|Project title||Civic City: Vacant properties in the service of communities|
|Thematic area||Human rights and democracy|
|Name of the organization||Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre|
|Postal address||1061 Budapest, Székely Mihály utca 8.|
|Phone||+36 1 322 2907; +36 30 522 5994|
|Project manager||Polyák Levente|
|Project timeframe||September 9th, 2013 - March 9th, 2016|
|Amount of support||131,955 €|
KÉK’s aim is to empower civil society by creating a framework for the use of vacant properties through temporarily discounted lease. Besides the large number of long-term vacant properties many groups with social/art activities lack space. Connecting them will serve as a catalyst. KÉK elaborates and demonstrates through managing the partners into a legal and economic framework for renting and operating spaces. This opens perspectives for civil society, real estate owners in creating new uses for properties. Activities: identifying community organizations in need of space; developing their projects, mapping empty properties and current state of rental legislation; elaborating models of sustainable use; negotiating with owners; organizing professional and public events and campaigns. The Oslo School of Architecture and Design supports the program with experiences from Oslo in form of a workshop, field trip and an exhibition. http://toltsdujra.hu/en/, http://lakatlan.kek.org.hu/en/.
•Title of the project
LAKATLAN__Reload! (Civic city: Vacant properties in the service of communities)
•Location/geographical coverage of the project
The aim of the Vacant City program is to help NGOs, social enterprises as well as community groups with social objectives to find and access vacant urban properties for temporary use. KÉK initiates cooperation with groups in whose work affordable space has a paramount importance. By finding space for these initiatives, the project aims to serve as a catalyst in helping organizations cooperate with other functions and uses in the same spaces, creating synergies and unfold their capacities.
The program consists of activities including identifying local organizations in need of space; finding empty properties and matching them with the organizations; developing the samples for legal and commercial contracts defining the in-between use of these spaces; mentoring and incubating the organizations as well as helping them elaborate an organizational strategy; negotiating with owners; and organizing professional and large public events and media campaigns. In the course of the program, KÉK together with its partners elaborates legal and economic frameworks that allow eligible organizations to use vacant properties for a defined period, thus helping the stabilization of social and community activities, connecting compatible initiatives from different fields, increasing to the economic sustainability of the civil society, and contributing to a more transparent public real estate management as well as to NGOs’ capacity to participate at decision-making in urban development.
oWhat is the aim of the project
The aims of the Lakatlan_Töltsd Újra! project are to find solutions for the problem of vacant properties across Budapest, and to rethink them from the viewpoints of employment, community building and social innovation as unused resources and extensions of urban public spaces.
oWhat are the main _activities_
- research on vacant properties and their reuse, identifying international best practices and examining their local applicability
- developing and upgrading the Lakatlan vacant property map, as well as the database of initiatives searching for space
- incubation of initiatives, developing economic and organisational models
- advising municipal agencies
- developing the legal and economic framework of temporary use
- matchmaking: organizing public and closed meetings for stakeholders interested in a given property and urban site, organizing community planning workshops to elaborate models for the sites
- temporary use concepts for sites and buildings
132.000 EUR - EEA/Norway grants
15.400 EUR - Creative Industries Fund (NL)
11.300 EUR - Budapest City Municipality, Rögtön Jövök! (Coming Soon) Project Galery
•Are there any stakeholders/partners involved
From the beginning of the project, we aim at cooperating with civil, professional and municipal partners to elaborate the strategy of reusing vacant properties. To address public opinion and civil organisations, we launched campaigns and calls for projects, that enable us to make visible the problem of empty real estate in the city and to collect ideas and initiatives for their reuse. The call announced in the first phase of the project received over 400 proposals, out of which we selected 34 initiatives with whom we work intensely, besides many other more loose cooperations. Furthermore, we continuously receive requests for space from initiatives that had not been ready for applying at the time of the call. In addition to civil actors, the cooperation with professional organisations and universities has a paramount importance. Since the beginning of the program, many courses of the MoME, BME and Corvinus universities were addressing the subject of vacant buildings: we contribute to these courses as experts, and we expect from them professional resources that may help the project. In our workshops and events we reach out to real estate developers and provate property owners, who help in the elaboration of appropriate legal and economic frameworks with their remarks and critique. Moreover, besides being in conversation with several district municipalities, we work in a strategic partnership with the Municipality of Budapest. Together with the city’s Urban Landscape Department, we operate the Coming Soon! Project Gallery concentrating on empty properties, and we elaborate a municipal model that assures affordable rent in vacant public properties for socially significant initiatives in a transparent and quick way. The cooperation with the city’s Urban Planning Department resulted in inserting the concept of temporary use in the official urban development plans as well as in funding schemes. The Lakatlan program works with all these actors, and its distinguished objective is to bring together stakeholders, establishing a shared language and common goals among them.
