Nomadic Property – Thesis Abstract by Ben Leavitt


The system of real property ownership delimits urban form and experience, and often inflexibly prioritizes private value over communal experience. While some nations have maintained pre-modern precedents of the commons and flexible application of spatial resources, the United States, in particular, largely upholds a rigid system of private ownership and use. Despite this image of stability, the influence of a volatile economy, social dynamics, and temporal use patterns destabilize this system, which leaves certain parcels fallow for various periods of time. Though “property” often implies a plot of land or an object of ownership, it is also synonymous with a quality or characteristic. These subjective properties define a place but are not necessarily tied to a particular location. Thus, an alternative concept of property can exist outside of the legal boundaries of object or location and, rather, as mobile and nomadically seeking spatial opportunity. How can this alternative definition of property enable the communal use of these sites within fallow periods? What loopholes can be exploited to enable this appropriation into the domain of the common?

Nomadic property manifests as a sort of toolkit of tactics, adaptable and potentially dispersed to various locations and scenarios, that proliferates through a social network. This practice involves temporary interventions, however circumstances would determine a variable duration. In the case of more contested sites, the intervention could take on the form of an event or catalyst, while it could have a phased transformative effect in a location with less real estate pressure. These spatial tactics can adapt to change over time and place, enabling a fluid concept of property that exploits spatial opportunity.


One thought on “Nomadic Property – Thesis Abstract by Ben Leavitt

  1. Though our society premises the system of property on stability and objectivity, volatile conditions act to destabilize this concept and offer a system vacancies and opportunities. I propose to embrace these volatile conditions through a practice of mobile and adaptable strategies for communal occupation of these spatial opportunities.

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