The European REFILL network, coordinated by the City of Ghent, presents the results of 2.5 years of intensive cooperation.

On Tuesday 27 March 2018, more than 40 cities from 15 countries will meet in the Sint-Jozef Church in Ghent for a conference on the theme of temporary use of abandoned buildings and sites in the city.

Temporary use

Many cities are experimenting with the 'temporary use’ of abandoned buildings and sites in the city. They encourage their inhabitants to use these places for the better. This prevents neglect, brings new dynamism to neighborhoods and is a source of innovation and change in the city. Temporary use offers space for experimentation as well as provides a place for socio-cultural initiatives and entrepreneurs.

The REFILL network

Since September 2015, the City of Ghent has acted as the coordinator of REFILL, a European network of 10 cities that is experienced with temporary completion. The partner cities are Amersfoort, Athens, Bremen, Cluj, Helsinki, Nantes, Ostrava, Poznan and Riga. The European URBACT Program also provides REFILL with financial support.

This network aims to develop knowledge about instruments that support temporary use, contemplates how the effects of temporary use can be made sustainable and evaluates the changing role of the government in respect to greater flexibility and cooperation.

Each city has created a local working group focused on sharing internationally acquired insights to a local audience. The result of this is an urban action plan containing the steps to be taken in the next following years, in order to further facilitate temporary use.

Start yourself with temporary use?

"How do you start your journey on temporary use?" is the central approach of the conference where REFILL will disclose 2.5 years of intensive collaboration and presents the project results. This will be an interactive day full of inspiration, exchange, tools and visits to temporary use initiatives. Additionally, participants will receive a printed copy of the congress publication.

More information about the congress and the complete program can be found at

About the Sint-Jozef Church

In Ghent, we are faced with the challenge of repurposing some of the city churches. Choosing this church as a location for the congress is a plea to first, temporarily experiment with various initiatives for the future use of churches and second, to discover what can become a definitive destination through the participation of the neighborhood.

REFILL started a lot of dynamics in the 10 cities, about how we as city (s) can offer opportunities for creative ideas and initiatives. It initiated a local learning network that could connect various stakeholders in the city with a temporary use: the temporary coordinators, the services of the City of Ghent, owners and project developers.

Emma Tytgadt, REFILL coordinator