Aalborg East - from an isolated vulnerable area to an inclusive community

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Aalborg East - from an isolated vulnerable area to an inclusive community

Policies and regulations Local policies Land Building capacity Public-private initiatives Participatory processes
Urban Design Urban fabrics Liveability Inclusion Public-private initiative Participatory processes
Ownership and tenure Protection of social housing Public-private partnerships

Main objectives of the project

An isolated an deprived residential area in Denmark's fourth-largest city had, since its construction in the 1960s and 70s, experienced increasing decline and negative spiral. Now, Aalborg East is a mixed community, with a vivid atmosphere and centered on the well-being of its citizens. It has become a story of success in social housing policies in Europe.

Date

  • 2011: Construction
  • 2023: Ganador

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: Aalborg Municipality
  • Constructor: Himmerland Boligforening

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Denmark

Description

Aalborg East, originally established as a satellite city in the 1970s, faced significant challenges over the past years, characterized by deteriorating old buildings, primarily comprised of social housing, and a declining economy leading to escalating issues of unemployment and crime. Recognizing the urgent need for intervention, a comprehensive urban transformation initiative was launched, encompassing the renovation of over 2,000 affordable homes. This ambitious endeavor was guided by two fundamental principles: the promotion of a diverse community and the active engagement of local residents throughout the process. Thus, homes were renovated, new shops were added, private homes were built and several social initiatives were adopted. Residents sat at the table as urban planners, so no homes have been demolished, and no residents have been displaced.
The whole process has been vastly affected by tenant democracy. There were building committees consisting of tenants, and every major decision was made at attendant meetings. Strong and strategic partnerships with both the public and private sector were also central because a housing association cannot do it all by themselves. For example, construction fields have been sold to private investors to densify some areas with freestanding house blocks and to diversify the economy.
In conclusion, the renovations were completed by using a variety of building types, appealing to a wider residential composition. Moreover, new infraestructure was put in place to foster the new mixed community. For instance, a new health house was built where training courses are in place, which makes the area more visible for people who would not visit Aalborg East daily. It is fair to say that the Danish social housing provider Himmerland Boligforening went further than usual, leading the way in Europe on how to integrate social housing tenants in the strategic city development as well as making them active city planners. The results are astonishing. Now Aalborg East is an area of well-being with safe areas, no crime, and great economic growth.
In 2023, the project won the NEB awards in “Prioritising the places and people that need it the most”.

The Arroyo, Santa Monica

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The Arroyo, Santa Monica

Mismatches Location Functional adequacy Diversity Climate change
Policies and regulations Local policies Planning
Financing Financial actors
Urban Design Environments Quality Liveability
Promotion and production Private promotion

Main objectives of the project

Santa Monica's efforts to tackle its housing crisis and mitigate climate change converge in projects like the Arroyo. The city's commitment to affordable housing is evident in its mandate to create over a thousand new units annually, with a focus on affordability. The Arroyo exemplifies this mission, providing 64 units tailored to different income levels and incorporating sustainable design elements like photovoltaic cells and natural ventilation. Its recognition with prestigious awards like the 2020 LEED Homes award demonstrates its success in marrying affordability with environmental responsibility, serving as a model for future developments amidst California's dual challenges of housing and climate.

Date

  • 2019: Construction
  • 2020: Ganador

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: Community Corp.
  • Constructor: Benchmark Contractors
  • Architect: Koning Eizenberg Architecture
  • John Labib + Associates

Location

Continent: North America
Country/Region: Los Angeles, United States of America

Description

The affordable housing crisis in Santa Monica mirrors that of California as a whole, with over half of households spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent. The city also faces the daunting task of meeting the goals set in the 2021 regional housing needs allocation (RHNA): planning for an average of 1,109 new housing units annually for the next 8 years, with over two-thirds of them designated as affordable. This year's allocation represents a substantial increase compared to the previous RHNA cycle. To tackle this challenge, Santa Monica has implemented aggressive measures, including inclusionary housing (IH) regulations, to encourage the development of affordable housing units. Simultaneously, the city grapples with the climate crisis, experiencing higher average temperatures and prolonged droughts. In response, Santa Monica devised its 2019 Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, incorporating strategies to achieve carbon neutrality in buildings. Recent housing projects in the city, such as the 64-unit Arroyo developed by the Community Corporation of Santa Monica, epitomize this dual focus on sustainability and affordability.

