Cooperative Production of Low-Cost Housing – Socio-Technological Innovation for the Provision of Housing for Low-Income Populations

The bilateral research project ‘Cooperative Production of Low-Cost Housing – Socio-Technological Innovation for the Provision of Housing for Low-Income Populations’ investigates previous and current practices of affordable housing production in order to detect the transformative potential of urban development based on community organizations and the formation of housing cooperatives. Following the objective to establish viable models for cooperative housing production in the future, the collaboration between researchers in Switzerland and Brazil identifies key players, institutional protocols and technological frameworks necessary to foster innovative approaches within the low-income housing sector. Against the backdrop of the world’s largest social housing program ‘Minha Casa, Minha Vida’ (MCMV) and the development of cooperative housing in Switzerland, Germany, Japan, and Ethiopia, the research is tracing connections across historical and regional contexts. Analyzing the political, social and economic conditions, the research aims at identifying both innovations within housing production, as well as improvements in architectural and urban design quality linked to cooperative models. While case studies from the different regional contexts—ranging from developing to emerging and developed countries—serve for the analysis of various constellations between institutional and private stakeholders, particular attention is paid to housing provision that is co-produced and/or co-managed by communities and self-organizing entities. Accordingly, the project investigates the influence of (national and transnational) institutional frameworks on local building practice and therefore engages in an interdisciplinary, as well as transdisciplinary, dialogue assembling knowledge from the fields of architecture, urban planning, sociology, and political economy. By drawing on the experience of selected case studies, the research’s goal is to identify organizational models that would promote innovation for context-specific cooperative housing production, as well as for its transfer and scaling across regional boundaries.


Sascha Delz

Rainer Hehl



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