Urban Alternatives is launched by a collaboration of different actors which are united in their efforts to create a more democratic, just and sustainable world. This map seeks to highlight initiatives that work towards this goal. Proposal for initiatives not listed yet can be made directly on the website. This process is open to new collaborations.

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Buena Vista Social Housing & Social Club

Social & Solidarity Economy

What challenges did this initiative look to address?

The projects two main objectives are to provide good quality but also low cost housing for workers belonging to the member organizations of the Social Club and beyond. And to experiment with new collective forms of housing, including e.g. shared spaces and goods, at the time not very common in Italy.

In 2012, the so-called financial crisis struck Turin like many other European cities, causing a lack of investment in public infrastructure and thus in communal facilities on one hand, and high rental prices on the other, partly due to the lack of social housing. At the time, the so-called Torino Olympic Park was a forgotten space that consisted of empty houses, partly squatted, and situated in a generally neglected area.

What has changed?

Buena Vista Social Housing was officially inaugurated in November 2012 and is located in via Giordano Bruno 191-195, in two blocks of the former Olympic Village. The formerly run-down blocks now contain 44 dwellings of which approximately 30 are occupied by families, singles and co-habitants of the Social Club and 10 temporarily by international students. Overall, ten nationalities are represented in the building.

An asset of the co-housing project are the shared community spaces including a laundry and a club house which is equipped with a kitchen and terrace and is organised as an open space for all Buena Vista residents for relaxation, socialisation, meetings between neighbours and for convivial happenings. There are also social services like bike sharing, book sharing, a small fair trade grocery that are made accessible to the entire neighbourhood.

How did it happen?

The role of the Social Club as an association of social, sporting and amateur promotion was and is crucial in the process. The network was founded in Turin in 2009 by various associations and social cooperatives in the area with the main objective to improve the quality of life of over 2,000 workers belonging to the member organizations.

Besides services such as fostering a local culture in support of social workers, promoting visibility and awareness-raising activities, increasing the purchasing power of all workers in organizations, the Social Club offers its members opportunities for leisure time, access to a fair trade credit, access to tax advice, education in health protection and last but not least it introduces new ways of co-living and co-housing.

Buena Vista Social Housing is a participatory project in every phase. No external contractors were hired for the renovation, but all work was done in a collective effort by members of the Social Club: from the construction and installations to painting and furnishing. The street artist Vesod contributed the facade decoration. In only four months, the 4,000 square meters were renovated and transformed into an exemplary co-housing space. Instead of depending on welfare, the collective built their living environment through common practice and solidarity, and thus sowed a sense of community from the very start of the project. Buena Vista has a mix of inhabitants as well as functions and different living solutions, with the objective of favouring the building of solidarity and neighbourhood networks and of experimenting self-governance.

More info: https://www.resocialclub.it/

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