The Arroyo, a five-story building featuring two parallel wings connected by bridges on each floor, boasts a central courtyard that follows the path of the former arroyo, now replaced by a stormwater drain. This courtyard extends into a basketball half-court and picnic area with covered activity space. Additionally, indoor spaces cater to residents' needs, providing a vibrant community atmosphere. Two community rooms host various free programs, including fitness classes, financial management courses, and computer training sessions. Tailored programs for younger residents, such as afterschool homework assistance and college readiness courses, further enrich the community experience.

The genesis of the Arroyo lies in the city's housing and planning regulations applied to 500 Broadway, a downtown development proposed by DK Broadway in 2013. Subject to city requirements mandating affordable units or contributions towards affordable housing elsewhere, DK Broadway opted to provide a site for affordable housing a few blocks away, subsequently transferred to the Community Corporation. The financial backing, including low-income housing tax credits and loans from Bank of America, facilitated the Arroyo's development without city or state funding.

Sustainable design features are integral to the Arroyo's ethos. Natural airflow facilitated by the courtyard, bridges, and open-air corridors promotes ventilation and cooling without increasing energy demand. Photovoltaic cells and solar water heating panels harness Southern California's abundant sunshine, while high-albedo roofs and window shades mitigate excessive sun exposure. Proximity to amenities and a Metro light rail station encourages car-free living, supported by onsite bicycle parking and electric vehicle chargers. These sustainable elements, coupled with affordability, earned the Arroyo recognition, including a 2020 LEED Homes award from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The Arroyo's accolades extend beyond sustainability, with awards such as the AIA National Housing Award (2021) and the Jorn Utzon Award (2020) underscoring its architectural and societal significance.

Cireres

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Cireres

Mismatches Financing Functional adequacy Services Cultural suitability Diversity Climate change
Policies and regulations Local policies Land Public-private initiatives
Financing Financial actors
Urban Design Environments Quality Liveability
Promotion and production Public-private partnerships Participatory processes Self-management Self-promotion Cooperatives
Ownership and tenure Shared ownership Protection of social housing Land ownership

Main objectives of the project

Cireres is a housing project whose goal is to build a cooperative housing that avoids speculation and the market dynamics. Thanks to a leasing of public land, a group of people in search of affordable housing could form a community with sustainable and top-tier housing units.

Date

  • 2022: Ganador
  • 2022: Construction
  • 2017: En proceso

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: SostreCivic (Coopertaiva Cireres)
  • Promotor: Barcelona City Hall
  • Constructor: La Constructiva
  • Architect: CelObert
  • Matriu
  • Col·lectiu Ronda
  • Fiare
  • Arç

Location

Continent: Europe
City: Barcelona
Country/Region: Barcelona, Spain

Description

Cireres is located in Roquetes, a popular neighborhood of Barcelona, with significant levels of vulnerability. This neighborhood has undergone considerable urban improvement since the 1990s. Originally, it was formed as a neighborhood of informal housing. Over the years, these dwellings have been integrated into the urban fabric and living conditions have improved. Today, the neighborhood faces new challenges. Mainly, housing speculation has entered fully into the daily life of the neighbors. For this reason, an investment in social housing is necessary. However, social housing is often expensive for the administration and has no roots in the neighborhood.

Cireres wants to solve the above problems. The project follows the logic of cooperative housing in lease of use. The public administration leases a municipal lot to a cooperative for a long period of time. In exchange, the cooperative builds the building and its members have the right to use the housing. In this way, the municipality does not lose public land for affordable housing. On the other hand, tenants have secure tenure and are part of a larger community integrated into the neighborhood, with the agency to build and decide on their project. To move in, each cohabitation unit has had to make an initial returnable capital contribution and then monthly payments, including services and utilities, which are below city rents.

Cireres also goes a step further. The objective is to generate a community that can build the entire project and live thereafter from the social and solidarity economy, not linked to the speculative market. Thus, the financing comes from Fiare, an ethical bank. The insurance company, the construction company, the management company... and all the agents involved are non-profit cooperatives. In this way, the value of use is put in front of the value of exchange, demonstrating another way to build affordable housing. In addition, the project includes a social economat, a working cooperative of residents dedicated to the trade of agro-ecological products.

