RE-DWELL exhibition and conference at the Chamber of Architects, Valencia, September 8 to 22, 2022.
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RE-DWELL Roundtable #4: How can community participation in the provision of affordable and sustainable housing be guided?

Posted on 28-07-2022

This roundtable took place in the Universitat Politècnica de València, during the Valencia Summer School, on 14 July 2022. The panel members were: • Anne Kockelkorn, Assistant Professor of Dwelling in the Department of Architecture, TU Delft.  • Blanca Pedrola, architect, Associate Professor, CEU Cardenal Herrera University. • Isabel González, architect, Fent Estudi Cooperative.   The discussion was moderated by: • Nadia Charalambous, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, UCY.
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Valencia

Posted on 11-07-2022

Summer School 2: Inclusive co-design and community planning of affordable and sustainable housing
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RE-DWELL ISHF Helsinki Workshop

Posted on 22-06-2022

The workshop took place in the lobby of Helsinki City Hall on 14 June 2022. Around 30 people participated in the workshop, together with 7 ESRs and 7 supervisors and secondment representatives.  The aim of the workshop was to apply a holistic approach to the provision of affordable and sustainable housing, through a use case: A municipality has a piece of land in a working class neighbourhood that is to be developed through a sustainable master plan including affordable housing.  During the three-hour session, participants, organised in four teams, developed a step-by-step strategy that takes into account the interrelationships between the three themes that make up the RE-DWELL research framework: design, planning and construction; community participation, and policy and financing. For each theme, participants were given a brief explanation of the most relevant issues, methods and tools, summarised in a 'wheel'. Each team then had 30 minutes to discuss how those could be applied to the use case, and present the results to the rest of the participants.  This methodology enabled us to put into practice for the first time the transdisciplinary approach that we aim to develop in RE-DWELL.     This is the video recording of the introductory session.

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RE-DWELL exhibition at the Valencia Chamber of Architects

Published on 15-09-2022

An exhibition of the work being carried out by the 15 early-stage RE-DWELL researchers is on display at the CTAV, Col·legi Territorial d'Arquitectes de València, from 8 to 22 September, 2022.    More information at: http://arquitectosdevalencia.es/contenido/exposicion-re-dwell-msca-itn/
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Presentation of RE-DWELL at the Valencia Chamber of Architects

Published on 15-09-2022

On Thursday, 22 September, 2022, at 7:00 pm, RE-DWELL will be presented at the conference "Innovation in sustainable and affordable housing". This event is part of the closing of the exhibition of the network's work being held at the Chamber of Architects.    Registration is free. http://arquitectosdevalencia.es/contenido/conferencia-innovacion-en-vivienda-sostenible-y-asequible/ 
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RE-DWELL Roundtable #4

Published on 08-07-2022

As part of the Valencia summer school, on Thursday 14, from 9:30 to 11:30 (CET) we will have a roundtable to discuss how can community participation in the provision of affordable and sustainable housing be guided. The guest speakers are: • Anne Kockelkorn (online), Associate Professor of Architecture, Co-director of the Master of Advanced Studies in History and Theory of Architecture, ETH Zurich. • Blanca Pedrola, architect, Associate Professor, CEU Cardenal Herrera University. • Isabel González, architect, Fent Estudi Cooperative. You are invited to join us at this session.  
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The discussion for the right to housing. ENHR, Barcelona 2022

