Exploring commoning as a tool for social integration: Re-use of abandoned buildings and plots for the creation of commons in the Greek context

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Saxoni, Christina
Since 2011, Europe has experienced an unprecedented influx of people fleeing countries facing political turmoil. Refugees in Greece have been admitted to state run camps, segregated and excluded from social life and have been denied their basic human rights. In the meantime the Greek socioeconomic crisis since 2008 has led to high unemployment rates, the increase of homelessness, poverty, rising inequalities and expressions and acts of racism and xenophobia. Housing exclusion and affordability has become a rising concern and the state has treated refugee housing issues as emergency problems for a transient population, independent from those of the local population, and tackled them with temporary solutions. On the contrary of the above mentioned negative consequences, different citizen-led initiatives claiming the right to the city through commoning have emerged. People joined, created networks of solidarity such as community kitchens and collaborative self organized housing squats. Copying strategies from those housing squats have been pointed out as prominent fields for social innovation. This thesis aims to examine characteristics of housing as commons, through literature readings, research about collaborative housing solutions and visiting and observing commons, while rethinking and mapping the current unused urban infrastructure. The context for this exploration is a neighborhood in central Thessaloniki where abandoned buildings and undeveloped plots exist in abundance. This ‘dead’ property provides opportunities for the integration of newcomers, by creating housing solutions for both them and locals. Although initiating this project to explore practices of integration of refugees, the intention is to benefit both existing citizens and newcomers. Collaborative housing forms and intercultural living can facilitate interaction between inhabitants and offer opportunities for mutual learning. Furthermore, using interstitial space for commoning activities, as space in the making, through social participation and self-management can support people’s empowerment and inclusion.
housing as commons, social integration, newcomers
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