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Designing a Bundle of Rights

The Construction of Commons in the Case of Cavallerizza Reale in Turin
Daniele Campobenedetto and Matteo Robiglio
p. 172-185

Abstract

Within the debate around urban commons in Italy, it has been argued that the overlapping of public property and common use is needed in order to set a common. This article questions that perspective through the case of the masterplan for the Cavallerizza Reale complex in Turin (2016), by considering space as a key factor in the understanding of a bundle of rights.
The masterplan proposes the reorganisation of the right of use to establish a specific urban space as a common, through different tools acting in the fields of property regime, planning regulation and preservation regulation.

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Editor's notes

DOI: 10.17454/ARDETH04.09

Full text

A Critique of the Overlapping of Public Property and Common Use

1The debate around commons in Europe has been active over the last few years, and the topic has been the focus of academic research in many fields. Special attention has been given to the psychological perspective (Bieniok, 2015 in Dellenbaugh et al.), to the practices through which different actors use commons (Di Feliciantonio, 2017; Vianello, 2015) and to the re-appropriation of space through bottom-up processes and the roles of the different actors involved. In this context, a strong link has been made between the creation of commons and the socio-political dimension (Franta, Hamedinger, 2018; Dellenbaugh, Kip, Bieniok, Müller, Schwegmann, 2015), giving significant attention to the practices of use.

2Vitale (2013:14) questions this approach by reframing the role of two of the seminal works of commons literature. He argues that, by opposing Hardin’s (1968) and Ostrom’s (1990) studies on commons, we are losing other understandings of these two works, such as the importance of actual space (Ostrom argues that her study focuses on commons of controlled dimensions) and the importance of rules (Hardin describes coercion and the recognition of necessity as key points in his argument).

3This alternative approach can be traced back through Italian legal history thanks to Grossi (1977), who explored alternative property regimes and especially forms of collective appropriation, according to the setting of rights in a space.

4In light of these cultural contexts, and focusing our attention on the urban context, one particular aspect of the debate could be considered relevant: could we organise a set of rules though which urban space can be considered as a common?

5In the Italian context, it seems that the ascription of urban space to public property could be the only way to guarantee the non-rivalry of this good, and thus its public use. This perspective was confirmed on the occasion of the abrogative referendum on water privatisation in Italy, which saw an overpowering victory of the public water faction, or on the Regulation of Green Spaces adopted by the City Council of Rome in 2014, which gives some responsibilities to private individuals (in this case citizens) for maintaining public property.

6Such an understanding of the issue of commons probably originated from the difficulty of managing the common use of urban space, which leads us to another aspect of the issue we are facing: the relationship between property and the use of space.

7The overlapping of public property and common use has been questioned by several scholars, who argue that this overlap cannot be considered as granted. Ward (2002), among others, explores the private use of common lands through the squatting practices of commons in England, and Kayden (2000) addresses the same field explored by Ward with a counter-perspective, looking at the public use of privately owned spaces in contemporary New York City. Along the same lines, Maddalena (2012), from the juridical perspective, analyses the Roman Law that questioned the relationship between property and use. He argues that public property is not a consequence of public use, and, therefore, the latter cannot be a valid criterion to identify the former.

8In other words, there are several examples of buildings and urban spaces that can be defined as – to paraphrase Kayden – publicly owned private spaces, such as barracks, police stations, prisons and government offices, as well as privately owned spaces that can be considered, as a matter of fact, commons.

  • 1 The masterplan for Cavallerizza – Cavallerizza distretto culturale. Masterplan per la riqualificaz (...)

9In this context, Cavallerizza Reale1 in Turin presents a case study that may offer a tentative answer to the initial question by proposing a hypothesis: it is possible to manage the common use of a portion of urban space by setting spatial-based rights of use, rather than by overlapping common use and public property.

Fig. 1 – Cavallerizza as part of the cultural district of the historic city centre of Turin.

Fig. 1 – Cavallerizza as part of the cultural district of the historic city centre of Turin.

Design as a Tool to Ground Rights in Cavallerizza

  • 2 From 2005 to 2013, Cavallerizza hosted a theatre hall in its buildings and, since 2008, has hosted (...)

