Housing Europe Research Coordinator, Alice Pittini has been among the instructors at the first Summer School that was co-organized by EBZ – European Education Centre for Housing and Real Estate in cooperation with EFL European Federation for Living and Housing Europe. As Alice is also getting ready for the second edition of this successful initiative, to be held 16-20 July again in the very heart of Europe, we have asked her to share with us her experience and insights but also to recommend who should attend and why...
What did you share with the participants last year?
I chose to focus on one of the major challenges at the moment: the ageing of the population. We see that demographic development throughout Europe and follow various solutions to the problems across the continent. Housing Europe is collecting good examples and Summer School was a great opportunity to share them. We discussed ways to build future-proof new homes, to renovate existing homes to be suitable the elderly, to combine these renovations with energy efficiency measures and to apply telecare.
What did you learn from your involvement in the summer school?
Overall, I think that the interaction with the participants is by far the most interesting element of the summer school and its actual added value, both for the delegates and the instructors. It's not another typical seminar but the format indeed encourages a lively and dynamic exchange, because in the end of the day everyone has important inputs to bring to the table. We should always keep in mind that the housing reality is very different from country to country. Concerning my focus point last year, people shared concrete experiences, in particular with regards multi-generational housing projects. Things we are researching, but usually from distance or at least thanks to our members' lens.
Why should a young professional in the housing sector attend this school in your view?
Although the situation is so different from one country to another and here in Brussels we talk a lot about the different ‘systems’, in the end in the everyday work people working for housing organisations face very similar challenges. Participants could really relate to each other’s work even if their starting points vary. Therefore, I would say that they should attend because they can put things in perspective and learn from each other. Also I think the human contacts are essential even in building professional networks and in this case I had the impression spending one week together in a great setting with possibilities for discussing and having fun really builds a connection.
Also, besides the exchange among practitioners, the lineup of academics and experts is really good every year.
What are the main future challenges for affordable housing, the theme of 2018, in Europe?
Well, that's a long story... And this is the whole point of attending the summer school, to co-define these challenges and the most innovative and realistic responses to them. In any case, the spectrum of challenges ranges from building homes to building communities. Anyway, how can we have the one without the other...?