The global crisis and recession created a new situation for urban financing. Severe changes in economic and financial conditions extorted the revision of existing public policies. Under the worsening financial conditions, the traditional functioning of cities collapsed – writes MRI director Iván Tosics in the special issue of Urbanisme, focusing on the URBACT programme.
Organizing, Promoting and Enabling Heritage Re-use through Inclusion, Technology, Access, Governance and Empowerment
Client: Európai Bizottság (DG Research and Innovation)
Duration: June 2018 – May 2022
Project website: https://openheritage.eu/
Social media: https://www.facebook.com/OpenHeritageEU/
The project, funded under DG Research and Innovation’s H2020 framework programme, creates a sustainable management model of heritage assets. We work with an open definition of heritage, and involve sites that are not listed or incorporated into the official heritage discourse. The OpenHeritage consoritum concentrates 16 partners, among which universities and research institutes, SMEs, and NGOs, and is led by Metropolitan Research Institute. The project coordinator is Hanna Szemző, managing director of Metropolitan Research Institute.
The consortium focuses on buildings, complexes, and spaces which lie outside traditional and centrally located heritage spaces, but have an important symbolic or practical significance for local and trans-local communities. Through community and stakeholder involvement, resource integration, and territorial embeddedness, OpenHeritage selects, surveys and analyses peripheral, often marginalised and neglected heritage sites spread over sixteen Observatory Cases and six Cooperative Heritage Labs in ten European countries.
For the high resolution project poster, please click on the image below:
Hanna Szemző, managing director of Metropolitan Research Institute gave a presentation at the launch event for a new report by the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) titled ‘The energy transition in Central and Eastern Europe: The business case for higher ambition’ in Bucharest on the 21 of March 2019.
Client: European Investment Bank – City, transformed
Duration: June 2018 – February 2019
Located between three European capital cities, Győr has to work hard to attract investment and jobs. The Hungarian city has set itself up to attract innovative companies, creating new urban values such as education-based innovation, a high-quality urban environment and a lively cultural sphere. Here’s how a “secondary city” builds on its industrial past even as it breaks away from its dependence on it.
European Investment Bank (EIB) contracted MRI to elaborate a study on the development pathway of Győr in the last decades, and the role EIB played in it. The study pointed out that Győr is located in between three major cities (Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest), consequently it had limited potential to attract a mix of large companies and investors. Nonetheless, it had the potential to deploy smart specialisation – and it succeeded in doing so. Győr has been known for its highly qualified work force: before the regime change and economic restructuring, one of the largest state-owned companies (RÁBA machinery) was located here. After the transition, the decreased relevance of RÁBA was compensated by the newly settled Audi Hungaria plant, which has come to employ as much work force as RÁBA did in its heyday. In addition, this considerable manufacturing capacity attracted numerous smaller companies to join the value chain.
The operation of Audi Hungaria is one of the economic engines of the second-tier city. However, it also runs the risk of mono-functionality and high dependence on car industry trends. In order to diversify the local economic structure, a new cooperation is currently being established between the local university (Széchenyi István University), the municipality, and local economic actors. This already resulted in new developments, like the Higher Education and Industrial Cooperation Centre (FIEK in Hungarian).
Győr’s recent development has been strongly supported by European funds (similarly to all Hungarian cities), in which national co-financing was secured by EIB loans. The majority of these funds was absorbed by the private sector, although large scale public developments were also implemented, like the two-stage renovation of the inner city, and the social rehabilitation of Győr-Újváros. In addition, EIB provided loans to commercial banks for various purposes, among others for the renovation of privately owned residential buildings in ESCO schemes (the RaabSol project).
The study is available on EIB’s website in English, German, French, and Hungarian; and was also promoted on the EIB’s blog and social media.
Client: University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
Duration: October 2018-March 2019
The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (convened by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership) contracted MRI as the leading party of a consortium to produce a conversation paper on the energy transition in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). This relatively short, business oriented document sought to highlight the main aspects of energy transition and called attention to the business opportunities it offers. The paper covered three interrelated topics: the transition in energy generation, the energy efficient interventions in the building stock and finally the transition trends in urban mobility. MRI cooperated with Energiaklub, Mobilissimus ltd as companies, and Ada Ámon from E3G as a private consultant to cover all aspects.
The paper emphasized both the similarities among the Central and Eastern European countries (11 new member states of the EU according to the interpretation of the study except for Malta and Cyprus) rooted in the socialist past, the relatively lower level of economic productivity and such factors as high homeownership rates, lower level of energy awareness, and high price sensitivity. It also showcased the growing differences, with a few front runner countries in building renovations and mobility solutions (e.g. Czech Republic), some with well advanced digital solutions (e.g. Estonia), and others suffering from particular difficulties, such as high level of pollution and the related coal mining problems (e.g. Poland).
The study demonstrated that the existing high potential of the region regarding renewables is far more than the currently exploited capacities. This gap is the result of political considerations (being reluctant to upset the status quo) and the high public investment needs. Furthermore, there is great potential in the energy efficiency renovation of the building stock, especially that the mass construction of industrialised buildings allows the development of standardised renovation solutions. Finally, while CEE countries are more used to environmental friendly mobility modes (public transport accounts for a considerable share of all journeys even today), the lower purchasing power can be a barrier to effective energy transition in the mobility sector, as it slows down the uptake rate of electric vehicles.
In spite of these difficulties, the CEE region has a high growth potential regarding the energy efficient investments. However the spread of a reliable and stable regulatory environment will be crucial in all CEE countries in order to allow businesses to operate and make use of the high market potential.
Iván Tosics, managing director of Metropolitan Research Institute, has a long standing tradition of greeting the new year with a photo essay of issues he learned about in the old one. His photo essay for 2018 treats the issue of the “housing paradox”: how more financing seemingly curbs the affordability of housing across the globe – and no longer only in the so-called “hegde-cities”.