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New European Bauhaus Prizes 2024

Regaining a sense of belonging

Cooperative Ownership for Communities
Creating a multi-functional cooperative space for communities from a brownfield site in Budapest
In our project we aim to create a multifunctional space retrofitting a four-story building in an old industrial site of Budapest, Hungary. Through circular renovation and sustainable methods we aim to create an inclusive and accessible space for all. Collective ownership enables the provision of affordable housing for vulnerable groups (women after facing trauma, young people), and creating space for cooperatives and locals, while also decommodifying the building.
EU Member State, Western Balkans or Ukraine
Hungary- Pest
Mainly urban
It refers to a physical transformation of the built environment (hard investment)
Early concept
As an individual partnership with other persons/organisation(s)

Our goal with the Cooperative Ownership for Communities project is to create collectively owned housing, offices and community spaces by giving a new meaning to a vacant building. It is vital in creating a more liveable city in which the unused areas get a new function and help the local community and those in need. The project would target those people who are exposed to social inequalities by satisfying their basic and social needs. We want to create a space from the former print factory and trade union centre building of an old factory site in the 8th district of Budapest.
The building's four floors make it very suitable for a mixed-use transformation. Two floors will have housing units. One of them will house women and mothers who need affordable housing after facing trauma (eg. domestic violence, sex trafficking) and help them heal and reintegrate with the help of social workers and a strong and safe community. Another floor will function as a dormitory for the students of an already existing special college which has a strong connection to social movements, mobilising youth from the countryside through non-formal education. The building would have a floor where offices of CSO-s would take place. Furthermore, rentable community spaces – to host various programmes, –and a workshop, library and art space would also operate here. The basement would give place to a gym which welcomes the people living in the neighbourhood, and the space next to it would operate as a warehouse for a food cooperative from the countryside, enabling its operation in a bigger city with the possibility to grow. The housing complex will create 10 flats for women and their children, and 40 beds in the dormitory for students. The different functions allow the whole building to offer a meeting point to people from different age groups and social backgrounds, and with the help of community events held in the building the community will also have a chance to integrate into the neighbourhood
change of function
sustainable renovation
building cooperative models
solidarity housing solutions
self-organisation, participatory planning
As an old industrial building, this location is at the moment not suitable for housing or community purposes - however after the renovation, it can be a model project for combining social and ecological aspects in brownfield investments.

During the renovation, we will put great emphasis on energy efficiency and the usage of fossil-free energy sources. To achieve this, we will work together with not-for-profit organisations that are active in this field and have experience in retrofitting old industrial buildings. Installing solar PV-s at the top of the building will ensure a clean energy source, and the retrofitting will be partially done with natural materials. Based on our energy production, we might also be able to use heatpumps in the building. As a nature-based solution, we would also introduce a green wall to the building, cleaning the air and further improving the insulation of the walls.

One of Hungary's first energy community incubators is also active in the area, and the first energy cooperative was established in the vicinity. We could also work with them in the project to create an energy community within the building, whose members could be the different organisations operating here.

A rain garden of native plants will be created in front of the building, improving the local use of rainwater, reducing the building's emissions, cooling the environment and increasing local biodiversity.

