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Urban densification, energy efficiency and affordability of housing

Architectural solutions and social consequences for the public, cooperative and social housing providers

Paris, 20 September 2018Save the date

Organised by Housing Europe and hosted by Paris Habitat. Supported by the European Commission as part of the ABRACADABRA project. Venue: Paris Habitat Offices | 21 bis rue Claude Bernard 75005 PARIS Metro line 7 (Censier-Daubenton).

Cities and social housing providers are facing 2 challenges: how to find the land to build more and cheaper housing units and how to accelerate the renovation of existing homes. To propose common solutions to those challenges, the European project ABRACADABRA has tested and implemented measure to increase the urban density by adding habitable space to existing buildings. This extra surface, through the income it creates for the social housing provider, can help finance the renovation of the entire building. It can also help reshape the urban landscape or transform former non-residential buildings into housing units.

Find the land

“Access to land is typically the biggest constraint for housing development and one of the major drivers of cost. In places such as Auckland and Rio de Janeiro, the cost of land often exceeds 40 % of total property prices. In extreme cases such as San Francisco, land is so scarce that it can account for as much as 80 % of a home’s price”.

Finance energy efficiency

The renovation of social housing is the most obvious example of how environment and social justice considerations can be combined.  Making renovation affordable for low-income social housing residents is the key question for social housing providers.

In this context, the cost of renovation and the various schemes and mechanisms to finance it are determining factors. Bringing down the cost of renovation and, at the same time, the cost of finance are the challenges housing providers are confronted with. The regulatory and financial frameworks in the different countries can either help or on hamper the search for such cost-efficient investments. 

Improve the city

Transforming empty non-residential buildings (like former factories or military barracks) into affordable housing units, adding residential units on top of schools or public buildings, adding new common areas (like roof gardens) are examples of how city landscape and social interactions can change for the better. New services can emerge thanks to innovative architectural solutions like add-ons. In that context, successful collaboration and co-creation with residents becomes even more central to the developments. Indeed densify the city will have to go hand in hand with the provision of new services for children, elderly people, young workers, etc.

Draft Agenda (all speakers to be confirmed)

French/English interpretation is provided

09:00 – 10:00 | Registration

10:00 – 10:15 | Opening 

  • Director of Paris Habitat
  • Representative of ABRACADABRA (University of Bologna)

10:15 -11:00 | Morning session: focus on the strategic decisions for cities and social housing providers

The aim of this session is to give the opportunities for policymakers at the city level to reflect on the challenges and opportunities provided by densification measures such as building extensions including renewable energy system. This is also seen as a facilitator of the energy transition thanks to new incomes it generated. Cities are faced with multiple challenges and need to

Keynote presentation:

Yves Schihin, Architect, Zurich: Opportunities and challenges of densification policies and practices in European cities (tbc)

11:00 – 11:15 | Coffee break

11:15 – 12:30 |  Roundtable discussion: The challenge of densification and energy transition  in growing urban areas – impact on cities and social housing providers

  • Ian Brossat, Deputy-Mayor in charge of Housing, City of Paris
  • Representative of City of Vienna (tbc)
  • Claire Roumet, Director, Energy Cities
  • Representative of USH, Federation of French Social Housing Associations

12:30 – 14:00 | Lunch break

14:00 – 15:00 | Afternoon session: focus on challenges and solutions for social housing providers

The aim of this session is to identify solutions and useful policies to help social housing providers overcome the obstacles linked to buildings extension. This discussion will serve to feed into the policy recommendations developed by the ABRACADABRA project.

Panel n°1: Building extension as a solution to renovation – is there a business model for the social housing sector?

  • Building extension as a solution to renovation: an example from Dublin (tbc)
    Presentation by Gene Clayton, IveaghTrust (Ireland)
  • Building extension and local production of renewable energy: how can we promote local energy production
    Presentation by representative of GdW - the Federal Association of German Housing and Real Estate Companies
  • Czech Tenants' Union: financial tools for cooperative members

15:00 – 15:30 | Coffee break

15:30 – 16:30 | Panel n°2:  How to increase acceptance for building an extension and use of renewable energy solutions

  • Making use of public buildings‘ roof (when greenfield development is not allowed any more): building on top of public schools an example from Flanders (Belgium), Presentation by representative of VVH, Flemish association of social housing companies
  • Gaining support from tenants: the wider urban regeneration approach : example from Paris
    Presentation by representative of Paris Habitat

  • Creating social acceptance for building an extension: the case of Sweden
    Presentation by representative of SABO - Swedish Association of Public Housing Companies

16:30 – 17:00 | Wrap-up of main recommendations for social housing

  • Speaker from Housing Europe