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The New European Bauhaus and its links to inclusive, affordable and accessible housing

The New European Bauhaus (NEB) initiative was recently launched by the European Commission in the framework of its Renovation Wave. It is proposed as an incubator for innovation and creativity aiming to drive sustainable design across Europe and beyond.

The historical Bauhaus was founded by Walter Gropius in 1919 in Weimar and aimed to bring together architecture, art, and design. The core idea of the original Bauhaus was based on a social approach where art was to serve a social role. In the 1920s, architects from the famous Bauhaus school designed multi-apartment buildings for working-class families: thousands of workers and employees of the Siemens factories and their families were housed in decent apartments built with the involvement of Gropius and his Bauhaus.

These principles of affordability and accessibility can be found at the core of the New European Bauhaus as well. The NEB as an interdisciplinary movement aims to bring different actors together to combine design and sustainability with affordability and accessibility. The hope is that the New European Bauhaus can be an opportunity to create inclusive and affordable cities through cross-sectoral cooperation for social inclusion. The promotion of integrated approaches can contribute to long-term and permanent housing solutions for homeless people and others locked out of the current housing markets.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is energy poverty: 1 in 4 households in the EU, over 50 million individuals, cannot afford to adequately heat, cool or light their homes. Given its connections to the European Green Deal and the Renovation Wave, the New European Bauhaus should ensure renovations are sustainable and target especially low-income households.

The NEB aims to provide a platform connecting science and technology and the world of art and culture. The NEB will have several phases: At the moment, the NEB is still in its “design” phase that started at the end of the year 2020 and will be going on until the end of summer 2021. After that from September 2021 onwards in the “delivery” phase pilot projects will be set up and implemented and supported by specific calls for proposals. From January 2023 onward, during the “dissemination” phase, the focus will be on knowledge sharing by reaching a broader audience. Moreover, in 2021 the first edition of the New European Bauhaus prizes will be organised to recognise already concluded or planned projects that are "inclusive, sustainable and beautiful".

HSP’s publication “50 out of the box housing solutions” can provide valuable examples in line with the NEB principles of how innovative solutions can contribute to social cohesion, bring neighbourhoods and different generations together by providing common spaces of work and leisure, culture, and social inclusion.

These are the types of projects we think the NEB should replicate to make it social and inclusive. Furthermore, a strong involvement of experts and practitioners from the area of housing exclusion is crucial to make the New European Bauhaus inclusive.

More on the website of the New European Bauhaus here.


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