Since there are a lot of old, abandoned industrial sites in Hungary, this project could be very useful as a model to renovate them and give them new purpose. Also, since they are relatively cheap, compared to other residential properties, this project can also be seen as a model for a viable financing and business strategy.
We believe that the work of design professionals is essential to make this project as liveable and aesthetic as possible, but this professional viewpoint in itself, without a lively dialogue with the intended users can rarely provide the best possible outcomes for the tenants. For that, the concept introduced here will describe the outlines of the project, ensuring the inclusion of core values such as sustainability, social inclusion, cultural reflexion, architectural and design value, but all details of the design plan will be derived from a participatory planning process carried out with the groups of intended users of the building. This process will also help users to gain a sense of ownership and belonging, by having their ideas later built into their physical surroundings.
We pay particular attention to reflecting on the history and existing cultural and architectural properties of the building and the district. The building belonged to Ganz Factories, a significant entity of Hungarian industrialization, so many locals have a personal connection to the old factory site. We found that the functions we plan could integrate into the history and life of the community and keeping the image and scale of the building mostly untouched, only revitalised by the green wall and garden, we respect the history and provide sustainable innovation in an optimal mix. The greening of the building and area is also a way to ensure a combined quality experience, since natural elements are known to have psychologically beneficial effects on people. In terms of interior design, we plan to do the renovation in industrial style. This style needs less reconstruction, thus using less new materials, and it can provide a connection to the industrial roots of the building itself. Since industrial interior design is a popular style nowadays, we believe that this is not a compromise between aesthetics and feasibility, but a well considered mixture of these, where both areas enrich eachother.
The context of the location is that Józsefváros, the 8th district of Budapest is a rapidly changing neighbourhood. Giving home to a lot of immigrants, much of the Romani community, students and working class people, it's one of the most diverse districts of Budapest. The locals in the rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood are very prone to market forces and recent crises, and the constant rise in housing prices. It’s also worth mentioning, that this industrial site is being used as a market at the moment, used by a lot of people, however still having many unused buildings. Hence, the relationship between the site and the neighbourhood is contradictory at the moment, our project could mean a link in connecting them in a meaningful way.
The key objective of the project is to create physical spaces for people and initiatives who need it the most. We include these groups in the planning process, so they can form a personal bond to this space from the beginning. We plan to help the intended residents create a self-governing community where their shared spaces and activities can be planned democratically according to their needs. We will encourage them to share and split their tasks around the building, and create systems by which they can help each other out in otherwise isolated tasks in the fields of reproductive and caregiving work. Examples of this can range from cooking meals in turns for the community, to managing child care with the help of the community.
Since our aim is to make this project as inclusive as possible, the building will be accessible for wheelchair users too. We will place ramps where needed, and we will renovate the elevator already located in the building.
The project in itself can be understood as a great starting point for more inclusive real estate development practice, but in itself it is only a small element of working for a more equal society and easing the effects of the housing crisis experienced in many regions of Europe.
The project is still in the preparatory phase so the involvement of the target groups is in its early stage. We separated different groups involved in the project and started thinking together and analysing the needs. First we started to identify the possible partners with whom we can work together throughout the project.
Single mothers and victims of violence against women are in a very difficult situation on the housing market in Hungary, because there is no government support available, and supported housing arrangements are very limited. Similarly, affordable student accommodation places are very limited, which also contributes to the drop-out of lower status students from university education. Our housing project would give an affordable option for both of these target groups.
We plan to involve all future partners in designing and planning the building with the help of the participatory planning method, so the space can be customised by the identified needs of people involved and affected by the project. We would involve women’s rights organisations to help us create a safe space for the women and we would use the insights of former and present students of the special college.
Social organisations and cooperatives struggle to secure an affordable working space for their operations, which also makes it difficult for these initiatives to stabilise themselves and scale up. We plan to work closely with the civil organisations interested in using the offices/community spaces in the preparations and in the execution as well.
The community space would be open for everyone interested and will give place to conferences, trainings, workshops, children's activities and joint programmes with the elderly, so it is important for us to involve those target groups as well. We plan to organise creative events where these people can channel their thoughts so the space will reflect their needs. Since we are in contact with a lot of CSOs, these partnerships could arise.
The current owner of the site, Ganz Holding Ltd. was initially involved in the property development. They helped us to learn about the history of the industrial estate and the building, so that we could start the sustainable redevelopment process by designing the renovation with the building's features in mind.
