URBEGO ON ‘THE COLLECTIVE AND THE VACANT’ IN PARIS
Urbego’s urbanists met in the workshop ‘The Collective and The Vacant: Enablers of social innovation housing across Europe’ in Paris on 23-25 September. The aim of the workshop was to identify indicators and primary research questions related to redesigning co-living spaces in times of decaying properties, shrinking public subventions, moving frontiers between institutional and auto-organized initiatives, and changing living conditions. The workshop provided various European examples of (and a collective reflection on) the economic and social benefits and key barriers of collective redevelopment of unused, underused or misused properties.
Co-rehabi(li)tation of vacant property in rural Denmark
by Giulia Maci
The aim of the research is to map vacant (social) property in smaller towns and rural districts in Denmark and to inspire various stakeholders in rethinking the possibilities. Denmark is a predominantly rural country with a booming capital, and it faces vacancy issues across the country. Cases from both the “far North” and the “Metropolitan region” will be studied. Youth engagement can be key in rehabilitating the shrinking regions. The co-rehabi(li)tation research encompasses three main spheres (reactivation of vacant property, community building, rural context) and examines various innovative housing models, the involvement of actors and the activation of their mechanisms.
Affordable housing in Gothenburg
by Cecilia Windh
After sharing “the shortest history of social housing in Sweden”, Cecilia poses the question “How can a city enforce affordable housing in large-scaled urban redevelopment?” In the Swedish context, the government historically has a strong pedagogical, leading and reliable role. From the 1990s, top-down governmental control has been turned into a market-oriented management. The private market now dominates the housing industry, resulting in lack of affordable housing and segregated cities. Today, there is a strong political and administrative will in Gothenburg to supply the demand of affordable homes. Gothenburg City tries to implement a model of 50% owner occupancy and 50 % rent tenancy, of which the latter half can be regulated. There are four categories of affordability proposed for the urban development of the central harbour area, ranging from non-regulated to the equal of the social housing stock. The actual policymaking is still to be implemented.
Art, culture and temporary use in Alexandria
by Mohab Saber and Carla Felicetti
Mohab presents how El Madina Arts enriches spaces for art, welfare and progress in marginalized areas in Alexandria. Bringing in street theatre (with a reference to Nubian culture) is one answer to tackle negative (both internal and external) images of the Karmouz district. El Madina is connected with Urbego through the Tandem Shaml project, a cultural exchange program between the Arab World and Europe. Carla shows the methodology and outcome of an in-situ participative workshop with “culture walks” and mental mapping itineraries. Using local resources is central in supporting creative economies, start-up social enterprises and the reactivation of public space. Underlying question is “How can culture and human potential become a tool to empower the local community and to let visitors discover the character of the place?”.
Links: www.elmadinaarts.com and www.urbego.org
Social housing in Oslo and Stavanger
by Silvia Mete
Silvia shows ongoing academic research on social housing in Oslo and Stavanger. Historically, Norwegian municipalities have not built dwellings themselves, but rather supported cooperatives such as OBOS (Oslo og Omegns Bolig- og Sparelag, established in 1929). Social housing in Norway has been very marginalized from the start (which might be surprising, taking into account the stereotype of “welfare state Scandinavia”. The few social projects draw a lot of negative attention. Is design the answer in run-down urban spaces? Possibly, when it focusses on the understanding of the changes in the urban structure and the economic and social forces behind them. The example of Stavanger is given, a fast-growing oil town on the North Sea coast.
User-based and adaptable architecture in Paris social housing
by Farah Makki
Farah provides an interesting angle on the improvement of social housing blocks in Paris. The conducted research comprises a user-based methodology with a lot of focus on discussing and testing the architectural interventions. The occurrence of misused property and the architectural faults are the starting point. George Perec’s book ‘La vie, mode d’emploi’ and recent IKEA catalogues are inspirational. Sociodemographic trends (increasing number and share of individuals, one-parent households, short-term relationships, reconstituted families) demand for more adaptive living spaces. If designed well, social apartments can be redeveloped on the base of the needs. By mapping the actual use desires of different household types, modular and flexible architecture can be introduced.
A hands-on tenant cooperative in Antwerp
by Clenn Kustermans
Clenn brings in the tenant cooperative ‘Collectief Goed’ in Antwerp, a case that is actually being built today. The tenant cooperative is set up by community workers, a social housing company and a network of large families with structural housing problems. The case is scrutinized in the INDIGO research project on landed commons, because the cooperative spans the gap between private and public housing. The presentation focuses on the emergence of the project and the cooperation between actors and inhabitants. Today’s questions are: “How to build a stable financial model?”, “How to keep all actors together and minimize risks?”, “How to prolong the participatory model and empower the target group?” and “Should the cooperative focus on its niche market or generalize its practice to a wider group?”.
Links: www.collectiefgoed.be and www.theindigoproject.be
The main conclusion is to co-develop a research methodology on the topic. By actively analysing interesting European cases of co-rehabilitation processes, the presented cases can inspire the central Danish research and each other. The way to do so is the definition of a matrix with indicators (vacant property, community building, youth engagement, geographical context, institutional context, adaptability of architecture, arts and culture, etc.) and exemplary projects. A second workshop is planned in Copenhagen in November 2016. Its aim is to shape the research methodology and mutual contributions.