10Cavallerizza Reale is a group of buildings once devoted to the royal academy, horse stables and royal ridings, which is part of a bigger system of royal palaces within the historic city centre of Turin. During the last twenty years, Cavallerizza has seen different uses2, and, in 2014, part of the area was squatted by a group of artists and students who declared it to be a common. Their declared aim was to allow access and offer cultural activities to citizens.

Fig. 2 – Uses and properties within the Cavallerizza Reale complex before the redefinition of the property regime (around 2007)

Fig. 2 – Uses and properties within the Cavallerizza Reale complex before the redefinition of the property regime (around 2007)

Fig. 3 – Uses and properties within the Cavallerizza Reale complex after the redefinition of the property regime (2014), according to the masterplan (2016).

Fig. 3 – Uses and properties within the Cavallerizza Reale complex after the redefinition of the property regime (2014), according to the masterplan (2016).
  • 3 Agostino Magnaghi, La Cavallerizza Reale. Studio di fattibilità, Torino, 1999.

11Even before the occupation, during the 1990s, other approaches to the reuse of the semi-abandoned complex were attempted. Those approaches3 looked at the area as a coherent project, in need of a single function, to be returned to civil society.

12We can argue that, in the cases of both the occupation and the first attempt to reuse the Cavallerizza, the conflicts around the transformation of the area were grounded more in the setting of rights (of access and use) tout-court rather than the distribution of rights within the actual configuration of spaces (“How can I access this space? According to what rules I can use this building?”).

  • 4 [G. B. Ravelli?], Pianta generale delle scuderie, rimesse e maneggio appartenenti a Sua Altezza Re (...)

13The masterplan therefore aimed to question the coherence of the building complex to demonstrate that this was, in fact, a narrative that was built during the preservation process of the royal palace and headquarters. The consideration of the building as a whole originated from the representation published in the Theatrum Sabaudiae, a recueil of projects that foreshadowed the desired aspect of several cities in the Duchy of Savoy (partially corresponding to the current Piedmont region). Some of these projects were realised over a period of centuries, but the Cavallerizza was not part of them. Documents4 show how the construction of this area is a rather outstanding example of the incremental processes through which modern European cities have been constructed.

14From this perspective, the masterplan considers the multifaceted nature of the group of historic buildings and abandons the perspective of the need for a unique function, thus offering a different understanding of the tools for rights distribution. By looking at the Cavallerizza as a multi-layered system of buildings owned by different parties, the masterplan proposes a design-based approach: the reorganisation of the right of use to set a specific urban space as a common.

Designed Commons through the Design of Space

15This approach, based on the distribution of rights, implies two perspectives.

16On the property regime side, the status quo presents a fragmented property split among private or semi-private parties. The masterplan uses this as a basis for not foreclosing the public use of the ground level, either inside or outside of the buildings. Future private investors are asked to put public functions at the ground level and to guarantee public access to the open areas, thus allowing public use of private property.

17On the planning regulation side, rather than their exact final function, the masterplan suggests functional typologies of buildings. To identify these functional typologies, the starting point is once again the space itself. Suitable functions are allowed according to a deep typological study of the existing buildings, highlighting different structural and distribution patterns [Fig. 4].

Fig 4 – Typological analysis of the interior distribution

Fig 4 – Typological analysis of the interior distribution

18In other words, the approach of the masterplan for Cavallerizza proposes precision of the spatial distribution, but less precision regarding the definition of functions.

Fig 5 - Example of proposed regulation for the former cavalry academy building within the Cavallerizza complex

Fig 5 - Example of proposed regulation for the former cavalry academy building within the Cavallerizza complex

19Structure
1 - The main distribution pattern of the building is organised around a central corridor and stairwells positioned in the corners. Although they were significantly damaged during the Second World War, the structures still have elements of interest – in particular, the late nineteenth century structural system of the wing towards the royal gardens, the vaulted rooms and the staircase in the north corner, and the vault of the hall at the ground floor of the south-east wing. The top floor and the attic are the result of post-war elevations.