The community life of Cireres is structured in an assembly, linked to the realities of the neighborhood and the residents. Its 32 dwellings are organized around common spaces. Thus, the idea is to be a single house, erasing the distance between the public and the private, integrating community life in the residence. For example, the houses are structured around a landing where neighbors can go out to hang the laundry, play... There are also communal indoor spaces. The communal project has an ideology that everyone must respect, the framework from which the activities, complicities and constructions of relationships, group and building are developed.

The site is a plot of 428 m2 located in the street Pla dels Cirerers, 2-4, We wanted to have shared spaces of quality, which allow to release functions of the interior of the private spaces to give them to the community, so 190m2 of buildability of the site are no longer exhausted by the commitment to make community spaces. We have built reduced private living spaces (50 m2 on average), which are compensated by 771 m2 of space for community use. The material used in Cirerers is mainly wood, and also lime mortar on the facades and plasterboard in the interiors. All of them are biodegradable materials with a low ecological footprint, since their production, transport and recycling involve very low CO2 emissions.

The building has won several awards: Advanced Architecture Awards 2022 in the Sustainability category - REBUILD, European Social Innovation Competition (EUSIC) and finalist of the MINI Design Awards 2022 - Madrid Design Festival.

La Balma

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La Balma

Mismatches Location Financing Functional adequacy Cultural suitability Diversity Vulnerable groups New family structures
Policies and regulations Local policies Land Governance Public-private initiatives Participatory processes
Financing Financial actors
Urban Design Quality Liveability
Promotion and production Public-private partnerships Participatory processes Self-management Self-promotion Cooperatives
Ownership and tenure Shared ownership Rental and temporary tenure Protection of social housing Land ownership Public-private partnerships

Main objectives of the project

La Balma is a housing cooperative on public land. Through a system of rights on land ("cesión de uso"), the municipality leases the land for a long period of time. In exchange, a cooperative of people who meet the requirements to build social housing builds their cooperative. About thirty people live in La Balma, with 20 cohabitation units.

Date

  • 2021: Construction
  • 2017: En proceso
  • 2016: Ganador

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: Sostre Civic (Coopertiva La Balma)
  • Architect: La Boqueria
  • Architect: LaCol
  • Constructor: La Constructiva SCCL
  • Constructor: Arkenova
  • Barcelona City Hall
  • Fiare Banca Ètica
  • Òmnium Cultural
  • Coop57
  • Punt de referència

Location

Continent: Europe
City: Barcelona
Country/Region: Barcelona, Spain

Description

La Balma is located in the Poblenou neighborhood of Barcelona. The neighborhood is an old industrial center of the city, which in recent years has become the first district of technological innovation in the country. It is called 22@. This project was intended to generate a technological district while maintaining the residential-industrial mix characteristic of the neighborhood. The reality has been more complex. The neighborhood has suffered a clear process of gentrification. Housing prices have skyrocketed and many of the traditional premises are no longer there. Thus, one challenge is to maintain a population involved in the neighborhood and that can afford to live in it.

It is from this logic that La Balma was born, a cooperative housing made on public land. Being part of the cooperative requires an initial contribution and the payment of monthly installments that are derived from the costs of acquisition, maintenance and operation of the cooperative housing project, and not from the situation of the real estate market. Thus, one does not acquire the land nor does one acquire the housing. Being part of the cooperative you have the right of use (or the transfer of use) for a long or lifetime period, without real estate market rises and without possible speculation. In this way, the municipality does not lose public land for affordable housing, only leases it without the cost of building social housing. On the other hand, tenants have a secure tenure and are part of a larger community integrated into the neighborhood, with the agency to build and decide on their project. To move in, each cohabitation unit has had to make an initial returnable capital contribution of between €28,000 and €38,000. The monthly payments, which include services and utilities, range from €512 to €800 per dwelling. The financing of these amounts has been made possible thanks to Fiare, an ethical and community bank.

