Co-op City Network: Housing for Sustainable Urban Futures
Globally, and particularly in the global south, affordable urban housing has been built by communities, i.e. without state intervention or through formal market delivery. Such self-provisioned housing is a key but under-studied part of both urban development and the future of urban sustainability. While global policy initiatives like the new UN Sustainable Development Goals are beginning to recognise the importance of “inclusive, resilient and sustainable cities,” the potential of self-provisioned housing as a means to achieving them remains untapped. Could self-provisioned housing play a part in creating and sustaining inclusive human settlements if enabled by local, national and global policy?
Answering this question requires new knowledge that gives us a deeper understanding of how to bring together the policy paradigms and practices of self-provisioning, particularly at a time when new centralised state programmes and market dynamics seem to challenge such integration. Bridging this divide is the core motivation of the Co-op City Network. Comparative case studies of self-provisioned housing cultures across India, South Africa, Brazil and Germany and primary, transdisciplinary action research will be translated into knowledge outputs for policy advocacy and capacity building instruments. COCINET promotes a more constructive role of the state in housing provision, which acknowledges the role and capacity of self-provisioning in building more inclusive and resilient cities.
The project is funded by International Social Science Council (ISSC)
In order to apply for the full funding of the International Social Science Council (ISSC), the ISSC granted seed funding to the project group to be able to gather the partners and develop a research agenda. Amongst other things, the grant was used to hold Workshops in the four main hubs. These workshops were held to gain an overview for regions being researched on in the future, if the grant will be awarded:
Workshop Meeting Hub Africa: Dar es Salaam, November 2014
Workshop Meeting Hub South America: Rio de Janeiro, December 2014
Workshop Meeting Hub Asia: Bangalore, January 2015
Workshop Meeting Hub Europe: Berlin, January 2015
Coordination Meeting: Berlin, January 2015
Pictures and results of the workshops can be seen in the sections at the bottom of the page.
Peer-reviewed articles in journals
Huchzermeyer, M. (2014) Humanism, creativity and rights: invoking Henri Lefebvre’s right to the city in the tension presented by informal settlements in South Africa today. Transformation. 85, 64-89.
Refereed book chapters:
Oswalt, Philipp. Overmeyer, Klaus. Misselwitz, Philipp (eds.) (2013). Urban Catalyst – The Power of Temporary Use. DOM Publishers, Berlin.
Huchzermeyer, M. and Karam, A. (forthcoming). South African housing policy over two decades: 1994-2014. In Kepe, T., Levin, M. and von Liers, B. (eds), Twenty Years of Freedom. UCT Press, Cape Town.
Huchzermeyer, M. (2014). Changing housing policy in South Africa. In Bredenoord, J., van Lindert, P. and Smets, P. (eds), Affordable Housing in the Urban Global South. Seeking Sustainable Solutions. pp.336-348. Earthscan, London.
Non refereed book chapters
Huchzermeyer, M. (2014) Forced evictions and the right to the city. In van Lindert, T. and Lettinga, D. (eds). The Future of Human Rights in an Urban World: Exploring Opportunities, Threats and challenges. Pp.29-33. Amnesty International Netherlands. http://www.amnesty.nl/sites/default/media/public/the_future_of_human_rights_in_an_urban_world_0.pdf
Misselwitz, Philipp. Matthiesen, Ulf. Kaltenbrunner, Robert. Willinger, Stefan (2014). Informeller Urbanismus. Zur Bedeutung des Informellen in der Stadtentwicklung. in: Informationen zur Raumentwicklung. Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development, Berlin.
Misselwitz, Philipp. Strutz, Julia (2012). Mischwohnen in der Türkei. in: Harlander, Tilman. Kuhn, Gerd. (Eds.): Soziale Mischung in der Stadt. Krämer Verlag, Stuttgart.
Misselwitz, Philipp (ed.) (2012) Space Time Dignity Rights. Published by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the United Nations Relief Works Agency. Berlin/ Amman.
Presentations at meetings
- Prasad Shetty: “User-Driven Housing Policies in Mumbai”
- Gautam Bhan: “Current Policy Developments in India“
- Rebecca Liu: “Housing in Hongkong and China”
- Dian Atri: “Experiences from Jakarta”
- Isaac Arul Selva: “How will communities benefit from this network?”