 

20Potential
2 - The halls on the ground floor, which are characterised by vaulted rooms, present a potential for functions open to the public. In particular, the central rotunda is key to allowing access to all the courts of the Cavallerizza complex and will be preserved for this purpose. The rooms on the upper floors are suitable for the function of collective residence, because of both their distribution layout and the possibility of transforming the top floor and the attic floor.

 

21Suggested Uses
3 - Because of the overlap of a cellular system and a set of large halls, the building offers a particular predisposition towards temporary residential functions or services (such as private and public offices, administrative offices, cultural and educational activities, and leisure). Spaces on the ground floor – specific halls and the fencing pavilion – are intended for collective functions.

 

22Constraints and Possibilities
4.1 - Conservation constraint on the vaulted rooms, as well as the staircase.
4.2 - Possibility of reorganising the distribution of the top two floors, respecting the existing volume.
4.3 - Constraint for conservation of the punctual structural system.
4.4 - Possibility for creating dormers on all the roofs, except the facing the royal gardens. Dormers will be aligned with the window pattern.
4.5 - Restoration constraint for reinstating the ground floor hall and consequent demolition of the structures within its volume. Recovery of the lost surfaces will be allowed in other parts of the building.
4.6 - Restoration constraint for the vaulted room on the ground floor of the south-west wing.
4.7 - Possibility of creating a staircase next to the central rotunda.
4.8 - Possibility of creating a connecting volume between the fencing pavilion and the ground floor of the south-west wing.
4.9 - Conservation constraint on the rotunda. Possibility of creating smaller volumes within the virtual volume identified by the a of the rotunda.
4.10 - Possibility of modifying the ground floor openings to create connections towards the courtyard and the royal gardens. The openings will respect the alignments of the existing windows
4.11 - Possibility of opening a connection from the internal courtyard towards the Mollino square.
4.12 - Possibility of excavation in tPossibility of excavation in the internal courtyard for the construction of underground parking lots. The excavation will have to respect the application of the procedure of Preventive Archaeology (reference articles 95–96 of D.L. 163/2006) and the related discipline in compliance with circular no. 1 of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, Directorate General for Archaeology, on January 21st, 2016.

23To allow the reuse of the buildings and the actual installation of new functions, another tool has been experimented with: a clear and shared understanding of the transformation potential of the historic buildings and of the spatial interventions allowed. Looking at the Italian context, heritage preservation regulations are often focused on constraints. Moreover, preservation authorities are asked to approve transformations according to a given preliminary architectural project. Without being in opposition to this understanding, the masterplan suggests the gathering of the authorities’ consensus on a set of precise spatial constraints and transformation opportunities. These could allow investors, prior to specific projects, to make general economic evaluations and permit authorities to guarantee preservation. Such an approach has been tried through a different representation of the preservation constraints, which integrated spatial representation and texts and was subject to an agreement with the regional preservation authorities.

Conclusions

24The masterplan for Cavallerizza Reale is meant to be a tool to build a common for citizens, private investors and the public administration. This has been attempted through a tool aimed at the construction of commons in order to organise the bundle of rights that is grounded in the Cavallerizza complex.

25Such an organisation of rights is considered possible, though not easy, through the design of a set of spatialised rules. These have not been designed to question the property regime, but rather have aimed to offer a clear and shared understanding of rights to the parties involved in the transformation of this area of the historic city centre of Turin. The transformation of Cavallerizza is still ongoing, and the process is far from even a partial conclusion, and therefore a verification of the hypothesis made above is still not within reach in this particular case. Further, an overall evaluation of the process will likely not be possible in the next few years, while the tools and understanding of the commons issue underpinned by the masterplan offer a further experiment and a means to set new hypotheses in an abductive process (Kuhn, 1962), rather than an evaluative one.

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Bibliography

Dellenbaugh, M., Kip, M., Bieniok, M., Müller, A. K., Schwegmann, M. (eds) (2015), Urban Commons. Moving Beyond state and Market, Basel, Birkäuser.

Di Feliciantonio, C. (2017), Spaces of the Expelled as Spaces of the Urban Commons? Analysing the Re-emergence of Squatting Initiatives in Rome, “International Journal of Urban and Regional Research”, 41, 5, pp. 708-725.