•What is the used methodology/approach (if it can be considered as a unique approach/methodology)
The methodology is based on exploring in parallel the supply and demand sides of vacant properties and creating a framework for their reuse. It consists of:
1. identifying initiatives in need of space
2. identifying available properties
3. public campaign to promote the social use of empty properties
4. organizing workshops and lectures to elaborate working models for sites
5. elaborating legal and economic frameworks to facilitate temporary use
6. matchmaking between stakeholders
•What are the (expected) results/impacts
The planned results of the project go beyond enabling the access to affordable spaces of a few organisations: we envision to establish a more responsible real estate management approach both in the case of public and private properties, taking into account the real needs and possibilities of the city. Accessing affordable spaces will help creating a more stable, more sustainable civil society. Furthermore, we aim at helping civil organisations join urban development processes, linking stakeholders and enabling the cooperation of different actors.
•Specific risks and mitigation measures
There are several risks in the program. The slowness of the cooperating administrations, the unclear structure of decision-making all slow down the process; to accelerate all this, we engage with several partners in the same time, keeping alternative plans available for accessing properties. Besides this, the reluctance of owners to open up their properties for temporary use is another risk: with the municipalities, we’re working on elaborating tax incentives for property owners. In order to help initiatives access space, some architectural analysis and renovation are needed: to include experts in the process, we’re addressing our members and other professional organisations to help with the analyses. The renovation costs represent another challenge in the process: we are looking for additional funding that would also cover insurance for the utility costs and assure users in case they can’t pay their bills.
•Concrete achievements so far
Through our events and campaign, we made visible the problem of empty properties as well as promoted temporary use as a solution for this problem. As a result of our campaigns, we were featured in a variety of media, from online journals through local newspapers to national TV and radio stations, attracting support and offers from individuals as well as from municipalities. With our partner the Kreater Social Innovation Agency, we started working on the cooperating organisations’ economic feasibility plan, and started identifying available properties for them. Focusing on two large-scale projects, the area behind Nyugati Station (Nyugati Grund) and abandoned schools in the 6th and 7th districts, we began negotiations about the temporary use of these properties, involving a variety of stakeholders, including our cooperating civil organisations.
To promote temporary use as a strategy for vacant properties and local social economy, we launched online campaigns and calls for proposals, addressing both civil initiatives and private owners. Using social media has been a very efficient tool, but we also rely upon reports in the printed media, TV and radio channels. Our events (lectures, discussions and workshops) also attract significant attention, with the advantage of directly engaging various stakeholders in the development process of the given sites.
•Bilateral aspects (if any)
The Lakatlan program was visited by representatives of the Oslo Architecture School (AHO). Christian Hermansen and Barbara Ascher were leading a workshop in Budapest addressing small-scale architectural interventions in vacant spaces, as well as gave a lecture about their work. In May, the Lakatlan team is going to Oslo for a study visit, and will participate at workshops and symposia (see http://www.norskform.no/Kalender/Arrangementer/2014/Tomme-lokaler---nye-... and http://www.0047.org/events/view/91)