- Meera Bapat: “Network Structures”
Huchzermeyer, M., 2014. Informal Settlements through the lens of Henri Lefebvre’s right to the city. Urban Talks Series. 15 July. Habitat Unit and Urban Management, Technical University Berlin, Germany.
Huchzermeyer, M. and Charlton, S., 2014. Country Profile: South Africa. Presented via Skype to the Coop City Network inaugural meeting Africa hub, Dar es Salaam, 2-6 November.
Huchzermeyer, M., 2014. Grasping urban density in Nairobi’s unauthorised tenement districts.Paper presented at the Emerging Communities Symposium, Public Affairs Research Institute & History Workshop, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 30 October.
Huchzermeyer, M., 2014. The relevance of Henri Lefebvre’s ‘right to the city’ for South African cities, as mediated through its application to urban reform in Brazil. Paper presented at the African Association of Planning Schools (AAPS) Conference, Cape Town, 17-19 November 2014.
Bhan, G., 2015. From slums to neighborhoods. The Hindu, 9 June 2015. Available at: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/from-slums-to-neighbourhoods/article7295297.ece
Huchzermeyer, M., 2014. The Right to the City. Public Positions on History and Politics. 7 October. Wiser, the Department of Politics, and the History Workshop, University of the Witwatersrand. http://wiser.wits.ac.za/event/public-positions-right-city
Huchzermeyer, M. (2014). Regulated rental sector can meet the urban housing challenge. Private
Sector and Development (PROPARCO's Magazine), no. 19, 13-15. Available online at:
Steinberg is out of touch. Business Day, 13 January 2015. Available at:
Diverse imperatives cannot be contained in a mass housing programme. Business Day Live, 13 November, 2014 (with Sarah Charlton, Neil Klug and Margot Rubin)
New struggles for ownership of the city. The post-apartheid experiment has dismally failed the poor's right to urban redress, Mail and Guardian, 24-30 October, 2014. http://mg.co.za/article/2014-10-24-new-struggle-is-for-ownership-of-the-city
MOD Institute / Bayerischer Rundfunk: Radio interview Zündfunk (2015). http://www.mod.org.in/mod/mod-zundfunk/
Websites / Blogs / Broadcasting
MOD Institute / Tile von Damm, Markus Ewald, Anne-Katrin Fenk (2015): People's vision on future Shanthinagar. http://www.mod.org.in/mod/out-now-peoples-vision-on-future-shanthinagar/
MOD (n.a.): TV9. http://www.mod.org.in/mod/nextbangalore-tv9/
Praktiknjo, M. (2015): Best Practice? Low-income housing. Coop City Network Catalogue.
Goethe Institut, Dar es Salaam
The Workshop brings together key experts from selected Southern, Central and East African Countries (Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa & Tanzania) to discuss the overall aims of the Co-op City Network initiative, the current status of the respective Social Housing Programmes and grass root initiatives and the added value from the development of a regional perspective and its insertion into the wider international knowledge transfer network of the Co-op City Network initiative.
The Coop City Network meeting at the Goethe Institute in Dar es Salaam on November 5th 2014 was the first in a series of regional international workshops that helped to expand the network and sharpen its thematic scope. 12 exerts from 6 countries brought together expertise spanning government institutions, academia, development aid and private practice. Apart from presenting the initiative’s aim and experiences from the hubs in Berlin, Rio and Bengaluru, the workshop specifically concentrated on case studies from 5 African countries.
The contemporary experiences from the region itself vary greatly regarding the respective agency of institutions, community involvement, availability of funds and general methodology adopted. The examples discussed included: (a) a recently established cement and iron sheet subsidy and the legacy of other forms of public housing provision in Malawi; (b) upgrading of public spaces with community involvement in Mozambique; (c) the on-going development of a housing strategy by the City of Kigali in Rwanda based on a two-tiered approach spanning housing provision and upgrading for different income groups; (d) the gains and shortfalls of the Reconstruction and Development Programme and its relation to other forms of public housing support in South Africa; (e) the concentration on the actual provision of units employing building techniques based on more sustainable construction materials by the National Housing Corporation in Tanzania.
