Temporary use is a tool to enable the use of vacant spaces in urban areas, especially neglected and decaying buildings. It allows various community members to obtain the space for their social, cultural, or other needs, under often more favorable terms, than in the case of a regular/commercial lease.
Temporary use is a phenomenon that has its physical manifestation, as often spontaneous and direct practice in urban space, related to temporary activation of vacant or underused facilities and spaces. Generally, it is considered as informal approach or community practice in spatial planning, proliferated as new types of informal urbanism: grassroots urbanism, do-it-yourself urbanism, bottom-up urbanism, guerrilla urbanism, pop-up urbanism, tactical urbanism, participatory urbanism as well as open-source urbanism. Temporary use is carried out outside the formal urban planning cycles and have emerged as a response to insufficiently successful public management of space. The actors in temporary uses are various community organizations, collectives or individuals with limited financial resources, but socially connected and extremely dedicated. Therefore, this tool can be better described as deliberate and creative activity, on a small-scale level, with the aim of "improvement" or "contribution" to the urban environment. However, it is important to draw attention to the critics that accompany this tool, which relate to the connection with the process of gentrification and explicit economic benefits from the real estate market’s perspective. Employing temporary uses as strategic tools can also mean turning them into economic instruments where they play a precarious role in gentrification processes.
Termokiss is a community-led cultural center in Pristina located in a former neglected local heating company known as Termokos. The building was initially constructed in the 1980s as part of the central heating exchange structure, but it was never completed and it was later abandoned. While under the law as a municipal space the building was also de facto a public space, but the municipality did not know how to proceed with the authorization for the project of the cultural center. It all started in summer 2016 when 45 volunteers were brought together in order to revitalize an abandoned building. An international team led by the Belgian organization Toestand, an organization committed to the temporary transformation of vacant urban spaces to develop socio-cultural projects, visited Pristina with an idea of carrying out an urban-transformation project with local activists. With a community of people from Pristina who were part of some of the temporary interventions and initiatives in the city, the desire to establish a cultural center became more concrete when the collaboration between the organizations Toestand and InfoQuartier Mache (from Switzerland) began. The idea was to activate and revitalize the abandoned public property through a collaboration between the Municipality of Pristina and the future community who will use it. The proposal and the request for the use of the building was sent to the Municipality of Pristina and welcomed in terms of its potential, but the restrictive legal framework accompanied by a lack of political will posed a challenge in the implementation of the idea. The Law on Allocation for the Use of Municipal Property claimed the protection of the “public interest” as its main principle in regards to the provision of public property to third parties. Furthermore, the regulation provided to facilitate this process and regulate the criteria defining “public interest”, proscribes economic interest as the primary principle. In addition, in the process of giving a certain space to a third party the main criteria are the highest price offered in the public auction. Having these legal considerations in mind, it is only the political will that could permit access to public properties to collaborative practices or other social and/or cultural long-term sustainable initiatives. After a series of negotiations with local officials, it was decided to allow a temporary use of 10 days for realization of the project Toestand Mache Pristina. For a while it looked as if the new cultural center risked failure before it had even opened. It was thanks to pressure, that the authorities eventually relented, agreeing that the building could be accessed by the volunteers, but only for the duration of the initial project. The Termokiss community decided to use these ten days for additional community building and for reclaiming the resources that belong to everyone. Hundreds of citizens gathered to support the initiative. Termokiss volunteers worked for 10 furious days to convert the concrete structure into a temporarily viable space by using recycled materials, erecting a chipboard roof and putting plastic and glass bottles in the window spaces. After these 10 days the Termokiss community decided to squat the building until they agreed on terms of the contract with the local municipality. Although the project continued without a certain future, there was no more direct pressure to leave the venue in 10 days. The struggle continued through weekly open gatherings, almost for a year, where citizens of Pristina were invited to come together and participate in the process of planning of the building’s further revitalization, as well as of the creation of a structure in which the internal group would work, in order to establish a long-term legal frame for the project to continue. Dozens of people gathered once a week to discuss the future of the project through open discussions that triggered people from diverse backgrounds and disciplines to come together and organize various fundraising activities. Finally, with the support of hundreds of participants, the agreement with the Municipality was reached in May 2017. This agreement regulated the use of the space as a common space under a horizontal governing structure. Termokiss quickly became a vibrant hub, hosting everything from cooking lessons, children’s art and drama classes, community gardening, woodwork, poetry sessions to raising funds for domestic violence shelters, in response to the lack of state support for protection of women and children. As Termokiss celebrates its fourth year of existence, it is now collaborating with other local communities in the Western Balkans to help them develop similar centres in their countries. In the past couple of years, the team were involved in projects in Tetovo, in North Macedonia and Tirana, in Albania, where together with the local community, revitalized abandoned buildings to be used for social and cultural activities based on community needs.
After the collapse of Yugoslavia and socialist system, the privatization and free-market orientation has been seen as the panacea for economic problems in the whole region. Moreover, the massive privatization of socially owned enterprises in Kosovo, planned and implemented from 1999 to 2008, was part of the state-building project. As a result of the transformation of the system towards a market economy, many spaces have been left unused or abandoned, alongside an absence of urban development policies and policies concerning the use of those spaces. At the same time, numerous organizations and groups were and still are constantly in need of space for various activities and programs. After the establishment of the community of Termokiss, hundreds of people and tens of organizations nationwide signed a petition for changing the law on property regulation that was administered by the municipality of Pristina. According to the law at that time, community initiatives and organizations had to compete against businesses for the allocation of municipal (public) property. The law was prioritizing commercial services and usage when it comes to public property management, rather than civic use and community run spaces. With the idea to advocate for community spaces and for changing the law on Allocation for Use and Exchange of Municipal Immovable Property, the Opportunity for All Initiative (alb. Iniciativa Mundësi për krejt) was established in 2017. The demands of the Initiative were to change the law, so that local initiatives and organizations may claim public spaces and property under separate conditions, in order not to compete with the commercial sector. Another demand was for transparency in public property management which included a request to annually publish a list of all available property. After publicly advocating for this cause, the legal procedure started when the legal proposals were made, and in March 2018 the Law Allocation for Use and Exchange of Municipal Immovable Property was adopted. With the new law, most of the demands were attained, while the drafting of a specific procedure on usage of municipal property for civic use is still ongoing. With the new Law on the Use of Municipal Property, the possibilities for local cultural and social initiatives and organizations have increased enormously.
https://www.facebook.com/Termokiss/ Čukić, Iva and Jovana Timotijević (eds.) 2020. Spaces of Commonin: Urban Commons in the ex-YU region. Belgrade: Ministry of Space. Juniku, Krenare and Donald Alimi. 2013/2014. “Prishtina NewBorn Spot”. Student research. Politecnico di Milano.Official Gazette of the Republic of Kosovo – OG RK. Law no. 06/L-092 On Allocation For Use And Exchange Of Municipal Immovable Property
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