Catalonian housing co-op wins social innovation prize from European Commission

Sostre Cívic was praised for its alternative housing model which judges found ‘fairer and more accessible, non-profit, non-speculative and transformative’

Sostre Cívic, a housing co-op in Catalonia, Spain, was one of three winners at the 2022 European Social Innovation Competition.

The awards, from the European Commission and the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA), were announced in Brussels on 2 February. Now in its tenth edition, the 2022 contest sought applicants from diverse fields tackling challenges linked to the architecture and sustainable solutions of European housing districts.

Sostre Cívic will receive €50,000 along with a two-day Social Innovation Academia, which will offer business acceleration services to all winners and finalists.

The co-op was praised for implementing “an alternative housing model, fairer and more accessible, non-profit, non-speculative and transformative”.

The finalists included two other co-ops – La Borda, in Sants (Barcelona), and La Titaranya, in Valls (Tarragona).

“We award the European Social Innovation Competition Prize to find the most innovative solutions to societal challenges,” said EISMEA director Jean-David Malo. “Effective change requires local leadership with a global vision. Our finalists are real change-makers, raising awareness of energy consumption, implementing changes in public and private sectors, creating a new, inclusive, sustainable, and affordable market.”

Hubert Gambs, deputy director general for internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “Social innovation is crucial to increase resilience and support the transformation of our economies, while putting people first.

“With this competition, which celebrates its tenth edition this year, we support social innovations that will bring social, environmental, and economic value at once. The three winners of the 2022 edition are social innovators greatly contributing through their innovative projects to the future of our living.”

This is the second award this year for Sostre Cívic, which last month won silver at the World Habitat Awards. World Habitat and United Nations (UN)-Habitat created the awards for “innovative, outstanding and sometimes revolutionary housing ideas, projects and programmes” around the world.

Sostre Cívic has more than 1,100 members across Catalonia and manages 26 projects, nine of them already in coexistence with more than 120 homes.