The Right to the Co-City

The Italian Journal of Public Law, 2017, Vol. 15, No 1, p. 80

63 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2017

See all articles by Christian Iaione

Christian Iaione

Luiss Guido Carli University - Department of Law; LUISS LabGov - LABoratory for the GOVernance of the City as a Commons; Università degli Studi Guglielmo Marconi

Date Written: August 11, 2017


This study is an effort to contribute to the current urban studies debate on the way to conceptualize the city by advancing a rights-based approach and to suggest that to build such vision one needs to reconceive the city as a commons, which is to say that the city serves as an infrastructure enabling the “pooling” of city inhabitants actions, energies, resources and the cooperation between city inhabitants and other four urban actors thereby embedding a “quintuple helix” or “pentahelix” approach in the governance design of the city. Part I articulates the three most prominent visions or paradigms of the city of the 21st century and the “metaphors” that are currently used to conceptualize the city. From an interdisciplinary perspective, this part then discusses some complications and emerging key points that deserve further reflection. In Part II, the article argues that a rights-based paradigm or vision in the conceptualization of the city is emerging. It does so through the analysis of urban laws and policies adopted in exemplary case studies such as Naples and Barcelona, on one side, and Bologna and Turin, on the other side. Two main rights-based approaches seem to emerge: the rebel city model and the co-city model. In Part III, to better define this fourth urban paradigm and in particular the second approach, a focus on the key concept of commons and a review of the main bodies of literature is provided which are key to carve out 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 the observation of how pooling as a demand-side strategy can both expand or leverage the idle “capacity” of an infrastructure to avoid congestion and at the same time generate abundance. Pooling is particularly effective in explaining the main features of one of the rights-based visions of the city, the co-city approach, ultimately envisioning the city as an enabling infrastructure for social and economic pooling. Part IV offers concluding remarks and proposes the idea of the “right to the co-city” to build a body of urban laws and policies advancing “urban rights to pooling” as a key legal tool to structure a commons-oriented interpretation of the fourth vision of the city, the rights-based approach.

Keywords: urban law, urban policy, public law, right to the city, commons

Suggested Citation

Iaione, Christian, The Right to the Co-City (August 11, 2017). The Italian Journal of Public Law, 2017, Vol. 15, No 1, p. 80, Available at SSRN:

Christian Iaione (Contact Author)

Luiss Guido Carli University - Department of Law ( email )


LUISS LabGov - LABoratory for the GOVernance of the City as a Commons ( email )

Viale Gorizia 17
Rome, Roma 00198

Università degli Studi Guglielmo Marconi ( email )

via Parigi 44

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