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Client: Akzo Nobel
Category: Buildings and urban spaces
Year: 2010-2012

Prags Boulevard – PB43

- development of a self-organized workspace community in an abandoned paint factory

In the summer of 2010 GivRum undertook the assignment of transforming a 2,000 m2 unused varnish factory at Amager in Copenhagen, into a creative working partnership. Two years later the former factory was inhabited by a self-organized and self-financed working partnership consisting of more than 100 entrepreneurs, who preserved the buildings. They became an asset to the local community and at the same time contributed to the Copenhagen municipality’s strategy of having a creative and diverse city.

The Challenge
In 2006 the varnish production, which since the beginning of the 1900s had been done at Prag’s Boulevard 43, was moved to Sweden. What was left were four empty buildings, which were an unnecessary expense to the owner, Akzo Nobel. Property taxes, supervision and necessary maintenance costs time, money and attention.

In the summer of 2010 GivRum contacted the owners with the aim of revitalizing the unused buildings. The overall challenge was to show that the old factory halls could create value for the owners while providing space for an emerging culture in and around the city’s empty and unused space. This process consisted of three parts, which referred to each type of participant:

  • To begin with GivRum had to demonstrate for the owners that the commissioning of the old industrial buildings could create value and relieve them of the administration, maintenance and supervision.
  • Subsequently, there had to be established an active group of users who could manage the organising, funding and operation of the buildings over time.
  • Lastly, the buildings had to be anchored socially and culturally as a meeting point in the local community.

In Copenhagen the amount of affordable rental properties is decreasing, and this affects the creative, artistic and innovative entrepreneurs.

The deployment of unused buildings can accommodate the growing problem. In this way the owners of the buildings can recover their costs, while the buildings are transformed into assets for a local area.

The Solution
GivRum signed a two-year contract with Akzo Nobel for the activating of the buildings.

Then the artists and creative souls, who lacked space to roam, were invited and engaged in the project. The contract and the purpose of activation was based on:

  • Establishing a social enterprise model that would ensure the owner financially. The rent, which the users paid, was used to cover the property tax and other fixed expenses which Akzo Nobel had. Profits were reinvested in the buildings and in public activities and events.
  • There was a specific focus on activating groups rather than individuals, as groups would create life in the buildings much quicker and more effectively.
  • The fact that activities should be based on cultural and social purposes, which shape life – and not just be for storage or other “dead” activities.

The process resulted in a user-driven working partnership, where anything from motorcycles, skis and furniture were built, alongside organised circus performances and a garden with home-grown, organic vegetables. Throughout the period the users had been assigned the responsibility of running the place, and by the end of 2012 GivRum formally assigned the place to the users after a new 3-year contract had been negotiated between the users and Akzo Nobel.

When our part of the project was complete, there was established a self-organized and self-financed working partnership, which maintained the buildings, contributed to the municipality of Copenhagen’s strategy for a creative and diverse city, and offered cheap and flexible leases to entrepreneurs, cultural entrepreneurs and small organizations in central Copenhagen.

In 2015 the old factory buildings were sold and the many activities at Prags Boulevard ended. The working partnership was at this point such a strong group so they decided to continue their collaborations at new premises at Nordhavn in Copenhagen. PB43 thus continues as a self-financed non-profit-making organization, which creates space for both full-time and part-time professional enterprises, non-profit projects and hobby activities.

Unused buildings have ideal potential to involve diverse stakeholders in the development of the city. With temporary activities it is possible to shape a foundation for communities that can contribute to the life of the city with art, culture and entrepreneurship.

Temporary Activation
PB43 was made possible by a temporary agreement on the administering of the buildings with cultural and social activities, which created the foundation for the creative development of the plot of land.

Sustainable Organization
After only two years the users of PB43 took over the operation and administration and became an independent association with a sustainable economy.

Holistic Functionality
The activities in and around PB43 saved the owners of the buildings a lot of expenses, created a lively local community in the heart of Amager and enriched Copenhagen with a creative powerhouse.

Info

PB43 started in 2010 as GivRum signed a two-year usage agreement with Akzo Nobel.

The four buildings were fully occupied by a set of activities within a few months.

PB43 had over 30 different leases, which included:

  • Workshops (wood, metal, bicycle, motorcycle, ceramics)
  • Ateliers
  • Galleries
  • Offices
  • An urban garden
  • A music venue
  • A record label
  • A publishing house
  • A contemporary circus

The working partnership consisted of 100 daily users, and during the first year 17 CVR numbers were created at Prague Boulevard 43.

The evaluation report can be read here.

Further information can be found at www.pb43.dk and PB43’s Facebook page.

 

Concept

Unused buildings have ideal potential to involve diverse stakeholders in the development of the city. With temporary activities it is possible to shape a foundation for communities that can contribute to the life of the city with art, culture and entrepreneurship.

Temporary Activation
PB43 was made possible by a temporary agreement on the administering of the buildings with cultural and social activities, which created the foundation for the creative development of the plot of land.

Sustainable Organization
After only two years the users of PB43 took over the operation and administration and became an independent association with a sustainable economy.

Holistic Functionality
The activities in and around PB43 saved the owners of the buildings a lot of expenses, created a lively local community in the heart of Amager and enriched Copenhagen with a creative powerhouse.

Info

PB43 started in 2010 as GivRum signed a two-year usage agreement with Akzo Nobel.

The four buildings were fully occupied by a set of activities within a few months.

PB43 had over 30 different leases, which included:

  • Workshops (wood, metal, bicycle, motorcycle, ceramics)
  • Ateliers
  • Galleries
  • Offices
  • An urban garden
  • A music venue
  • A record label
  • A publishing house
  • A contemporary circus

The working partnership consisted of 100 daily users, and during the first year 17 CVR numbers were created at Prague Boulevard 43.

The evaluation report can be read here.

Further information can be found at www.pb43.dk and PB43’s Facebook page.

 

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