Vacant storefronts and the regeneration of local commerce
September 19, 10am-12.30pm
Coming Soon! Project Gallery, Budapest 1052, Kossuth Lajos utca 14-16.
Budapest has suffered more from the economic crises than many other European cities. The recession, combined with many building types becoming obsolete and no longer able to respond to contemporary needs, as well as with inflexible management of real estate properties owned by private as well as public owners, has emptied a significant proportion of the city from its previous functions and use. Vacant storefronts represent a burden for all actors of the urban realm. Owners pay charges after their unrented shops, unused properties are deteriorating, losing their value throughout the process. The commercial activity of a neighborhood is gradually degraded with the presence of vacant properties that don’t generate any traffic and deprive neighboring shops from entire groups of potential customers. Shops with lowered shutters worsen the public safety of an area, where nobody sees what happens on the street.
The KÉK – Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre invited specialists from Paris to present municipal strategies to rethink the management model of commercial properties and architectural interventions to expand the possibilities of ground-floor use. The lectures are conceived as part of the Festival of Open Shops, organized by KÉK in cooperation with the Budapest Municipality. The Festival aims at opening vacant shops and storefronts for a month, accommodating civic, social and cultural projects and institutions. The initiatives selected through a jury procedure have the opportunity to inhabit the onetime vacant spaces, to present themselves and their projects, and ideally to engage private and public property owners to elaborate more flexible, more inclusive strategies for their shops and storefronts. This month of experimentation is conceived as part of the long-term strategy to reconsider vacant shops as resources for communities and creative initiatives. The Festival begins on September 19 and runs until October 18.
Magali Vergnet-Covo is adviser at Strategy, Development and Territories division of Semaest, the Paris Municipality’s mixed-economy company. Semaest is specialized on economic regeneration of Parisian neighborhoods. In 2004, Semaest launched the Vital’Quartier project, enhancing local economy and small commerce in neighborhoods characterized by monofunctionality and vacant storefronts.
GRAU is a Paris-based architecture office working on projects at various scales, from housing to territorial development. In 2013, GRAU was invited by Semaest to elaborate architectural strategies to rethink the possibilities of ground-floor spaces. GRAU will be represented in Budapest by Erwan Bonduelle.
The event is supported by the French Institute of Budapest.