Franta, L., Hamedinger, A. (2018), Questioning Urban Commons: Challenges and Potentials in the Post-democratic Era, in S. Knierbein, T. Viderman, Public Space Unbound: Urban Emancipation and the Post-political Condition, London, Routledge, pp. 239-250.

Grossi, P. (1977), Un altro modo di possedere. L’emersione di forme alternative di proprietà alla coscienza giuridica postunitaria, Milano, Giuffré.

Hardin, G. (1968), The Tragedy of the Commons, “Science”, 162, 3859, pp. 1243-1248.

Kayden, J.S. (2000), Privately Owned Public Space. The New York City Experience, New York, John Wiley & Sons.

Kuhn, S.T. (1962), The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

Maddalena, P. (2012), I beni comuni nel diritto romano: qualche valida idea per gli studiosi odierni, “Federalismi”, 14.

Ostrom, E. (1990), Governing the Commons. The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Vianello, M. (2015), New Rights and the Space of Practices: Italian Contributions to a Theory of the Urban Commons, “Footprint”, 16, pp. 35-50.

Vitale, E. (2013), Contro i beni comuni, Roma-Bari, Laterza.

Ward, C. (2002), Cotters and Squatters. Housing’s Hidden History, Nottingham, Five Leaves.

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Notes

1 The masterplan for Cavallerizza – Cavallerizza distretto culturale. Masterplan per la riqualificazione, valorizzazione e conservazione ad uso pubblico del complesso della Cavallerizza Reale in Torino – was established in 2015 by the Municipality of Turin and developed by Homes s.r.l – a Politecnico di Torino spin-off.

2 From 2005 to 2013, Cavallerizza hosted a theatre hall in its buildings and, since 2008, has hosted the main lecture hall of the University of Turin.

3 Agostino Magnaghi, La Cavallerizza Reale. Studio di fattibilità, Torino, 1999.

4 [G. B. Ravelli?], Pianta generale delle scuderie, rimesse e maneggio appartenenti a Sua Altezza Reale il signor Duca di Chiablese in Torino, around 1780; Soprintendenza ai Beni architettonici e paesaggistici per le province di Torino, Asti, Cuneo, Biella e Vercelli. See also P. Foglietti e L. Tonta, Scuderie e Maneggi. Ground floor plan, September 28th, 1864; Archivio di Stato di Torino, Sez. Riunite, Real Casa fototeca.

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List of illustrations

Title Fig. 1 – Cavallerizza as part of the cultural district of the historic city centre of Turin.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ardeth/docannexe/image/517/img-1.jpg
File image/jpeg, 820k
Title Fig. 2 – Uses and properties within the Cavallerizza Reale complex before the redefinition of the property regime (around 2007)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ardeth/docannexe/image/517/img-2.jpg
File image/jpeg, 2.8M
Title Fig. 3 – Uses and properties within the Cavallerizza Reale complex after the redefinition of the property regime (2014), according to the masterplan (2016).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ardeth/docannexe/image/517/img-3.jpg
File image/jpeg, 2.9M
Title Fig 4 – Typological analysis of the interior distribution
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ardeth/docannexe/image/517/img-4.jpg
File image/jpeg, 513k
Title Fig 5 - Example of proposed regulation for the former cavalry academy building within the Cavallerizza complex
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ardeth/docannexe/image/517/img-5.jpg
File image/jpeg, 545k
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References

Bibliographical reference

Daniele Campobenedetto and Matteo Robiglio, “Designing a Bundle of Rights”Ardeth, 4 | 2019, 172-185.

Electronic reference

Daniele Campobenedetto and Matteo Robiglio, “Designing a Bundle of Rights”Ardeth [Online], 4 | 2019, Online since 01 May 2020, connection on 26 October 2021. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/ardeth/517

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About the authors

Daniele Campobenedetto

Politecnico di Torino, Dipartimento di Architettura e Design – daniele.campobenedetto@polito.it

By this author

Matteo Robiglio

Politecnico di Torino, Dipartimento di Architettura e Design – matteo.robiglio@polito.it

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Copyright

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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