The project PRECARE aims to allow « emergening» urban projects to use workspaces in temporary unoccupied buildings. By making these places available, we want to preserve and encourage the use of the city as a laboratory.
Context and objectives of the project PRECARE
The project PRECARE wants to promote the development of new urban social movements, by momentarily providing a space where they can make their first steps.
Empty or vacant buildings are often considered a sign of dereliction. Paradoxically, those things that render hem unattractive for the real estate market their bad state, location, short time of availability- make them potential workspaces for initiatives that are willing to accept more flexible circumstances to work in. New urban cultural and social initiatives require a place to work in. Besides, experiments at the heart of these movements in activities as well as in modes of organization- often contribute to future social relationships. Making a space momentarily available creates room for these experiments that are vital for the city but are becoming hard to maintain in a n increasingly unfavourable real estate context.
PRECARE¹s programme is to encourage public and private owners to allow temporary use of their unoccupied buildings; to raise awareness about the fact that an empty good, if only for a few weeks, could allow an individual or a group to realize a project, stage a performance, initiate a research project or create a meeting place. For this, PRECARE offers guarantees to facilitate and to assure the owner¹s involvement. Besides social, cultural and cultural implications, which we defend first and foremost, temporary occupation can for the owner be a way to enhance security of his building and to promote it.
We have been following this approach since 1999, and meanwhile have discovered a number of similar initiatives throughout Europe (see examples of temporary occupation). These project share a common desire to promote a better management and better sharing of available space in the city.
Our purpose is also to share experiences by means of practical tools so that similar initiatives can happen outside Precare.
When an agreement has been reached between owner and organization, City Mine(d) can provide the organization with practical support for the collectie management of their building or for structuring their project.
PRECARE is a City Mine(d) project
City Mine(d) was established as an organization in 1997 to support, initiate and produce artistic projects in urban public space. In different stages of their project, small-scale initiatives by individuals and collectives are supported in, amongst others production, signposting, location search, funding application, structuralizing the initiative or looking at its social and cultural context. City Mine(d) has a flexible structures and produces temporary art interventions. It receives structural funding from the Vlaamse Gemeenschap through the Urban Fund, and receives specific funding on a local (municipal), regional (like the Brussels region) national (Belgian Federal Ministry for Urban Policy) and international (European Commission).
For more information please visit www.citymined.org. (in the process of being updated).
History of the project PRECARE
PRECARE was created in 1999. Its initial focus lay on structural support of young collectives in their occupation of a specific building. This support happened in two was: either in negotiations with owners to obtain permission to use the building, or financial and materiel support to have the building comply with regulations.
PRECARE helped « Cinéma Nova » in negotiations with KBC, owner of the building, to establish a convention for use of the building that was acceptable for both.
PRECARE also enabled « Bains Connective » (asbl Krul) to increase security for their use of the former baths in Forest.
A similar support allowed Projection Caliban during 3 years to develop an arts and training project on the site of the former veterinary school in Anderlecht.
In a second stage (early 2003 - 2004), a diminishing availability of artists workspaces in Brussels pushed the project towards a more prospective approach. Precare organized to meet with public and private owners of the Brussels region in order to promote the project on a larger scale and increase the number of partners.
Early 2004, Precare managed to make 3 additional buildings available (see Projects): a +- 600m2 print workshop, owned by the council of Jette, a family house owned by the Brussels Regional land department and a 2000 m2 garage owned by the SDRB (Brussels Regional development company).
In 2005, Precare continues its prospection work, and invests in the practical aspects of new buildings. We are currently investigating a long-term collaboration with the welfare board of Brussels (CPAS). Apart from that, based upon ongoing actions and usages, the project wants to improve its tools to share its experiences and encourage other autonomous initiatives, enhance its communication (by brining a database of offers and demands online on this site) and extend its theoretical background.
Who does Precare speak to?
Precare supports non-profit projects from associations or individuals active in social, cultural, urban and environmental spheres, in their beginning phases and/or at an experimental stage. Selection is essentially based on the motivations of future users and their adhesion to a charter which reflects the choices defended by Precare [please see Charter]. This primarily involves: the acceptance of an occupancy for a determined duration, adherence to and active participation within a system of collective management of the building in question.
Precare also encourages property owners who possess one or more buildings which are temporarily out of use, to support such initiatives by placing the buildings at the disposition of such proposals. Such is one way that these numerous unexploited spaces present positive opportunities, generating and bearing new projects rather than devouring vast sums in security and surveillance to prevent any interventions.
Which role does PRECARE exactly take?
During 2003, the project's second phase consisted in making aware and informing diverse property owners in the Brussels region of this problematic. We encountered several public proprietors: communes, CPAS, the Régie foncière de la Région bruxelloise, the Société de développement de la Région de Bruxelles Capitale, the SNCB, as well as different private owners and promoters. These meetings allowed for precisions on the forms and developments necessary to the successful functioning of the project.
Precare continues to develop this role.
Services and Counsels
PRECARE plays an intermediary role between associations and property owners who are ready to collaborate on a project. PRECARE assures an equitable relation between the two parties, offering its support in the elaboration of a contract of precarious occupancy, in proposing solutions to assure personal and real estates, in proposing advice concerning the opening of meters - gas, electric etc - or other foreseen installations in order to permit the conformity, optimal use and security of the space. With CityMine[d], Precare also offers advice to collectives in order to facilitate the management of a building.
These services can be found in the "Precarious Occupancy Manual'' - a working tool which takes up the counsels and steps to guarantee the correct functioning of an occupancy, carried out on the basis of PRECARE's experiences.
The thematic of precarious occupancy having revealed its relevancy, we wish to broaden the theoretical foundations of the project through the organisation of exchanges with similar initiatives on a European scale.
A meeting has been organised in Brussels at the end of June 2005. It includes the presentation of different practices and an evaluation of the forces and weaknesses of each, a broader consideration of the notion of temporary occupancy along with its advantages and limits, and finally a reflection on the creation of tools which favour this practice.
PRECARE collaborates through the sharing of its experience of studies carried out on the subject [amongst other things, two theses on temporary occupancy by Sarah Levy - student at La Cambre, school of architecture - and Anton Meeus] et is sollicited to expose its methodology and experience during encounters on the subject, initiated by both associative and public sectors.
[Meeting on Workshop Management for Artists organised by the Nicc / Meeting on the Struggle against chancres in the Brussels Region, organised by InterEnvironment Brussels / Project Report to the Catalan Cultural Delegation / Meetings on Projects Alternative to the Mercantile System, organised by the Bordeaux Syndicate of Initiatives, France].
Some interesting sites in the domaine of precarious occupancy
Carrying through with the assistance of CityMine[d], the desire is to render visible the changing network formed by these diverse occupations in Brussels, as well as in several European cities. This as much through tranversal collaborations as by cartographic or eventful materialisations [festivals, commune exhibition,...]. The hope is that certain projects may perpetuate themselves in spaces as much to the profit of collectives and owners as to the city in general.