The community at La Balma is heterogeneous and intergenerational. There are 30 people living in 20 units. We find single-parent families, couples, couples with children, cohabitant adults and individual units (from young people to retired people). Many of these people are lifelong residents of Poblenou. In fact, the community was formed prior to construction, participating in all phases of the project, from design to move-in. It also includes a pioneering social project. One of the homes is destined for two young people in exile, thanks to a joint program with Punt de Referència, an organization that works to promote the emancipation of these young people in vulnerable situations, and financed by the Libres Project (Coop57, Òmnium Cultural and ECAS). In addition, these young people participated in the entire design process of the project and participate in the democratic management of the building. To promote the interrelationship with the neighborhood, we also have a first floor space shared with associations and individuals to promote their projects. On the other hand, we are committed to ecological consumption, linking the cooperative with consumer cooperatives in the surrounding area and to self-production with vegetable gardens on the roof.

As far as the building is concerned, it has flexible and multipurpose spaces that evolve with the group according to the changes of both the living units and the people who will inhabit the building: incorporation of new members, births, growth processes of children-adolescents, aging processes of adults ... Thus, the typologies start from a basic module of 50m2 and from the annexation of living units of 16m2 (considered common space for private use in legal terms) allow to grow and shrink the houses. These units are ceded by the cooperative to the family units that need them at any given moment, therefore, it becomes a mechanism to manage changes as an alternative to rotation. This proposal is viable due to the fact that the management of the building is the responsibility of the community itself. The dwellings reduce their surface area (5-10%) to share services such as laundry, study, guest rooms or storage rooms, thus allowing that the collectivization does not involve a cost overrun, but rather the opposite, a saving and a gain in surface area and quality of life.

The architectural project has 225m2 of interior area destined to communal spaces, plus semi-exterior and exterior areas, where we find the following uses: living room - dining room, multipurpose room, library and work space, a laundry per floor, health and care space connected with auxiliary rooms, guest rooms, common and individual storage per floor, equipped deck and outdoor living area, bicycle parking, tool space and workshop area.

In 2016 the competition for the construction was won and in 2021 the building was move-in ready.

Cenni di cambiamento

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Cenni di cambiamento

Mismatches Price Functional adequacy Services Diversity New family structures
Policies and regulations Public-private initiatives
Financing
Urban Design Services and infrastructure Environments Quality Public-private initiative
Promotion and production Self-management Self-promotion Cooperatives
Ownership and tenure Rental and temporary tenure

Main objectives of the project

Cenni di Cambiamento stands as a notable social housing development in Milan, distinguished as Europe's larges residential architecture project featuring a self-supporting wooden structure. This innovative housing complex embodies a vibrant community ethos, incorporating self-management initiatives, a variety of housing unit types, and pioneering energy-efficient buildings.

Date

  • 2017: Ganador
  • 2013: Construction
  • 2009: En proceso

Stakeholders

  • Architect: Studio Rossi Prodi
  • Promotor: Fundazione Housing Sociale
  • Redo

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Italy, Milan

Description

In 2009, the FIL1 Fund secured three areas owned by the municipality of Milan for the development of experimental residential buildings for rent, including the site on via Cenni. This international competition aimed to explore architectural excellence, rethink residential construction forms, and introduce innovation and social elements. Among over 140 submissions, Studio Rossi Prodi Associati's project was selected by the jury. The construction was made in 2013.

The Cenni di Cambiamento complex, featuring four 9-storey towers, represents one of Europe's pioneering residential projects constructed with wooden load-bearing structures. Recognized for its energy efficiency, the groundbreaking structure received the Legambiente award in January 2014 for its environmentally friendly innovation. Additionally, it was honored at the Gyproc Italia Trophy in Saint Gobain in 2014 and nominated for the Mies Van der Rohe Award in 2015. Despite the extensive use of wood, the visible finishes both internally and externally resemble those of conventional buildings, owing to the advantages of the X-Lam construction technology.

Central to Cenni di Cambiamento is the active involvement of residents in organizing neighborhood activities and managing communal spaces. The Fondazione Housing Sociale spearheaded the community engagement process, culminating in the establishment of the Officina Gabetti 15 (OG15) association in 2015. This association aims to foster various activities and community gatherings, including solidarity purchasing groups, creative workshops, sports, recreational, educational, and cultural events for members and the wider community.

