Southern European Housing


Thorsten Heitkamp
Faculty of Spatial Planning
Department of Spatial Planning in Europe
TU Dortmund
Dortmund, Germany

Sandra Marques Pereira
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa
Lisbon, Portugal /

Dimitra Siatitsa
Department of Geography
Harokopeio University
Athens, Greece    

Héctor Símon-Moreno
University Rovira i Virgili
Tarragona, Spain

Central themes
The central themes of this Working Group include but are not limited to:

  • Housing market paths after the bust – learning from the past, thinking of the future: trends and facts, possible policy implications.
  • Vulnerability and affordability in housing: coping with consequences (foreclosures, non-performing mortgages, negative equity, homelessness, etc.), risk factors/groups and coping strategies (individual/familiar versus institutional action – financial sector, government activities, civil society movements).
  • Public housing policies in an era of shrinking welfare states and weak national governments.
  • The future of social housing: heading towards marginalization or a more important role in affordable housing provision?
  • The real estate sector after the boom (lessons learnt: dealing with the overstock, new construction versus investment in the existing housing stock, territorial impacts, impact on different professions, etc.)
  • Emerging practices and perceptions in tenure status: homeownership and renting.
  • Legislative regulation: corrective function / preventive function.
  • Exploring Southern European housing models and residential architecture in a global context: what special features in terms of competitiveness they possess?
  • Mobility, residential trajectories and territorial dynamics: emerging patterns and regional specificities.
  • Dealing with financial stress in the housing systems: access to mortgage credit and homeownership, borrowers with repayment difficulties.
  • Housing in former overseas territories: coping with difficult framework conditions.
  • Financialisation of Southern European housing markets: outcomes, challenges and risks.

Activities and output in recent years
December 2013: First informal meeting in Görlitz/Germany (funded by DAAD, German Academic Exchange Service).

October 2014: Working Group meeting in Lisbon, which addressed following topics:

  • Discussion of the final structure of an intended book publication
  • Presentation of the website
  • Discussion of the Working Group’s research strategy for the years 2015-2020
  • Discussion of the of the Working Group’s dissemination strategy and participation in the ENHR Lisbon Conference in 2015

June/July 2015: Southern European Housing workshop at the ENHR Lisbon Conference 2015.
The first workshop of the Working Group took place during the ENHR Conference 2015 in Lisbon. A total of 23 papers were presented by 31 authors who came from southern European countries in their majority (13 from Portugal, 8 from Italy and 7 from Spain). Three main topics were discussed:

  • social housing and large housing estates (public or private);
  • urban renewal policies;
  • the impact of the crisis in the housing market.

The main focus was on comparative studies, but also the wide variety of inputs must be mentioned, with researchers from the field of law, architecture, urban development, geography, sociology and economics.

May 2016: Survey on future themes and content of the Working Group (among the Working Group members)

June/July 2016: Workshop at the ENHR Belfast Conference 2016. A total of 23 researchers – mainly from Spain, Italy and Portugal – participated in the second workshop of the Southern European Housing Working Group at an ENHR conference. The Workshop had four sessions focusing on the following themes:

  • Paradoxes of the crisis: Vacant Dwellings versus Eviction;
  • Emerging Housing Needs and Alternative Solutions;
  • Southern European Cities Specificities: governance, urban planning and the new risks of touristification;
  • Reviewing Homeownership.

September 2016: researchers from the Working Group specializing in the field of housing law participated as speakers at the conference ‘TenLaw one year later: Alternative Housing Tenures in Europe and modern challenges of housing’, held in Tarragona (Spain). 

September 2016: researchers from the Working Group specializing in the fields of housing, urban development and urban sociology formed part of the scientific committee and participated as speakers at the ‘I Congreso Hispánico ISUF-H: Forma urbana: pasado, presente y perspectivas’, held in Toledo (Spain). 

September 2016: Publication agreement with Pisa University Press with respect to a book series including ‘Housing in Southern Europe’, subsequent call for papers for the first volume on ‘New Developments in Southern European Housing after the Crisis’.

February 2017: Local meeting with Spanish Working Group members in Madrid in order to discuss and determine future Working Group activities.

March 2017: Workshop ‘Milano è in affitto? Domanda e offerta dicasa sociale’, held in Milan (Italy). Presentation of the final outputs of the research project ‘For rent’, carried out by the Politecnico of Milan.

