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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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Focus group at Vila Romão, in Lisbon

Published on 27-02-2024

On February 27, 2024, as part of the validation phase of the RE-DWELL transdisciplinary framework for affordable and sustainable housing, a team led by early-stage researchers Lucia Chaloin (in the context of her secondment at the Lisbon City Council) and Androniki Pappa, along with their ISCTE supervisor Alexandra Paio, organized a focus group at Vila Romão in Campolide, Lisbon. This housing complex is currently undergoing rehabilitation, with 25 housing units being renovated and five newly constructed, all offering affordable rents.   A total of 18 participants were involved, including residents, civil engineers, civil servants, the Lisbon City Council, Campolide community group members, architects, and academics. The Lisbon City Council facilitated the organization of the event. The purpose of the focus group was to address some of the pressing issues posed by the housing rehabilitation project, such as balancing intervention processes and daily living, fostering understanding among the municipality, residents, and technicians, and improving day-to-day interactions among all project stakeholders.   The discussion was facilitated by a game specifically designed for this event, based on a structured language developed in the RE-DWELL project. The experience underscored the importance of collaborative processes in defining solutions that resonate with citizens. These processes enable diverse stakeholders, each with their unique power structures, to converge in a moderated space where everyone's voices can be heard. These collaborative processes facilitate the gathering of various stakeholders in a moderated environment, enabling the articulation of concerns that might otherwise be diluted.
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USFD – Open Studio Event 2024

Published on 26-02-2024

On February 1, 2024, the Open Studio Event took place at the Sheffield School of Architecture, giving students from across the programmes the opportunity to display their work. A PhD section consisted of posters submitted by a number of doctoral students currently at the School of Architecture. Here, RE-DWELL ESRs Mahmoud Alsaeed and Aya Elghandour submitted their posters to disseminate RE-DWELL and their individual projects.   Mahmoud displayed two posters. The first poster detailed the structure of an investigation to identify the challenges in developing sustainable social housing, which had previously been exhibited at the Housing Studies Annual Conference in March 2023 and won “best research idea” at the Sheffield School of Architecture’s research poster competition in May 2023. The second poster presented the overall structure of his research project, focusing on perception of social housing and environmental sustainability, policy, and practice. This poster also showed the overall communication and dissemination activities that have been carried out.
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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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Instances of commoning in New York; or else a toilet, a fridge, and a shelf

