28 May 2020 – How can it be that the world renowned Dutch social housing has run into a dead end? Under the title ‘towards a new social architecture’, architectural critic Bernard Hulsman writes about an announced disaster. ‘New excellent social architecture, such as the housing block at Persoonshaven in Rotterdam designed by Hans van der Heijden, is becoming ever more exceptional.’

We all know it. This is because the landlord levy issued by minster Stef Blok in 2013. The possibilities of housing trusts to make productions were undermined. To me that seems to be not just a quantitative problem for that matter. Because of the reduction of their organisations, many housing trusts just have small development departments. The strength of the housing trusts, the direct lines between renting, management and control, maintenance and project development, has been substantially weakened. Many housing trusts are forced to buy ready-made projects from commercial developers.

Bernard Hulsman effectively grinds the illusion that there are no workers anymore and that modern sole-practitioners will make do for themselves on the real estate market. They are no entrepreneurs, but underpaid day-labourers. Nothing has happened to the so-called self-building policies on affordable land, or so Hulsman asserts.

It is an honour that he positions the Persoonshaven dwellings in the line of H.P. Berlage, K.P.C. de Bazel, Aldo van Eijck and OMA.  Hulsman calls for the withdrawal of the tax measure on the renting-out of dwellings.

Should that happen, then we return to what we are good at in the Netherlands: talk with people needing our dwellings, investigating floor plans, conceiving robust facades and agreeing on priorities in the budgets. To me, the creativity and élan of the urban renewal period do not seem to have vanished and it should be possible to activate those again.

I am in.

Read the article by Bernard Hulsman here (Dutch only).