actions, practices, institutions, and ventures to share existing urban resources, collaborate to generate new resources, and coordinate in using urban networks or producing public services. (5) Urban pooling by mixing and matching urban resources dispersed across the city expands capacity of these resources and the city as whole. (6) Urban pooling blends individual or organizational capabilities and legal authorities that different urban actors hold and use in distinct and separate realms or ways. It combines expertise with local authority. It works across economic and institutional boundaries and thrives in interstices and voids in the delivery of services and access to essential urban resources. (7)

Part I introduces and articulates the three current visions of the city and the metaphors used to describe them. From an interdisciplinary perspective, this Part of the Article then examines some complications and emerging key issues that deserve further reflection. In Part II, the Article outlines a fourth vision of the city, the rights-based vision, shedding light on the distinctions between two models of this rights-based approach: the rebel city approach (8) and the co-city approach. (9) The latter however might be considered an attempt to bridge the fourth vision with the visions of the city introduced in the first part of the Article. It does so by construing the concept of pooling as a concept cutting across the three main streams of the literature on the commons. Part III focuses on the key elements that define the commons and the commoning process or cooperation they imply in order to better define this fourth urban paradigm and in particular the approach of the co-city. It reviews the main bodies of literature that are key to conceptualizing the concept of pooling as a form of cooperation that encompasses both sharing of congestible resources to avoid scarcity and collaboration around non-congestible, constructed resources to generate abundance. Building on the existing literature of a particular subset of studies on infrastructure commons, the concept of pooling is extracted from observing how infrastructure commons, by paying more attention on demand-side strategies, are able to expand or utilize the idle capacity of particular infrastructure to avoid congestion and at the same time generate agglomeration economies. The concept of urban pooling builds on these insights to better define the main features of a co-city. The co-city as an urban vision rooted in pooling is considered the most economically and politically viable way to implement a rights-based city. It embraces the city as a commons framework (10) that ultimately envisions the city as an infrastructure open and accessible to many albeit managed and under some circumstances enabling social and economic pooling to manage some of its assets and services.

The conclusion proposes the idea of "the right to pool" as a means to build a body of urban law and policy advancing the right to the city with a commons-oriented approach. It highlights the importance of the role of universities as engaged knowledge institutions in developing research frameworks to enable local communities and city governments to pool their efforts and training programs for young professionals willing to build a career in urban law and policy.

  1. A NEW URBAN AGE?

    Cities are changing their role, morphology, and structure since large-scale urbanization has become a global phenomenon. (11) The U.N. Urbanization Report showed that for the first time in human history more people live in urban areas than in rural areas, from a global standpoint. (12) This has revived interest in the study of the city and triggered a sort of race to define the vision that will represent the dominant paradigm for the city of tomorrow. This Part of the Article will set out the three main emerging visions of the city and the three main complications that they create.

    1. Visions of the Twenty-First Century City

      The three main emerging visions leverage different design elements. The first leverages proximity of knowledge or culture bearing entities or human beings as a means to advance urban prosperity. The second vision pays more attention to the environmental sustainability of human settlements such as cities. The third instead is putting more and more emphasis on the technological and digital advancements that cities will need tomorrow, if not already, in order to face the challenges of this new urban age.

      1. The Knowledge-Based City: The City as a Market

        For both theories of urban agglomeration (13) and the creative class, (14) the race to attract human capital is an attempt to improve the urban environment as part of a broader virtuous dynamic. The presence of knowledge institutions (i.e. schools, universities, cultural foundations) attracts students and nurtures the presence of skilled people. This creates a larger customer base that in turn attracts new businesses and creates new markets. (15) As a McKinsey report emphasized, "cities are instant markets for many types of business. As businesses cluster in cities, jobs are created and incomes rise." (16) Growing cities benefit from agglomeration effects that enable industries and service sectors to have higher productivity than in rural settings. (17)

        The economic opportunity created by the growth of cities is not only about consumption. There is also an infrastructure opportunity, created by the increasing demand of housing and transportation in developing cities. (18) The growth of cities brings both opportunities and challenges. The case of megacities, that have started to exhaust their economies of scale and are experiencing slower growth both in their population and per capita GDP, shows the advantages of decreasing the economic and physical social scale of urban areas. (19) Moreover, the challenge to manage the increasing complexity that the expansion of cities brings (20) often falls on the shoulders of city governments, which are not always prepared to cope with this challenge, (21) and might have scarce resources. (22)

      2. The Sustainable City: The City As An Ecological System or Environment

        There is a large body of academic literature that reflects the vision of cities in the future from a nature-based perspective or an environmental standpoint. (23) This literature follows two different approaches that conceptualize sustainability differently: the eco-city and the city as an ecosystem.

        The eco-city approach considers how cities can achieve a better environment by reducing air, water, and soil pollution, or developing efficient ways to deal with waste generation. (24) In contrast, the ecosystem approach is concerned with how biophysical and socioeconomic processes are interconnected in the urban environment, and therefore it aims at investigating how cities can achieve sustainable development. (25) The idea of the eco-city focuses on the city as a sustainable (and perhaps) resilient place. (26) The eco-city and sustainable city literature sees cities as an ecological environment, a system of natural resources.

        The eco-urbanism approach highlights the...

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