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Libraries of Domesticities

Libraries of Domesticities proposes an alternative to Manhattan blocks shaped by private, individual ownership, and imagines a process toward commoning and collective care practices that can emerge at the scale of the block. The proposal examines a phased formation of a library model for sharing goods, services, and often privatized spaces. More specifically, it creates three libraries of domesticies (housing, caretaking practices, and objects) that take shape on a block in South Harlem.

Because different neighborhood residents have different needs—economic vulnerabilities, social dependencies, material requirements—the libraries comprise multiple overlapping bubbles of sharing communities. Funded by members’ contributions and taxes, the libraries loan out objects, caretaking services, and domestic spaces, with borrowing periods dependent on the item type and based on community agreements.

The proposal is phased to allow the libraries to form with minimal interventions. These interventions grow over time, adaptively reusing existing buildings and transforming the streetscape. In this way, these libraries of domesticities can alter the shape of the Manhattan block by dismantling property systems through architectural form and challenging the present-day privatization of all things domestic.