City to City Barcelona FAD Award 2013


Stalled Spaces

(Glasgow// 600.000 inhab., United Kingdom) Unit

In Glasgow the current crisis is added to the industrial decline of recent decades. The result is a large number of empty sites in the city. Without any prospects of productive use for these spaces, Glasgow City Council promotes the temporary use of the sites, as they are a major tool for urban regeneration and social empowerment. The project has already filled 50 empty spaces with a wide variety of uses.



Abalimi Bezekhaya – Farmers of Home

(Cape Town// 3.740.026 inhab., South Africa)

The Abalimi Bezekhaya – Farmers of Home project is teaching the unemployed citizens of Cape Town to produce fresh and healthy food while providing a social marketing channel that allows them to sell their surplus and generate employment. The growth in the production of organic food is favouring the recovery and development of the natural environment, ensuring the project’s permanent sustainability. 




Green Roofs and Stormwater Management

(Malmö// 3.188 inhab., Sweden)

Since 1998, the district of Augustenborg in Malmö has undergone a radical transformation. It has gone from having the status of a ghetto district, with serious flooding problems, to one of the most sought-after places to live in. Malmö is today a more sustainable city, with inhabitants who are aware of the importance of citizens’ participation in resolving the problems of the community.




Glasgow, like other British cities, has experienced the passage from industrial boom to the gradual disappearance of the most characteristic elements of this landscape. Factories, trucks and workers have decreased. The City Council has deployed its instruments to boost social and ecological cohesion in the city. The Open Spaces Strategy and the Local Development Plan, both in operation, have promoted the occupation of empty plots. The success of these “Stalled Spaces” has placed them at the forefront of one of the lines of action of the 2012-2017 Strategic Plan thanks to their transforming power.

The city accounts for more empty square metres than the rest of Scottish cities put together, and applications for urban planning between 2007 and 2011 have dropped by 25%. The current crisis is not helping, and the revival of private initiative is not quite happening. This is why in 2010 Glasgow City Council and the Glasgow Housing Association started to foster the temporary leisure uses of these spaces.

The intervention initiative is always sourced from local voluntary organisations and there are now more than two hundred volunteers who have worked on generating 50 “Stalled Spaces”. The projects with the greatest thrust have been the ones involving horticulture, and it must be highlighted that two schools have developed the “Food Miles” educational programme that has introduced horticulture into the school curriculum and have been recognised by the Curriculum for Excellence of Scotland and by other schools.

Other sites have been transformed into gardens, green areas or sports grounds but also into open-air cinemas or creation spaces thanks to the support of Creative Scotland, which has been providing financial and logistical aid since 2012. The diversity of projects and the fact that they originate in community initiatives has ensured their success. In addition, this diversity considerably increases the appreciation of the citizens for their own environment, creates networks of trust and empowers civil society in proposing and managing new urban spaces through experience. More than 15ha of the municipality have gone from being abandoned sites to spaces for socialising and activities. Nine of these hectares are located in especially neglected urban areas.

Their temporary nature is a key piece of the project, as it greatly reduces the transfer, proposal and execution processes. The clarity of the legal agreements, the never immediate expiry date of the right of use and the technical support provided by the City Council provide guarantees for the interests of neighbours and owners. The City Council’s investment is more technical than financial, with less than 3,000€ per initiative. The initial investment is borne almost completely by the communities, which find the financial and material means to embark on the initiatives. The total capital obtained by the communities exceeds half a million euros, far more than the contribution of the administrations.

//Proposal by Seamus Conolly

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The principal objective of Abalimi Bezekhaya – Farmers of Home is to strengthen the sustainability of the movement of the 3,000 micro-farmers from the most disadvantaged districts of Cape Town. The project is comprised in the majority of black mothers and grandmothers – they represent 60% of the collective – who were unemployed before becoming micro-farmers. The city has always suffered climatic instability, but despite this natural adversity, the project is revealing itself as an experience capable of successfully turning these unfavourable situations around. It is evincing that growing organic food is possible, even in extreme conditions, if it is backed by a good organisation, a minimum availability of water, fertiliser and seed and the community’s will to drive their purpose forward.

