Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Applied Geography and Spatial Planning

Housing as a Global Urban Commons


The research project "Housing as Global Urban Commons. Strategies and Networks for the Translocal Mobilization of Alternative Housing Policies" funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) deals with the international mobilization of housing commons. In that regard the project particularly aims at shedding light on the functioning and the role of emerging translocal networks and learning processes.


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Projekthaus Potsdam: housing project of the Mietshäuser Syndikat (Picture: Corinna Hölzl-Verwiebe)


In response to the increasing shortage of affordable housing, numerous local protest movements and networks of alternative housing models have been emerging over the past years. The ideas of these housing movements circulate globally; they influence each other and intervene in terms of global urban commons in housing policy decisions, temporarily or in the long term. However, to date, very little is known about not only local but multiscalar networking processes of urban social movements in general and housing movements in particular. In order to close this research gap, the research project analyzes the actors, practices, causes and impact of globally circulating alternative approaches to housing and related assemblages in the framework of housing commons.


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International meeting of the Mietshäuser Syndikat in December 2017 (Picture: Corinna Hölzl-Verwiebe)


Empirically, the study focuses on multiscalar strategies of transnationally spreading housing commoning that is spreading transnationally. The following networks of non-profit community-led housing models serve as empirical case studies:

  • the Mietshäuser Syndikat in Germany and related international umbrella associations (e.g. Austria, Netherlands, France)
  • the European Community Land Trusts Network
  • MOBA Housing SCE - Network of pioneering cooperatives in Central and Southeastern European Countries

By taking a relational-comparative perspective, this project seeks to provide insights into the functioning and impact of the transnational diffusion of alternative approaches to housing and associated networks of social movements in different societal contexts. By means of that, this investigation intends to make an important contribution to the research on networks and mobile policies of urban social movements. Moreover, the study is of high sociopolitical importance for the housing question which has again become meaningful today.


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Open-air exhibition of the project "Wissensstadt Berlin 2021" (Picture: Tim Kormeyer)


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