Cooperative Housing as a Substratum for Societal Integration
In 1862 the first cooperative housing in Germany was founded in Hamburg, nowadays cooperative housing projects are sprouting in many German cities. Generally speaking, many European cities embrace the concept of cooperative housing for its socioeconomical benefits especially in times of housing crisis, like Switzerland, Austria and Germany. Those countries are pioneers in providing cooperative complexes that tackle intrinsic issues of sustainability and climate change. They also offer affordably owned units for a variety of residents with different backgrounds.
Cooperative housing is based on creating democratic spheres for living and communal activities. It can be even seen as an evolved form of informal squatted housing with strong social bonds, collective identity, and residents’ participation. In essence, its conceptual scheme is planned through successive collaborations between architects and future residents who mutually finance and own (through shares) the units within reciprocal principles and values. In Germany cooperative housing has become a prevalent option for acquiring residence at relatively low prices during the current booming housing market and high rents precisely in dynamic urban-centres as Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich. Factually, German cooperative housing accounts for 6% of the total housing stock in addition to three categories of housing supply: municipal housing companies; church organisations; and private investors.
Like many German cities, the social demographic profile of Hamburg is facing major changes with pressing societal problems, like immigrant’s integration. In this paper we will try to bring to attention that housing cooperatives should be recognised today as a key-form of tenancy in Hamburg, especially with the current prices of the housing market. To have a better understanding of cooperative housing supply, this paper discusses three prominent projects that have effectively handled the concept of cooperative housing from Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. The aim is to provide some insights of the significant role of cooperative housing in strengthening the social cohesion and collective action of Hamburg’s neighbourhoods.