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Project Description

Social housing estates are often problematised as places of segregation and disintegration in European cities, yet they are also potentially a prime locus of integration between people of different cultural origins and social backgrounds. PUSH investigates public space in European social housing, including cooperative housing and rental mass housing estates to better understand how cultural encounters happen and, ultimately, how such encounters can be better sustained. Guided by four analytical categories – heritage, informality, democracy, and policies/practices – we explore the publicness of spaces on five housing estates in Norway, Denmark, Switzerland and Italy. Across the different cases and analytical categories, PUSH will develop and test a novel approach to studying and conceptualising public spaces as sites of publicness. We are interested in the dynamic interactions between people and the physical spaces they share: how do people and architecture mutually affect each other so that living with others that are different from oneself becomes possible? 

Exhibitions are a well-proven format for communicating architecture and for sparking dialogue and debate about architecture. The PUSH project builds on this tradition and works with exhibitions to articulate, share and question our ongoing research about public space in European social housing, including cooperative housing and rental mass housing estate and, ultimately, to drive the project forward. This web site provides a peek into the toolbox of our work-in-progress in the format of an online exhibition that will evolve and expand over time.

PUSH uses exhibitions not only as a tool for knowledge exchange but for collaborative transdisciplinary knowledge development. We are a multidisciplinary team of international researchers with different backgrounds (architects, landscape architects, urban planners, architectural historians, anthropologists, and sociologists) and collaborate with many associated project partners (from an art photographer to local housing associations and national and European NGO’s). Together we collect and make visual documentation, analysis and interpretations of how publicness is produced on social housing estates: photos, videos, drawings, analytical maps and diagrams. Throughout the project, we share and interrogate these findings in a series of physical exhibitions at transnational and local workshops to jointly drive the project forward.

On this website, we share these physical exhibitions and the debates they stimulate in formats that again are easy to share on other platforms than our own. In this way, we hope to communicate and debate our research findings with multiple audiences, ranging from the housing estates’ local residents and stakeholders to planning practitioners, policymakers, NGOs and international researchers.

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