Research Project

CES to manage European funding for the regeneration of social housing in 7 European cities

December 2017

Consortium led by the Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra receives 13 million euros from the European Commission to implement «Healthy Corridors» in social housing urban developments of 7 European cities

The Centre for Social Studies (CES) of the University of Coimbra will coordinate a European project that proposes to regenerate social housing urban developments of 7 European cities, through «Healthy Corridors». The URBiNAT | Urban Innovative and Inclusive Nature consortium proposal, composed of  approximately 30 international partners, submitted under the field Smart Cities and Sustainability  for Innovative Actions was approved and awarded 13 million euros from H2020, European Union's research and innovation framework programme.

In the course of  5 years, the project will research, develop and implement what it calls «Healthy Corridors», through an innovative and inclusive catalogue of Nature-Based Solutions (NBS), that cross-sectoral partners (universities, public institutions, laboratories and companies - see list attached) have been developing in recent years. This catalogue includes technological solutions of environmental impact, innovative methodologies of democratic participation and inclusion; and economic alternatives through social and solidarity economy solutions.

«Healthy Corridors» will be built through participatory processes in the cities of Porto (Portugal), Nantes (France) and Sofia (Bulgaria) and. later on, replicated in the cities of Brussels (Belgium), Siena (Italy), Høje-Taastrup (Copenhagen, Denmark) and Nova Gorica (Slovenia), in partnership with local municipalities and universities. The consortium is complemented by international Iranian and Chinese partners as well as observers from Brazil, Oman, Japan and China, which ensures the widespread sharing of best practices and the replication of solutions designed in other contexts.

In Portugal, 5 institutions will be involved in the project. CES, as coordinator, the Municipality of Porto as a leading-city in the implementation of nature based solutions, Domussocial - Housing and Maintenance Company of the Municipality of Porto, as a municipal company responsible for the social housing projects of Porto, the Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources (CIBIO-InBIO), as a local partner of Porto, the University of Coimbra (with CEIS20 & DARQ) for the drawing of the «Healthy Corridors»  and Give U Design Art (GUDA), as a catalyst for participatory processes.

The project proposes new models of urban development through innovations in the public space, promotes social cohesion through living labs, constituted in the cities, and outspreads within a community of practices and transversal sharing of knowledge. It takes as model processes of experimentation and innovation of methodologies, of co-design and co-implementation, and of interaction between scientific knowledges and wisdoms from local communities.

The implementation of the project favours a participatory and transdisciplinary approach: partners are committed to the active involvement of communities in each city in the design and implementation of «healthy corridors», crossing citizens' knowledges with professional practices and scientific knowledges of diverse areas (social innovation, citizenship, inclusion, human rights, gender, sustainability, urban design, equipment design, urban environment, architecture, etc.).

In addition to CES (which will manage its own budget of €1,240,651), specialising in solutions towards participation and inclusion, regeneration of public space, and also cultural, social and solidarity economy and social emancipation solutions, the consortium includes experts in environmental integration (from Portugal and the Netherlands), technological (from Spain and Denmark) and market (from Sweden and Germany) solutions.

Within the scope of the project, the «OURBiNAT» Observatory is planned to manage and monitor the data and analyses produced throughout the project, guaranteeing its sustainability and promoting an inclusive urban regeneration and innovative solutions for the well-being and social cohesion.

The URBiNAT consortium and the CES team are coordinated by Gonçalo Canto Moniz, architect, CES researcher and professor at the Department of Architecture of the Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the University of Coimbra, where he researches and teaches on the alternative processes of reuse of modern buildings and their ability to transform cities and communities. As researcher he also coordinates the team of the University of Coimbra that integrates the European project Erasmus Plus, «Reuse of Modernist Buildings».

This is the first time that the European Commission has awarded funding of this magnitude to a consortium led by an interdisciplinary research centre for Social and Human Sciences, acknowledging CES’s strong presence in European research - seeking (other) sustainable, inclusive and solidarity models for the development of societies. To date this is already the second project that the CES sees approved outside its usual area of work - after digital technology (with the EMPATIA project), now in the area of Environment, being one of the largest projects ever managed by an institution in the framework of European funding for science.


Photography by José Maçãs de Carvalho