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TUTUR – Temporary use as a tool for urban regeneration
An URBACT Pilot Transfer Network
December 2013-March 2015
In partnership with the municipalities of Rome, Bremen and Alba Iulia

Temporary use is a planning tool effectively bringing together various stakeholders: it engages an important number of municipal and private economic development agencies and property owners, as well as cultural organisations, to elaborate potential uses of existing infrastructure and resources. In the meanwhile, architects (and landscape architects, designers) also play a key role in the development of models for interim use and in the establishment of temporary spatial possibilities. Transforming empty properties to allow them adopt new uses offers advantages to all: owners profit with the renovation and preservation of the building, users access affordable work and living spaces, residents enjoy their revitalised neighbourhoods, merchants benefit increasing traffic and sales, and the design professions gain new work opportunities and expanded professional perspectives. The objective of the TUTUR project is to introduce the method of temporary use in urban regeneration to cities participating in the network.

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The Bremen Model 

The Bremen-based ZwischenZeitZentrale (ZZZ) is one of the first temporary use programs established by a municipality in cooperation with an NGO. The ZZZ has worked with at least 50 vacant properties of different scales and nature: from small shops of 30m² up to industrial areas of 4.500m², summing up to approximately 10.000m² surface in buildings and 80.000m² of brownfields across the whole territory of Bremen, engaging a great variety of users in the use of these spaces.

In the 1980s and ‘90s, Bremen went through a similar post-industrial transformation as many other cities in Europe: with the closure of shipyards and the old port, empty industrial areas occupied all the riverfront of the River Weser. A high rate of unemployment and the change of shopping behaviour led to empty shops in the outskirts of Bremen.
Bremen today is seeking to test new approaches to deal with the challenges of structural change and new forms of work: on the one hand, as a seat of industry, the Hanseatic city wants to revitalise vacant buildings and brownfields, and, on the other, as a university city it tries to keep young graduates in town. The City of Bremen saw vacancy as an opportunity to connect productively its need for financial resources and the abundance of vacant sites.

In 2009 the city of Bremen came up with the idea of a temporary use agency for the whole city as a pilot project of the Nationale Stadtentwicklungspolitik, a program of the Federal Ministry of Building. The pilot project in Bremen was supported by partners from various official bodies: the board of economy as leading partner, the department of building and traffic, the department of finances and, very important, the department of public property management. The whole project was funded in 50% by the Federal Government and in 50% (16,66%, 16,66% and 16,66%) by the departments of economy, building and finances to a whole sum of 350.000 €. This sum included 100.000 € to support different projects, to finance the work within the pilot project and to organise two big conferences. The agency, called ZZZ, is run by a small office, the AAA (Oliver Hasemann and Daniel Schnier) together with Sarah Oßwald and Michael Ziehl, all of whom had previous experience in temporary use projects Bremen, Hamburg and Berlin. Their assignment in the agency gave ZZZ from the beginning a significant visibility and a good network of institutions and potential users for the vacant spaces.

In the first month, the website www.zzz-bremen.de was launched, giving an overview of empty objects for interested owners and users. Based on this inventory, ZZZ invited various stakeholders in the discussion. To support the project within the city administration, different departments were brought together in an advising council. In the following three years, the ZZZ supported around 50 projects in different scales. Starting with predominantly publicly owned vacant properties, like a brownfield in the project Aller.Ort (www.aller-ort.de) or an abandoned store house at the Plantage 9 (www.plantage9.de), the project was later expanded to involve private owners as well. Within these three years, over 500 initiatives turned to ZZZ to request for empty offices, ateliers, workspaces, event locations, cultural hot spots, and for-profit economic activities which are granted the temporary use of the spaces on the grounds of covering all operational costs.

As a result of the ZZZ’s work, the value of temporary use have gradually been recognised by all the administration as well as the private sector. Temporary use today is seen as a generator and incubator of self-organized projects and a testing ground for long-term uses: in the case of “difficult” buildings, the ZZZ is often invited to contribute to the definition of functions and uses.

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