This abstract addresses the role and value of welfare institutions as social structural elements of daily life, framing the informal -but important- meeting between residents in an urban fabric.
The discussion is contextualized through the demolition of the primary school Nordgårdsskolen, a local school serving the area of Gellerup, a social housing area back then framing the life of app. 7.000 people counting more than 80 nationalities in the western part of Aarhus, Denmark. Demographics vary from the rest of the city of Aarhus as 35 pct. of tenants are under 18 years of age, meaning that a very high percentage of the local population has direct or indirect relations to schoolchildren and their institution (being parents, siblings, grandparents or other relatives).
Due to integration problems and political pressure, a close-down of two kindergartens and Nordgårdsskolen was decided on in 2007 and the demolition of the school itself took place in 2013 – 42 years after its initiation. This caused distribution of children to a large number of schools not only to the surrounding school districts but also to districts in other parts of the municipality.
In a Danish context the area of Gellerup was considered a highly modern “new town” at its initiation in 1968 – the architect Knud Blach Petersen unfolding international inspirations in terms of local welfare-, cultural- and sports facilities supporting the housing structure and the quality of life of the tenants. New Towns have always been places characterized by migration: by definition, they have no ‘original’ inhabitants – every resident is a migrant. This situation makes it even more important to gather residents to promote integration. The aim of the paper is to investigate and discuss the role and value of local welfare institutions not only as centers of service, but also as creators of cohesion, trust and identity. In the specific case of Gellerup, the paper will unfold the social effects of demolishing Nordgårdsskolen as a physical place of informal meetings in a local multicultural community as Gellerup.