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Eight construction cooperatives join up to salvage an abandoned building

18 December 2014

Cooperating to restore the national heritage. The Red de Construcción Cooperativa (Cooperative Construction Network, in English), made up of 8 members of Argentina’s Confederación Nacional de Cooperativas de Trabajo/CNCT (National Confederation of Worker Cooperatives, in English) is renovating a building which will become the future headquarters of Argentina’s Instituto Nacional de Asociativismo y Economía social (National Institute of Associativism and Social Economy, in English).

The dilapidated building, in the Bajo area of Buenos Aires, had been abandoned for years when the cooperatives came together with their renovation plans. It had been used for a number of purposes in the middle of the last century: the last time it was used was for food production. Two years ago CNCT’s Cooperative Construction Network, which had already worked on a broad range of construction projects such as the Centro Recreativo Nacional de los Bosques de Ezeiza (Ezeiza Park National Recreation Centre, in English), joined forces to take on this new and ambitious project, involving the total reconstruction of 8 floors of the old building, along with the flooded basement area.

In mid-July, officials from INAES and the National Ministry of Social Development and a hundred cooperative members held an opening ceremony. Minister Alicia Kirchner attended, along with the President of INAES, Patricio Griffin; President of Cooperar, Ariel Guarco; President of CNCT, Christian Miño; and General and Regional Coordinator for INAES, Andrés Lablunda.

Kirchner pointed out that "dignity is something we must build on every day. The fact that the cooperative movement has made dignity its central concept and focus is an example for all Argentinians". "What we do on a daily basis isn’t charity, it’s helping to build and strengthen peoples’ dignity. That’s what makes associativism unique, and it’s something we’re all proud of", she said.

Christian Miño cast his mind back to 2003, when "the vast majority of us who are renovating this building didn’t have jobs, we didn’t have a purpose. We had almost lost our dignity. Renovating this building given us purpose, it has given us back our jobs and restored our dignity. Seeing how well the new INAES headquarters is going to turn out has convinced us we can take on other similar projects". He finished by saying: “we’ve had to leap over a lot of hurdles to make it possible, and as well as our own efforts and sheer strength of will, we needed the support of a national administration convinced that associativism is a viable way of working".

Watch a video of the opening ceremony here.

Source: CICOPA

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