Located on the ground floor, Cenni di Cambiamento hosts a plethora of amenities, including a cafeteria, physiopilates center, diner, art therapy space, multifunctional areas for art, music, and theater, a neuropsychiatry clinic, a socio-educational center for individuals with disabilities, a day center for minors in challenging situations, a playroom, a music school, and a coworking space. Moreover, it facilitates neighborhood trading activities to support small entrepreneurs, artisans, and traders, fostering collaborative business development in a quality and affordable space.

A significant portion of cultural activities also takes place at Cascina Torrette di Trenno (via Giuseppe Gabetti 15), an old building integrated within the complex. Acting as an urban cultural hub, it hosts various events and activities such as concerts, cinema screenings, festivals, and children's programs throughout the year.

Furthermore, Cenni di Cambiamento offers a diverse range of housing typologies, including foyers managed by a cooperative. This residence model, widespread at an international and European level, provides young people with temporary shared housing solutions at sustainable costs. The foyer project, developed by the Social Housing Foundation and managed by DAR=casa, accommodates 27 young individuals aged 18 to 30, offering not just cohabitation but also guidance towards personal and professional autonomy through orientation services and training opportunities.

Cenni di Cambiamento is a project promoted by the Lombardy Real Estate Fund managed by Redo, a benefit company dedicated to creating quality and economically sustainable living spaces. Guided by principles of social responsibility, environmental sustainability, inclusion, and functionality, Redo's interventions range from affordable housing projects to urban regeneration initiatives. The Social Housing Foundation serves as the social technical advisor, overseeing the structuring phase and collaborative placemaking of the project.

To be a tenant, income requirements are established, following the rules for social housing in Milan. Moreover, one has to be resident in the city or its surroundings.

Foyer di cenni - Cohousing for young people

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Foyer di cenni - Cohousing for young people

Mismatches Price Vulnerable groups
Promotion and production Self-management
Ownership and tenure Rental and temporary tenure

Main objectives of the project

"Foyer di Cenni" is a co-housing initiative aimed at providing affordable accommodation and fostering collaborative living among young individuals such as students or temporary workers. Situated within the innovative social housing complex known as Cenni di Cambiamento, which boasts the largest employment of wooden frames for housing in Europe and achieves A energy efficiency ratings, the project comprises five spacious apartments accommodating a total of 27 beds. These flats were constructed in 2013 by the Real Estate Fund "InvestiRe" and are currently administered by a cooperative.

Date

  • 2017: Ganador
  • 2013: Construction

Stakeholders

  • DAR Cooperative
  • InvestiRe

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Italy, Milan

Description

Between 2009 and 2014, Milan experienced a notable surge in its young population, evident from data provided by universities indicating that out of 200,000 total residents, 50,000 were students originating from outside the region. Despite this influx, only one out of every 17 students from beyond the region found accommodation in the city's five largest universities. Milan's higher-than-average cost of living poses a significant hurdle for both students and young workers, compelling them to rely on an increasingly expensive private rental market.

The Foyer di Cenni project, initially promoted by the DAR Cesare Scarponi Onlus Foundation and subsequently acquired by the DAR Cooperative in late 2017, addresses these challenges. Foyers, a widely adopted residential model internationally and in Europe, offer young individuals a temporary shared housing solution at an affordable cost. Foyer di Cenni caters to twenty-seven individuals aged 18 to 30, providing them with an immersive training and co-housing experience. Situated at 15 Gabetti St. within the Cenni di Cambiamento social housing complex, each Foyer house accommodates 5 or 7 residents and features communal spaces such as kitchen, living room, and two bathrooms. Residents benefit from numerous shared amenities within the complex and engage in various social activities fostering communication and collaboration.

Recognizing the prevalence of job insecurity and geographic mobility among young people, Foyer di Cenni offers temporary housing solutions. Residents are invited to enter into a "social contract," entailing a monthly fee, typically less than €350, based on the chosen room type.

DAR, embracing values of sharing, exchange, and reciprocity, views cohabitation and communal management of spaces as opportunities for social innovation. The Foyer di Cenni project aligns with Milano 2035, a coalition aiming to create youth-friendly cities conducive to collaborative living, fostering community engagement and neighborhood interaction.