April 2017: International Conference ‘What is the future for Lisbon? at the Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL). The conference, with around 500 registrations, was coordinated by Working Group co-coordinator Sandra Marques Pereira. Its aim was to discuss urban regeneration processes in an international comparative approach, starting from the case of Lisbon. It included several relevant speakers such as Sharon Zukin and David Ley and a session titled ‘Cities from Southern Europe: Changes and Lessons’. 

September 2017: Working Group workshop at the ENHR Conference in Tirana (Albania). A total of 17 researchers – coming mainly from Italy, Portugal, Spain and Turkey – participated. Some of the proceedings will be published in the next volume of ‘Housing in Southern Europe’.


  • January 2018: Publication of the second volume of the ‘New Developments in Southern European Housing‘ book series, published by Pisa University Press (Ed.: Elena Bargelli, Thorsten Heitkamp) .
  • March 2018: Call for Papers for the third volume of the ‘New Developments in Southern European Housing’ book series. To be published in early 2019.
  • June 2018: Southern European Housing Workshop at the ENHR Uppsala Conference 2018. A total of 14 researchers – coming mainly from Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden – participated in the fourth workshop of the Southern European Housing Working Group at an ENHR conference. Some of the proceedings will be published in the next volume of ‘New Developments in Southern European Housing’ book series.
  • September 2018: researchers from the Southern European Housing Working Group specializing in the fields of housing, urban development and urban sociology formed part of the scientific committee and participated as speakers at the ‘II Congreso Internacional ISUF-H. Ciudad y formas urbanas. Perspectivas transversale‘, held in Zaragossa/Spain, 13-14 September 2018.  
  • Housing workshop on Italian Housing Law entitled ‘Locazione abitativa e alternative tenures a ven’anni dalla Legge n. 431/1998’, 14 December 2018, University of Pisa.
  • February 2019: Preparations for the fourth volume of the ‘Southern European Housing’ book series started. To be published in 2020.
  • August 2019: Southern European Housing Workshop at the ENHR 2019 Athens Conference. A total of 12 researchers – coming mainly from Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain – participated in the fifth workshop of the Southern European Housing Working Group at an ENHR conference. Some of the proceedings will be published in the next volume of ‘New Developments in Southern European Housing’ book series.
  • October 2019: Publication of the third volume of the ‘Southern European Housing’ book series (Elena Bargelli, Thorsten Heitkamp, Hector Simón-Moreno, Carmen Vázquez Varela, (Eds.): ‘Housing Policy and Tenure Types in the 21th Century – A Southern European Perspective’), published by Pisa University Press.

Future plans and activities

  • Workshop at the ENHR annual conference in Cyprus 2020.
  • Panel on ‘New Politics of Housing – Policy Developments in a Changing World’ at the 26th World Congress of Political Science in Lisbon (July 2020, Chair: Thorsten Heitkamp), with participation of members of the Southern European Housing Working Group.
  • Preparation of new volumes of the ‘Southern European Housing’ book series with Pisa University Press/Italy, which capture perspectives on housing from different disciplinary backgrounds like economics, law, urban sociology, architecture and urban development. The publication welcomes contributions on Southern European housing but remains open to comparative research with other European countries. After publication of the first three volumes in 2017, 2018 and 2019 the publication of the fourth volume is scheduled for 2020.  
  • National Working Group meetings (to be determined).
  • Coordination group meetings (by Skype).
  • Interactive forum, e.g. for information on new publications.
  • Regular survey on the most important research results and publications of the members of the Working Group. Publication in the ENHR newsletter (if relevant).
  • Erasmus agreements as a prerequisite for the exchange of personnel for research / teaching purposes.
  • Joint comparative research projects to be proposed until the end of 2020.
  • Increasing the membership base (particularly in South East European countries like Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania).

Policy implications
Policy implications are expected to be generated especially through national meetings of the Working Group members. These meeting are aimed at a controversial sharing of research findings, future housing policies and programs, as well as discussions on the interplay of housing with urban development, land use, demographic change, etc. All relevant stakeholders in the field of housing should be invited to these national meetings.

Nevertheless, it is still too early to talk about housing policy implications resulting from the work of the Working Group. This is partly due to the little attention dedicated to Southern European housing issues by scientists. At this stage the coordinated cooperation of housing experts who work in all areas of housing has led to a higher awareness of the difficult housing situation of parts of the population in Southern European countries. As mentioned, future findings may be incorporated in part in political decision-making processes. However, this requires detailed previous discussion and an intensive exchange of views on housing policy issues in Southern European countries.