{ shady commons }


Shade, extending beyond its conventional definition, creates contact[1] zones and refuge/shelter. More than a concept, shade becomes a methodology for engaging with space. Learning from the site where the shade creates an ecological condition for certain species to thrive through added humidity and sheltering from the sun, we are interested in exploring how this could be transferred on a social condition.The essence lies in exploring the shade that individuals bring—a personal infrastructure to shelter and engage with others. This prompts contemplation on the shadows we carry as materials for communal activities, fostering generative methodologies of collaboration, whether meticulously designed or intuitively embraced.

How can a group of people most of whom have never met before engaging with such a space, and with each other, for the first time in any other way than by starting to weave a net of connections in need of protection and constant nourishment? Such an intimacy that nevertheless negotiates both public and private needs alive margins that offer protection without complete enclosure. As Xylella Fastidiosa Pauca, a vicious bacteria that has been affecting the olive and other trees in Apulia for decades, shade, rare and precious, becomes appropriated as a symbol of resilience.

The creation of a pergola that connects different corners of a building, entwined with vine leaves to generate shade, is just one instance of regenerative architecture. Commons will evolve around and through it interweaving practices of care. Shade becomes a tool against erosion, as sticks and branches create a structure fostering shadow, humidity, and fungus, intertwined with climbing plants and bedsheets.

Physicalized imbrications, mindful interlacing and the synthesizing of theories, histories and futures contribute to matrices guiding the practices of future groups communing the site.

Knowledge, framed as a resource, shifts towards the use of situated knowledge—a reciprocal approach to artistic practices, emphasizing giving back rather than extracting. Sometimes feeling as intruders on site (are we like Xyllella parasites?) we raise questions about boundaries for our activities in the campo, repositioning us from guests to co-hosts.
Shade, as both a concept and methodology, embraces agricultural technique of nesting shades, creating a Contact Zone – a discursive space to address inequality and conflict and to imagine situations of heterogeneity. In this cohesive narrative, shade becomes a metaphorical exploration of interconnectedness and regeneration, a dynamic force shaping spaces and human connections.

*the term ‘shady’ has a plurality of meanings and connotations, we are intentionally using it in an ambiguous way in this text.


[1] Mary Louise Pratt introduced the concept of “the contact zone.” She articulated, “I use this term to refer to social spaces where cultures meet, clash and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they lived out in many parts of the world today”.[1][2] Pratt described a site for linguistic and cultural encounters, wherein power is negotiated, and struggle occurs.


Stefan Fuchs, Robin Dingemans, Herman Hjorth Berge, Nera Jelaska, Ahmed Al-Nawas, Andreea Midvighi, Sarah Naira Hachem Herfurth