Rapid Delivery Housing

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Rapid Delivery Housing

Mismatches Diversity
Policies and regulations Land
Urban Design Modelos De Ciudad Environments Public-private initiative
Promotion and production Public promotion Public-private partnerships

Main objectives of the project

Dublin's metropolitan area is grappling with a housing shortage across both private and public sectors, prompting exploration into methods for swiftly accelerating housing delivery. In Dún Laoghaire, the challenge has been to devise a project that not only addresses the urgent need for social housing but also employs factory-built components to expedite construction while upholding exceptionally high building and energy standards. The new development at Georges Place epitomizes this objective, simultaneously revitalizing the urban landscape and reconnecting the town center with its waterfront. Situated on a former Council Depot site that lay vacant and underutilized, its proximity to the sea, mere hundreds of meters away, renders it an optimal location to meet the pressing demand for high-density family housing with individual entrances.

Date

  • 2019: Ganador
  • 2017: Construction

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: Dún Laoghaire Municipality
  • Architect: A2 Architects
  • Architect: DLR Architects

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Dublin, Ireland

Description

Until recently, Dún Laoghaire had been marked by a notable physical and perceptual division between the town and its waterfront, a key asset lending the town its distinctive identity. This divide, largely attributed to the presence of a rapid transit corridor, has been successfully addressed through a series of public realm projects, effectively reconnecting the town center with the waterfront. However, alongside these positive changes, the town has experienced a decline in its residential population and retail performance due to competition from out-of-town retail establishments. In response, the Local Authority devised the Dún Laoghaire Urban Framework Plan, a strategic initiative spanning twenty years, aimed at mitigating these challenges. Central to this plan is the revitalization of Georges Place, a previously vacant area with the potential to densify and rejuvenate the town center while strengthening its connection to the waterfront. Notably, Georges Place comprises various building typologies, including two- and three-story houses, multi-story apartment blocks, and pockets of commercial activity. Leveraging the former Council Depot, the project sought to deliver high-density urban dwellings with individual entrances while respecting the area's character.

The project was guided by four primary objectives: firstly, to create new housing at optimal densities to maximize the value of brownfield land, while providing family-friendly accommodations with individual access; secondly, to bolster the town's residential population to support its regeneration efforts; thirdly, to establish new pedestrian pathways to channel visitors towards the seafront and commercial hub of the town; and finally, to serve as an exemplar project demonstrating the efficacy of collaboration between public and private sector entities in design and construction.

The outcome of the project manifests in twelve high-quality, energy-efficient A1-rated dwellings. Despite each unit having its own entrance, the development achieves a density of 67 dwellings per hectare, ensuring sustainable utilization of valuable urban land. Notably, the incorporation of shallow, railed-front gardens and small courtyard spaces exemplifies a strategic approach to limiting the external footprint of each house. Architecturally, the design fosters passive surveillance and overlooks public areas, with splayed windows on the first floor minimizing direct sightlines between neighboring units. Additionally, residents have access to shared parking spaces situated within 'home zones,' informal play and amenity areas overlooked by the houses themselves.

A cohesive palette of self-finished materials was employed to harmonize with the area's character and sensitive context, particularly adjoining protected structures. This includes flush-pointed multi-stock buff brickwork, self-colored plaster, graphite zinc standing seam roofing, and simple repeating double-casement triple-glazed windows and doors. Further enhancements such as honed granite railing upstands, powder-coated railings and gates, and herringbone brick paving contribute to the project's aesthetic and functional appeal. Additionally, landscaping elements such as Ash trees along Kelly's Avenue and laurel hedging with lavender beds enhance the threshold spaces of each house.

Construction of the development followed a design-build public works contract, adhering to a rapid delivery program. Planning permission was submitted to the local authority's internal planning process in September 2016, followed by a tender process in February of the subsequent year, with contracts finalized by October 2017. To expedite construction without compromising quality, significant components of the project were prefabricated offsite, ensuring adherence to high standards.

The success of the development was acknowledged through its receipt of the 'Living - Housing Schemes' category award and the 'Sustainability' award at the 2019 RIAI Awards.