Most of the approaches and strategies discussed have been in use extensively elsewhere and some play a prominent role in the global discussion on housing provision. Therefore, likely benefits and threats were also crosschecked. The workshop specifically provided an opportunity for a better understanding about the attitude that national or municipal governments from the showcased countries foster towards housing.
Morgan Nyonyi | NHC – National Housing Corporation, Dar es Salaam
Subira Gudaddi | NHC – National Housing Corporation, Dar es Salaam
Dr. Adolfo Mascarenhas | University of Dar es Salaam
Gunter Klix | ARDHI University Dar es Salaam
Dr. Marie Huchzermeyer | University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Liliane Uwazinga Mupende | Director One Stop Centre, City of Kigali
Fatou Kiné Dyie | Coordinator Affordable Housing Unit, City of Kigali
Irene Schwarz | CIM Adviser on Affordable Neighborhood & Housing Development, One Stop Center, City of Kigali
Bernardino Jaieia | Faculdade de Arquitectura e Planeamento Físico, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Maputo
Mtafu Zeleza Manda | Alma Consult, Lilongwe
Dr. Rachel Lee | Technical University, Berlin
Dr. Philipp Misselwitz | Technical University, Berlin
Oliver Schetter | Technical University, Berlin
Museum of Art MAR, Rio de Janeiro
1. How to establish the knowledge exchange on a permanent basis?
2. How can social work be linked to income generation and the facilitation of access to work?
3. How can we improve partnerships between various sectors and actors (diversification)?
4. How can social work push the development according to other values?
5. How can we improve finance for social work?
Between 1980 and 1990 practices of self-organization in the housing sector were inspired by the housing production in São Paulo, which referred in particular to the Uruguayan cooperative model of FUCVAM1. Under the municipal government of Luisa Erondina (PT, 1989-1992), housing politics in São Paulo was structured and implemented based on the system of „mutirão", cooperative developments and assisted auto-construction. At that moment associations were given more autonomy in the process of the production of housing (financing, design of the project, etc.), and we can observe in this period an increase of offices for technical assistance (28 offices and laboratories in São Paulo). The experience of the Municipality of São Paulo created some multiplicators in the area of housing in other cities. First of all the State Government of São Paulo adapts some guidelines within the state housing regulations starting from the 1990s and some years later also within the federal programs such as Crédito Solidário (2005) and the Program Minha Casa, Minha Vida – Entidades (2009).
Cooperation and Social Work within the Program Minha Casa Minha Vida Entidades
The adaptation of social assistance is leading to challenges (difficulties) along the different stages of the project development:
- SERACH FOR LAND—This study is usually realized by working groups of the social movements according to the consultancy of real estate developers and direct negotiations with land owners, Municipality of Federal Government.
- VIABILITY STUDY—After the land is identified the associations (movements) are getting in contact with professionals sometimes from within the movements of with offices for technical assistance (entity organizers) in order to develop a viability study where the potentials for construction in this area for specific groups and profiles are verified.
- SELECTION OF THE LAND—In case the land is corresponding to the demands and the constructive requirements a contract for the option on the land is signed with the owner. This ‚reservation' of the land is usually guaranteed for 6 to 12 months.
- FINALIZATION OF THE VIABILITY STUDY—Elaboration of the urbanistic and architectonic viability studies, sketch of the financing operation, negotiation with the construction companies, organization of the documentation for the demand.
- ACQUISITION OF THE LAND—Anticipated acquisition of the land: The association receives funding for buying the land by the CAIXA (state bank), which goes directly to the land owner.
- ELABORATION OF THE PROJECT—Permit and approval by the local government and the CAIXA, adjustments to the project and the financing, realization of socio-economic surveys, elaboration of the PTTS (project for technical social work)
- APPROVAL OF THE WORKS—Selection of the families, approval of the demands by CAIXA (National Bank).
- CONTRACTING OF THE WORKS—Initiation of the process of contracting and construction of the works.
