Gestaltistic

The Mazi consortium met at the Zurich pilot location during May, to pick up on the process of engagement and research that concludes at the end of 2018. Our hosts, Nethood.org have been busy, both working to accommodate us for a few days but to co-ordinate some training and testing of the Mazi Toolkit with local groups and in a variety of situations.

The first day of discussion and debate took place at the newly appointed L200 social space in the heart of the latest gentrification area in the city. Traditionally home to immigrant workers and shopkeepers, it’s an area that has escaped earlier waves of regeneration and retains a human scale and international flavour in contrast to much of the city.

In the morning, we gathered at Kraftwerk1 to tour the 80’s housing coop complex and hear from some of it’s pioneer members about it’s origins and collaborative living ambitions. There is such a strong sense of achievement and continuity here that is strangely contrasted by complacency in the process which so many rely on.

Fresh ideas and a commitment to reinvigorate cooperative living processes are being explored not least as the population ages and some re-configuration and adjustment will be needed. Youngsters who have grown up here may be key to understanding what steps could be taken to improve on levels of involvement and understanding. A photographic exhibition in the main social cafe featuring the keystone elements of the coops establishment and development was compiled and presented using the toolkit. When the next exhibition takes it’s place, the Mazi Zone containing all the materials will remain accessible there for all to continue contributing to.

We then crossed the road to visit the Stadionbrache garden project in occupation of hotly contested city football stadium grounds. It then made perfect sense to bake pizza at their famous outdoor ovens! The appeal of cooperation in the dough shaping, topping and baking was compulsive. We sheltered from the strong sunshine amidst timber canopies and acacia shade, to discuss our public work, networking MAZI and bread breaking!

Our tour moved on to Kalkbreite where the latest generation of cooperative householders show us around the very impressive enviable living conditions. The secluded spaces and street accessibility make light of the complexities at play here.

The spectacle of its success coincides with an upsurge of interest and enthusiasm for cooperative housing. Zurich has set about increasing the level of state and cooperative housing from 25 to 33% by 2030. Much of the capital investment required beyond the community fund raising, will be be supplied by the Banking sector who will continue hold the bulk ownership in many of these projects, a reciprocal arrangement that seems to be widely accepted and understood.

Zurich like so many european cities lives for the river where in this case, great effort has been made to provide safe swimming access to its very clean waters which were a joy to swim in at the end of a very busy and warm day. Sorry no pics!

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