The project
A co-research of urban commons as political action
With our project we intend to install a co-research process. We conceive it as both a theoretical practice and a political move to articulate collectively with the territories we study. We share our views on the importance of research in tune with the processes of social self-organization, so that it becomes a potentially transformative tool of the cities we inhabit.
We connect the urban commons developed in different places so that the groups and people that give them life may meet. A connection that offers a permanent transit between reflection and action, while generating propositional questions in an articulated way. Our research in action is not reduced to a singular expression of a group or a collective. We conceive it as a network of folds and interstices, grouped in order to collectively reclaim urban commons.
Research questions
While facing a striking and historical land privatization of urban hills, along with a growing social control carried out by local governments over public use spaces – with which communities live –, the urgency of what is considered ‘urban commons’ should be re-visited and studied. As a starting point we mainly ask ourselves what is the power of the common in cities overwhelmed by the commodification of their spaces? What new practices of communalization arise around the defence of urban natural spaces? What are the potentialities and risks within the emergence of these practices in urban hills?
What do we investigate
The research objective is to reflect on the hills as urban commons articulators, making visible the variety and simultaneity of social practices around them, in order to collectively re-appropriate them as natural common spaces of the city. We use participatory and audiovisual methodologies to investigate how they appropriate and construct shared narratives around the hills. Using reflective photography and testimonial content, we intend for people and organizations to be interested in reflection-action exercises and collective construction around urban hills.
Theoretical references
We have taken the notion of common as an axis to guide our research, with special interest in its application in urban areas, aiming to move forward from a physical perspective to a space policy. The commons study addresses different disciplinary spheres, from the germinal economy contributions of Elionor Ostrom, through political philosophy with the theoretical reflection of Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, to the proposals of Peter Linebaught from his historical perspective. However, we commit to a relational view of two activist and academic referents, David Harvey from geography and Stavros Stavrides from architecture. These authors, in their respective books: “Ciudades rebeldes”, (2013) y “Common Space: The City as Commons”, (2016), suggest a reading in which the urban commons are shared and free spaces, that they do not depend on an authority that controls them and that they are managed or claimed by a collective despite their differences.
Study cases
With our interest invested in the city’s social practices of communalization of natural spaces, we decided to investigate what was happening around three island hills of Santiago city: the Renca hill at the north end of the city, the Quimey hill to the south, and La Ballena hill to the southeast. Although they have been extremely interesting cases to look at from the perspective of urban commons, during this reasearch we came to the realization that other urban hills, ravines and river edges can also be addressed – just to mention a few spaces of the urban landscape –, despite them being in Santiago or other cities. For this reason, we hope to continue this project and start looking at other places where both social practices and political views of space shape the city.
In turn, the practices presented in this website were selected quite organically. They relate to people and organizations that we came across in the many field trips we made during this year, plus other people and organizations that they introduced to us. As well as them, we know that there are many more, all of whom we would like to meet and collaborate with, so as to make their work visible. For now, we thank Ride Cordillera, Biósfera Mía, Renca Nativa, Alkütun, Quiñileo Neculqueo community, Fernando Díaz, Mireya Henríquez, Silvana Faune, Dynko Versatti, Ariel Martínez and many others that we had the opportunity to talk to and that supported this project.
Cerros
Renca
Renca Hill
With an area close to 840 hectares and an altitude of 903 m.a.s.l., it is presented as one of the largest and tallest island hills in Santiago, located between the comunas of Quilicura and Renca. The Renca Municipality planned a park project in 207 hectares that belong to them. The rest of the hill is privately owned but taxed by the Regulatory Plan as an Intercommunal Park.
La Ballena Hill
An approximately 68 hectares hill located in the comuna of Puente Alto. In 2019, the municipality presented a plan to transform the hill into an urban park, which has not yet begun to be developed. In terms of ownership, the hill is completely private.
Ballena
Renca
Quimey Hill
Hill of approximately 21 hectares, with an altitude of 620 m.a.s.l., located in the comuna of San Bernardo. The hill belongs to four different owners and, according to metropolitan and communal regulatory plan, it is designated a Green Area.

For more information on each of these hills, go to www.santiagocerrosisla.cl