Deadline for submissions to the Barcelona conference extended until 8.3.2024
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RE-DWELL Compendium of scientific publications (year 2)

Posted on 12-12-2023

This is a report of the publications made by early-stage researchers between October 2022 and September 2023.   A total of 31 scientific contributions, including conference abstracts, presentations and papers, and journal articles, have been submitted, accepted and/or published during this period. This document contains the list of contributions classified by authors and keywords.     The introductory section includes reflections on the interrelationships between the themes addressed by the publicatoins and the emerging lines of research. In the conclusion, a comparison is drawn with the outcomes of the previous report (year 1), and the relationship with the parallel construction of the RE-DWELL vocabulary is explained.
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RE-DWELL Workshop 3 (Zagreb)

Posted on 05-10-2023

The third and final workshop, organised by the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Law, Institute for Social Policy (UNIZG) was carried out during the third year of the project activities in Zagreb, from March 29 to 31, 2023.   The theme of the Zagreb workshop, “Policy and financing for affordable and sustainable housing”, was approached from a transdisciplinary perspective, focusing on urban renewal, social and rental housing, and social mix. The workshop programme fulfilled various objectives: to follow up on the development of the ESRs’ research by fostering networking between the individual research projects, to conduct training activities related to two structured courses (RMT3 and TS3), to continue with the collaborative research work (vocabulary and case studies library) and to engage local stakeholders in the networking actions (non-academic sectors, local administrations and civic organizations concerned with sustainable and affordable housing). Furthermore, activities focusing on production of transdisciplinary affordable and sustainable housing research framework took place, as laid down in WP4.   Two guest speakers, members of the RE-DWELL External Advisory Board, participated in the workshop. Montserrat Pareja-Eastaway from the University of Barcelona, gave a talk on the topic “Beyond the market: transforming the housing agenda in Europe”, and Ana Vaz Milheiro, from the ISCTE-Universty Institute of Lisbon, on “Portuguese residential strategies before the Carnation Revolution: designing affordable neighbourhoods”
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Exhibition at Valencia School of Architecture

Posted on 25-09-2023

The collective research work of the network is on display at  the School of Architecture, Universitat Politècnica de València, from September 22 to October 2, 2023. These panels were displayed before at the ISHF 2023 in Barcelona, and at the School of Architecture La Salle, Barcelona.   The panels in the original size (1m x 2m) are availalble in the section Materials.

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RE-DWELL at the "III Housing Innovation Conference", School of Architecture of Valencia

Published on 11-10-2023

On September 27, 2023, Leandro Madrazo took part in the "III Housing Innovation Conference" organized by the School of Architecture of Valencia with a talk titled "Research and Pedagogical Innovation: from Housing@21.eu to RE-DWELL." The presentation outlined a pedagogic research initiative that spanned two decades. This research journey, which encompassed projects such as Housing@21.eu, OIKODOMOS, OIKONET, and RE-DWELL, initially centered around the theme of housing and later expanded its focus to encompass the broader concept of dwelling. At the end of the session, there was a talk about how architecture practice and housing education are connected moderated by Carla Sentieri.    The session recording can be found at:  https://media.upv.es/#/portal/video/df675f30-68e4-11ee-9d35-674bea753d07  
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ESR Alex Fernández published a journal article with supervisor Gojko Bežovan in Critical Housing Analysis

Published on 14-07-2023

On June 16, ESR Alex Fernández, together with his supervisor, Prof. Gojko Bežovan, published the article “The Role of Mortgage Subsidies in the Croatian Economic Growth Strategy: A Political-Economy Approach to the SSK” in the journal Critical Housing Analysis. 
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RE-DWELL present in the ENHR annual conference

Published on 14-07-2023

RE-DWELL participated in the European Network Housing Research (ENHR) annual conference  “Urban Regeneration: Shines and Shadows”, which was held in Łódź, Poland, from June 28 to 30.     Zoe Tzika presented the paper “Understanding community participation in cooperative housing using the capabilities approach: The case of Catalonia” at a collaborative housing workshop organised by Prof. Henrik Gutzon Larsen, Prof. Darinka Czischke and Prof. Claire Carriou. Also, Prof. Gerard Van Bortel, RE-DWELL co-supervisor, presented the paper “Quadruple helix innovations in the provision of sustainable and affordable housing: the role of universities” at the social housing workshop.  More information: https://www.uni.lodz.pl/enhr2023 
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Exploring the Panorama of Barcelona's Urban Commons and the Dynamic State Relationships

