Conviviality in a cooperative housing — La Borda de Can Batlló
Joining forces for the right to housing, holon supported the efforts of La Borda to design their everyday shared living practices
Access to housing is one of the most pressing social issues of today’s cities, being housing speculation one of the drivers of 2008’s financial crisis in many countries. In particular to the city of Barcelona, around 20 housing evictions were performed every day when it peaked in 2013 to people unable to pay their mortgages, in 2020 evictions are still present and moved to affect renters. In the period of 2015 to 2018 the price of new built flats rose by 20%, rents by 30% and buying an existing flat costs people 40% more. Furthermore, when the majority of world population lives in cities, innovation in the housing system holds a growing capacity to switch current environmental impacts resulting from existing housing configurations and it’s impact on lifestyles.
In Can Batlló, one of Barcelona’s citizens success stories of how strong social fabric can transform positively neighbourhoods, La Borda is a community led housing initiative evolving since 2012, stablished as a cooperative in 2014 and living since 2019. With a strong focus in social inclusion and environmental responsibility, the project is pioneering a new wave of initiatives weaving with Barcelona City Council limited social housing efforts.
We started collaborating with the community in 2014 to empower and facilitate their collective efforts to shape the shared services of the future community. We did design research to understand it’s members’ worldviews, current and future everyday practices, and how this all was going to take shape in a conviviality space such as the one they were projecting. We visited them at home, interviewed and invited them to hold digital diaries of their everyday life. These activities of what it named as the Conviviality Lab, part of their conviviality committee, facilitated the community process in knowing each other and their shared living emerging near future.
With the insights coming out of it we outlined together with the members services such as a shared laundry, object library, common kitchen, guest houses or the digital layer of it all. For it we went through a process of co-designing scenarios of alternative future services, some through real life prototyping using theatre techniques, some by board gaming or by sharing storyboards. This allowed the community to start lighting up some dimensions of what might entail their future conviviality. Once a more holistic understanding of how life might be in their community, we held several workshops to develop their model of conviviality that was implemented during the first steps of their life together early 2019.
We’re now supporting the community during the implementation of the selected service scenarios, developing indicators and ways to monitor their lifestyles so to be able to remain flexible and true to their principles of conviviality, which we developed together.
Finally, for the last leg of the process the project was awarded some funding by the Barcelona City Council to open source the learnings and service examples of the project by developing a guide on how community led cooperative housing can design their shared services and convivial practices, which will be available in spring 2020.