Ioanna Piniara

Private Rooms, from the final chapter “Towards an Ecology of the Private: A Manual for the ‘Trigono’ Community Land Trust in Kessariani, Athens. (drawn by the author)

We have Never been Private! The Housing Project in Neoliberal Europe

Supervisors: Dr Pier Vittorio Aureli, Dr Maria Giudici

The thesis puts forward an interpretation of the management of domestic space through the transformation of the concept of the private within the socio-economic regime known as neoliberalism. In this light, the thesis proposes a critical reassessment of housing privatization not merely as a policy introduced in the 1980’s to promote new contractual relationships, but as a post-war strategy to establish a change of ethos, culture and organization of housing. The thesis argues that the state has constantly partnered the market (‘private sector’) in the promotion of a carefully designed pedagogy of domestic privacy associated with property and individualism, to the extent that ‘the private’ has hardly existed as such in the neoliberal era. The daunting failures of this housing model in terms of inaccessibility and alienation of care in the urban domestic realm, negate privacy as an affirmation of essential autonomy and are reminiscent of its classical concept of deprivation. The thesis deploys a typological study as the main methodological tool to demystify the neoliberal rationale through selected urban housing schemes in London, Berlin and Athens, which mark both a geographical and chronological arrow of neoliberal advance: from anticipation to severe crisis. The investigation of typology renders neoliberalism a broader cultural project to recapitalize on urbanity through housing policy and sheds light on its links with the construction of a middle-class subjectivity and lifestyle, the proprietary logic of urban form, indebtedness as ‘a means to an end’ of home-ownership and the latest neoliberal trend: the colonization of housing infrastructure in crisis by large-scale international investment capital. As a response, the projective part of the thesis proposes a shift from the economy towards an ecology of the private , which acts as a spatial concept and an operational principle for an institutional and typological transformation  in urban housing, which define the very social relations upon which the ‘right to privacy’ is to be reclaimed. Against private property, as the right to the city: a model for securing communally owned  urban land for housing. Against individualism, as the possibility to ensure a quality of being private through a practice of commoning.