Since 2012, Smarter Building initiative (Belgrade) deconstructs the existing norms and models underlaying the unattainable apartment purchased on the market, in a context where, as a result of privatisation of societally owned flats, 98% of housing has meanwhile become privately owned. With average household income of 520 euro/month, and an average purchase price of 1400 euro/m2 - housing has become a shear impossibility for the yet not-haves. Like 150.000 people paying excessive rents on the unprotected private market, and many people into their 40's with no choice but to live with their parents or grandparents.
Smarter Building is open to people willing to jointly engage – in a “smarter” way – by planning collectively, investing responsibly (their time, knowledge, work skills and/or financial resources available) and building intelligently. Taking a twist with the notion “smart house”, “smarter building” suggests that housing should – through a collective process – be much more a social response, rather than delving into smart materials and energy efficiency.
According to statistics an average household spends 15% of their income for apartment and utilities, which makes about 80 euro/month. Smarter Building starts thus from the question: can a new to be constructed apartment be built for that amount, including the monthly utility costs? In order to make it possible, it proposes a drastic reduction of expenses, a cooperative based model that includes labour based investment, as well as a do-it-ourseleves production of the main construction elements - like structural prefab wall panels filled with straw bales. With this, it arrives at a construction price of about 320 euro/m2. In a search for a non-profit housing model, Smarter Buildings is currently facing the acquisition of land under favourable conditions, as well as access to starting capital without a long-term drag. These are conditions that would provide it to become a break-through project; a precedent for others to follow.
Smarter Building (Pametnija zgrada in Serbian) is an initiative of Who Builds the City (Ko gradi grad) platform, Belgrade, it involves participation of numerous professionals, activists and citizens.