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non-typological architecture

Cursus Lomond

(initial conceptual development)

The project proposes a community land trust longhouse on the outskirts of Glasgow, designed as a giant kitchen hall (in which compact units for living can be arranged for around 80 people). The hall structure would enclose a field of aligned menhirs from which its distributional logic is derived including the dimensions of its 7-meter grid of columns and its grid frame structure. Proposed 'furniture' units for individuals contain a small shower and bath in a shelf-like unit and areas that can be used for sleeping, study, storage, and so on. At the centre of the kitchen hall, a number of collective bathing areas with individual showers and large shared baths and saunas are proposed. 

Neolithic cursuses are long, linear stone and earthen structures primarily found in the British Isles. Cursuses were often hundreds of meters long, providing ample space for communal gatherings and religious activities. Burl (1985) proposed that they had a specifically ritual significance and served as venues for processions, communal celebrations, and rites associated with ancestor worship. The linear layout of cursuses may have symbolized and literally enacted a form of collective divination and renewal of the cultures specific form of relationality. 


Communities of the Neolithic era relied heavily on oral, ritual, spatial, and architectural traditions to pass down ecological, agricultural, and social knowledge. Cursuses, with their central role in community life, likely served as architectures for the transmission, participation in, and negotiation of practical, cultural and other knowledge. Thomas (1999) suggests that the layout and alignment of cursuses may have held astronomical significance, aiding in the tracking of seasonal changes and agricultural calendars (Bradley 2000). This inclusion of plants, animals, and weather patterns in the social and political life of communities.


These structures, through their orientation and design, seem to have acted as mnemonic devices, aiding in the recall and dissemination of critical ecological information. Via their clear form, cursuses had a prominent presence in the landscape and could have marked territorial boundaries or been used to assert the authority of specific groups or individuals. However, Barclay (1999) argues that cursuses may have been used for communal decision-making, negotiations, and the resolution of conflicts in forms that had clear procedural guidelines. The linear layout may have facilitated structured gatherings for discussions of resource allocation, trade, or communal defense strategies. In this sense, cursuses acted as forums for the negotiation and maintenance of social and political order.


Richard Bradley has proposed that architectures once understood as highly ritualized, and therefore perhaps exclusive to specific sacred uses and limited to the use of a particular class or 'priesthood,' may have, in fact, been spaces of everyday use by all members of a culture. In many 'pre-modern' cultures, politics and the construction of reality were common, participatory, and situated in reciprocation and conviviality with kin, both human and other-than-human, living and dead.

According to the National Community Land Trust Network, CLTs are “set up and run by ordinary people to develop and manage homes as well as other assets important to that community, like community enterprises, food growing or workspaces. Thereby CLTs act as long-term stewards of housing, ensuring that it remains genuinely affordable, based on what people earn in their area, not just for now but for every future occupier.” Neither the commons nor commoning can ever be designed. However, architecture may formalise the spatial means for groups of individuals to share resources, self-organise, self-design and manage, and live in common.


As these processes develop over time and through various actions and spaces, they gradually produce the commons: an open network system of social relationships, driven by solidarity instead of competition-cooperation, wages and profit. Moreover, because these processes happen locally and, mostly, at microscales, one cannot – and should not – attempt to identify them with universal forms or typologies. In other words, both the commons and commoning exist in a permanent state of becoming, making it almost impossible to define them typologically.

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