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#BuildingCommunities – a significant payback to our society

In a new film series, Housing Europe showcases the forward-thinking social and affordable housing initiatives that are changing the game across Europe

online, 16 June 2021 | Published in Future of the EU & Housing

Produced by BBC StoryWorks Commercial Productions, this exploratory online video series uncovers the powerful stories of innovation and community in the social, cooperative, public and community-led housing sector.

The last years have seen an exacerbation of housing problems across Europe, but it has also brought with it an awareness of what is really essential and what binds us together as humans. With renewed commitment, the sector is now, more than ever, focused on delivering quality, affordable and sustainable housing for all in the wake of COVID-19.

Produced by BBC StoryWorks Commercial Productions - the commercial content division of BBC Global News, Building Communities is an exciting new online film series, designed to showcase the benefits of forward-thinking social housing initiatives and challenge the persistent misconceptions around social mixing and housing quality. Through diverse voices and innovative organisations, Building Communities tells the stories of people from different walks of life living in social and affordable housing.

Building Communities launched on on 16 June at Housing Europe’s Social Housing Film Festival and will run for 12 months.

Sorcha Edwards, Secretary-General, Housing Europe: “We are excited about the launch of this series produced by BBC StoryWorks. Every single episode shows that while being quite diverse, the public, cooperative and social housing sector in Europe is truly united in its core mission - to build vibrant communities and next generation neighbourhoods with homes that are affordable, liveable, and are in sync with the climate. Our society deserves to live in dignity, and we believe these incredible initiatives will be an inspiration for many."

Simon Shelley, global director of BBC Programme Partnerships – part of BBC StoryWorks, said: “We set out to bring understand to the complex environment of housing, exploring the common misconceptions and speaking to the people and organisations committed to innovative and radical thinking to transform the sector. We’re delighted to be launching Building Communities, a series we believe brings positive headlines to this forward thinking and transformative sector.”

Building Communities is available to explore here –   

Join the conversation on social media via the #BuildingCommunities hashtag


Watch the Official Trailer of #BuildingCommunities that will give you a taste of what is about to come.

#BuildingCommunities | Finding a home after losing everything

Mustafa and his family lost everything in the Syrian civil war. Through the Refugee Resettlement project, Co-operative Housing Ireland, along with other agencies, committed to help some of the families who had to flee from their countries by providing safe places to live for people like Mustafa and his family. 

Watch this episode.

#BuildingCommunities | Outreach for a newly blended community

When Belgian social housing association Woonpunt Mechelen needed to move residents while renovating housing stock, they came up against a problem. The diverse mix of new and existing residents in an area known as “The Square”, created a social divide. To address this, the housing association came up with a plan to offer a small percentage of its housing to private renters with specific skills, who in return for subsidised rent would commit to community outreach. From youth mentorship to language lessons for immigrant families, or simply helping with groceries, Woonpunt Mechelen’s Pleinmakers (or Squaremakers) are there to reach out a neighbourly hand. 

Watch this episode.

#BuildingCommunities | Renovating Norway's Shared Ownership Homes

Narvik, in northern Norway was one of many Norwegian towns destroyed during World War Two. As part of the rebuilding effort the the co-operative housing movement was created to provide mass housing. Now almost a quarter of Norway’s population lives in co-operative or shared ownership housing. OMT Housing Association, part of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Norway (NBBL), is committing to renovating these shared ownership homes to help reduce their impact on the environment, increase cost efficiency and improve the quality of the homes for the people who live there. 

Watch this episode.

#Bulding Communities| The 'living' buildings Norway wants you to know about

With buildings and the construction industry producing almost 40% of the world’s carbon emissions, timber structures are increasingly being seen as a more sustainable option. In Norway, people have lived in timber houses for hundreds of years. From the architects connecting people with nature by using timber to build large buildings to the entrepreneurs creating tiny timber homes on wheels as affordable housing, their expertise is now being shared across the world. 

Watch this episode.

#BuildingCommunities | Sharing space, sharing lives

In Stavanger, Norway, a housing development has been designed with shared spaces and community in mind. The development allows residents to walk out of the front door of their apartments into communal areas, extending their home beyond their own four walls. This “gaining by sharing” concept offers residents social interaction and opportunities to meet with diverse groups of people.

Watch this episode.

#BuildingCommunities | Social housing to unite communities

Representing thousands of individuals across social housing, Danish non-profit housing association DAB helps to bring together communities and develop tenant democracy by listening to their residents and celebrating common interests. Whether it’s teaching beekeeping through the generations or sharing sewing expertise across languages, the tenants themselves are in control of their futures and their community relationships.

Watch this episode.

More films are yet to be released in September. Stay tuned!