Designing the Social
3 July 2021 - 1 June 2024
Appropriation as Collective Resistance
This room is no longer on show in the museum
The fundamental right to affordable housing is under pressure worldwide. Despite the efforts of governments, wealthy investors, internationally operating real estate firms and private individuals keep the sector in an iron grip. As long as the housing supply is scarce, their profits are high. But what transformations are possible when the right to property is subordinated to the right to affordable housing and to live in the city?
Since the 1960s, the squatters' movement has been an important counter-force - despite increasingly strict legislation. Appropriation tactics have been developed that have transformed the city from within and are now widely adopted. Empty buildings and grounds have been made habitable and suitable for collective use. In this way, the squatters' movement has made an important contribution to spatial development, to thinking about alternative spatial tactics, to the preservation and repurposing of heritage, and to the recognition of communal forms of housing, work and living.
Previously, Het Nieuwe Instituut worked on the research project Architecture of Appropriation. This questioned ways of researching, archiving and representing collective and often criminalised spatial practices within the context of museums and archives. The documentation collected from six investigated squatting locations is now part of the National Collection for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning.
The research is now expanding. In addition to squatting communities' tactics of collective resistance, the focus is on other groups fighting in their own way for affordable and non-normative forms of housing. Again, this is not just about architecture, but also about other kinds of political activity in public space, such as the use of free radio and digital networks, graphic design and forms of action.
Concept, research and design space: Farida Sedoc
Research: René Boer, Alessandra Fudoli, Setareh Noorani, Marina Otero Verzier, Katía Truijen
With the communities of ADM, Landbouwbelang, Pension Almonde, Plantage Dok, Poortgebouw, Vluchtmaat, Wijde Heisteeg
Photography: Johannes Schwartz and Frank Hanswijk
Drawings: Maria Fernanda Duarte, Jere Kuzmanić and Anastasia Kubrak
With thanks to Niek Mager, Philippa Driest, Louwrens Botha, Erik de Hart, bookstore Het Fort van Sjakoo
Squatting and the Struggle for Non-normative forms of Domesticity
Squatting - the temporary appropriation of space without the owner's permission - has occurred throughout history. In rundown Dutch city centres in the 1970s and 1980s, squatting developed into a substantial social movement that started to occupy houses, larger buildings and land on a considerable scale. In the following decades, squatting remained an important spatial practice for different generations to access housing and working space and influence urban development.
Despite the squatting ban that came into effect in 2010, squatting in the Netherlands has maintained a high degree of "institutionalisation", distinguishing it from the more isolated and improvised practices elsewhere. For example, squatting information centres still function as central meeting points within the squatting scene, squats are prepared and set up according to fixed protocols, and communication with the police and the authorities occurs along predefined lines. However, the Squatting Prohibition Enforcement Act passed in early 2021 has further curtailed the possibility of squatting.
Most squats face eviction after a certain period. However, many have acquired legal status over the years and have survived as live-work complexes, concert venues or cultural "free-zones". The use or adaptive reuse of buildings also contributes to preserving the city's memory: together with the many monuments and neighbourhoods that squatters saved from demolition, they form the spatial legacy of the squatting movement.
The spatial ideals of squatters, such as the transformation of vacant buildings, reuse of construction materials, and collective forms of living and working at both the domestic and neighbourhood level, have considerably influenced our thinking about the city. Initially, the municipal policies bouwen voor de buurt (building for the neighbourhood) and broedplaatsenbeleid (creative incubators policy) clearly reflected squatters' ideals. Over the years, however, these ideals have been adopted and appropriated by commercial entities and means, such as collective private commissions, the property guardianship sector and the trend of temporary use prevalent in today's cities.
Along this timeline of temporariness, this research considers the appropriation of structures as an act of collective resistance in the ongoing struggle for non-normative forms of domesticity.
Read more about 'Squatting as Spatial Practice' in Architecture of Appropriation.
Concept, research and design: Farida Sedoc
In 2016, Het Nieuwe Instituut began a long-term research into squatting as a spatial practice. This research acknowledges the squatting movement's role in the development of the contemporary city in the Netherlands. It also documents this movement's underlying ideas, spatial tactics and transformations and preserves them for future generations. In 2019, this research resulted in the publication Architecture of Appropriation: Squatting as Spatial Practice, and the National Collection for Architecture and Urban Planning added six archives of squats and legalised squats.
The library is an ever-growing collection of knowledge about tactics of collective resistance by squatting communities and other groups fighting for affordable housing and non-normative forms of housing, work and living. In this Etherpad you will find links to books and zines, you can listen to radio broadcasts and interviews, read more about current places of collective resistance, or you can delve into other online archives. This way, the library aims to provide access to a constantly evolving network of knowledge practices, appropriated spaces, and forms of collective action and exchange. Contribute to the online library.