Temporary Use creating social services

Temporary Use projects are often successful in prototyping services that respond to community needs, as well as in adapting to the ever changing trends in technology, work-organization and society quicker than municipalities can. Additionally, Temporary Use can offer a way for municipalities to pool public and private resources in order to create social services.  Particularly in the context of the current economical crisis and shrinking public budgets this is an acute need.

Zakład Makerspace in Poznan (Poland) has demonstrated that it is not only serving its community, but also prototyping broader social services in fields of entrepreneurship, education and re-training. Zaklad is a NGO-based initiative that was set up in a privately owned abandoned polygraphy complex on a Temporary Use contract. It has been providing shared, low-cost workspace, shared tools and knowledge exchange. Their public are the so called “makers” – hobbyists, as well as self-employed who need access to various technical, often expensive tools and who need to collaborate to reduce their costs. In this way, Zaklad has been addressing the emerging trend of “democratization of manufacturing” where the availability of 3D printers, CNC machines and computer programs is putting the means of production in hands or more and more people, as well as shifting more people into self-employment.

Zaklad Makerspace
Zaklad Makerspace – Photo by Zaklad

The City of Poznan recognized the contribution of Zaklad as a public service and offered it a permanent space in a municipal property.

Another example is that of Bremen (Germany) that supported the Temporary Use agency ZZZ. The City highlights the Temporary Use possibilities that the platform is creating for citizens’ initiatives, its support services and entrepreneurship training.

Helsinki (Finland) has engaged with squatters to create affordable housing for youth. The Oranssi community started as a squatting movement in the turn of 1980’s and 1990’s. The community wanted to find space for young people’s cultural activities and to create affordable housing. While squatting, they started negotiations with the local authorities. Oranssi was allowed to renovate several empty buildings that were then turned into communal and affordable housing for youth.

Oranssi Cultural Centre - Photo by The Holding Project
Oranssi Cultural Centre – Photo by The Holding Project

Ghent (Belgium) recognizes the contribution of Temporary Use as a way to cheaply and quickly test and prototype social services and initiatives. Through its Temporary Use Fund, the City is systematically offering small grants to Temporary Use initiatives. In return, these initiatives provide the City with experience and organizing capacity to address community needs that the government can’t address on its own. These grants are mostly spent on adapting the premises of the Temporary Use initiatives to comply with safety regulations. It helped the City of Ghent to support various successful initiatives, like a volunteer based psychotherapy centre, community sports, culture and arts spaces.

But how to make sure that Temporary Use initiatives are really offering services that people need?

To better serve its inhabitants, the City of Amersfoort (Netherlands) is asking temporary use initiatives to survey their surrounding community and to get feedback as a condition for receiving a grant. In this way, the municipality is outsourcing the analysis of community needs to Temporary Use initiatives. Similarly, the Temporary Use Fund in Ghent requires a steering commitee to be set up for every supported project, that includes neighbourhood inhabitants to oversee the project.


This article is part of the series “Providing Temporary Use services” in which Mārcis Rubenis from Free Riga and Irīna Miķelsone from the City of Riga (Latvia) are describing some examples of how Temporary Use initiatives can see and market themselves as a form of service.
See also the article “Waking up snoring spaces” about ZZZ Bremen in our 4th REFILL Magazine and the article “Housing the young and repairing the old” about Oranssi by The Holding Project.


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