Challenges/opportunities for cooperative developments:
- Difficulties to mobilize social groups/to form an organized ‚civic society'
- Struggle to find land with good localization (right for access to land)
- Opportunities (instruments): social function of the property, instruments of urban planning (preemption), strengthening of the responsibilities of the Municipalities
- Improvement of the qualities of the project by facilitating administrative processes
- Creation of solidarity systems for inclusive networks
Claims (resulting from the analysis of the challenges):
- Establishment of social (technical) work as integral component of the social housing program (rather than being just the ‚glue' that holds everything together)
- Consideration of cooperation as process oriented networking (rather than result oriented enterprises) and provision of financing accordingly
- Development of social housing programs based on processes of social organization (rather than adapting social work to market oriented housing production)
Rainer Hehl | Instituto Casa / PUC Rio de Janeiro
Leticia Monte | Instituto CASA
Nanda Eskes | Instituto CASA
Sandra Kokudai | Fundação Bento Rubião
Valerio da Silva | Fundação Bento Rubião
Flavio Ghilardi | Fundação Bento Rubião
João-Paulo | Huguenin Fundação Bento Rubião
Elsa Burguiére | Fundação Bento Rubião
Rachel Carvalho | Fundação Bento Rubião
Alexandre Silva | Fundação Bento Rubião
Caio Santo Amore | PeaBiru
Cintia Almeida Fidelis | Ambiente
Cleo Dias dos Santos | Ambiente
Kaya Lazarini | USINA
Ricardo Gouvêa Corrêa | CAIXA Econômica Federal
Evaniza Rodrigues | União Nacional por Moradia Popular
Rosane Biasotto | Fundação Vale
Andreia Gama | Fundação Vale
Andreia Rabetim | Fundação Vale
Juliana Dimartini | Federal University Rio de Janeiro
Gonçalo Guimarães | Incubadora Tecnolólgica de Cooperativas Populares
Itamar Silva | IBASE
Joana Barros | FASE
Jurema da Silva | Constancio União Nacional por Moradia Popular
Luiza Helena Nunes | PUC Rio de Janeiro
Maria Emilia Batista Cordeiro | CAIXA Econômica Federal
Marcelo Edmundo | Central de Movimentos Populares
Rute Imanishi | IPEA
Andreia Mansur | Prefeitura de Niterói
Dayse Vanlença | ASPLANDE
Wanderley da Silva Nascimento | Fundação Bom Samaritano
Marisol Garcia Gonzales | Ciudaded Emergentes
Javier Abissab | TETO
Eduardo Solari Castro | Cooperativa Solidaria Utopia e Luta
Indian Institute for Human Settlements City Campus, Bangalore
Session 1 on Policies and State-led Housing Interventions:
- Housing requirements vary across regions, not only at the national level but also within regions of Indian states. By standardising solutions, housing policies have been unable to capture and regenerate to accommodate diverse practices in housing.
- A rise in auto-constructed housing by dwellers can be traced from the 1970s. In the last decade the Indian states have revisited housing through the JNNURM, a national scheme launched in 2005.
- Bulk of the focus on housing is on replacing the existing housing stock. Self-buit housing is encouraged by the state interventions.
- There is a need to change the language of housing to broaden the discourse that will re-embed 'housing' into the city.
- Housing and city are closely linked, with changes in housing having an impact on the city. The contribution of housing to the GDP is a possible way of regaining importance to housing.
- Data is a major limitation. It is difficult to directly correlate household income with the type of dwelling. The census, a widely used/available dataset in India, captures the spending of the households which is then used as a proxy for peoples income or earnings. Is there a different way of imagining/collecting/compiling data?
- Housing shortage and affordable housing has been the prerogative of the state. Most often solution to the shortage of housing ends up being ------- investment or a mere problem of calculus. Shortage not necessarily means number of housing units. There is a need for a definition of shortage by means of qualitative units of measure and not just matching the physical units with the projected trends.
- Living in a place brings locale specific parameters.
- Usually finance and land investments go together to address the shortage.
- A sector specific approach to housing may be a trap. How to escape the sector specific definition of housing?
- Commonly the services that are monetized become universally available. The potential for scaling innovations currently depends on arbitrary leaderships.
- Current vision of slum free cities is turning out as a campaign to free up urban land. Contestations in housing is laden with political discursive. Earlier the slum dwellers enjoyed 'political guarantee', which is not the case anymore with larger cities taking measures to make their cities without slums. At the same time people also utilize this agenda, for instance pavement dwelling is a means to get better entitlements. Homelessness has a mobilization role also that needs to be acknowledged.
