Journal of Housing and the Built Environment

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 439–455 | Cite as

Innovative housing practices involving immigrants: the case of self-building in Italy

  • Michela Semprebon
  • Serena Vicari Haddock


This article presents self-building projects and policy in Italy and discusses their potential to respond to housing needs in contemporary cities. It first analyzes a specific regional policy designed to promote access to housing for social groups excluded from the housing market and at the same time to foster integration between Italian and immigrant families. Secondly, it looks at the development and implementation of two self-building projects, one within the framework of the regional policy and one outside it. Our aim is to provide an assessment of the related policy and the practices in terms of institutional and social innovation.


Self-building Social innovation Housing policy Immigrant integration policy 



This research was partly self-funded and partly supported by a Nesta UK Research Grant in collaboration with Glasgow Caledonian University, TEPSIE, Oxford Saïd Business School, the Social Innovation Exchange, and The Rockefeller Foundation. An early version of this paper was presented at the International Conference “Social frontiers: the Next Edge of Social Innovation Research”, Glasgow Caledonian University, London, November 2013; we are very grateful for the comments received during the conference. The authors would like to thank our colleagues in the COST Action IS1102, “Social services, welfare state and places”; we are grateful for the support of the COST programme and would like to acknowledge the contribution of all experts participating in this specific Action. Last, but not least, we would also like to thank Martina Valsesia for providing the empirical material of her Casalmaggiore case study and for discussing with us our interpretation as well as Roberto Crose for the policy material he shared on Paderno Dugnano and self-building in the Lombardy Region.


