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NICE Award Nominee Kitev about their project Oberhaus

The Oberhaus is an artistic approach to upgrade a neglected building and improve the housing situation in the city quarter. The innovators of Kitev explain their idea.

© Agnieszka Wnuczak

In your own view, what challenges does your project address?

Firstly, the project pursues to address the challenge of refugees’ accommodation as a proper response to sustainable development goals and human rights. Secondly, it eases the integration approach by encouraging all the city’s residents (current and/or future) to become an active member of the host society. Alongside a spatial platform is created for exchanging skills, language and culture as well as political and religious opinions. This could be the chance to bring back the culture of traditional neighbourhood.

In how far do culture and creativity contribute to your project’s innovative and inclusive character?

Cultural values and social cohesion are what people tend to identify themselves with. Bearing this in mind, Oberhaus broke the norm of renovation process and started with bringing the residents from diverse backgrounds together. It reminds the inhabitants of the region’s history, where value was created through physical activity. It is deeply rooted in the peoples’ hearts in the Ruhr region that you won’t wait for something to happen but you make it happen yourself. We built our idea on this mentality and used it as a lever to change the fixed structure of the city.

Please describe the transformative potentials of your project and explain its innovative character.

Sharing the responsibilities between decision makers of the city and citizens is one of the transformative potentials of the project. Another one is the bottom-up approach which fosters a sense of belonging and recovers long-established neighbourhood communities. It also upgrades a down-graded building through collaborative process and encourages the citizens to be active members of society. Last but not least, our project can serve as a suitable example for many other cities in the Ruhr region and even for other middle-sized European cities which are facing the same challenges.

The association Kitev is nominated for this year's NICE Award. Find the complete shortlist here.