Posted on 12-09-2022

The annual conference of the European Network of Housing Research took place in Barcelona this year, under the title “The struggle for the right to housing. The pressures of globalization and affordability in cities today”. At the epicenter was the issue of the unaffordability of housing and its increasing financialization. As cities become part of a global arena, urban space is increasingly subjected to the flows of capital and market forces, leaving behind the needs and the voices of the local populations. This is what Raquel Rolnik referred to, during the conference, as the colonization of the built space by finance and the processes of dispossession that it implies. In these conditions, housing is being used as an exchange value, as the preferred asset for investment by funds, or for rental exploitation and speculation, by short-term rental corporations. This understanding of housing as an exchange value, demotes its use value, as the right for a shelter, for security, and as a place that is intertwined with people's lives and well-being.   At the same time, we observe how dominant paradigms of urban organization and planning, are spreading over the world, reconfiguring cities and territories. The urban mutations that are caused, for example, by the processes of touristification and gentrification, having a more profound impact on territories at the periphery (or semi-periphery) of capitalism, create unhostile cities for its residents, breaking the social fabric and disturbing social cohesion. As a consequence, these urban reconfigurations, lead to a restructuring of the housing regimes in terms of tenure forms. The rentierization of many housing markets, for example, leads to tenure and intergenerational inequalities between homeowners and renters, creating more precarious conditions for those at rent. On a policy level, important actions were discussed such as the regulation of short-term rentals and rent-control policies together with more supply of social housing, or public support of community-led housing initiatives.    As a counter-act to the ongoing processes of financialization and speculation, there are many bottom-up responses, from groups that are claiming housing as a right and are pushing for decommodified and affordable housing. The emergence of cooperative housing and community land trusts, is such a case, intending to create alternative forms of collective and non-speculative housing, separating the use-value from the exchange value. Through participatory processes and democratic decision-making, the initiatives are creating new forms of ownership, based on collective management. The objectives are plural, as apart from the demand for access to decent and affordable housing, the groups are creating more communal ways of living, in terms of spatial and social configurations and are reconsidering the meaning of sustainability in housing.   Aspects that were discussed in relation to cooperative housing were the affordability of the model and the opportunities for access by social groups in need of affordable, decent, and secure housing, such as low-income, single-parent or immigrant households. Also, the use of policy instruments to facilitate their production and regulate their access to them, as well as the long-term affordability of the model and the prevention of future privatization and speculation. Often the discussion on the inclusion of the model and the accessibility by different social groups is related to the question of governance, in all the phases of production, management, and administration of the housing cooperative, looking at the differences between more self-managed cases, and at others that are being developed in collaboration with associations and umbrella cooperative promoters.     Co-operative housing initiatives are framed by many researchers within the literature of the commons, and thus understood and analyzed by their capacity to create spaces and practices of commoning, embedded in the everyday lives of the inhabitants. This can be analyzed in the internal structure of the housing (spatially and socially), but also in relation to the neighborhood scale, and the impact it can have on the area. In close relation is found the research of cooperative housing through the lens of the ethics of care. The collectivization of the domestic sphere is creating opportunities for different forms of social reproduction that question the dominant ways of dwelling. There are current research projects that attempt to evaluate the contribution of cooperative housing, as a way of dwelling, in the life of its inhabitants, looking at the health and well-being of the communities or the potential to tackle the social rupture created by the individualization of housing, thus looking at the social impact it can generate.   As the model is expanding, and cases of collective, shared, and cooperative housing appear in different contexts from the global north to the south, it is important for the research community to keep shedding light on the potential, but also on the contradictions of these practices. The analysis and the comparison of different cases, help us to learn from the experiences of the groups and work to strengthen the idea of housing as a right, and as a space and a practice that can be meaningful for the communities.

Author: Z.Tzika (ESR10)

Conferences, Reflections

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ENHR 2022 | To avoid the perception trap

Posted on 10-09-2022

Housing across Europe is facing rapidly growing challenges, and most of these challenges go beyond construction, financing and management. They also extend to technology adaptation, policy changes, environmental threats and post-disaster and pandemic recovery. During the last week of August, more than 300 projects and contributions from all over Europe were presented to discuss these challenges and to show where we currently stand in terms of housing.   The European Network for Housing Research (ENHR), founded three decades ago with the aim of improving the quality and relevance of European housing research, has concluded its annual conference. This year, Barcelona was the destination for more than 360 participants. The conference, which spanned four days discussing the struggle for the right to housing, the pressures of globalisation and affordability in cities today, was a success in every respect. Plenary sessions, site visits, interactive presentations and more than 25 types of workshops covered a list of housing-related topics that I cannot even begin to list and explain. However, I will try to articulate some of my thoughts that emerged during the conference in relation to my research project.   The colour, nature and responsibility It is fascinating how we make sense of our surroundings and perceive reality - my understanding is that we have labelled everything, even our problems and its possible solutions. We have harmed our planet, so we said 'environmental problems', and to deal with these problems we have created a dozen concepts, including green building, blue building, sustainable building and so on.   At the fifth plenary session of the ENHR it was suggested that there is a 'green challenge' and that to 'solve' it we need innovative design of sustainable housing. I can agree with the last part, but not the first. Sustainability is a wicked problem, and its solution should have no colours. Jeremy Till, Professor of Architecture at the University of the Arts London, explains that the definition of the words we use could become a trap we need to avoid. I think this is a very effective way of dismantling the problem at hand and rethinking the meanings and perception of our terminology. I could argue that we need to look beyond the obvious meanings to discuss the essence of sustainability. I believe that sustainability is a tricky issue that cannot be magically or individually 'solved', but what we can do is contribute to the discussion.   “The problem at hand is neither amusing nor provocative; it is a serious problem that we all face. We must speak up, no matter who we upset in the process.” (Till, 2022)   We must accept our responsibility and understand that the contribution must come from all stakeholders, without excluding them. Government officials, private developers, citizens and researchers all have their share of responsibility. We need to keep reminding ourselves that we no longer have the power of choice and that there is no 'Planet B', even if our words are harsh and loud.   “We all carry a great responsibility to look beyond individuality in what we do; to succeed, we must join our efforts at all levels. We should do and contribute what we can, so that there will be better future for the next generations to come.” (Heindl, 2022)   Gabu Heindl, Professor of Urbanism and head of GABU Heindl Architektur in Vienna, explains that the work we do must be collective and that we must combine our efforts across all borders. I can only agree with that! I could add that the conventional approaches have worked so far, but they are no longer sufficient. There should be neither a top-down nor a bottom-up approach. The field should be level and the responsibility evenly distributed. The researcher should lead the way by creating clear and simple language and breaking through the walls of individuality. We need to rethink transdisciplinarity and the transferability of the knowledge we create. Before we suggest how to solve a wicked problem, we should talk to each other. So more ENHRs are needed, and perhaps we should set broader goals and call for a global network for housing research.   References HEINDL, GABU. 2022. Plenary Session 5 – Solving the Green Challenge: Innovative Design for Sustainable Housing, ENHR, Barcelona. TILL, JEREMY. 2022. Plenary Session 5 – Solving the Green Challenge: Innovative Design for Sustainable Housing, ENHR, Barcelona.