Posted on 22-01-2024

During the first days of 2012 the residents around Encarnació 62-64 in the neighbourhood of Grácia in Barcelona, gathered outside the -up until then- nuns’ convent due to the sound of excavators tearing down the entire 1900’s building in just 3 days. Apart from the building, the site preserved an 800 square meter garden with pergola, century-old palm trees and fruit trees, house of several bird species, such as parrots, blackbirds, doves, robins or sparrows. Word spread that the site had been sold to a real estate company with plans to construct a six-storey parking lot. The residents of the streets Encarnació, Sant Lluis and the Associació Veïnal Vila de Gràcia, formerly strangers to each other, were mobilised in a restless effort to prevent the development plans and preserve the space as a neighbourhood facility. Their various protests were reflected in the Salvem el Jardí (Save the Garden) campaign in which they collected 7,000 signatures requesting that the plot passes to public property, urging the City Council to eventually buy it in 2014. Since then, the Associació Salvem el Jardí, have restored the remnants of the garden and thanks to their voluntary work, they have gradually transformed it into an open-air civic centre managed by the neighbours, a space they named Jardí del Silenci.   (Testimony from Marta Montcada, member of Associació Salvem el Jardí, Interview conducted in November 2023)   Today, the community garden is a hidden oasis in the neighbourhood, allowing visitors to enjoy the sounds, smells and tastes of nature. The garden is cared for by the volunteers-members of the association, and is open to the neighbourhood, hosting along with the tens of agricultural projects that contain multiple plant species, numerous social activities such as cultural and agricultural workshops, events, talks, exhibitions, shows, sport classes and playground equipment.   This is only one of the fascinating stories I learnt during my secondment in Barcelona, where I conducted on-the-ground research on the rich tapestry of community managed neighbourhood spaces. These are spaces of local character that operate as urban commons, meaning that they are run by the local communities, local organisations or any form of social institution established for their management, according to the local needs.   Over the course of three months, I was on my feet to get even a glimpse on the rich diversity that define these spaces in terms of program and typology, historical context, ignition, property status and management model. I conducted site visits engaging in informal discussions and formal interviews with numerous actors – members of the initiatives, with the urge to understand what these spaces are, how do they operate in the neighbourhood, what their relation to the City is, as well as what greatest challenges they face are. I visited community gardens and parks, neighbourhood cultural centres (Ateneus and Casals del Barri), working cooperatives, self-managed educational spaces, housing cooperatives and a self-sustainable agroecological community.   Below I summarise a few observations that derive from this experience, focusing on one of the dominant debates in the urban commons discourse, the relationship between the state and urban commons initiatives[1]. This relationship plays a key role in the character, resources and sustenance of the initiatives over time, especially when they operate on public property. Before exploring the array of relations, it is important to provide some overview of the emergence of these initiatives in Barcelona, as it is formative of the trajectories of these relationships.   Historical Context   The emergence of community-managed spaces in Barcelona is deeply rooted in the historic fabric of the city, encmpassing social movements and cooperativism. Examples of land collectivisations, initially by anarchist unions, were established before the Civil War. They evolved historically into workers’ collectives that self-organised to deliver services of healthcare, culture, education and production among others. During the 70s, the provision of these services and resources by communities themselves was a fundamental substitute to the state and market provision.   On the other hand, after the first democratic government in 1978, and particularly after the 2008 economic crisis, Barcelona has faced the challenges of a global city, such as the privatisation of public services, gentrification and massive tourism, evictions and an increase in precarious labour conditions, among others. Thus, the development of community managed services and spaces today is also a strong reaction to the current commodification of the city (Lain, 2015).   These two aspects of collectivism in Barcelona, both as a historic yield and a today’s countermovement, have shaped instances of different ideological values, priorities and self-reflected positions within the existing system of state and market.   Commons-state relationship   Conflict Numerous examples illustrate a wholly conflicting relationship between the initiative and the City, primarily due to ideological matters. Such examples have often led to forced evictions, as seen in several cases of squats such as the social centre Can Vies in the neighbourhood of Sants, the original building of the social centre Banc Expropriat[2] which later reopened in a new location and the housing squat that pre-existed on the site of the Ca La Trava community gardens[3], both in the neighbourhood of Gràcia within two blocks’ distance.   