We’ll involve architects, engineers and designers who work with sustainability and functionality in mind. In the development phase we need to partner with construction companies who can carry out the renovation. In this, we will lean on the construction cooperative called Gólya Építők.
As the building complex complements the operation of social institutions, we will contact a number of CSO-s to design the support of future residents together. For the development of housing functions, we will work together with CSO-s, namely with EMMA and NANE for the women’s apartments, and the special college for the dormitories. For the offices, our stakeholders will be organisations from Budapest, who are committed to the principles of solidarity and equity, and are in need of affordable office space. The community-supported agriculture project we are partnering with for the warehouse is from South-Western Hungary.
The local municipality is also an important partner, because it has a regulatory role in the area, but also has developmental plans for the site. Furthermore, the municipality will be an important partner when facing larger external actors.
Internally, we continuously build partnerships in order to learn from similar examples, and also to access financing in a federated way. Our partner organisation, the Alliance for Collaborative Real Estate Development is part of an international network for housing cooperative initiatives, called MOBA Housing SCE.
Our local supporting community is also a stakeholder. They will also be involved as investors, as parts of a crowd investment effort, and be subject to community-building.
Sustainability was a primary consideration for the project, so we opted for a brownfield investment. We find it exceptionally important in making cities more welcoming that residents are not surrounded by empty, crumbling buildings, but that these buildings are equipped with new social functions. We are working with architects and community energy experts to make the new housing complex a model project that can be easily replicated by other organisations.
During the designing of the space, it is important for us that all those who use the building can shape the way they imagine it, so it will be functional and aesthetically pleasing as well. The participatory planning phase coincides with design for all concepts principles, by this method we make sure that we create a space which is accessible for everyone and welcoming to all, hence we will also work together with participatory planning
We are seeking the help of architects experienced in creating spaces for community living (co-housing, housing cooperatives) to carry out community design. We believe it is important to renovate in a sustainable way, so we will consult energy experts and people with experience in green investments on the renovation of the building.
We worked together with housing organisations with model programs to better understand the designing processes of social housing. It is also important to consult with social institutions and maternity homes about creating a safe and welcoming home for women in need.
It is also of the utmost importance to include experts, since the project aims to give a replicable answer to the challenges posed by the housing crisis and the social isolation crisis of big cities, which can be best tackled with interdisciplinary expertise. After the community planning, we will hold a joint meeting, where social, environmental and architectural aspects can meet when designing an inclusive space.
There are no real estate investments in Hungary today that don’t treat housing as an investment. However, it is here that within the CEE region, housing prices have recently increased the fastest, so it would be very important to promote decommodifying initiatives.
Furthermore, the Hungarian housing sector is lacking buildings that incorporate a variety of functions, where a range of people can meet and coexist. Student dormitories are becoming increasingly expensive, crowded and the buildings are often of poor quality, with little space for communal functions.
The creation of a community home for single mothers and vulnerable women would also fill a gap in the social system. Maternity homes in Hungary are usually shelter-like institutions, only available for a fixed period, so women are under constant pressure to find their next home. This home would also provide regular contact with social workers, and the many communal spaces and shared housing would help them to reduce the care workload of their own; even though they access independent housing.
The function of the space for the offices would make it easier for the organisations to work together in the same space. They could rent offices at a lower rent than the market rate. This is crucial for their possibilities of scaling up and reaching a larger number of people. The organisations that would be involved here include civil society organisations working with disadvantaged youth, food sovereignty, housing issues, social integration etc.
In the basement, we would run a storage facility for a community-supported agriculture group, which would also be innovative in the Hungarian context. Based on our experience so far, CSA initiatives find it difficult to distribute in Budapest because they cannot find a suitable storage space. By setting up such a space, we could greatly help to create a distribution centre, which would provide district residents with access to high quality local food at reasonable prices.
The project builds on a mixed methodology, incorporating the knowledge of the developers from various fields. The project presented here is the result of a collaboration between a social housing expert, an energy efficiency expert, a sociologist and an architect. We believe that this partnership results in a valuable and innovative approach presented below.
In terms of its legal form, the anti-speculative, collectively-owned building could be a counter-example to the gentrification processes currently underway: real estate development used as an investment, resulting in the displacement of local communities from their own neighbourhoods. Creating affordable housing and an accessible community space for locals will serve as a good example.
We focus on the community aspect in the design process by using a participatory methodology as mentioned before. During the architectural process we will use the method of circular renovation which uses the circular economy principles by avoiding the use of new materials and by extending the lifespan of an already existing building. Using long lasting materials and creating an energy efficient building is a must to minimise carbon emissions. We design spaces using the methods of environmental psychology, recognising the positive impact of a green environment on people's wellbeing.
