HOUSING FOR DEGROWTH: Principles, Models, Challenges and Opportunities

Degrowth — sometimes referred to as ‘postgrowth’ — is a cultural, political and economic movement for transforming beyond consumerism and capitalist growth to planetary environmental sustainability and fulfilling everyone’s basic needs. Degrowth values are based on sufficiency and conviviality, living a one planet lifestyle with a common ecological footprint.

So, what types of homes, housing policies and planning strategies are appropriate for degrowth futures?

The Housing for Degrowth collection — that I am co-editing with Francois Schneider for publication in the Routledge Environmental Humanities series late in 2018 — presents various activist-scholar responses to the challenges posed in creating housing for degrowth. One planet living means conserving and retrofitting buildings for sustainability, allowing for ‘alternative’ self- and group-builds, temporary use-rights to buildings vacant for long periods prior to re-development, and appropriate and affordable eco-housing.

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In many countries of the Global North empty, secondary and scarcely used buildings in cities and depopulated rural towns could be inhabited by households currently marginalised by high real estate prices. Contributors consider case studies of squatting, innovative financing of housing cooperatives, maintaining older social/public housing and ecovillages.

In countries of the Global South, overpopulated cities demand new housing using both contemporary and vernacular design, techniques and materials with self-build potential and appropriate energy and water technologies for eco-neighbourhood development. Case studies from South India and Vanuatu explore the potential and challenges.

Most eco-neighbourhoods, ecovillages and cohousing show that shared living is more sustainable than small households in detached single-storey homes, and self-organising groups, such as squatters, have created abodes for simple living at little cost.

Urban–rural tensions and futures are analysed and debated so that the collection will attract student, professional, academic and activist readers.

Housing for Degrowth explores many of the environmental, cultural and economic issues posed in the context of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary fields such as urbanism, ecological economics, environmental justice, housing studies and policy, planning studies and policy, sustainability studies, political ecology, social change and, of course, degrowth.