Completed Theses

Bernardina Borra – The Architecture of Co-operation. A Project for Organizing Collective Creativity

Bernardina studied Architecture in Rome and attended the Berlage Insitute post graduate laboratory. She regularly writes for architectural magazines, and at the moment is working as free-lance in an urban design office in Amsterdam. She is co-founder of the practice DEMOarchitects active both in Italy and the Netherlands.


The Architecture of Co-operation investigates the relationship between the collective subject and urban form through co-operation as means of production.

The point is how individuals can organize co-operation today for the city as a project and what could be the role of architects into this process. Thus, the aim of the thesis is first to attempt to provide scientific evidence for the production of architecture through co-operation, highlighting possible potentials as well as pitfalls. And second, is to question whether (and if so how) co-operation can turn into a conscious project to organize the relationship between individuals and urban form.

From a grammar of the concept of Human Nature the definition of co-operation adopted is a human nature evolution factor to survive the struggle against adverse circumstances. It is influenced by the contingent material factors proper to each age, but also grounded in biological invariants that human beings own as species for survival.

A close reading of the work of three architects and their projects can provide a genealogy of the Architecture of Co-operation: H. Meyer with his co-op architecture for the mass society of the Weimar Republic, E. Mari and the Gruppo N promoters of emancipation through self-design in the ‘60s and ’70s in Italy, and C. Price with his concept of anticipatory and enabling architecture in the advent of Anglo-Saxon neoliberalism.

This genealogy seeks after a problematization of co-operation taking distance from “participation”, the main threads of research analyse the relationship subject – object/ individual – urban form, the question of authorship and the role of the architect, and how to foster self – valorization, organization and creativity of the collective subject through architecture.

Posts by Bernardina Borra

Meyer’s goal was to transform the collective potential of co-operation in architectural production, as a means of rescuing the working class from capitalism. Meyer perceived architects as workers, and for him, co-operation was both a collective mode of production and the link between architecture and the masses.