Accepted Paper:

"Stattpark Olga": An alternative way of dwelling as a critique of the (rental) housing logic  

Author:

Libuše Hannah Veprek (LMU Munich)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses "Stattpark Olga", an alternative trailer park in Munich, as an example of how to expound the economic logic of today's housing market by claiming wasteland. Cultural and social capital are the residents' main resources to claim their space in the crowded city.

Paper long abstract:

In times of population growth and housing production, wasteland in Munich is scarce. This implies less possibilities for urban open space and alternative ways of dwelling. "Stattpark Olga" has been campaigning for public open spaces for several years.

In contrast to common connotations of "trailer parks" as alternatives for people who lack economic means, the residents of "Stattpark Olga" deliberately choose to live in mobile homes. This decision is part of their political project: First of all the residents want to show an alternative way of dwelling: While many people pay high and increasing rents for small apartments, "Stattpark Olga" demonstrates a possibility to neglect this capitalist logic while still remaining a part of society. Practices of organization in forms of grassroots democracy and the provision of public space for non-commercial events like concerts and readings are crucial parts of their dwelling practices. Dwelling is therefore not limited to private space but rather a public statement by a well-educated and politically engaged milieu.

Lacking legal status, the inhabitants of trailer parks in Germany depend on the tolerance of the municipality. Only recently "Stattpark Olga" was forced to move from their site due to a planned building project. It took them many months to negotiate with the municipality and to find a fallow for their needs. To be able to live their chosen way of dwelling apart from the norm, "Stattpark Olga" applies several strategies to strengthen their position in the city. Therefore, they rely on their cultural and social capital.

Panel Urba03
The vulnerable middle class? Strategies of housing in a prospering city