The Wekerle estate in the southeast of Budapest has been part of the worldwide Transition Town Network for several years, which addresses the global challenges of the climate emergency and develops practices for local production as well as re-use. Alternative energy concepts are developed, food sovereignty is created, sustainable construction and emission-free mobility are promoted. In Wekerle, particular emphasis is placed on community-supported agriculture, organic horticulture is promoted through courses, seeds of local vegetable varieties are traded on exchange platforms, and compost is systematically collected. The local government has recognized this approach’s potential and supports it—despite some resistance—with material and financial resources. And so, a community house has been built, a community garden laid out, and the market place redesigned.
City in Transition
From Locomotive Workshop to Library
In 2009, the municipality of Tilburg, together with two large real estate and construction groups, acquired a massive plot directly behind the main railway station. The original plan was to demolish existing buildings, such as the former locomotive hall, or LocHal for short, and to construct huge office and apartment complexes. However, the decision was reversed. Instead of demolition, redevelopment and conversions took root. And so, in 2019, the municipal library—which is much more than just a collection of books—opened here. Its glass hall protects an inner-city square with a café and open staircase. There are also archives, offices, as well as event rooms and, on the perimeters, workshop areas and small meeting rooms. The many people who use the building for a wide range of activities make it clear that public space will continue to play an essential role in the future.
Tracing Colonial Histories
For about five years, an archive has existed in Amsterdam, revealing that which is buried and rarely told. It makes visible (again) eradicated and suppressed voices, histories, and stories. Building on the legacy of the Surinam-born and later Amsterdam-based social scientist Waldo Heilbron, a center for (post)colonial history was established. From this base, hegemonic and Euro-centric historiography is expanded upon with other aspects, data, and facts that paint a more differentiated and multi-perspectival image of global developments over the last 400 years. As a place for collecting, researching, mediating, and producing knowledge, The Black Archives demonstrates how history can be oriented differently and, step by step, supplemented and expanded with exactly those missing and suppressed voices.
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 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.
Transformation Instead of Demolition and Construction
All over the world, large housing estates like Cité du Parc rise upwards out of spacious park landscapes. They are often considered »social hotspots.« As is the case here. In the early 2000s, the French state decided to rethink the future of such housing estates. This is where the architecture firm Lacaton & Vassal with Druot comes in. The team had been working on this question for some time: How can spatial transformations be planned and implemented so that they do not lead to occupant displacement? The office’s work illustrates that alternatives to demolition and new construction do exist. And they define new qualities in buildings, which many believe cannot be improved.