Enabling infrastructure: seeing infrastructure as the urban common

Bae Gyoon Park, Ju Hyun Lee*, Didi Kyoung ae Han, Seoungwon Lee, Yilsoon Paek, Hanbyul Shim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In response to the unprecedented urban challenges, there is an urgent call for alternative system of communal support that enable humanity to respond collectively to the crises it faces. In particular, cities need to proactively provide urban services and infrastructure that are able to adapt to the ever-increasing wicked problems. We propose ‘enabling infrastructure’ as a key instrument for the realization and operation of the enabling city. The essence of infrastructure is reframed from the perspective of urban commons, in which we focus on the necessity of urban commons-based design and provision of infrastructure that enable people to reconfigure their lives autonomously. We illustrate how enabling infrastructure can work in practice by demonstrating infrastructure in three settings: infrastructure AS urban commons (epistemological significance), infrastructure OF urban commons (mechanisms of co-production), and infrastructure FOR urban common (technical and institutional arrangements). First, we discuss how recognizing and (re)defining infrastructure as the urban commons is conducive to enabling people to be active citizens. Second, we examine mechanisms that commons-based production, design, and management of urban infrastructure is practiced for the enabling. Third, we demonstrate that the enabling is further facilitated by using infrastructure as a technical and institutional arrangements for the urban commons. Ultimately, this paper posits that a city itself needs to function as the commons and as a meta-infrastructure organizing other infrastructure into the commons level.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Urban Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 29 Feb 2024


  • Enabling cities
  • active citizen
  • co-production
  • socio-ecological crisis
  • urban discourse
  • urban governance


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