Nonviolent forms of housing

Tatjana Schneider 

Kalkbreite

Residential and commercial building of the cooperative Kalkbreite, Zurich.

Everyone needs housing. It is a basic human right. And yet, across the globe, we are facing a myriad of challenges: the dismantling of public housing, the financialisation of rented housing, the rising cost of home ownership, forced displacement, the rising percentage of income spent on housing, homelessness, and inequality that grows daily. Against this, this research interest brings together work on models and types of housing that define themselves through and from the perspective of use. In doing so, it draws on the critical writings of, amongst others, the British architects John Turner and Colin Ward, and the Swiss social theorist Lucius Burckhardt. Following Chris Allen we focus here on non-violent perspectives that are based on a philosophy that “require all actions and interventions to nurture ‘being’” (2017, 678). In relation to housing, non-violence is then articulated in approaches that, for example, are “provided and managed by those who are to dwell in it” (Schneider, and Till 2011, 202); others talk of “the freedom to build” (Turner 1976) and the pragmatist anarchist Ward advocates cooperative self-help schemes as ways to build a “freer society” (Ward 1976). We are, therefore, interested in examples that make visible the “holes in the whole” (Nawratek 2012) or “cracks” (C. Allen 2017; Hodkinson 2012; Holloway 2010) that might constitute, following David Harvey, “spaces of hope” ( 2000) or, even, “revolutionary events” (Gibson-Graham 2006) that have the capacity to change housing imaginaries and housing production.