- Relation between migration and housing is under explored. Rental housing essentially caters to the needs of the migrants. In current policy imagination, migration is not duly addressed.
- The ideas for interventions are often evaluated as a whole but there is a need to look into the details of interventions to appreciate and adopt some processes.
- There is a need to understand the ways in which legal frames are operating. Seemingly there is a deliberation tendency to implant planned uncertainties to buy-in more time either by the state or developers or the people.
Session 2 on Contextualizing 'User-driven' Housing:
Inputs by Rebecca Liu (University Hongkong) & Prasad Shetty (CRIT Mumbai)
- Affordable housing in China mainly caters to skilled labour in the form of cost allowance; low income groups; & public rental housing
- In China, user-driven housing not about physical construction of housing units by people but implementing housing projects through series of public consultation. Housing quality is of concern, taking it beyond the need for shelter by including services such as Schools, community centres, shopping, design process etc.
- In Hong Kong, cheap housing is commonly accessible in the villages at the out-skirts of the city. Mainly catering to the migrant workers.
- Multiplicity of appropriation of space is an important transition that takes place making a house into a home. Also exhibits ways of collective living and synchronised lifestyles. This implies a flexible form that exists emerging from the multiple functions overlapping as the functions change. Such qualities of housing blurs the boundaries/distinction between public/private, building /street, individual/communal.
- House/home is more of an event that happens in the urban, attached to aspirations of the dwellers, it is about making of urban citizens, transaction capacity (Densities, activities, livelihoods, accommodating diversity etc.), claiming rights (public system, services & infrastructure)
- How do these aspirations play out in space? What is the means to working out the aspirations of the dwellers? Livelihoods is a prominent means that has an impact on the kind of transactionable objects. What are the others? For instance sociocultural?
- 'User' as a term implies a consumerist perspective, making housing as a commodity. This may not suit the frame developed for COCINET. Does 'dweller' as a term more suitable and responsive to the questions asked here?
- Can people reject the housing that is offered to them by the state?
- The context for engagement of network comprises of Constraints, Controls & Enablers. While all three can further dwell into the correlations & impacts of market dynamics, State/National policy, informality, social norms as a bundle of practices.
- The action of the network can broadly align with describing the meta-quality of housing, re-framing the language prevailing in the affordable housing discourse (research & policy) and intervening.
Session 3 on Conceptualising a Research Network / Outcome:
- The network idea, especially combining research and civil society groups / activists is more than promising.
- By questioning critical affordability and housing, the network can play a major role within the discussions in India.
- The output formats should be accessible for the citizens. Design may play an important role.
- An interactive portal should be established that provides a surplus compared to existing portals.
- The specific Indian context n social / affordable housing should be the main focus.
- User shall be involved. A specific case study might be a main idea.
- The questions of information access, privacy, and access to power shall be included.
- Open access formats are required.
- It is very welcomed to start a network.
- Potential money should be used for a small managing unit and meetings.
- In addition, it might be an idea to support NGOs.
Prasad Shetty | CRIT
Meera Bapat | SPARC
Amita Bhide | TISS
Anant Maringanti | Hyderabad Urban Labs
Simpreet Singh | National Alliance of People's Movement
Karen Pineiro | MHT
Sheel Patel | SPARC/NSDF
Gautam Bhan | IIHS
Sahil Sashidharan | IIHS
Swastik Harish | IIHS
Somnath Sen | IIHS
Geetika Anand | IIHS
Shreyas Srivatsa | IIHS
Anandit Sachdev | MOD
Tile van Damm | MOD
Vidhya Mohankumar | MOD
Bharath Paraveli | Field of View
V Satyanarayana | Aarusha Homes
Isaac Arul Selva | Slum Jagatthu
Veerendranath K R | Directorate of Town and Country Planning, Karnataka
Balakrishna Prasad | SNPUPR
Dian Atri | Rujak Centre for Urban Studies
Philipp Misselwitz | TU Berlin
Oliver Schetter | TU Berlin
Rachel Lee | TU Berlin
Technical University Berlin
International Conference: Renegotiating Top-Down and Bottom-Up?