Posted on 14-05-2024

A few days ago, I had the privilege of presenting my study titled "Commoning for social sustainability: exploring the role of institutionally aided practices in the neighborhoods of Lisbon" at the Conference of Urban Affairs in New York. This small section of my PhD research co-authored with my supervisor Dr. Alexandra Paio, delved into pressing questions surrounding commoning processes in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Can these processes thrive through progressive institutional instruments? What is their nature and dynamics, and how do they eventually bolster social sustainability?   The session I presented in was nothing short of invigorating, filled with insightful questions and thought-provoking discussions. I'm especially grateful for the inclusive environment fostered with sign language and sound interpreters, ensuring accessibility for all present attendees. Likewise, the conference exceeded my expectations in its organisation and contextual richness. In approximately 250 sessions, thousands of international researchers and practitioners offered a wealth of knowledge on various manifestations of pressing issues in urban space and housing discourses, such as commodification, gentrification and displacement, activism and social infrastructure, top-down visions and progressive policies, in diverse contexts of the US, Latin America, Asia, the Global South and Europe. It was inspiring to witness the diverse perspectives and groundbreaking research shared by peers globally, while the highlight of my experience was connecting with old and new friends, with whom I look forward to staying connected and following their work in the field.   After the conference I spent (my fortune for) some extra days conducting research and visiting sites to gain firsthand experience of the particularities of the neighbourhoods of New York. I was especially lucky that my last days there coincided with the annual Jane Jacobs Walks Festival, during which I was able to participate in several guided tours on multiple neighbourhoods and streets.   I could write a book about the mixed feelings triggered by the contradictions of New York: the impressive but tourist-filled High Line contrasting with homeless people sleeping underneath it or in adjacent metro stations; the photogenic skyline contrasting with the terrifying populations of rats searching for food in exposed piles of restaurant garbage on the sidewalks at night; the great views from amazingly redeveloped waterfronts, which have caused displacement and gentrification in once working class and immigrant neighbourhoods; the ‘alternative vibe’ of neighbourhoods outside the Manhattan, such as Brooklyn, Harlem and the Bronx, contrasting with stories of people  long suffering from rent rises and displacement; and so on…   Notwithstanding these and many more contradictions, I tried to approach the city through the writings of fundamental scholars for my architectural background, such as Jane Jacobs, Whilliam Whyte and Fred Kent. Thus, linking back to my research interests I will devote the rest of this post on my search of instances of commoning in the city and among them, on three small elements: a toilet, a fridge and a shelf.   A toilet… ..or more specifically the toilet of the Bluestockings Cooperative, which is a “collectively-run activist center, community space and feminist bookstore that offers mutual aid, harm reduction support, non-judgemental resource research and a warming/cooling place that is radically inclusive of all genders, cultures, expansive sexualities and identities”.[1] Based on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Bluestockings has been operating as a worker cooperative (meaning that it is owned and operated by its workers)  for over 21 years, focusing on mutualism, care and volunteering. Its very active and challenging operation aims at empowering marginalised groups, though community organisation, education and skills building, and providing free resources and a space where everyone is welcome.   Among all the cooperative’s significant contributions to the local communities, what makes its toilet noteworthy is a seemingly simple decision to make it open to all. As I witnessed during my short stay in the space, the toilet is a haven for homeless people and marginalised groups who can cover this fundamental need with dignity and respect. As I was told, this decision, although within the legal tenant’s rights of the cooperative, has sometimes caused conflicts with the landlord and parts of the surrounding middle-class neighbourhood. In a period where it is not uncommon to have to pay for accessing toilets in private stores and public stations, -a measure that aims to exclude the very same groups of users that Bluestockings welcomes-, I find it takes great courage to truly keep one’s door open while facing the implications and stereotypes of attracting marginalised people.   A fridge… .. that is placed outside the ‘Los Hermanitos Deli & Grocery’ in Brook Avenue in Bronx. The sign on the fridge invites passersby to take anything from inside it. As I was on my way to a guided tour, I didn’t have time stop and speak with the owners about it. However, although there is nothing novel about solidary offering of food to the ones in need in food pantries, food bags and soup kitchens, I found something particularly inviting in this case: its simplicity. The fridge is placed outside the store and is (according to the store’s opening information) accessible 24 hours a day, without anyone attending it or controlling it. This informality makes it particularly easy for people to stop by, open it and take what they need, without exposure, embarrassment, or stigmatisation. This simplicity can be especially emancipatory considering that poverty and food insecurity is increasingly becoming a next-door issue.   A shelf… … mounted on the fence of ‘La Plaza Cultural de Armando Perez Community Garden’[2], which was founded in 1976 by residents and green activists. The garden is located in Lower East Side, an area highly populated by long-standing and locally defended community gardens. The shelf, placed at the exterior side of the fence to make it accessible even when the garden is closed, operates as book-sharing platform. During my short stay in the garden, I was impressed by the number of people leaving and taking books: some seemingly came specifically to take or leave books; some borrowed a book to read during their stay in the garden and returned it before leaving, some took a book while passing by. Right before leaving, I was also astonished to watch a man returning from his grocery shopping (judging by the shopping bags he was carrying), leave a fresh shield meal on the shelf and walkaway.   I am sure that in a city of 780km2 there are plenty of such community-led initiatives, as there are in other cities around the world. In the three examples, it is worth noticing the spatial decisions that were intentionally or unintentionally made to accommodate these caring and sharing platforms and the implications they carry about their users: placing the fridge outside instead of inside the store allows for an anonymised and unstigmatized way to provide care, respecting the sense of pride of individuals in need; similarly, placing the shelf outside the garden, in a position that is highly visible to not only the garden users but also the passersby, allows for a greater number of users and a function of the shelf as a sharing platform independent of the schedule and operation of the garden; conversely, inviting people, and importantly marginalised groups, inside the cooperative’s space to safely use a toilet to treat their basic needs with dignity, creates a shelter of inclusion and protection. Closing, it is not in my intention to romanticise any of these initiatives, or present them as free from internal conflicts and controversies, nor promote them as a sufficient substitute for the lack of public service provision. In fact, these infrastructures may only treat symptoms rather than addressing the root problems of homelessness, food insecurity, addiction, illiteracy and poverty, which require institutional solutions. Yet, I cannot overlook how these humble and informal decisions embody moments of true solidarity, mutual support and sharing among communities to meet neighbours’ basic needs o with dignity and respect – and to this, I can only celebrate them.   ---------------- [1] https://www.bluestockings.com/about-us/about-us [2] https://www.opencity.com/laplazacultural/history/

Author: A.Pappa (ESR13)

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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)

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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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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