Berlin-Tempelhof Airport building: 312,000 square meters of total floor space. Concreted apron: 236,000 square meters. Tempelhof Field: a vast 355 hectares. For twelve years, flight operations have been suspended. Since 2009 the buildings, including the airfield, have been owned by the State of Berlin. In the intervening years: discussions and processes about what to do with this massive area. The collective, which has been working from the former gatehouse of the airport since 2018, joins many others with the demand that whatever transformation happens, it must be for the common good—fit for our children’s children. This means: Making the city of the future and developing new imaginaries demand planning with care for humans and non-humans, but also with respect for this planet.
Initiative for a Cooperative Future City
Financing the Cooperative City
The book and action research project Funding the Cooperative City. Community Finance and the Economy of Civic Spaces describes numerous case studies from across Europe, which tell of how local community finance can be set up. A wide variety of groups that have developed new models for developing and operating non-commercial spaces for their neighborhoods are presented and discussed. None of this is easy, as many interviews and discussion notes reveal. But it is possible: through the formation of solidarity networks, neighborly commitment, a willingness to experiment, and administrative and often financial support from the respective communities.
A Co-Financed Bridge Generates New Impulses
Twenty years ago, the architecture office ZUS moved into an anonymous Schieblock in Rotterdam as an anti-squatter. At that time, however, the areas surrounding this block were cut up and separated by roads and railway lines. This is how the idea of a bridge was born. The hope: new impulses and uses for empty buildings and urban wastelands. Interestingly, the bridge brought people together even before it existed. Via an internet platform, people were able to purchase wooden planking for the future bridge, which was fully opened in 2015. Other aspects of the project were strongly supported by the municipality of Rotterdam: Work and office space, restaurants, cafés, and green spaces. Since then, there has been a lot of talk about the quarter’s new vitality but also about the consequences of upgrading and exclusivity.
Due to out-migration, the city of Görlitz has shrunk by a quarter of its population since the 1990s. In 2008, a research group of the TU Dresden and the Görlitz city administration dared an experiment to attract new people to the city. Temporary living in Görlitz should reveal the qualities and potential of this place. Probewohnen, Stadt Erleben, and Stadt auf Probe, and now the fourth edition of the project is underway. Those interested can try out living in the city and get to know the networks in the cultural and youth sectors. They can use shared workspaces as well as workshops and thus directly explore new social and professional perspectives.
A Quarter Taking Matters Into Its Own Hands
In the 1980s, Toxteth is the setting for violent class struggles. People move to other parts of Liverpool; many of the Victorian row houses fall into disrepair. As a result, a group becomes active in the neighborhood. They clean up, plant flower beds, paint windows, and establish a market. A Community Land Trust is set up. The aim: to create affordable housing that is owned by the people from the neighborhood. The group convinces the municipality not to demolish the houses. Later, the architecture collective Assemble comes on board and develops a plan for the area. Although the work is still unfinished and many houses are still in need of further attention, the people’s goal of taking the future of their area into their own hands has been achieved for the time being.
A Small Town’s Dialogue with Civil Society
The small town of Altenburg in Thuringia is shrinking. Since the 1980s, the population has declined by over 40%. Numerous individuals and initiatives have therefore been active for several years. They want to counteract the downbeat atmosphere. The cooperation of various initiatives, support associations, and cultural institutions—Stadtmensch—is supported by a program under the National Urban Development Policy and working on purposefully expanding existing models for the co-produced city. In concrete terms, the aim is for civil society to assume responsibility for public indoor and outdoor spaces. Calls for ideas bring forth projects, the implementation and promotion of which are decided upon by locals through various procedures. An important criterion: the projects should serve the common good.
A Model Project for Refugee Integration
Former mayor Domenico »Mimmo« Lucano of the southern Italian municipality of Riace was co-founder of the association Città Futura—City of the Future. In collaboration with aid organizations, he took in refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Palestine, and Lebanon. With this came state subsidies that were then also invested in the village’s infrastructure, which—many today believe—would likely have died out without the new residents. And so, together with the locals, abandoned houses were repaired. The newcomers were also introduced to local traditions of glass making, ceramics, and embroidery. But from the beginning, there was resistance to what was seen as an idiosyncratic approach, which finally led to the project’s collapse a few years ago. Lucano was accused of malpractice, abuse of his position, and had to leave Riace. In the meantime, however, he’s back forging new plans.
From Wasteland to Neighborhood Local
In the north of Brussels, surrounded by streets and yet almost hard to find, a small paradise has emerged. In 2013, a diverse team put an idea into practice: they combined the special and unique features of a park with urban agriculture and micro-farming. Involved were local initiatives and groups that had been using the fringes of the fallow land for some time for the collective cultivation of fruit and vegetables, small animal husbandry, and pigeonries. The resulting location—Parckfarm—still brings the neighborhood together today. Different actors organize various activities, workshops, gardening, and debates. However, a land use plan for the area is now in place. Neighborhood associations and initiatives see access to and use of the park as threatened.