On 24 and 25 October we are holding the Conference on Housing as a forum for discussion between professionals, experts on different kinds of housing from around the world, and representatives of associations and cooperatives who will be bringing their experience and points of view on housing and new ways of living together.
The conference will provide an opportunity to find out about the new and more established realities of the housing sector: How is renting regulated in European capitals? How can tenants get organised to defend their interests? What rehabilitation options do we have for regenerating the buildings and environment we live in?
Social rental is a matter for everybody
The economic crisis and the boom Barcelona is enjoying as a tourist destination have had a direct impact on housing, one of the basic rights people have. Housing prices have soared and social rental housing is limited, but there are alternatives. Cohousing has been an established practice in the countries of northern Europe for many years.
Housing Europe is the European Federation of Social, Public and Cooperative Housing. It was set up in 1988 and is now a network of 44 regional and state federations in 23 countries which manage more than 26 million dwellings around the continent. Sorcha Edwards, the General Secretary of Housing Europe, will be speaking on the various social housing options available in Europe on Monday 24.
The following day there will be a roundtable discussion on a number of international cohousing experiences involving speakers on very different experiences such as Franciska Ullman, an architect and lecturer at the University of Stuttgart (Germany), and Raúl Vallés, architect, lecturer and a member of the Housing Cooperatives of Montevideo (Uruguay).
Other participants include Javier Burón, Barcelona City Council’s housing manager, and representatives of various bodies and associations that promote cohousing.
Regulating the rental market is a necessity
Faced with the effects of property speculation, it is becoming increasingly clear that rents need to be controlled by public administrations. Max Gigling, a researcher in social housing policies at the Valencia Housing Observatory, will outline some examples from cities such as Berlin and Paris, where local authorities have the power to control house rents.
However, access to affordable housing does not depend on the authorities alone. Since the start of the 20th century the International Union of Tenants (IUT) has brought regional and state tenants’ associations together to defend the right to a decent home. Magnus Hammar, the IUT’s general secretary, will tell us how these tenants’ unions work.
The construction of new architectural projects is a constant feature of the urban landscape but why don’t we breathe new life into existing buildings? Urban regeneration promotes a different kind of city model, one that opts for reconditioning existing buildings and making them more habitable. The idea behind this is to make them more efficient and more sustainable, while helping to improve people’s quality of life.
Juan Rubio del Val, who is in charge of the Urban Rehabilitation Area and Residential Innovation Projects at Sociedad Municipal Zaragoza Vivienda (SLU), will be taking part in a roundtable discussion on Tuesday 25 that will outline various reasons why urban rehabilitation benefits cities.
Affordable solutions for gaining access to housing
Developments in building materials and advances in construction techniques offer us alternatives to traditional constructions for tackling the current housing emergency.
There will be a discussion on Tuesday 25 where experts such as Sandra Bestraten, a lecturer at the Barcelona School of Architecture (ETSAB-UPC) and a member of the bharquitectura collective, will share their experiences and plans for improving efficiency and sustainability but, above all, making the right to housing more accessible.
The Housing Conference is part of the 2016 Architecture Congress and is being organised by Barcelona City Council in collaboration with the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Observatory (DESC) and the Architects’ Association of Catalonia (COAC). The seminars and roundtables will take place at the COAC’s headquarters (Plaça Nova nº 5, Barcelona).