Author: M.Alsaeed (ESR5)

Conferences, Reflections

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A Turning Point Conversation on Portuguese Public Dwellings Design, Is it some kind of Feminism?

Posted on 06-09-2022

You know those kinds of conversations that are filled with enthusiasm and passion. It's one of those moments that proves to you: yes! Passion exists and it works!   This time it was passion for design as a tool to indirectly empower people and their sense of belonging. It's about promoting social justice!   Currently in Lisbon, there are several affordable rent programmes "Programa de Renda Acessível" (PRA) run by the City Council in view of the high rent prices in the city. Some programmes are public-private partnerships like this initiative. Other programmes are purely public investments from start to finish, where people can apply for rental housing through this website, for example.   My co-supervisor Dr Vasco Moreira Rato from ISCTE - where I had my secondment - is also chief advisor to Lisbon City Councillor on Housing and Public Works, Filipa Roseta. Dealing at the front line with housing issues, the discussions with him were very informative, practical and honest, both from the research and the authorities' point of view. In the process, he wanted to show me an example of how parametric design can benefit public housing in the context of affordability to determine the suitable design parameters within a certain budget while responding to various requirements.       And here comes one of those memorable and inspiring conversations as a Marie Curie ESR.   I had a fruitful conversation with the architects Susana Rato and Joana Couto from SRU (Sociedade de Reabilitação Urbana). They were responsible for preparing the Public Housing concept design for low-cost housing projects that are fully financed by the public sector.  They explained what, why and how they created this schematic design to achieve ambitious design goals within a certain given construction budget. They had a limited budget of about 1000 euros per square metre for construction. Thus, they exploited the power of geometric parametrisation to determine appropriate modern design parameters while meeting the various requirements such as space ratios, areas, technical requirements and regulations.       It is interesting to note that one of the main objectives of this schematic design process is to ensure that future residents feel comfortable where they live and to support their right to live in affordable, durable and beautiful homes.   How did they do so?   They ensured that the spatial needs of different family structures were accommodated by adhering to Portuguese building codes and regulations. As two Portuguese ladies, they questioned the design as if this house would be their own house, that of their relatives or the future home of their children. They insisted on providing terraces for each living unit as an extension of the house to connect the residents with nature, which benefits their soul and mind. They also know that Portuguese people love being outside. Various services have also been proposed, such as a shared laundry room and a communal room. For buildings in neighbourhoods where there are no kindergartens, a kindergarten on the ground floor was proposed.   They worked with energy specialists to design energy-efficient building envelopes, define the technical requirements for walls, doors and windows, and decide on the appropriate renewable energy and water heating techniques. In addition, the distribution of daylight in the interior spaces was investigated. A construction economist accompanied all steps of their design journey, simultaneously calculating construction costs and investigating economic feasibility to modify the design accordingly without compromising the quality and performance requirements of the residential building. This hard work does not negate the fact that they were unable to work with the community itself during the design process due to the tight timeframe of the project. This reflects the reality of many architects in practise. They also expressed their interest in using the possibilities of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the future, as it would have saved them a lot of time in working with other disciplines to complete this project. It would also be an important tool for management and cost control during construction.       When I returned to Sheffield and while attending Doina Petrescu class on feminism research as part of my PhD training.   I immediately remembered Susana and Joana! Now I see their work and enthusiasm as a kind of feminist action – consistent, practical and balanced - advocating the public housing residents' rights and doing the best in the area under their control. I cannot deny that it was admirable and inspirable.       To sum up!   This conversation triggered the turning point of my PhD research. Currently, I am passionately investigating literature to answer how to design a house that promotes household health and wellbeing?   But, Why?   I dream of Affordable Happy Healthy Housing [Why not?]. Can you label a house as sustainable if it is negatively impacting your physical and mental health?   Hmmm, nope. But in reality, it does not sound that simple …   Sim Senhor [Yes Sir in Portuguese] and that is what we are here to contribute to 😊 See you in the next blog post! Goodbye!       Relevant Sources https://www.lisboaocidentalsru.pt/ https://www.lisboa.pt/atualidade/noticias/detalhe/camara-constroi-476-casas-destinadas-ao-programa-de-renda-acessivel https://www.publico.pt/2019/12/04/local/noticia/lancado-concurso-construcao-renda-acessivel-entrecampos-1896237

Author: A.Elghandour (ESR4)

Secondments

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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