Empty Homes - Community Solutions: International Perspectives

112 - Muirhead Tower
Tuesday 30 April 2019 (14:00-16:30)

Helen Harris h.m.a.harris@bham.ac.uk

empty housing

Housing and Communities Research Network Seminar Series

  • Read a full report of this event here

As ever, in our 2019 seminar series we are keen to involve housing policy makers, practitioners and activists in debates informed by academic research on key current housing issues. After a decade of research and knowledge exchange on community engagement in bringing empty homes into use we are delighted to convene an international panel on this topic for our Spring 2019 Seminar. 

Experts from Spain, Japan and England will provide fresh perspectives on the scope and benefits of community engagement with empty homes to promote regeneration, renewal, skills and training outcomes, new housing supply and sustainable community organisations. Eva Morales will discuss her PhD findings on urban vacancy as an opportunity in Spain, Yoshinobu Kikuchi will discuss the experience of engaging with long term population decline and property abandonment in Japan while Caroline Gore-Booth will reflect on the success of Giroscope from Hull in the World Habitat Awards 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NFiOWFbC6Yand her recent study visit to US and Canada.

Following presentations from our three international speakers, there will be a panel discussion chaired by Jon Fitzmaurice, the leading activist in this field in England. We hope that the discussion will inspire renewed action in Birmingham where the Council is consulting on ‘Empty Homes Strategy 2019-24’ and where Birmingham Community Homes https://www.birminghamcommunityhomes.com/ is promoting community-led housing in the city.


1.40 Welcome,Tea and Coffee & Networking
2.00 Emeritus Professor David Mullins Empty Homes Community Solutions 
2.10 Dr Eva Morales, Universidad de Malaga; Collective processes to activate and use empty houses in Spain 
2.30 Caroline Gore-Booth, Giroscope, Hull; International Perspectives on the work of Giroscope - from World Habitat Awards to Winston Churchill Fellowship 
2.50 Assistant Professor Yoshinobu Kikuchi, University of Fukui; Empty Homes in Japan- the emergence of community based solutions
3.10 Break
3.30 Jon Fitzmaurice, Self-Help Housing.Org; Questions and Discussion Panel
4.30 Seminar Closes.


Eva MoralesDr Eva Morales Soler is a Professor of Architectural Projects at the School of Architecture of the University of Malaga. Spain. She is a practicing Architect and has a PhD in Architecture and Master in Social Research applied to the Environment. She is co- founder of the cooperative study group Cotidiana s.c.a. (www.cotidiana.coop). She was a co-founder of the lapanadería architecture studio (2003-2013) (www.despachodepan.com)which has received several national awards for the realisation of architectural housing projects and educational spaces. Her work has been published and disseminated in congresses and seminars at national and international level. Her Doctoral Thesis was on 'Collective strategies of activation and putting into use of empty housing spaces. Applications at the municipal level '. Her work 'applied research'  'teaching based on the real problems of cities’ and a practice that seeks an 'architecture aware of the people and the environment'. Eva specialises in research and intervention projects for sustainable urban regeneration, collective housing processes, open design, spatial flexibility and socio-urban activation strategies for housing gaps. She is co- promoter of the online platform www.masqueunacasa.org

Caroline Gore-BoothCaroline Gore-Booth is a project manager for Giroscope, a self-help housing organisation in Hull. Giroscope’s main work is renovating empty and derelict houses, bringing them back into use to provide decent, affordable homes to people in housing need. Over the last 6 years Caroline has overseen the renovation of over 50 vacant properties and been involved in the development of Giroscope’s volunteer training programme that helps disadvantaged people move towards employment. Caroline studied architecture at university and became interested in the home and low cost housing design. In 2018 Caroline was awarded a fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to research sustainable, innovative and replicable housing projects in the USA and Canada. Over six weeks Caroline visited over 20 projects that focus on community regeneration, self-help housing, working with homeless youth and providing employment and training opportunities. This research will feed  into Giroscope’s ground-breaking timberframe self-build project to create affordable homes, provide training and regenerate the rundown community where Giroscope works.

Yoshinobu KikuchiYoshinobu Kikuchi is an associate professor at the Department of Architecture and City Planning at University of Fukui, Japan. Previously, he was a visiting researcher at the School of Social Policy at University of Birmingham (2013). Besides empty homes initiatives, Yoshinobu’s research interests include collaborative housing and public housing as well as social enterprises in community development. Yoshinobu has carried out several research projects in these fields, such as on the empty homes initiatives in shrinking society managed by the special committee of the Architectural Institute of Japan (2018- ) and he has been participating in many committees of local governments on housing policy and empty homes. He has been researching the Intergenerational Homeshare project in Fukui and received the Prize for Furusato Zukuri (Community Design) Award in 2018 from the Minister of Internal Affair and Communications, Japan. In 2018, Yoshinobu has co-written ‘Consideration on the intermediate support for interactive living by utilizing empty houses in local city in Japan’ for International Conference of Asian-Pacific Planning Societies. 

Jon FitzmauriceJon Fitzmaurice OBE started work with Shape Housing Association in Birmingham a long time ago, renovating empty properties with young unemployed people for homeless families. He later moved into mainstream housing, working for the National Housing Federation and for London & Quadrant Housing Trust before taking over at CHAR, Campaign for Homeless & Rootless, for ten years. Over the years he’s been a member of many housing boards, including Shelter. His interest in mobilizing people to secure housing for themselves has never waned and seeing self-help housing in decline, in 2009 he set up a project aimed a putting it back on the map. “Quite a few established housing associations started out as small local initiatives, but as funding became more complicated and elusive, people were deterred from trying to set something up themselves. However, refurbishing vacant property can provide an excellent starting point for communities to procure housing for themselves, while often also  providing training and employment opportunities, without the need for large scale capital finance”. The Self-Help Housing project supports and promotes both existing and new initiatives and was closely involved in getting DCLG to agree to set up the £50m Empty Homes Community Grants Programme www.self.help.housing.org. Jon has been an Honorary Fellow with the Housing and Communities Research Group and a key partner for the ESRC Impact Acceleration Project Empty Homes Community Grants Programme Legacy’ 

If you would like to attend, please contact Helen Harris at h.m.a.harris@bham.ac.uk.