In computer science, the term “peer-to-peer” refers to a network formed by a series of nodes that behave as equal to each other, acting both as clients and servers for the other network nodes, allowing direct exchange of information.
In Urbanism, the application of this term has led to a movement that draws on the principles of open source and is defined in 5 points:
1. The human being has the right to choose the built environment in which to live.
2. All citizens should have access to information regarding their environment in order to engage in processes of decision making.
3. Users should participate in all levels of co-design and construction of their city.
4. P2P Urbanism practitioners are committed to spreading knowledge about open source technologies and theories.
5. The owners of the built environment should be able to implement the development of knowledge, skills and practices on it.
This is a theoretical movement, emerged from informal settlements and self-constructed architecture, considering these processes as beneficial for the evolution of the urban environment and returning to the user the participation and the decision making power that was lost.
It tries to accommodate the different practices that are currently appearing in the urban discipline, some of which I have spoken here before, as the tactical urbanism, the spontaneous city or crowdfunding, among others.
All of them based on a horizontal urbanism, bottom-up projects, with the common feature of requiring the commitment and participation of citizens involved in the process.
I share the point of view and principles of the movement, although I find it lacking in strength to be considered the glue of the theory that can be drawn from all those urban practices.
Was it necessary to add another term to the list? In my opinion is a bit contradictory to add a term that claims the equality of elements in a network and want to be the container of all the others, without actually contributing with something by itself.
It misses direct practical application, making it dissociated from the real world, something that is precisely the key of a participatory process. And in some points is falling into the utopia of the theoretical movements, as is visible in its principles.
It talks about the formalization of the built environment made by the users, interesting but quite utopic, when the need would be, under my point of view, re-define the role of every part in an urban process, from the Politic, to the Designer, to the Users. Create a network is the way, but peer to peer is not the best way to define it.
I think it’s important the fact of trying to create a common bond between the different movements that are tracing the change currently happening in the urban discipline, but I think the way might not be through a term like this.
To read more sombre P2P Urbanism:
Peer to Peer Urbanism