What is Upcycling Trust?

Upcycling Trust is an innovative community-led approach to circular renovation and affordable housing in North-West Europe. SOA is working with Cork City Council, Cork Community Land Trust and local stakeholders to deliver a pilot demonstrator project addressing vacancy and dereliction in Cork City as part of a suite of pilots in five European cities.

The Project

Upcycling Trust proposes the Community Land Trust (CLT) as a vehicle for creating affordable housing through the development of circular processes to upgrade and redevelop existing buildings. CLTs are non-profit, democratic, community-led organisations. They develop and manage homes that are perpetually affordable to low and middle income households, as well as other assets that contribute to thriving local communities.

Through pilot projects in Cork, Brussels, Lille, Rennes and Ghent, Upcycling Trust is jointly developing the technical, architectural, legal and financial frameworks of the Upcycling Trust model. At least 150 homes are being refurbished using circular techniques across five European cities. The project is developing a circular model to produce permanently affordable housing in a Civic Partnership approach to renovation, vacancy and dereliction.


The housing crisis affecting many cities in the NWE region is calling for the production of more affordable housing. Building new housing is often in conflict with many cities’ circular strategies, including the preservation of existing open space, and the reduction of building resources. The need for renovation of the housing stock to meet climate targets (energy neutrality by 2050) is both a challenge and an opportunity.

The model of Community Land Trusts (CLTs) and Organismes Fonciers Solidaires (OFS) offers an innovative and hybrid form of ownership suitable for such an approach. We observe a growing interest in this innovative approach among communities and authorities, and a significant potential for CLTs to accelerate a just urban transition.

With the Upcycling Trust project, we want to explore how the combination of

1) a thorough, circular renovation approach, and
2) the decommodification of housing (taking housing off the market so that it cannot be sold at a profit)

can lead to more sustainable and affordable cities in a structural way. Moreover, by putting local communities at the heart of the model, we aim to contribute to the resilience of cities.

  • 2023-2028
  • EU Funding: €3,123,919.57 
  • Total Budget: €5,206,532.68

Project Partners

Project Sponsors