A project by KÉK (Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre) in cooperation with Bec Zmiana, Napraw Sobie Miasto, Praguewatch, Archimera, 4AM and PBlog, with support from the International Visegrad Fund
As a consequence of the economic crisis and profound restructuring of the means of production in post-industrial Europe, the questions of vacant urban properties and their temporary use have become a distinguished topic in the discourses of urban planning, architecture and urban sociology. The scale of vacancy in Eastern Central Europe is even more striking than in Western European cities. In the region, however, despite the acuteness of the problem of vacancy, there is very little awareness of the phenomenon. While there are successful top-down and bottom up initiatives for the cultural or social reuse of empty properties, systematic approaches to understand and to solve this problem are still missing, or being refused due to rigid emphasis on the rights and freedoms of private owners.
The Vacant Central Europe project aims to address the problem of vacancy by mapping empty properties, by researching planning instruments, architectural tools and by exchanging experiences and strategies of intervention that make the temporary use of empty properties and their conversion for another use possible. The project’s objective is to turn the negative effects of the economic crisis and post-industrial economic restructuring into opportunities, by offering available space for various social and cultural initiatives, start-up companies and socia enterprises.
Besides launching a debate about the issue, the project also aspires to elaborate legal, economical and architectural frameworks for the temporary use and conversion of vacant properties, by introducing a more flexible and process-based planning and real estate management logic that may result in a more accessible urban building stock where social and cultural experimentation is encouraged.