Transformation of 530 dwellings - Grand Parc Bordeaux

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Transformation of 530 dwellings - Grand Parc Bordeaux

Mismatches Price Vulnerable groups
Urban Design Quality Liveability
Promotion and production Public promotion
Ownership and tenure Protection of social housing

Main objectives of the project

As the recipient of the 2019 EU Mies van der Rohe Award, this project involved the refurbishment of three social housing buildings comprising 530 units in Bordeaux, France. Originally constructed in the early 1960s, the need for renovation arose after the possibility of demolition was dismissed. Remarkably, the transformation of these dwellings occurred while residents continued to occupy them. A key aspect of the renovation involved extending the existing space by adding a winter gardens and balconies accessible from every room, akin to a traditional house layout. This expansion not only broadened the usable space and mobility within the buildings but also redefined the quality of housing offered while improving the energy efficiency of the building envelope. This project serves as a compelling example of forward-thinking, responsible housing solutions for the future.

Date

  • 2017: Construction
  • 2019: Ganador

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: AQUITANIS
  • Architect: Christophe Hutin Architecture
  • Architect: Frédéric Druot Architecture
  • Architect: Lacaton & Vassal architectes

Location

Continent: Europe
City: Bordeaux
Country/Region: Bordeaux, France

Description

This project presents a bold approach to challenging the existing European housing stock from the post-war era, achieving remarkable results with minimal resources. Rather than opting for demolition, which consumes significant energy, the client recognized and endorsed the benefits of transforming three existing buildings. Through this initiative, social housing, often criticized for its built heritage, serves as a model for relevant and cost-effective transformation, turning perceived deficiencies into generous, inviting, and efficient dwellings that redefine typologies, living conditions, comfort, and aesthetics, thereby enhancing the urban residential landscape.

The transformation imbues all dwellings with new spatial qualities and living standards by meticulously assessing existing strengths to preserve and identifying areas for enhancement. The addition of expansive winter gardens and balconies to each apartment offers increased space, natural light, usability, and panoramic views. Small existing windows are replaced with large glazed sliding doors opening onto the winter gardens. Technical upgrades include renovations to bathrooms, electrical systems, and the replacement of two former elevators with a larger, more efficient one in each staircase. New access halls and improved front gardens enhance the overall environment. Throughout the construction process, all families remained in their dwellings, with no rent increase post-transformation.

The project, executed with inhabitants in residence, avoids structural interventions such as changes to stairs or floors, opting instead for additions and extensions designed for full utilization. Internally, only facility refurbishments and finishings were undertaken. The 3.80-meter extensions expand usable space and mobility, seamlessly connecting rooms to the winter gardens, akin to private semi-outdoor spaces found in houses. The energy efficiency of the building envelope is significantly enhanced by these winter gardens, serving as passive solar collectors. Focusing on economy, the budget prioritizes extensions, crucial for substantial and sustainable improvements in dwelling quality, while overall transformation costs remain within budget parameters, aligning with typical expenses for basic facade renovations, insulation, and facilities.

Construction materials and methods were selected to optimize efficiency and minimize disruption. Concrete was exclusively used for foundations, with concrete window sills removed to facilitate floor-to-ceiling openings for double-glazed sliding doors. Thermal curtains enhance interior insulation. Lightweight facades composed of transparent, corrugated polycarbonate panels and aluminum-framed glass, equipped with reflective solar curtains, provide exterior insulation. Glazed handrails line the balconies.

To expedite construction, prefabricated modules were employed, erected like scaffolding in front of the buildings. Precast slabs and columns were transported to the site and assembled into a freestanding structure using a crane. Efficient planning and scheduling allowed for a swift transformation, completing each apartment within 12-16 days: half a day for laying concrete slabs, two days for adapting the old facade, two days for installing the new facade, and 8-12 days for interior renovations.

Norwich Council Houses in Goldsmith Street

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Norwich Council Houses in Goldsmith Street

Financing Financial actors Public funding
Urban Design Environments Quality Liveability Regulación Técnica
Promotion and production Public promotion
Ownership and tenure

Main objectives of the project

Goldsmith Street in Norwich exemplifies a rare phenomenon in the UK: rows of terraced houses constructed directly by the local council, leased with stable tenures at affordable social rents. This collection of 105 homes stands out as an epitome of top-notch architecture, showcasing the utmost environmental and social consciousness. It holds the distinction of being the largest Passivhaus project in the UK.