  1. Alietti A. (2012). L’abitare. Rapporto Annuale dell’Osservatorio Regionale per l’Integrazione e la Multietnicità, 171–190. Milano.Google Scholar
  2. Alietti, A., & Agustoni, A. (a cura di) (2013). Integrazione, casa e immigrazione. Esperienze e prospettive in Europa, Italia e Lombardia, Fondazione Ismu, Regione Lombardia, Ministero del Lavoro e delle Politiche sociali, Milano.Google Scholar
  3. Ambrosini, M. (2013). Immigrazione e territorio. In S. Vicari Haddock (ed.) Questioni urbane (pp. 201–226). Bologna: il Mulino.Google Scholar
  4. Baldini, M., & Poggio, T. (2012). Housing policy toward the rental sector in Italy: A distributive assessment. Housing Studies, 27(5), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baldini, M., & Poggio, T. (2014). The Italian housing system and the global financial crisis. Journal of Housing and Built Environment, 29, 317–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Banca d’Italia. (2009, 2010, 2013). Last access: 5 September 2013.
  7. Bangdome-Dery, A., Eghan, G. E., & Afram, S. O. (2014). Overview of self-help (self-build) housing provision in Ghana: Policies and challenges. Journal of Developing Country Studies, 4(6), 77–89.Google Scholar
  8. Barlow, J. (1992). Self-promoted housing and capitalist suppliers: The case of France. Housing Studies, 7(4), 255–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Barlow, J., Jackson, R., & Meikle, J. (2001). Homes to DIY for the UK’s self-build housing market in the twenty-first century. UK: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.Google Scholar
  10. Bertoni, M., & Cantini, A. (2008). Autocostruzione associata e assistita in Italia. Progettazione e progetto edilizio di un modello di housing sociale. Roma: Dedalo libreria.Google Scholar
  11. Brown, R. (2007). Identity and narrativity in homes made by amateurs. Home Cultures, 4(3), 261–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brown, R. (2008). Designing differently: the self-build home. Journal of Design History, 21(4), 359–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ceragioli, G., & Maritano, N. (1985). Note introduttive alla tecnologia dell’architettura. Torino: CLUT.Google Scholar
  14. CGIL. (2013). Costi dell’abitare, emergenza abitativa e numeri del disagio., Last access 20 dicembre 2013.
  15. Colombo, M., Martellotta, M., & Solimano, N. (2010). L’autocostruzione: una opportunità per il social housing. Sintesi del rapporto di ricerca. Firenze: Fondazione Michelucci Onlus.Google Scholar
  16. Dingle, T. (1999). Self-help housing and co-operation in post-war Australia. Housing Studies, 14, 341–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. DTI (Department of Trade and Industry)/OSMS. (1996). Innovation in Japanese Prefabricated House-building Industries. CIRIA Special Publication 139. London: Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA).Google Scholar
  18. Duncan, S., & Rowe, A. (1993). Self-provided housing: the first world’s hidden housing arm. Urban Studies, 30(8), 1331–1354.Google Scholar
  19. Fera, G., & Ginatempo, N. (1985). L’ autocostruzione spontanea nel Mezzogiorno. Milano: Franco Angeli.Google Scholar
  20. Harris, R. (1991). Self-building in the urban housing market. Economic Geography, 67(1), 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Harris, R. (1999). Aided self-help housing, a case of amnesia: Editor’s introduction. Housing Studies, 14, 277–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kowaltowsky, D. (1988). Aesthetics and self-built houses: an analysis of a Brazilian setting. Habitat International, 22(3), 299–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kowaltowsky, D., Mikami, S. A., Pina, G., Ruschel, R. C., Labaki, L. C., & Bertolli, S. R. (2005). A house design assistance program for the self-building process of the region of Campinas, Brazil: Evaluation through a case study. Habitat International, 29, 95–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Maloutas, T. (2003). The self-promoted housing solutions in post-war Athens. Discussion Paper Series. 9(6), 95–110.Google Scholar
  25. Mikhalev, A. V. (2008). Construction of traditionality in the self-help building space of Modern-Day Ulan-Ude: an ethnographic essay [Online]. In Proceedings of altay state university.
  26. Moulaert, F. (2009). Social innovation. Institutionally embedded, territorially (re)produced. In D. McCallum et al. (Eds.), Social innovation and territorial development. London: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  27. Moulaert, F., MacCallum, D., Mehmood, A., & Hamdouch, A. (2013). The international handbook on social innovation. Collective action, social learning and transdisciplinary research. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Pogliani, L. (2014). Expanding inclusionary housing in Italy. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, 29(3), 473–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ponzo, I. (2009). La casa lontano da casa. Roma: Edizioni FIERI, Carocci.Google Scholar
  30. Ponzo, I. (ed.). (2010). Immigrant Integration Policies and Housing Policies : The Hidden Links, FIERI (Forum Internazionale ed Europeo di Ricerche sull’Immigrazione) Research Report.Google Scholar
  31. Rowe, A. (1989). Self-help housing provision: production, consumption, accumulation and policy in Atlantic Canada. Housing Studies, 4(2), 75–91.Google Scholar
  32. Ryzhova, N. V. (2008). Vologda « Self-Help » Building as an object for architectural study. In Architecton: Proceedings of higher education. No. 22 (Supplement): proceedings of student conference “Current issues in architecture and design”.Google Scholar
  33. Valsesia, V. (2010). Autocostruzione associate e assistita: una possibile risposta alla domanda di casa e alle domande sulla casa. L’esperienza di Casalmaggiore in Lombardia. Master thesis, University of Milan-Bicocca.Google Scholar
  34. Vitale, T., & Membretti, A. (2013). Just another role of the dice: a socially creative initiative to assure Roma housing in North Western Italy. In F. Moulaert, D. MacCallum, A. Mehmood, & A. Hamdouch (Eds.), The international handbook on social innovation. Collective action, social learning and transdisciplinary research (pp. 186–196). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ward, P. M., Jiménez, E. R., & Di Virgilio, M. M. (2014). Housing policy in latin American cities. A New Generation of Strategies and Approaches for 2016 UN—HABITAT III.Google Scholar
  36. Wedgwood, M. (1994). Self build. A growth sector. London: Wedgwood Markham Associated Ltd.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Università di Milano-BicoccaMilanItaly

Personalised recommendations