Tolerance / indifference In other cases, while the state is by any means supportive to the initiative, it demonstrates tolerance, at least until conflicting interests of development emerge and a conflicting relationship occurs such as in the examples discussed earlier. Similar to the previous cases, the “commoners”[4] are equiped with activist values, aware that they might need to defend their existence if such conflicting plans are in place. This is the case of the current initiative of Ca La Trava[5] and Jardi L’Alzina in Gràcia[6]. [7]   Collaboration While the above cases demonstrate opposing relationship that is also strongly related to anarchist and anti-systemic collectives, Barcelona showcases several degrees of cooperation between the City and community managed spaces. Provision of space, funding and technical support by the municipality are among the most common collaborations supported by existing policies, such as the Patrimonio Ciudadano. A fundamental requirement is that the initiative demonstrates a local impact. This support is based on the ground of recognising the significant contribution of community-run initiatives in delivering democratised social services that respond to the specific and dynamic needs of each neighbourhood. The provision of spaces ranges from entire building complexes such as industrial sites, often of heritage value, run as cultural centres by federations of entities, such as the Can Batlló[8], and the Ateneu L’Harmonia[9]; to single buildings, managed as local points of reference for the neighbourhood life such as La Lleialtat Santsenca[10]; or parts of buildings co-hosted with other municipal facilities, such as Calabria 66[11]; and finally to open spaces, such as the case of Jardins d'Emma[12].   Autonomy Beyond the mentioned cases, there is a great number of initiatives in which the property of space and other resources belongs to the managing entity, be it an association, collective or local organisation. These cases, such as working cooperatives have the capacity to operate independently of the state. Due to limited resources or legal constrains, the collective action of these initiatives often prioritises their members over the public impact, yet in most cases expanding to open activities.   Closing Reflections and Acknowledgements My time in Barcelona’s shared neighborhood spaces exceeded any expectations I had before arrival. Beyond their physical importance, these spaces constitute a vital part of community life, woven by collective aspirations and creativity. They are testaments to the power of collaboration, sharing and transformative change.   Reflecting on my research visit, I carry with me not just data but stories, experiences, and a deeper understanding of the intricate dynamics that shape these vibrant spaces. More than a personal experience, it has been a collective journey with the invaluable input of several people, who enriched my research and personal growth.   To this, I would first like to thank my secondment supervisor prof. Nuria Marti for her restless support at every step of the way, from working hand in hand with me, to accompanying me on visits. Furthermore, I am heartfully grateful to the extensive list of members of the initiatives I had the chance to visit, who generously shared their space, time and stories. Finally, my stay in Barcelona wouldn’t have been the same without my fellow ESRs -Annette, Saskia and Zoe- who, whether in person or from afar, shared their knowledge, experience, and many enjoyable moments!   --------- Notes [1] For more information see Huron, A. (2017). Theorising the urban commons: New thoughts, tensions and paths forward. Urban Studies, 54(4), 1062–1069. [2] Banc Expropriat is a shared space in the neighbourhood that operates outside markets and hierarchies. It is a social centre that hosts free activities open to all, such as language classes, sport sessions, craft workshops, film screenings, play areas, computer access, as well as a free shop of donated clothes, among others. As a space  very well received by the local community, its eviction in May 2016 triggered the escalation of protests in the neighbourhood. More information on the history of Banc Expropriat and its current relocation can be found at https://bancexpropiatgracia.wordpress.com/ [3] Members of the social movement that occupied/lived in the squat, re-occupied the site of the demolished building and created community gardens. [4] People that manage the urban commons space. [5] More information at https://www.instagram.com/ca_la_trava/?hl=en [6] More information at https://www.salvemlalzina.org/ [7] This is also the case of Navarinou Park in Athens. [8] More information at https://canbatllo.org/ [9] More information at https://ateneuharmonia.cat/ [10] More information at https://lleialtat.cat/ [11] More information at https://calabria66.net/ [12] More information at http://jardinsdemma.org/   --------- References Lain, B. (2015). New Common Institutions in Barcelona : A Response to the Commodification of the City ? 2014(March), 19–20.

