European housing co-ops honoured at World Habitat Awards

Prizes went to a Swiss student housing co-op and a German affordable co-op estate

Two housing co-ops – La Ciguë in Geneva (Switzerland) and Nettelbeckplatz in Berlin (Germany) – are among the winners at the recently announced 2024 World Habitat Awards.

The awards were created “to acknowledge and showcase innovative, outstanding, and sometimes revolutionary housing ideas, projects, and programmes from around the world”.

Over the years, more than 360 projects have been recognised, “demonstrating significant and long-lasting improvements in living conditions”.

La Ciguë Student Housing Cooperative – Geneva, Switzerland

La Ciguë Student Housing Cooperative in Geneva, Switzerland brought home a silver.

Geneva is Europe’s most expensive city, making it hard for students to find affordable accommodation, and La Ciguë was created in 1986 after protests over the issue.

It now manages almost 740 rooms in city centre locations, with rents 55% less than open market rates. Around 60% of the rooms are in shared flats in empty properties leased from public bodies and private owners. The remaining 40% are in eight properties developed by La Ciguë.

These buildings have very high energy-efficiency standards and include commercial spaces to enhance community life. The co-op lets rooms exclusively to students, interns, and apprentices, who become members of the community. Read more about the award here.

Nettelbeckplatz Affordable Housing Estate – Berlin, Germany

Nettelbeckplatz affordable housing estate in Berlin won a Bronze award.

The estate underwent a four-year refurbishment and energy efficiency improvements. A new block of 44 apartments was added with 16 accessible homes for people with reduced mobility, a 10-bedroom assisted-living cluster for elderly tenants, and eight studio apartments for students.

The estate now has improved, shared facilities, green spaces, and reduced energy bills. Housing Cooperative 1892, which built and manages Nettelbeckplatz, came up with a plan to make the estate more sustainable and revitalise the community, without affecting affordability for tenants. Find out more about Nettelbeckplatz here.

In a tweet, global apex Co-operative Housing International said: “Congrats to all the winners, not only for the award but also for improving the housing situation!”

The 2025 Awards are accepting entries until Sunday, 3 March 2024.