We consider that a situation where almost the only way to get to an apartment by inheritance or risky loan is unsustainable. Low income, high real estate prices, 150,000 people in Belgrade without resolved housing situation – this clearly indicates that the housing problem is immense and that neither institutions nor the market are solving it for us. Thus, it is time to take action.
The Smarter Building model puts affordability of housing first, while taking away the pressure from individuals in resolving their housing condition. It is centered around a cooperative of inhabitants that collectively develops, finances, maintains and operates a multi-apartment building. Because it controls the entire trajectory (and does not need to make a profit), the resulting apartments are much more affordable for the inhabitants.
The cooperative owns the real-estate as well as takes on the necessary loans to pay for its construction. Participating households or individuals (the members of the cooperative) thus collectively own their building. And keep it there, because individual members or households cannot speculate with their apartment – in that way it is not just a safe and affordable option for the first generation, but for many generations of its inhabitants to come.
As an inhabitant of a Smarter Building apartment, you pay a one-time entry fee (deposit) and a monthly contribution (“rent”) that covers both the costs of the apartment as well as a predetermined amount for the utility costs (water, electricity, etc.) – so you always know what you are up to.
- collective ownership: real estate is constructed and owned by the cooperative
- credit is assumed by the cooperative, taking (part of) vulnerability away from individuals
- cooperative membership gives access to stable long term rental of a unit
- members contribute financially (on a monthly basis) and through economic participation
- affordable monthly costs ensure that all units are sustainably affordable for their inhabitants
Smarter Building is based on experience from other recent co-operative housing developments: so while it is new to South-Eastern and Central-Eastern Europe, it has been already tested elsewhere in Europe.
It is for a wide range of people who currently cannot afford to buy an apartment, but would join in a more affordable approach to it. For example: young people who want to become independent, people without a permanent job, people with average or lower income, as well as those who are looking for a community in which they could live differently.
Pametnija zgrada is now preparing for the launch of its 23-unit flagship development:
• affordable and economically sustainable housing
• for people with a lower to average income
• mutual (co-operative) home ownership
• non-profit, non-speculative principles
• very high energy performance
It is projected as a 4-storey building with a total floor area of 1029m2 net, located in Belgrade’s 4th construction zone. Its 23 apartments range in size from 24m2 (micro-apartments) to 84m2 units, totalling 935m2 of apartment space. The base housing unit is a 37m2 studio apartment for up to two people (living / sleeping room, dining area, service zone). The approach is modular, and 1-4 additional rooms from 7.5-11m2 can be added.
In addition, the building includes 10% of shared resident facilities (90m2), which will also provide opportunities for additional revenue generation (e.g. venue hire).
It is constructed according to the Passive House energy efficiency standard, cutting utility costs by 40%. The use of A-class materials allows for high quality standards, while minimising maintenance costs.
The co-operative invests in the construction of the building with 20% equity, while remaining funds are obtained via a collective loan.