We aim to solve social problems that we believe the community-led housing model can solve. We see that our target groups – vulnerable women and young people – have specific needs regarding their housing situation. We work together with organisations engaged with end-users, so we can create services that benefit the future tenants. Community-led solutions have several benefits such as combating loneliness, affordable long-term housing in this case and building a long-lasting strong community. Women who have previously faced trauma need complex services, safe and affordable housing and a community to facilitate trauma processing.
The lack of affordable housing is an increasingly concerning problem globally. The most fragile communities and groups are affected by this crisis with a greater impact, such as our target groups, but the model of creating multi-purposed buildings tackling the lack of community and lack of stable housing in a complex, multi-disciplinary approach can be applied in helping any other disadvantaged groups.
Including offices and storage space in the plan helps the project to be financially viable while providing affordable working space for initiatives that work for a more equal society. This mixture of non-profit purposes with more profitable functions is a concept that can be adapted to many local conditions.
Sustainable building practices are essential for all of us, but it can also be a key element for the success of similar projects. Energy efficiency makes the reduction of utility costs possible, and including gardens and green walls play an important role in the wellbeing of the users of the building. This can be transferred to other projects. Revitalising vacant buildings for socially responsible projects is also a transferable element. This approach can often reduce development costs, and in all cases it reduces the use of new building materials, thus helping to create more sustainable projects.
We consider the participatory planning method to be a valuable example for these types of projects. Our participation-based development model could help spread the practice of this cooperation between developers and underprivileged groups.
For that reason we will put a great emphasis on spreading the experience of this project, and encourage other initiatives to develop buildings that provide a solution for housing issues, lack of community spaces, isolation and marginalisation with multi-purpose projects, since these issues are often interconnected, and one can not be tackled without the others.
The decreasing availability of affordable housing is a problem experienced in many regions worldwide. The more the real estate market functions as a site of profit oriented, speculative investments, the higher the market drives the cost of housing, which has an increasingly devastating effect on the access to stable housing for the most fragile social groups. We aim to separate our development project from these market mechanisms by establishing a collective ownership model capable of protecting the users from the unpredictable changes of the economy.
Isolation and the lack of strong communities is a problem most social groups experience in some areas and periods of their lifetime, but this problem also affects marginalised groups most intensively. The district in which our project will be established has been known for being a home of many minorities and financially deprived groups, who we hope to provide with a space to meet, helping to prevent or reduce their isolation and marginalisation.
Besides these mostly social issues, urban spaces face developmental challenges globally. Vacant buildings, and brownfields are present in most cities as result of the economic changes that require shifts in function. Many times new functions are hosted in new buildings, which results in demolishing the previous ones or leaving them empty and prone to decay. Reusing old buildings instead of creating new ones is a practice to be applied in as many concepts as possible, our project is a local example of this.
The climate and ecological crisis of our time is also in the forefront of the challenges we face. Lack of natural spaces and biodiversity is one of the most prominent difficulties of urban areas, greening our spaces is crucial in tackling these challenges. Hungary is lagging behind in completing its energy efficiency and renewable energy goals, so creating this as a model project for a sustainable building would also help promote these issues.
We have already been working on this concept systematically for the past year, having already created some financial resources to develop the project. We have been working according to a timeline of different work packages, which we would be able to continue and speed up with the help of this prize.
In the following year we want to finish the preparatory stage of the project, which means eventually acquiring the property.
The first work package is the legal preparation which includes clarifying the legal relations and then setting up the legal entity owning, renovating and managing the building.
The second work package is financial preparation. We did a financial plan but it will take time to work out the details and try different scenarios to find the best way to finance this project. Then we will create a business plan which will be used in the course of negotiations with banks or private investors. We will also create a fundraising campaign to reach out to future supporters and stakeholders, and raise money to expand our resources. We will also develop a community investment scheme, which allows individuals connected to the project to support it.
The third work package deals with the acquisition of the property and planning the renovation. As we envisaged a brownfield project, it is of paramount importance to assess the building with the help of several experts and to look for special and sustainable practices for renovation. We will organise participatory planning events with the future tenants and involve further architects who have experience in green development and design.The fourth work package includes learning about good practices and engaging with stakeholders. We plan to organise online discussions with organisations abroad, who are doing similar projects for knowledge-sharing.
After finishing the preparatory phase we start to acquire our resources, take ownership of the property and finally start the renovation with our partners and volunteers.