Porto (Pt) * 2010 * Culturgest * 3 weeks

In Porto WochenKlausur succeeded in activating one of the many vacant buildings in Porto for a group of students. This project works now as a model for similar groups in need of low-cost living and working space.

While viewing Porto’s historical structure and architecture it is impossible to overlook that a lot of the buildings and houses are not in use any more. Therefore the artist collective WochenKlausur decided to attend to this subject. After some further research the group also learned that Porto gives home to the countries biggest University and to 27.000 students who amount to more than ten percent of all residents. A lot of them are in need of affordable housing opportunities. In summery Porto is on the one hand full of houses out of use and on the other hand there are many students searching for a cheap accommodation.

Since the city of Porto is landlord of many vacant buildings, WochenKlausur contacted an official in charge and addressed a proposal to him: A couple of students could be commissioned by the city with refurbishing one of these empty houses and will in return get the permission to stay and live there for some years without paying rent. After these years the owner, in this case the city, will get back a refurbished house in good condition. WochenKlausur could convince the city who agreed to offer a first optional house for this purpose and also found a group of ten students from the Faculty of Fine Arts that were interested enough to take a look at the proposed house.

Of course most important was to consider that the respective house had to be in a stable condition and could not be too run down since the students have no licenses for professional work. But they are able to improve and refurbish floors, walls, windows and - most importantly - to keep a building in a good repair. In due consideration for all these concerns and after the first visit at the optional house, WochenKlausur negotiated the details with both the city and the students and prepared a detailed contract. Based on the condition of the house a process plan for the refurbishment was worked out together with the students. In the end both contract partners agreed and it was even possible to find some first sponsors that agreed to donate part of the expensive construction material.

Intended to be a model for similar projects between house owners and other groups of interested refurbishers the first contract works as a draft and can be handed over by the City or the students. A group of opinion leaders in Porto composed of architects, University professors and journalists also agreed to promote the project trough their networks.

Claudia Eipeldauer, José Pereira, Martina Reuter, Wolfgang Zinggl