Experimental Temporality in the Post-Growth City

Assessing the complex social values produced by urban nomads.



temporary use, adaptive reuse, complex social value




In the dynamic evolution of urban development, nomadic communities, through temporary adaptive reuse, emerge as a transformative force, reshaping abandoned spaces into vibrant and meaningful places. The HORIZON-MSCA-2022-PF-01 NOMAD research project, "Nomad Management of Urban Development - The Complex Value of Temporary Communities," explores the impacts of temporary uses and the pivotal role of urban nomads in urban regeneration processes.

In particular, the NOMAD research focuses on different cases of experimental temporality (Madanipour, 2017). Experimental temporary uses can generate changes in urban services and atmosphere, encompassing social, cultural, and economic factors. But while temporary communities often develop sustainable practices, generate urban values, and serve as subjects of experimentation and research, the values they co-create and co-produce are often not considered in real estate valuation practices and are overlooked in the context of urban regeneration. The NOMAD research is investigating the complex social values (Fusco Girard and Nijkamp, 1997; Cerreta, 2010) that are co-produced by urban nomads through temporary uses, in a perspective where well-being and quality of life are achieved temporarily and without the goal of economic growth.

In this context, this study poses the question: How can we assess the complex social values generated by experimental temporary uses?

Developing temporary adaptive uses, urban nomads constitute communities of practices that play a crucial role in resignifying abandoned spaces by infusing them with social values like mutualism, a sense of belonging, social cohesion, and resource-sharing. According to the duration of temporary occupation and the kind of uses, places produce multiple values, that are social, cultural, economic and environmental, not only for the temporary community and the buildings but also for the surrounding area. The research methodological approach is applied by examining some temporary use experiences, at different scales developed in different time spans. The case comparison draws insights from the comparison of temporary use characteristics, urban services and atmosphere change from significant experiences in Paris, Brussels, and Rotterdam. Quantitative and qualitative data analysis of temporary use processes use information collected directly from involved actors and open-source data. A Social Multi-Criteria Evaluation (Munda, 2004) of similar practices is applied for an ex-post impact assessment that includes multi-criteria and multi-group analysis.

Thus, the investigation aims to unravel the multidimensional values generated by the temporary adaptive reuse by urban communities composed of various actors with different resources. The community use process involves diverse groups of actors, from local communities and public institutions to property owners of unused spaces, urban activists, and citizens. Their collaboration facilitated through agreements and negotiations, impacts the management, use, and life of buildings and surrounding neighbourhoods. Striking a balance between public and private interests, these interactions contribute to creating a more vibrant and inclusive urban environment, albeit with several challenges and issues. 

The findings show how experimental temporality holds both potential and paradoxes for a post-growth city and aim to identify useful insights for practitioners and policy-makers.

Author Biographies

  • Chiara Mazzarella, TUDelft

    Marie-Skłodowska-Curie PostDoc Fellow at the Department of Management in the Built Environment of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment with the project NOMAD - Nomad Management of Urban Development - The Complex Value of Temporary Communities (101109623 - HORIZON-MSCA-2022-PF-01).

  • Hilde Remoy, TU Delft

    Associate Professor of Real Estate Management at the Department of Management in the Built Environment, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


Madanipour, A. (2017). Cities in Time: Temporary Urbanism and the Future of the City. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Fusco Girard, L & Nijkamp, P. (1997). Le valutazioni per lo sviluppo sostenibile della città e del territorio. Franco Angeli, Milano.

Cerreta, M. (2010) 'Thinking through Complex Values', in M. Cerreta, G., Concilio, V., Monno, (eds.) Making Strategies in Spatial Planning, Knowledge and Values, vol. 9, Springer, Dordrecht. pp. 381–404.

Munda, G. (2004). Social multi-criteria evaluation: Methodological foundations and operational consequences. European journal of operational research, 158(3), 662-677.