Date

  • 2019: Ganador
  • 2008: En proceso

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: Norwich Council
  • Architect: Cathy Hawley
  • Architect: Mikhail Riches

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Norwich, United Kingdom

Description

Goldsmith Street, an innovative development consisting of approximately 100 homes, was constructed by Norwich City Council, bypassing profit-driven developers. These homes epitomize true social housing, leased directly from the council with secure tenancies at fixed rates. Notably, they stand as some of the most energy-efficient residences ever erected in the UK, meeting the rigorous Passivhaus standards from Germany, resulting in a remarkable 70% reduction in fuel expenses for tenants.

Initially, the council had intended to sell the site to a local housing provider, but the plans were thwarted by the financial crisis. In 2012, the city made the bold decision to undertake the development itself, despite not having built homes for decades. Facing challenges, including the loss of around 500 council homes in recent years due to policies transferring public assets into private hands, Norwich navigated financial constraints. Current regulations allow councils to use only 30% of receipts from council home sales through the contentious right-to-buy policy to cover new home costs within a tight three-year timeframe. Nevertheless, Norwich found a solution, employing a combination of borrowing, funds from its housing revenue account, some right-to-buy receipts, and council reserves to proceed with the development independently, without a housing association or development partner.

London-based architects Mikhail Riches and Cathy Hawley won the competition for the site in 2008. Their proposal, distinguishing itself by advocating for streets over blocks of apartment buildings, was inspired by the Golden Triangle buildings, a coveted neighborhood characterized by Victorian terraced houses. This choice demonstrated a lesson in density, challenging planning norms by showcasing the possibility of maintaining humane scaling while accommodating more homes.

Extensive attention to detail is evident throughout the development, from the intricate brick balconies to the cleverly designed interlocking staircases in the three-story flats, ensuring each residence has its own street-facing entrance. Back gardens overlook planted alleys featuring communal tables and benches, while parking is relegated to the site's perimeter, prioritizing pedestrian-friendly streets.

In 2019, the buildings were awarded the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize. Norwich continues to advocate for innovative approaches to social housing, addressing financial and social constraints to further its endeavors in this regard.

Aalborg East - from an isolated vulnerable area to an inclusive community

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Aalborg East - from an isolated vulnerable area to an inclusive community

Policies and regulations Local policies Land Building capacity Public-private initiatives Participatory processes
Urban Design Urban fabrics Liveability Inclusion Participatory processes
Promotion and production Participatory processes
Ownership and tenure Protection of social housing

Main objectives of the project

An isolated an deprived residential area in Denmark's fourth-largest city had, since its construction in the 1960s and 70s, experienced increasing decline and negative spiral. Now, Aalborg East is a mixed community, with a vivid atmosphere and centered on the well-being of its citizens. It has become a story of success in social housing policies in Europe.

Date

  • 2023: Ganador
  • 2011: Construction

Stakeholders

  • Constructor: Himmerland Boligforening
  • Promotor: Aalborg Municipality

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Denmark

Description

Aalborg East, originally established as a satellite city in the 1970s, faced significant challenges over the past years, characterized by deteriorating old buildings, primarily comprised of social housing, and a declining economy leading to escalating issues of unemployment and crime. Recognizing the urgent need for intervention, a comprehensive urban transformation initiative was launched, encompassing the renovation of over 2,000 affordable homes. This ambitious endeavor was guided by two fundamental principles: the promotion of a diverse community and the active engagement of local residents throughout the process. Thus, homes were renovated, new shops were added, private homes were built and several social initiatives were adopted. Residents sat at the table as urban planners, so no homes have been demolished, and no residents have been displaced.

The whole process has been vastly affected by tenant democracy. There were building committees consisting of tenants, and every major decision was made at attendant meetings. Strong and strategic partnerships with both the public and private sector were also central because a housing association cannot do it all by themselves. For example, construction fields have been sold to private investors to densify some areas with freestanding house blocks and to diversify the economy.

In conclusion, the renovations were completed by using a variety of building types, appealing to a wider residential composition. Moreover, new infraestructure was put in place to foster the new mixed community. For instance, a new health house was built where training courses are in place, which makes the area more visible for people who would not visit Aalborg East daily. It is fair to say that the Danish social housing provider Himmerland Boligforening went further than usual, leading the way in Europe on how to integrate social housing tenants in the strategic city development as well as making them active city planners. The results are astonishing. Now Aalborg East is an area of well-being with safe areas, no crime, and great economic growth.

In 2023, the project won the NEB awards in “Prioritising the places and people that need it the most”.