Alt·bau [ˈaltˌbaʊ̯] noun, German, m – older construction, built before a certain point of time

ALT/BAU URBACT Transfer Network Alternative Building Activation Units

The ALT/BAU Transfer Network focuses on alternative strategies in central and historic districts of European cities to activate unused and decaying housing stock resulting from demographic, economic and social change. Based on the experiences from Chemnitz’ URBACT Good Practice “Housing Agency for Shrinking Cities” (Agentur StadtWohnen Chemnitz), the network transfers experiences that proved successful to proactively connect administrations, owners, investors and users to initiate sustainable and resource saving development.

While in Chemnitz special attention was paid to the city's “Gründerzeit” neighborhoods, the problem areas of the partner cities lie in other fields. The old town of Constanţa (Romania) is increasingly decaying because ownership is often unresolved, leaving little room for intervention. In Riga (Latvia), there are also major problems in the historically valuable old quarters. A large number of commercial premises and apartments are vacant in downtown Rybnik (Poland), while the Belgian city of Seraing is characterized by derelict industrial sites of the steel industry and neglected residential quarters of steel workers. Vilafranca del Penedès (Spain) records a high proportion of vacant housing throughout the city, and the Italian city of Turin is feeling the negative effects of FIAT's cessation of production. Many of the former FIAT employees' housing estates are struggling with vacancy. Ideally, the result will be the implementation of an initiative or agency in each city to continuously work for the reactivation of vacant buildings and to improve the housing situation.

It's time to share!

As many cities have the problem of vacant buildings in need of refurbishment, the ALT/BAU Transfer Network shared the results of its joint work over the last two years in an online webinar on 19 April 2021 titled "How to reactivate vacant residential buildings in need of refurbishment". Interested cities and stakeholders in urban planning received an invitation to participate in the online event. Representatives of the individual cities reported on how they have adapted the good practice from Chemnitz in their cities and which methods - proven in practice - are suitable for reactivating vacant and unrenovated buildings.

The presentations on the following topics can be accessed here.

The video recordings of the individual contributions to the final conference can be found on the ALT/BAU YouTube channel.

Teaser 1

This good practice compilation provides an inside view of the good practices the partners discovered and explored during the course of the ALT/BAU network. There are examples of inventory of vacant buildings, of marketing activities, of legal tools and affordable housing.

Good Practice Compilation (Download)

This guidebook provides an overview and guidance for interested cities and professionals how to apply the ALT/BAU approach – the set up and tasks of an “ALTernative Building Activation Unit” – to actively become engaged in the reactivation of vacant residential buildings and flats in need of refurbishment for the benefit of the urban development.

Guidebook (Download)

Each city of the ALT/BAU Transfer Network presents the transfer process in its city in posters. Starting with the current situation, the vision for the future and the strategy for achieving this vision.

Poster Collection (Download)

An agency that takes care of vacant houses depends on reliable data. This report presents the different GIS tools available in the ArcMap program and its application areas for the inventory, monitoring and marketing of vacant places. The structure of the report follows the key steps of the ‘Housing agency’ good practice and suggests GIS techniques which can support the transfer of the good practice.

GIS Report (Download)


During the meeting in Chemnitz at the at the mid-term of the network term, the partners reflected on their starting situation and the progress already made.

Westsächsische Gesellschaft für Stadterneuerung mbH
Weststraße 49
09112 Chemnitz
Tel: +49 371 - 355 70-0
E-Mail: urbact@stadtwohnen-chemnitz.de