ALT/BAU - At the end of a long journey

Edited on 30/07/2021

We look back on two and a half years of intensive work in the URBACT ALT/BAU transfer network. What have we achieved together? We proudly present our results: 

The transfer process

How the transfer took place in Seraing, in Rybnik, in Turin, in Riga, in Vilafranca del Penedes and in Constanta has already been reported here in various articles. The lead partner Chemnitz also went on a search for purpose and experienced transfers. Housing Agencies based on the Chemnitz model have been established in Vilafranca del Penedes, Rybnik, Seraing and Constanta. Riga and Turin came to the realization that setting up an agency as such was not way to go in their contexts. More details on the agencies in this article


We have compiled field-tested methods and good examples for cities that have a large stock of unrenovated, vacant, historic buildings or even houses of more recent construction and that want to do something about this vacancy and deplorable state. We have done our best to gather good practices, elaborate on a hundred details and provide live hacks in the form of two publications. Including recommendations on how to change complicated ownership structures and how to connect to the owners, how to find partners and potential buyers and new investors, how to integrate alternative approaches for social housing or temporary use.

Check out our network´s website to download your personal copy of our Good Practice Compilation and our Guidebook:

The Good Practice Compilation provides an inside view of good practices the partners discovered and explored during the course of the ALT/BAU network. There are examples of inventory of vacant buildings, of marketing activities, of legal tools and affordable housing. The Guidebook provides an overview and guidance for interested cities and professionals how to apply the ALT/BAU approach – the set up and tasks of an “ALTernative Building Activation Unit” for the benefit of the urban development.

The basis for tackling vacancy in a city 

If you want to tackle vacancies in a city or district, a reliable data base on vacant houses is the basis. A suitable instrument for obtaining this reliable data is presented in this study. This report presents the different GIS tools available in the ArcMap program and its application areas for the inventory, monitoring and marketing of vacant places. The structure of the report follows the key steps of the ‘Housing agency’ good practice and suggests GIS techniques which can support the transfer of the good practice.    

Central transfer topics and practices

In our Capacity Building Webinar, we presented central topics and practices of knowledge transfer in the ALT/BAU network. You can find the links to our ALT/BAU YouTube channel with the recordings and presentations from our Capacity Building Webinar on and here: 

In addition to the films of the webinar, reports from the network meetings, interviews and city views can also be found on our YouTube channel. The protagonists of the ALT/BAU network come to life here.


ALT/BAU is now officially finished. Our partner Eriges Seraing continues in another European network: The UIA/URBACT Transfer Network Vilawatt boosts the energy transition process by setting up a public-private-citizen partnership (PPCP) where citizens and main social actors play a key role. The priority is to increase citizen commitment and sense of belonging to promote a sustainable energy transition process. For more info, contact Bénédicte Borckmans.  

We have made a commitment to stay in touch. Our ALT/BAU contact list is kept up to date. We also want to use "our" day that we have found for joint public relations work - the International Day of Cities - in the future and carry out joint actions. We will also continue to use our Twitter channel to highlight news in the partner cities and follow URBACT networks that are starting up or continuing.

We wish the networks that are now embarking on the journey just as exciting, fun and enlightening experiences as we have had and as great partners as we have had. We also wish them that it will be possible to actually visit their partner cities. We had the chance and the luck to see each other again in real during our farewell meeting in Turin. 


Submitted by sabine.hausmann on 30/07/2021
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