Author: A.Pappa (ESR13)

Secondments

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Sustainable social housing: a myth, trend or an inescapable fait

Posted on 09-01-2024

The study of indirect connotations in metadata, especially those generated by artificial intelligence, is a curiosity catalyser. Therefore, I undertook a comparative analysis of the frequency with which key terms such as social housing, sustainability, affordable housing and housing renovation were queried in search engines worldwide between 1 November and 31 December 2023. This data set, known as a “trend” or “interest over time” is measured on a 100-point scale. During this period, sustainability scored an average of 70 points on trend, while social housing and housing renovation slightly recorded 1 point each and affordable housing by 3 points (see Figure 1). It is also worth noting that similar results appear when the time frame is extended to a full year or even five years. Interpreting this data with a degree of scepticism and caution, it appears that sustainability retains its prominent position as the dominant trend. Meanwhile, other vital issues that directly impact our society do not attract comparable interest.   Assuming the previous introduction has captivated your interest. Let me explain why this date and these terms. The date is related to my secondment to Housing Europe, where I gained in-depth experience working with dedicated professionals dealing with the various challenges in the housing sector. Meanwhile, the terms are critical objectives of the RE-DWELL project, which derive from its primary goal of creating a framework for affordable and sustainable housing across Europe. This confluence of dates and terms leads us to a compelling question: what if we were to summarise these terms into a single adjective for a genre of social housing? And then, what constitutes an environmentally sustainable social housing? The following sections, therefore, draw on the insights gained during the secondment to answer these questions and offer a nuanced perspective on the interplay between sustainability, social housing and regulatory frameworks.   What constitutes an environmentally sustainable social housing?   “It has affordable rent, but also affordable energy, that means heating, cooling, lighting and obviously the means of the family. One that is accessible, in term of meeting the individual requirements of occupants. Also one that is in reach of key services, employment, shopping, medical services […]. Access to nature, ensure that resident have access to fresh air, also consideration to acoustics and noise. […] But if we look at sustainability I suppose not from the perspective of occupants but the society, […] it needs to limit the production of energy  needed.” (S. Edwards, personal communication, November 2023).   A triad of connotations can be derived from this. First, affordability and social housing are so closely intertwined that discussion of the latter presupposes consideration of the former, especially when viewed from the perspective of the welfare state. Secondly, the definition from the perspective of the urban fabric goes beyond the material structure and encompasses the city's intangible services. This is directly related to economic aspects such as income, employment and trade. Thirdly, another critical element of sustainable social housing is the well-being of residents. Not just physical health but also mental health, as demonstrated during the last pandemic.   “There are two components for social housing […], below the market level [rent], and allocated through decision and rules taken by or agreed upon by local authorities [allocation]. The sustainability component is interesting […] as we consider it only as the environmental part, while doing so, we forget that sustainability is supposed to embrace the three component of environmental, social and economic. If we focus on the environmental aspects, the question […] is how we can manage to combine these three components, so we can built-renovate homes using the sources of the planet. Then […] how much we can build to meet the demands - the availability aspects. The third point is the affordability […], because everything has an impact on the ability to deliver homes at affordable price.” (J. Dijol, personal communication, November, 2023).   