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Hausmania Ecological Pilot Project

About  About
Title: Hausmania Ecological Pilot Project
Categories: Culture
Human Rights

Status: In Progress
Timeline: Ongoing

Hausmania – Sustainable artistic livelihood – A pilot project
(Written by Hilde Borchgrevink for Ballade, translated by mamagaby)
For one week, the users of Hausmania participated in a workshop with architects, municipality employees and politicians to agree on a common proposal for the development of the area. Now the Municipality has given green card, the Hausmania square is going to be a pilot project. –It’s going to be an inner city ecological culturesqare, where both the rebuilding and the running of the place will be done mainly through ecology and local governance, says Ole Pedersen from Hausmania to Ballade. Ballade was at the presentation after the workshop, and in the plan now they included the rehabilitation of rehearsal rooms, cheap apartments and new stage indoors and outdoors. The 1st of may is celebrated with the opening of Humla Cultural and Revolutionary Workshop.
Hausmania has become a living part of Oslo’s cultural scene. The complex contains the Theatre of Cruelty (theatre stage), galleries, a cinema, a multifunction hall, a vegan café, dark rooms, indoor skate hall and the Culture Working place Humla. On top of this, the house is renting out cheap studios, rehearsing rooms, recording studios and other facilities.
Ole Pedersen is working in one of the halls in Hausmania. During the workshop week, he sat in the group dealing with the economical issues of the remodelling of the area. Together with him was Nitteberg, from the Culture-and office Department of the Oslo Municipality and representatives from The Housing Bank and Culutra Bank.

Culture, housing, ecology
- The combination of culture, housing and ecology is so special, that it doesn’t fit in in the common procedure system. But the municipality has taken the challenge and is starting the work to make the project fit to the laws and regulations, and it is exciting, Ole says.
One of the most important reasons why the commune now is backing up the Hausmania Square is the ecological aspect. There are several plans and visions around ecology and inner city development in the system. There are UN-resolutions (through Agenda 21) and many big words written on papers about sustainable development in towns. But only a few, if none, are actually put into practice. Now the municipality is taking their chance, and listen to the solutions that te municipality of Trondheim have found for Svartlamoen. Hausmania will become a “pilot project in inner city ecology, local governance, housing and culture”.
The idea comes from the hausmanians themselves. They started working with a private reorganisation of the area already in 2003, coached by the architect Fredrika Miller, who has specialised knowledge in ecological defendable building methods and plannification. They presented the result in January 2005 before the Municipality of Oslo during a seminar. Miller is assigned as the project coordinator, and in November they held a second workshop internally in Hausmania.
We are very satisfied with this solution, Ole Pedersen says. – It means a lot that Frederika, who knows us and has been involved in our plans for so long, is able to continue the work and be our contact with the administration.

The users decide
One of the most important principles is that the ones who use the area are involved during the whole process.
Local governance and the flattest structure possible are very important to us, Ole Says. – If this project would have been managed though the normal structure with a board and a boss, I don’t think we would have been able to do anything.
Hausmania has been run by its users since the beginning. In winter of 1999 Hausmann BA contacted Statsbygg with the purpose of renting empty, decayed rooms in the building og Hausmannsgate 34 and Brenneriveien 1 for cultural activities. In the beginning, the members of Hausmann BA were planning to rent the building. The first artists started during during winter 2000.
After several threats of getting kicked out and the building destroyed, the muncipality of Oslo bought the square in January 2004, with a condition: they had to regulate the area to become housing, culture and industry, and that this should be achieved through local governance, inner city ecology and sustainability.
Pedersen says that the fight to save Hausmania and the area has built strong bonds among the users. – In the beginning it was a big separation between the Cultural house Housmania and Vestbredden in Housmannsgate 40. The arenas were separated and different from each other. We did culture, they squatted empty houses. But when Statsbygg wanted to tare it all down, we had to cooperate. This opened a dialog that is very good today. In the inner city-project, we are strengthening each other’s fight. And our interests are similar – many of the users of the cultural hose are artists who are struggling in the housing market, he says.

Multi-use stage and collective housing solutions
How are this to environments going to be regarding new buildings?
- The plan presents two new buildings. – The first one is the Circus Hall, and the second is apartments and a community based solution for living. There will not be apartments with separated kitchens and one room to each person. This is also part of the ecological dimension. The residents will share common spaces, which will reduce the use of resources during the building and afterwards.
Opening up
Who decides who is going to live and work at Hausmania?
We are also opening up in that area, Ole Pedersen tells us. Before it has been done through acquaintance and recommendations, new people are already known by people who are already in. Now all info about vacant rooms is put out on our web-page. Those who are interested in renting a room here can send an application. It will be treated by a room-committee, and the question will be finally decided in a Representative Common Meeting.

To assure the local governance in the area, the plan is that the users shall own the property themselves, or in any way get assurance of their right of ownership in long term. In Svartlamon in Trondheim this became possible through a cooperation with the Housing Bank and the municipality. Hausmania hopes to do something similar. They are also planning space for a culture-based industry, as for example selling art-work in the gallery, on the first floor facing the street.

In the original plans for the area, they wanted to destroy the big halls that are situated just by the river Akerselva. Today they contain a indoor skate ramp and party facilities and the Theatre og Cruelty, whis has been built with economic help from The Cultural Council. Now the plan is to link all the activities in the house today to the inner city ecological project.
- one of the results of the cooperation with the municipality is that we get to keep the three halls, Ole Pedersen says. – without regarding the daily users of the halls and the ramps, both the thatre and the Skatehall are important faces outwards for Hausmania, it is here that we organise the best concerts and can open Hausmania to all the citizens of Oslo

We have been strugglong with the budget since we started, and now the commune of Oslo refuse to help us if we don't put down our outdoor Grafitti art gallery, because of their zero tolerance policy for grafitti.

We need international support to continue the efforts. Soon Hausmania will lounge the project "Sounds from the Street" in the main Skate Fight Club, and will open up a space for youth under siege to join in and build up a sustainable artistic livelihood within the Hausmania network.


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