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Shareable‐Co‐Bologna&LabGov (Italy)

Shareable‐Co‐Bologna&LabGov (Italy)
Tags: Things coming together Social-spatial relations New Framing Local/regional government Inclusiveness Experimenting Connecting Competence development Civil Society organizations Academic organizations

The concept of CO-city is an applied action research and experimental program run by LabGov – LABoratory for the GOVernance of the Commons in several Italian cities (Bologna, Mantova, Battipaglia, Palermo, Reggio Emilia and Rome). It was inspired by the work of Elinor Ostrom but it is grounded in a slightly different and broader theoretical and empirical framework, which takes into account the different nature of the commons under investigation through the project, namely the City and the Urban Commons. That is why its work and achievements have been linked to the Sharing Cities Network. The CO-city is implemented following a scientific field research approach based on empirical experimentation in line with a defined, constantly updated “Co-City Protocol”. This protocol generally has five to six phases:

  • Firstly, the establishment of a laboratory or urban clinic on the governance of the commons of a specific city, acting as an innovation unit inside the university that spearheads urban co-governance experimentations. The innovation unit is composed by experts in several fields related to urban co-governance (urban design, sustainability, law and governance, service design and community organizing, media and communication), and its goal is to support all the five urban co-governance actors (public, private, social, cognitive, civic) in implementing the process, coordinating and monitoring the activities.
  • Secondly the mapping phase where three key elements are studied: who is willing or is already acting towards the common good in a geographic area (a neighbourhood, a city, a nation), what are the material and immaterial resources for which there is a demand for collaborative governance or where a supply already exists and what are the similar experiences of resources managed through collaboration.
  • Third is the experimentation phase, where ground experimentations are realised.
  • Fourth is the governance prototyping phase, different for every experimentation, where the governance outputs of the process are prototyped through a co-design process.
  • Fifth is the testing and evaluating phase.
  • Sixth is the possible modelling of the prototype phase if and only if the prototype overcomes the evaluation phase.   

In the case of the cities mentioned the innovation unit that spearheads the empirical experimentations envisioned in the Co-City Protocol was the Laboratory for the Governance of the Commons (LabGov) that was started-up as an urban clinic within LUISS Guido Carli University of Rome and is led by an international scientific committee and advisors, strategists, designers, managers and university students.  Each experimentation run by LabGov leads “to the design of governance tools, tailored to the specific urban context. The tool could be imported; however, it should never be applied without some form of adaptation to the specific urban context” (Iaione, 2016:439).  

The protocol is so far rooted in six main pillars that together produce collaborative services for neighbourhoods and communities: living together, growing together, making together, governing together, imagining together, and learning together.  

The co-city’s underlying principle is that of public/civic collaboration, “whereby public institutions foster collaboration among citizens and with public administrations. As a result there is increased social capital, satisfaction with democracy, sense of belonging to the community and trust in institutions” (Iaione, 2016:437).  

The CTPs presented in this timeline deal with the creation of Co-Bologna and LabGov, as key manifestations thanks to which other Co-City processes are becoming possible.



Iaione, C. (2016) “The Co-City: Sharing, Collaborating, Cooperating, and Commoning in the City” in American Journal of Economics and Sociology Vol. 75(2):415-455

Co-Cities Website:

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  • 2005

    The importance of the “urban commons” for today’s cities

    This CTP is about translating the concept of common pool resources from the natural resources sphere to the urban space and realising the importance of the “urban commons” for today’s cities.

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    4 related events

  • December 2011

    The beginning of the first Co-City: CO-Bologna

    This CTP is about the beginning of the CO-Bologna project and the communication and dissemination events organized to amplify the message that Co-Bologna is different from other co-city projects.

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    4 related events

  • 11-12-2011

    The seminar ‘The City as Urban Commons’

    The seminar of December 11th 2011 called ‘The City as Urban Commons’ in Imola was a CTP in the Co-City project because it laid the theoretical and cognitive foundations of Co-Bologna.

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    3 related events

  • September 2012 - December 2013

    Experimental workshops in Bologna

    This CTP is about the first experimental workshops in Bologna triggered by the need to put theory of urban common goods into practice following the Imola seminar of December 2011. These workshops precede the Bologna regulation of May 2014 and are conducive to it.

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    3 related events

  • September 2012

    The establishment of LabGov

    The establishment of LabGov and its evolution (from single faculty to multiple faculties of the LUISS Guido Carli University, Rome) are described here. LabGov was created to train a brand-new breed of “professionals and experts in the governance of urban commons”

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    4 related events

  • Beginning of 2015

    The “White Book”: Co-Bologna’s evaluation

    At the beginning of 2015 LabGov began the process of stock taking and learning about opportunities and challenges encountered in the implementation of the Co-Bologna process following the Co-City Protocol including the implementation of the collaboration pacts.

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    1 related events

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