The project’s objective is to expand the current group comprising 100 semi-commercial micro-farmers who work on 25 communal allotments and to incorporate another group of around 100 and 200 micro-farmers working the land on 30 supplementary communal allotments. This requires increasing the number of family vegetable gardens and plots within the communal allotments and to go from the 2,500 currently grown per year to the 7,000 to 10,000 that should be achieved in the course of the project. At ecological level, the project is highly efficient because it saves between 1 and 2 tons of carbon per hectare.

They have succeeded in establishing a new culture among the previously unemployed, as they do not perceive their work merely as a route to meeting their basic needs but are now also participating in a common eco-farming culture. We must also highlight the change in the urban landscape: the arid, desert-like land has turned green, productive and eye-catching, and with the growth of income has come a reduction in crime. Technological progress has increased productivity, so that highly reduced farming spaces can feed large populations and create employment thanks to basic knowledge and competences. The cost-benefit ratio showcases this profitability: net benefits for the micro-farmers amount up to 300-500 Rand/month, while the total production cost per micro-farmer is around 100 Rand/month.

Applications to join the project stand at an average of 400 new membership applications by the poorest social sectors of the city, thus revealing its capacity for inclusion and growth. In this regard, the 15,000 people who are fed on a daily basis with Abalimi Bezekhaya – Farmers of Home products represent a key indicator of the project’s success and socioeconomic advance. The project has become a powerful tool in the transformation of society, increasing the job opportunities for the most disadvantaged sectors of Cape Town, thus fulfilling the mandate for justice, fairness and sustainability it had set itself.

//Proposal by Rob Small

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The project, with an investment of 14.2 million euros, has focused on the local management of stormnwater. Through the installation of green roofs, the difficulties suffered by the district have been addressed and this strategy has later been extended to the city. The Ekostaden programme, launched in 1998, consisted of an extensive renewal of the district to recover its original state. It has been a great success that has served as inspiration for similar initiatives in other Swedish cities. The eco-city of Augustenborg was completed in 2005 and is today an exemplary model of integral and sustainable urban regeneration.

The project is an example of collaboration between private enterprise, City Hall and the citizens (more than 3,000 citizens have participated). The district suffered constant flooding of the patios and basements of its homes. These problems have been resolved through the installation of 10,000 m2 of green roofs on the houses and through the creation of an open stormwater management system. The roofs have significantly reduced water currents and flooding. The vegetation on the roofs absorbs a major part of the water and returns it to the atmosphere through transpiration (the water evaporated per year is equivalent to 325,000 full bathtubs). This has led to a drop of 20% in floodwater levels. The reduction in environmental impact is estimated to be 15% and the amount of accumulated rainwater in the wastewater management zone has been reduced by 60%.

In 2001 Augustenborg inaugurated the first green roof garden in the world to promote this management system in both Swedish cities and in the rest of Scandinavian countries. Today the garden covers more than 9,500 m2 and the city’s biodiversity has increased by 50%. Additional measures such as capturing solar energy, eco-friendly waste management or the growing introduction of electric trains and cars have strengthened the project. The city’s renewal has led to a multiplication of research projects in water management, both nationally and European-wide, thus acknowledging the amplifying, cross-border effect that the project has had.

The involvement of the district’s residents has been quite intense, both in the first brainstorming phase and in the application of the measures for renewing the roofs. A fifth of residents has directly participated in the project’s execution. Moreover, the office of the Local Agenda 21, a volunteer organisation set up at the start of the project, has trained and advised more than 40 people in sustainable practices and in the search for employment. This effort by the citizens has taken the shape of consultative workshops and formal and informal information sessions on the design of the works. These initiatives have contributed to spontaneously drive the project forward and to make it dynamic and productive.

//Proposal by Secretariat of the Prize

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Written by on Jul 12,2013 in: |