To this extent, I argue that environmentally sustainable social housing epitomises a multifaceted system deeply embedded within the fabric of welfare state services. It substantiates its sustainability through an intricate balance featuring economically viable and socially equitable attributes. This housing system articulates affordability in rental structures, facilitates access to natural environments, ensures proximity to pivotal services and infrastructure, implements judicious energy production and utilisation practices, underscores the imperative of decarbonisation, and intricately aligns with the tripartite foundations of sustainability—economic, social, and environmental. Significantly, this sustainable housing framework adeptly navigates societal demands while steadfastly adhering to the imperative of preserving the planet's finite resources. It looks at the new construction and considers issues such as sustainable renovation.   The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive: regulations to support or to hinder   Regulations are a vital tool in sustainable social housing provisions. It has the ability to standardise, optimise and organise the structure of the sector to deliver the intended goals. One notable example, is The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). The EPBD is a crucial instrument to drive sustainable housing development. While regulations are traditionally seen as catalysts for progress, this narrative contends that they can also pose substantial obstacles. To contextualise this contention, it is essential to recognise the intricate links between housing construction, renovation, affordability and energy efficiency. The EPBD, alongside other directives, is a cornerstone in pursuing sustainable housing by promoting a more energy-efficient built environment. However, a critical examination of the EPBD reveals pertinent critiques. Critics argue that the occasional vagueness and lack of clarity of some of the Directive's provisions can lead to inconsistent implementation and interpretation across member states.   Furthermore, concerns have been raised that the penalties for non-compliance with the Directive are insufficient, which could reduce the effectiveness of the Directive in motivating Member States to meet energy efficiency targets. The flexibility granted to Member States in implementing the EPBD requirements has led to regulatory variations that pose challenges for cross-border businesses and hinder a harmonised approach to energy efficiency. Stakeholders argue for a stronger emphasis on renovating existing buildings in the EPBD, as the current provisions may not provide sufficient incentives for Member States to prioritise energy performance improvements to existing buildings. Additionally, critics emphasise the potential social and economic impacts, including increased costs for building owners and tenants. Balancing the Directive's energy efficiency targets with affordability and feasibility considerations is a multi-faceted challenge that should be carefully considered in pursuing a sustainable housing policy.   The way forward   The creation of sustainable social housing is not a myth or a far-reaching goal. However, it is a fact that requires comprehensive regulations and extensive co-operation between policy makers, practitioners and the public. Such collaboration enables a more holistic understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with sustainable social housing and ensures that different factors are considered in the decision-making process. This will help to align policy with the realities on the ground and ensure that regulations are both effective and feasible. It also promotes social acceptance and buy-in for sustainable initiatives. As societal needs, technologies, and environmental considerations evolve, ongoing collaboration is important to ensure that housing strategies can be adjusted and refined to meet changing circumstances.   While natural collaboration is an optimistic notion, proactive steps, such as large-scale projects, are essential. A notable example of such collaboration is The European Affordable Housing Consortium (SHAPE-EU) project, developed and coordinated by Housing Europe. SHAPE-EU aims to support affordable and social housing providers, public authorities and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing effective renovation strategies and tools. This proactive approach recognises the challenges posed by the lack of policy measures, the realities of the market and the actual capacity for growth, and points a way forward in the search for sustainable and affordable housing solutions.   Acknowledgements The time I have spent at Housing Europe has provided me with invaluable insights into social housing development. More importantly, meeting and working with dedicated and professional colleagues was truly inspirational. I have received tremendous support from all the teams and must therefore thank everyone at Housing Europe, especially Alice Pittini, Sorcha Edwards, Julien Dijol and Joao Goncalves.  

