Tackling the Global Housing Challenges: Relevance and Replicability of Switzerland’s and Uruguay’s Housing Cooperatives’ Policies and Strategies

Are housing cooperatives a way out of the global affordable accommodation crisis?


In the context of governmental withdrawal from the housing sector, its commodification and the private sector’s inability to cater to low-income earners’ needs, housing cooperatives emerge as an appealing third way in the provision of affordable housing. Questions related to the transferability of the housing cooperative model have thus far hardly been researched.

Switzerland and Uruguay are internationally recognized leaders in cooperative housing and are committed to share their knowledge and experience internationally.

The project addresses the following questions:

– What is the global relevance and replicability of Swiss and Uruguayan approaches?

– What are their international cooperation strategies?

– What are the socio-economic, cultural and institutional conditions for housing cooperatives to play a role in the provision of adequate and affordable housing?

This interdisciplinary approach includes empirical research, to be conducted in Uruguay, Switzerland, and a sample of countries with which they have established international cooperation on this matter. The methods used include content analysis, participant observation and semi-structured interviews with key informants.

The project contributes to gaining a better understanding of the role of international cooperation in the dissemination of best practices as well as the opportunities and challenges to tackle the global affordable housing crisis through housing cooperatives.

Project Keywords

  • Affordable housing
  • Cooperative
  • Transferability


  • Urban studies
  • Political economy
  • Sociology



International Organizations

  •  United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)

Non-Governmental Organizations

  • Uruguay’s Federation of Mutual Aid Cooperatives
  • Swiss Association of non-profit housing developers
  • European Network of Housing Research
  • Mehr als Wohnen, Zürich
  • NetHood, Zürich


Relevant Countries

  • Switzerland
  • Uruguay
  • El Salvador


This is an ongoing project, which started in autumn 2019. The information here is updated regularly. If you have any inquiries please don’t hesitate to contact the project team via the form below.

Project Description Video

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Research team


Jennifer Duyne Barenstein
ETH Zurich 

Marie Glaser
ETH Zurich 

Gerardo Sarachu
Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay

Daniela Sanjines
Principal Member
ETH Zurich

Philip Koch
Principal Member
Zurich University of Applied Sciences

Carla Assandri
Principal Member
Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay

Cecilia Matonte
Principal Member
Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, South Africa

Daniela Osorio
Principal Member
Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay

Philippe Thalmann
Associated Member
EPFL Lausanne

Darinka Czischke
Associated Member
Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, South Africa

Tanja Herdt
Associated Member
ETH Wohnforum ETH Case

Gustavo González Soto
Associated Member
Uruguay’s Federation of Mutual Aid Cooperatives

Claudio Acioly
Associated Member

Franz Horváth
Associated Member
Swiss Association of Non-Profit Housing Developers

Michael Eidenbenz
Associated Member
ETH Zurich

Andrea Wieland
Associated Member
Mehr als Wohnen

Ileana Apostol
Associated Member