Learning from smart informality to approach global urbanization challenges. Roundtable with experts from Brazil, India, Tanzania and Germany
The current debate about Smart Cities is strongly influenced by technological and application-oriented "hard" perspectives that predominantly materialize through the insertion of "smart" infrastructure into existing urban systems. Software and hardware for sensed, measured, optimized and efficient cities are discovered as new global business opportunities. Citizen (as individual) and urban societies (as bodies) remain predominantly passive beneficiaries, end users or consumers.
The "smartification" of urban management stands in contrast to an increasing demand of civil society and urban social movements towards greater inclusion in decision-making. In Europe, the rule of urban technocracies who have legitimized themselves through delegated power in representative democracies are questioned. New urban actors acquire new agency through situated knowledge, local expertise, creativity, social networking skills and collaborative capabilities, or social entrepreneurship.
Prof. Huchzermeyer (Wits, Johannesburg
Dr Gautam Ghan (IIHS, Bengaluru)
Dr Grace Lubaale (UN-HABITAT, Nairobi)
Dr. Rainer Hehl (Instituto Casa/ PUC, Rio de Janeiro)
Prof. Philipp Misselwitz (TU Berlin)
Prof. Jörg Stollmann (TU Berlin)
Prof. Abdoumaliq Simone (University of Göttingen)
January 26 - 28, Habitat Unit, Technical University Berlin
From January 26 – 28 2015 the Coop City Network main partners came together at the Technical University of Berlin. The meeting was the summit of the seed-funding project Coop City Network (COCINET).
Three days were planned to summarize the regional workshops in Rio de Janeiro, Darussalam, Berlin and Bangalore that took place in the end of 2014. Examples from Brazil, India, South Africa, Kenya, and Rwanda showed the state's engagement in the housing sector, with a focus on presenting with old and new approaches to provide adequate and affordable housing. Moreover, experts from the development field gave an insight about possible solution strategies resorting from different angles, such as financing, regulation, clever planning and appealing the capacity for self-activation.
The discussion following from the presentations proved that it's highly relevant to discuss the engagement of the government in providing adequate housing on an international scale. While it is important to keep in mind the different contexts of each nation, the network provides an opportunity to exchange practices, to advise, and it animates researchers to try new approaches by translating one nation's strategy to another nation and culture. To understand the discussion in the context of Berlin, the group was taken to the two examples of cooperatives called Spreefeld and the Columbiaquartier.
The Workshop itself is not the end of the COCINET project: in Berlin, the group continued to develop a possible research frame with research questions and methodologies for a continued COCINET project. The seed-funding was part of the application process for the actual grant called "Transformative Knowledge Networks", planned to be issued from 2015-2018 by the International Social Science Council.
The institutions that met for the workshop were the department for International Urbanism and Design Habitat Unit and the chair for Urban Design and Urbanization of the Technical University of Berlin, the University of Witswatersrand Johannesburg, the Indian Institute for Human Settlements in Bangalore, Pontifical Catholic University (PUC) of Rio de Janeiro. Additionally, the UN Habitat, GIZ and Misereor supported the meeting with expert inputs. Moreover, the international network consists of regional networks in which many more academic and non-academic partners come together.
To take advantage of the expertise that was in Berlin at once, two public events took place on the side: Gautam Bhan from IIHS gave a presentation on Slum evictions and the consequences in India for the Urban Talk series. Moreover, as part of the lecture series Smart people & urban commoning, Marie Huchzermeyer from WITS, Grace Lulaabe from the UN Habitat, Rainer Hehl representing PUC Rio de Janeiro, and Gautam Bhan were presenting cases from their home countries and answered questions from the public.
Rainer Hehl | Instituto Casa / PUC Rio de Janeiro
Gautam Bhan | IIHS
Philipp Misselwitz | TU Berlin
Jörg Stollmann | TU Berlin
Oliver Schetter | TU Berlin
Rachel Lee | TU Berlin
Tile von Damm | MOD
Gerhard Kienast | Universität Kassel
Carsten Zehner | Development Planning Consultant
Rüdiger Haum | WBGU
Klaus Teäschner | Misereor
Matthias Nohn | Rapid Urbanism
Malin Praktiknjo | TU Berlin
AbdouMaliqu Simone | Universität Göttingen / MPIMMG
Grace Lubaale | UN Habitat
Marie Huchzermeyer | WITS University Johannesburg