Author: M.Alsaeed (ESR5)

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Improving housing affordability through taxes

Posted on 21-12-2023

Housing affordability has proven to be an increasingly detrimental problem for large sections of the European population. It increasingly affects not only low-income households, but also middle-income groups. In Western European countries, it has become an issue that is used to win elections and steer economic development. Housing is not a direct responsibility of the EU. Even though the housing market does not fall under the direct competence of the EU, it influences the supply of housing in the Member States indirectly through legal frameworks such as state aid, tax law and competition law. It is clear that the provision of housing should not be left entirely to the market, as the market creates an uneven distribution, and that some of the provision of housing should be better controlled, especially in the affordable housing segment. Rising house prices are mainly due to low interest rates and low housing supply compared to market demand. The Covid pandemic played a role in shifting housing preferences and also contributed to higher housing prices (Frayne et al., 2023). The most important efforts to cool rising house prices are policy measures that target the supply or demand side of the housing market. For example, taxes can be used to influence both sides of the housing market. An article by the World Economic Forum (2022) explains that land value tax, could help to reduce property prices as it could represent an equitable distribution of wealth within the community. In this case, the land tax would incentivise the development of the land, as the land is taxed anyway. If the owner develops the land, he receives a return. This in turn would increase the supply of housing and lower property prices. Land tax is aimed at the capital gains of owners and could also serve to dampen prices. Transaction taxes could also be applied to reduce speculative investment in the housing market, which would reduce the volatility of house prices. Taxes on building materials could be reduced to incentivise the construction of social housing or public rental housing. In countries with extremely high levels of home ownership, land and property are generally not taxed. Croatia, for example, promotes affordable home ownership largely through public support in the form of subsidised loans. However, there is a newly established housing allowance programme available for around 40 Croatian local authorities in 2023 (Central Office for Demography and Youth, 2023). The impact of this programme has yet to be assessed. In terms of taxation, there is no property or land tax in Croatia (Crowe, 2023). Taxation of holiday homes and income from renting for tourism purposes is very low and close to symbolic prices, considering that assets are grossed up. A holiday home, for example, is taxed at between €0.66 and € 1.99 per square metre. The transfer of real estate for private individuals is set at 3 per cent of the market value, with some exceptions that can be applied. If taxation such as the land value tax is introduced, it must be phased in gradually and take into account mortgaged households. The introduction of property taxation in Croatia could open up a new perspective and enable investment in securing affordable housing, especially in the social and public rental segment in large cities, where the housing price crisis is at its worst. However, the introduction of such tax in a country with super home- ownership is politically unpopular and it is unlikely to be introduced at a level where it could significantly influence rising prices.   Literature Central Office for Demography and Young. (2023). Pilot project public call- local self-government units for financial support aimed at co-financing costs housing for young families and young people in 2023 address: https://demografijaimladi.gov.hr/UserDocsImages//Dokumenti//PILOTP~1.PDF, accessed on 12.10.2023. Crowe. (2023). Wealth Management, Basics of property taxation in Croatia. Address: https://www.crowe.com/hr/en-us/-/media/crowe/firms/europe/hr/crowehorwathhr/files/property-taxation-in-croatia-2023.pdf?rev=d39592da9f834b129df1b63ae17cd090&hash=0C67133C5F7EF3B8C664A908AA82018C. accessed on 20.12.2012 Frayne, C., Martins, V., Szczypińska, A. & Vašíček, B. (2023) Housing Market Developments. Thematic Note to Support In-Depth Reviews.  Institutional paper 197, European economy World Economic Forum (2022). What is land value tax and could it fix the housing crisis? https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/03/land-value-tax-housing-crisis/

Author: M.Horvat (ESR6)

Reflections

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Consortium

The combined knowledge provided by experts from the different fields and domains will contribute to create a transdisciplinary research framework in which early-stage career researchers (ESRs) will develop their individual projects on affordable and sustainable housing.

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9 European countries. Spain, France, UK, Croatia, Hungary, Cyprus, Netherlands, Portugal and Belgium.

10 higher-education institutions. The universities are represented by experts from several disciplines related to housing: architecture and planning, building and construction, sociology, economy, and law.

12 non-academic partner organisations. Partner organisations include construction companies, private and public developers, local administrations, research and advocacy groups, housing associations, social and international organizations.

RE-DWELL
in a nutshell

15 early-stage researchers investigate affordable and sustainable housing by intertwining design, planning and building, community participation and policy and financing.

a consortium of 22 organizations covering a range of academic disciplines and professional fields working on housing

a comprehensive training programme, with network specific courses complemented with training in the PhD programmes of the host universities

a blended learning environment to integrate onsite and online activities distributed across institutions

3 Workshops in Lisbon, Budapest and Zagreb; 3 Summer Schools in Nicosia, Valencia and Reading; and 2 international conferences in Grenoble and Barcelona

25 academic supervisors and co-supervisors supporting the individual research projects

a wide range of outreach activities to engage communities and professional organizations in the research and in the exploitation of research outputs